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Customize Auto DevOps

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You can customize components of Auto DevOps to fit your needs. For example, you can:

Auto DevOps banner

When Auto DevOps is not enabled, a banner displays for users with at least the Maintainer role:

Auto DevOps banner

The banner can be disabled for:

  • A user, when they dismiss it themselves.
  • A project, by explicitly disabling Auto DevOps.
  • An entire GitLab instance:
    • By an administrator running the following in a Rails console:

    • Through the REST API with an administrator access token:

      curl --data "value=true" --header "PRIVATE-TOKEN: <personal_access_token>" ""

Custom buildpacks

You can customize your buildpacks when either:

  • The automatic buildpack detection fails for your project.
  • You need more control over your build.

Customize buildpacks with Cloud Native Buildpacks

Specify either:

Customize buildpacks with Herokuish (deprecated)

WARNING: Support for Herokuish was deprecated in GitLab 15.8, and is planned for removal in 17.0. Use Cloud Native Buildpacks instead.

Specify either:

  • The CI/CD variable BUILDPACK_URL.
  • A .buildpacks file at the root of your project that contains one buildpack URL per line.

The buildpack URL can point to either a Git repository URL or a tarball URL.

For Git repositories, you can point to a specific Git reference by appending #<ref> to the Git repository URL. For example, you can reference:

  • The tag v142:
  • The branch mybranch:
  • The commit SHA f97d8a8ab49:

Multiple buildpacks

Because Auto Test cannot use the .buildpacks file, Auto DevOps does not support multiple buildpacks. The buildpack heroku-buildpack-multi, used in the backend to parse the .buildpacks file, does not provide the necessary commands bin/test-compile and bin/test.

To use only a single custom buildpack, you should provide the project CI/CD variable BUILDPACK_URL instead.

Custom Dockerfiles

If you have a Dockerfile in the root of your project repository, Auto DevOps builds a Docker image based on the Dockerfile. This can be faster than using a buildpack. It can also result in smaller images, especially if your Dockerfile is based on Alpine.

If you set the DOCKERFILE_PATH CI/CD variable, Auto Build looks for a Dockerfile there instead.

Pass arguments to docker build

You can pass arguments to docker build with the AUTO_DEVOPS_BUILD_IMAGE_EXTRA_ARGS project CI/CD variable.

For example, to build a Docker image based on based on the ruby:alpine instead of the default ruby:latest:


  2. Add the following to a custom Dockerfile:

    # ... put your stuff here

To pass complex values like spaces and newlines, use Base64 encoding. Complex, unencoded values can cause issues with character escaping.

WARNING: Do not pass secrets as Docker build arguments. Secrets might persist in your image. For more information, see this discussion of best practices with secrets.

Custom container image

By default, Auto Deploy deploys a container image built and pushed to the GitLab registry by Auto Build. You can override this behavior by defining specific variables:

Entry Default Can be overridden by
Image Tag $CI_COMMIT_SHA for branch pipelines. $CI_COMMIT_TAG for tag pipelines. $CI_APPLICATION_TAG

These variables also affect Auto Build and Auto Container Scanning. If you don't want to build and push an image to $CI_APPLICATION_REPOSITORY:$CI_APPLICATION_TAG, include only Jobs/Deploy.gitlab-ci.yml, or disable the build jobs.

If you use Auto Container Scanning and set a value for $CI_APPLICATION_REPOSITORY, then you should also update $CS_DEFAULT_BRANCH_IMAGE. For more information, see Setting the default branch image.

Here is an example setup in your .gitlab-ci.yml:

  CI_APPLICATION_REPOSITORY: <your-image-repository>

Extend Auto DevOps with the API

You can extend and manage your Auto DevOps configuration with GitLab APIs:

Forward CI/CD variables to the build environment

To forward CI/CD variables to the build environment, add the names of the variables you want to forward to the AUTO_DEVOPS_BUILD_IMAGE_FORWARDED_CI_VARIABLES CI/CD variable. Separate multiple variables with commas.

For example, to forward the variables CI_COMMIT_SHA and CI_ENVIRONMENT_NAME:


If you use buildpacks, the forwarded variables are available automatically as environment variables.

If you use a Dockerfile:

  1. To activate the experimental Dockerfile syntax, add the following to your Dockerfile:

    # syntax = docker/dockerfile:experimental
  2. To make secrets available in any RUN $COMMAND in the Dockerfile, mount the secret file and source it before you run $COMMAND:

    RUN --mount=type=secret,id=auto-devops-build-secrets . /run/secrets/auto-devops-build-secrets && $COMMAND

When AUTO_DEVOPS_BUILD_IMAGE_FORWARDED_CI_VARIABLES is set, Auto DevOps enables the experimental Docker BuildKit feature to use the --secret flag.

Custom Helm chart

Auto DevOps uses Helm to deploy your application to Kubernetes. You can override the Helm chart used by bundling a chart in your project repository or by specifying a project CI/CD variable:

  • Bundled chart - If your project has a ./chart directory with a Chart.yaml file in it, Auto DevOps detects the chart and uses it instead of the default chart.

  • Project variable - Create a project CI/CD variable AUTO_DEVOPS_CHART with the URL of a custom chart. You can also create five project variables:

    • AUTO_DEVOPS_CHART_REPOSITORY - The URL of a custom chart repository.
    • AUTO_DEVOPS_CHART - The path to the chart.
    • AUTO_DEVOPS_CHART_REPOSITORY_INSECURE - Set to a non-empty value to add a --insecure-skip-tls-verify argument to the Helm commands.
    • AUTO_DEVOPS_CHART_CUSTOM_ONLY - Set to a non-empty value to use only a custom chart. By default, the latest chart is downloaded from GitLab.
    • AUTO_DEVOPS_CHART_VERSION - The version of the deployment chart.

Customize Helm chart values

  • Introduced in GitLab 12.6, .gitlab/auto-deploy-values.yaml is used by default for Helm upgrades.

To override the default values in the values.yaml file in the default Helm chart, either:

  • Add a file named .gitlab/auto-deploy-values.yaml to your repository. This file is automatically used.
  • Add a file with a different name or path to the repository. Set the HELM_UPGRADE_VALUES_FILE CI/CD variable with the path and name of the file.

Some values cannot be overridden with the options above, but this issue proposes to change this behavior. To override settings like replicaCount, use the REPLICAS build and deployment CI/CD variable.

Customize helm upgrade

The auto-deploy-image uses the helm upgrade command. To customize this command, pass it options with the HELM_UPGRADE_EXTRA_ARGS CI/CD variable.

For example, to disable pre- and post-upgrade hooks when helm upgrade runs:


For a full list of options, see the official helm upgrade documentation.

Limit a Helm chart to one environment

To limit a custom chart to one environment, add the environment scope to your CI/CD variables. For more information, see Limit the environment scope of CI/CD variables.

Customize .gitlab-ci.yml

Auto DevOps is highly customizable because the Auto DevOps template is an implementation of a .gitlab-ci.yml file. The template uses only features available to any implementation of .gitlab-ci.yml.

To add custom behaviors to the CI/CD pipeline used by Auto DevOps:

  1. To the root of your repository, add a .gitlab-ci.yml file with the following contents:

      - template: Auto-DevOps.gitlab-ci.yml
  2. Add your changes to the .gitlab-ci.yml file. Your changes are merged with the Auto DevOps template. For more information about how include merges your changes, see the include documentation.

To remove behaviors from the Auto DevOps pipeline:

  1. Copy the Auto DevOps template into your project.
  2. Edit your copy of the template as needed.

Use individual components of Auto DevOps

If you only require a subset of the features offered by Auto DevOps, you can include individual Auto DevOps jobs in your own .gitlab-ci.yml. Be sure to also define the stage required by each job in your .gitlab-ci.yml file.

For example, to use Auto Build, you can add the following to your .gitlab-ci.yml:

  - build

  - template: Jobs/Build.gitlab-ci.yml

For a list of available jobs, see the Auto DevOps template.

WARNING: From GitLab 13.0, Auto DevOps templates that use the only or except syntax have switched to the rules syntax. If your .gitlab-ci.yml extends these Auto DevOps templates and overrides only or except, migrate your templates to the rules syntax. If you cannot migrate, you can pin your templates to the GitLab 12.10 based templates.

Use multiple Kubernetes clusters

See Multiple Kubernetes clusters for Auto DevOps.

Customizing the Kubernetes namespace

In GitLab 14.5 and earlier, you could use environment:kubernetes:namespace to specify a namespace for the environment. However, this feature was deprecated, along with certificate-based integration.

You should now use the KUBE_NAMESPACE environment variable and limit its environment scope.

Use images hosted in a local Docker registry

You can configure many Auto DevOps jobs to run in an offline environment:

  1. Copy the required Auto DevOps Docker images from Docker Hub and to their local GitLab container registry.

  2. After the images are hosted and available in a local registry, edit .gitlab-ci.yml to point to the locally hosted images. For example:

      - template: Auto-DevOps.gitlab-ci.yml
      REGISTRY_URL: "registry.gitlab.example"
      image: "$REGISTRY_URL/docker/auto-build-image:v0.6.0"
        - name: "$REGISTRY_URL/greg/docker/docker:20.10.16-dind"
          command: ['--tls=false', '--host=tcp://']

PostgreSQL database support

WARNING: Provisioning a PostgreSQL database by default was deprecated in GitLab 15.8 and will no longer be the default from 16.0. To enable database provisioning, set the associated CI/CD variable.

To support applications that require a database, PostgreSQL is provisioned by default. The credentials to access the database are preconfigured.

To customize the credentials, set the associated CI/CD variables. You can also define a custom DATABASE_URL:


Upgrading PostgreSQL

GitLab uses chart version 8.2.1 to provision PostgreSQL by default. You can set the version from 0.7.1 to 8.2.1.

If you use an older chart version, you should migrate your database to the newer PostgreSQL.

The CI/CD variable AUTO_DEVOPS_POSTGRES_CHANNEL that controls default provisioned PostgreSQL changed to 2 in GitLab 13.0. To use the old PostgreSQL, set the AUTO_DEVOPS_POSTGRES_CHANNEL variable to 1.

Customize values for PostgreSQL Helm Chart

  • Introduced in GitLab 13.8 with auto-deploy-image v2.

To set custom values, do one of the following:

  • Add a file named .gitlab/auto-deploy-postgres-values.yaml to your repository. If found, this file is used automatically. This file is used by default for PostgreSQL Helm upgrades.
  • Add a file with a different name or path to the repository, and set the POSTGRES_HELM_UPGRADE_VALUES_FILE environment variable with the path and name.
  • Set the POSTGRES_HELM_UPGRADE_EXTRA_ARGS environment variable.

Use external PostgreSQL database providers

Auto DevOps provides out-of-the-box support for a PostgreSQL container for production environments. However, you might want to use an external managed provider like AWS Relational Database Service.

To use an external managed provider:

  1. Disable the built-in PostgreSQL installation for the required environments with environment-scoped CI/CD variables. Because the built-in PostgreSQL setup for Review Apps and staging is sufficient, you might only need to disable the installation for production.

    Auto Metrics

  2. Define the DATABASE_URL variable as an environment-scoped variable available to your application. This should be a URL in the following format:

  3. Ensure your Kubernetes cluster has network access to where PostgreSQL is hosted.