Jenkins Tutorial for GitLab

Table of Contents

The system for automatic testing involves three components:

  1. the source code, it usually comes from a Source Control Management (SCM) system, which is either git or subversion.
  2. the computer where the tests are run, this is called the slave node.
  3. the Continuous Integration server, which is the Jenkins server.

A typical sequence of events for a build is:

  1. a code change is pushed by a developer to the SCM repository.
  2. the SCM system sends a message to the Jenkins server saying that something has changed.
  3. Jenkins starts running a test, this is called a build by:
    1. fetching the changes from the SCM repository.
    2. running the tests on the slave nodes
    3. notifying the developers of the results of the tests.

The goal of this tutorial is to demonstrate how to configure the different components to set up a test. We will use a Python code, available on GitHub, to define some simple tests. So the SCM system for this tutorial is git on GitHub.

First we will check that you can connect to the Jenkins server in Section 1. Then in Section 2 we will configure the authentication between the three components of the testing system—GitHub, the slave nodes and the Jenkins server—so they can communicate with each other. In Section 3 we go through the steps to configure a build.

Throughout this tutorial, the figures are scaled to fit on the current screen, if you need a larger figure, you can usually right click on it and choose Open Image in New Tab or Open Image in New Window.

1 Checking Your Internet Connection

For security reasons, the Jenkins server is only accessible when your computer is connected to the network with a wired connection on campus or when you are using the Secure Remote Access app.

You can verify that your connection is valid by going to show my IP and look at the top of the page for the line

Your Web client's IP address (from the perspective of this Web server) is:

your IP address needs to start with 128.112 for you to be able to access the Jenkins server.

2 Credentials for the Slave Node, GitLab and Jenkins

2.1 GitLab Setup

2.1.1 Clone the Tutorial Repository on GitLab

To follow this tutorial, you need an account on GitLab. You then need to fork the repository for the code used in this tutorial on your GitHub account. To do so:

2.1.2 Add buildbot-princeton as a collaborator

You need to add the GitLab user "buildbot-princeton", which is the GitLab id for Jenkins at Princeton, as a collaborator to your fork. Go on the settings (gear symbol in the top right) and select Members. GitLabAddMembers.png

You need to give buildbot-princeton Developers permission.

Your Collaborators and page on GitHub should look like this:


2.1.3 Generate the ssh public and private keys

Now we are going to give the Jenkins server access to this GitLab repository using an ssh public/private key pair.

  • Create a ssh public/private key pair on any machine that you have access to. On a Linux or Mac machine you can generate those keys with the following command:
    $ ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -f id_rsa_gitlab -C "punetid@jenkins"

    where you should replace punetid with your Princeton University netid. The command line options are:

    • -f specifies the name for the ssh keys, you should pick something meaningful to you.
    • -C option is a comment so you can use what you want.

    You will be asked for a passphrase. You will need this passphrase when you copy the key to the Jenkins server.

  • This command creates two files:
    1. the private key: id_rsa_gitlab
    2. the public key:

    The private key will be copied on the Jenkins server and the public key will be copied on your GitLab account.

For more help on generating ssh keys, check the GitLab documentation.

2.1.4 Copy the public key to your GitLab account

Here is a summary:

  • Connect to your GitLab account.
  • Got to your repo (
  • Click on the settings button (tmp.png) then Deploy keys (See the figure).
  • Copy the public part ( of your key. This should look like:
    ssh-rsa AAAAB3NzaC1yc2EAAAADAQABAAACAQDIHq5rydARXBMJeUO2ChE//D0p5nWNbBJugCvUmt3Bljf04AkePFiMskGpbn0kZdFkgDhDzjG6ICUGPc6HK-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 luet@jenkins
  • and paste on your GitLab repository. This should look like this figure.
  • Click Add Key.


Figure 3: Menu for setting a deploy ssh key


Figure 4: Adding GitLab deploy key.

2.1.5 Copy the private key on your Jenkins account

Now we need to copy the private part of the key to your Jenkins account.

  • Connect to with your Princeton University netid/password. You will see the list of folders assigned to you, in this case there is one folder called tutorial_folder, in your case it will be the folder given to you by the Jenkins administrator.


  • Click on the folder tutorial_folder
  • Click on Credentials, then Folder on the left-hand sidebar.


  • Click on Global credentials (unrestricted)


  • Click on Add Credentials


  • Select:
    • Kind: SSH Username with private key
    • Username: your username on GitLab.
    • Private key: Enter directly. And copy paste the content of the private key file id_rsa_github.
    • Passphrase: Enter the passphrase that you used when generating the ssh key in 2.1.3.
    • Description: enter something that will make it easy to select the right credentials later. I use jenkins_tutorial deploy.

    The page should look like this:


    • Click Ok.

2.2 Slave Node Configuration

Now we are going to give Jenkins access to the slave node. The name of the slave node is slave.

The Jenkins system administrator will send you a file containing an ssh public key named that you need to copy on your account on slave. You can do it with the following steps:

  1. copy the ssh public key on slave
    $ scp
  2. connect onto the slave host
    $ ssh
  3. make sure the directory ~/.ssh exists and that the permissions are correct:
    [punetid@slave] $ mkdir -p ~/.ssh
    [punetid@slave] $ chmod 700 ~/.ssh
  4. Append the public key to the file ~/.ssh/authorized_keys and make sure the permissions are correct:
    [punetid@slave] $ cat >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
    [punetid@slave] $ chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
  5. Create a directory called jenkins in your home directory
    [punetid@slave] $ mkdir ~/jenkins

3 Setting Up A Build in Jenkins

Now that we have set up all the necessary permissions between GitLab, Jenkins and the slave node, we are ready to configure some tests for the simple factorial code that is in your fork of the luet/jenkins_tutorial repository.

When you save your configure, you will see a note pop-up like this one:


This is because the Jenkins configuration is saved in a Git repository itself. This way if you ever make a mistake in your configuration, and you cannot remember what you changed, you can ask the Jenkins administrator to revert to a previous configuration. In the pop-up menu, you can either enter a comment for this commit or leave it blank. Then click on Submit comment.

3.1 Creating a Simple Build with Manual Trigger

  • Go to
  • You should see the folder that was assigned to you. On the figure below, it's tutorial_folder


  • Click on the folder.
  • Click on New Item


  • Create a new Freestyle project named jenkins_tutorial. Click OK.


3.1.1 Project Identity And Build Rotation

First, to save disk space on the Jenkins server, we will only keep the build logs for 5 days with a maximum of 10 builds. You can change this to something that makes more sense to you.

  • Check the box Discard Old Builds:
    • Set Days to keep builds to 5.
    • Set Max # of builds to keep to 10.


3.1.2 Slave Node

Check the box Restrict where this project can be run. In the Label Expression box enter the name of the slave that the Jenkins administrator gave you. In our case, tiger1_luet because the slave node name is tiger1 and my Princeton netid is luet.


3.1.3 Source Code Management (Git)

  • In Source Code Management select Git.
  • In the Repository URL enter

    where you should replace GitHubLogin with your GitHub login, which is luet in my case.

  • In the Credentials box select the Credential you entered in Section [[jenkins_creds_for_GitLab]. It appears as luet (jenkins_tutorial deploy) in the screen snapshot below.
  • In Branches to build, leave */master for now.
  • At the bottom of the page click Apply.


  • At this point you have enough to test whether the repository can be cloned on the slave. To do so, click the Build Now button on the upper left hand side toolbar.


    You should see a build starting in the left-hand sidebar:


The build should run for a while and when it stops, it should have a blue ball on the left of the number. You can also ssh onto the slave node directly and you should see that the jenkins_tutorial repository was cloned in the directory jenkins in your home directory.

3.1.4 Add a test

We will now add a test. We don't specfify any Build Triggers for now, we will be testing by triggering a build manually with the BuildNow button.

  • Go to Build and click Add build step and select Execute shell


    With the Execute shell you are basically given a shell on the slave. The current directory for this shell is $HOME/jenkins/folder_name/job_name.

  • In the Execute shell box we enter bash commands to run the test that comes with the git repository in the tests directory. Note that there is no space between #! and /bin/bash, Jenkins will fail if there is a space.
    module load python/2.7

    Here we are running a Python unit test. This test uses the Python module unittest which is only available in Python >= 2.7.

  • Then click Save to save this step.


  • Test this build step by clicking Build Now at the top of the left-hand sidebar.
  • After the run is done, the build history should show your test with a blue ball next to it


  • On the figure above the last build is #2. Click on the build number to get more details about the build.


  • Click on Console Output to standard output of your run. The build consists in two steps:
    1. cloning (the first time) or updating (subsequent times) the code.
    2. running the test.

    In that case the status of the test is Finished: SUCCESS.


3.1.5 Add e-mail notifications

Now we will have Jenkins send you an e-mail each time a build is run.

  • Go to the bottom of the page, in the section Post-build Actions.


  • Click on the Add post-build action button and select Editable Email Notification. There is another choice, E-mail Notification, but it is less configurable than Editable Email Notification.


  • In the Editable Email Notification box:
    • In the Project Recipient List, delete $DEFAULT_RECIPIENTS and enter your e-mail address instead


      If you leave the $DEFAULT_RECIPIENTS, Jenkins will look through the logs of the git repository and find the e-mails of all the developers.

    • Select Advanced Settings...


  • In the Triggers box, remove the default trigger, by clicking Remove Trigger


    The Failure - Any trigger sends an e-mail only in case the tests fails. In this tutorial, we want to receive an e-mail even in case of the tests were successful.

  • Select Add Trigger and Always


  • Click Delete under Developers,


  • Click Save at the bottom of the page.
  • Click Build Now to run a build and you should receive an e-mail.

3.2 Automatically Trigger A Build When Someone Opens a Pull-Request

Using the Build Now button is useful for testing, but in production mode you want the tests to be run automatically.

We will now add a build trigger that will start a build automatically when someone opens a merge request toward your clone on GitLab. A great advantage of testing on a merge request is that the changes are tested before they are committed to the git repository.

3.2.1 Changes on the Jenkins Server

In the Configure menu:

  • Go to the Source Code Management and click the Advanced button


  • In the Name box enter: origin
  • In the Refspec box enter: +refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/origin/* +refs/merge-requests/*/head:refs/remotes/origin/merge-requests/*. It is a regular expression that tells Jenkins to fetch the merge requests from GitHub.


  • In the Branches to build section, box Branch Specifier, replace */master with origin/${gitlabMergeRequestIid}. This tells Jenkins to use the variable gitlabMergeRequestIid that is sent to Jenkins by GitHub. Note that at that point you cannot use the Build Now button anymore.


  • In the Build Triggers section:
    • check Build when a change is pushed to GitLab. GitLab CI Service URL:
    • check Merge Request Events


  • In the Post-build Actions section, select Add post-build action, then Publish build status to GitLab commit (GitLab 8.1 + required)


  • Click Save at the bottom of the page.

3.2.2 Changes on GitLab

You need to add a service to your GitLab account. A service is a mechanism for GitLab to send a message to the Jenkins server when a merge request has been opened.

  • Go to your fork on GitHub and select the settings button (SettingsButton.png) then Webhooks


  • The URL is defined from the URL of your project on Jenkins—that is; what appears in your browser's navigation bar when you are on Jenkins. For example, in my case the URL for my Jenkins project on the jenkins site is:

    and the project name for the GitLab webhook is:
  • In the Trigger section, select Merge Request events.
  • In the SSL verification section, select Enable SSL verification.
  • Click Add Webhook.


  • Once the Webhook is added click Test to test your settings.


    Something like the following figure should appear at the top of your screen.


3.2.3 Open a Pull-Request To Test the New Settings

Now we will make a change to the code and open a merge request to merge the changes. We will do it directly on the GitLab web site but you could do everything on the command line if you are familiar with git. We will simply add a file to the repository.

  • First, we create a new branch on your GitLab repo, we call it devel



  • Now create the file in the branch devel



  • Now create the Merge Request



  • If all goes well:
    1. On the Jenkins server you will see that a job was triggered


    2. On the status of the test will be reported on the GitLab site


      Then you can merge the changes by clicking Merge When Build Succeeds.