Replace git URLs in Gitlab CI

Written by Kevin Gimbel on , 🍿 2 min. read

When working with Gitlab as a storage for Terraform or Ansible modules you probably access them using SSH, like git@gitlab.instance:group/project.git. This has the advantage that authentication is done using SSH keys and everybody on your team can access the repositories just like they'd do when cloning on the terminal - no need for entering passwords during clone or install.

Before we begin: I use Ansible roles as an example here, but this applies to any sort of installable module from git sources, e.g. private NPM modules or Python packages stored in Gitlab repositories.

The method described has a disadvantage: In CI you may not have an SSH key ready, or you need different SSH keys for security reasons. Managing all the different SSH keys just to clone some repositories is tiresome - so how can we access the repositories without rewriting all our code or exposing SSH keys on the build agent?

The answer is git config --global url!

git config --global url."https://gitlab-ci-user:${GITLAB_TOKEN}@gitlab.instance/".insteadOf "git@gitlab.instance:"

Notice the / and : - they are important! This will rewrite git@gitlab.instance:group/project.git to https://gitlab-ci-user:${GITLAB_TOKEN}@gitlab.instance/project/group.git when cloning the source code, which allows us to access the repository using the $GITLAB_TOKEN and username rather than SSH.

$GITLAB_TOKEN is a custom project level access token. Assuming you have all your Ansible roles under gitlab.instance/ansible the token would be created on the ansible group level (see official Gitlab documentation).

Full gitlab-ci example

description: "Token used to authenticate with the Ansible group in Gitlab"
description: "User associated with the GITLAB_TOKEN. Can be set during creation"
value: "gitlab-ci-ansible"

- deploy

image: my/ansible-container
stage: deploy
- git config --global url."https://${GITLAB_USER}:${GITLAB_TOKEN}@gitlab.instance/".insteadOf "git@gitlab.instance:"
- ansible --version
- ansible-galaxy install -r requirements.yml -p roles --force
- ansible-playbook site.yml

This config will run the configuration step, then print the ansible version, install the requirements, and finally runs the site.yml playbook. The requirements can now be installed from private Gitlab repositories, and the Ansible run finishes successfully!

Further reading

Hi, I'm Kevin!

I'm a DevOps Engineer with a passion for on automation and monitoring. Before shifting into DevOps and cloud computing I worked as Front-End Developer, which is still a hobby and field of interest for me.

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I'm very passionated about a variety of games - digital, boardgames, and pen & paper; and also interested in Sci-Fi, Cyberpunk, and dystopian books. You can find out more on the about page.