GitLab Pages vs. GitHub Pages

Related: tips for academic / professional web profile pages

GitLab Pages vs GitHub Pages: feature matrix

site generatoranyJekyll only
Jekyll pluginsanyonly whitelisted
domain aliasesmultipleonly one
  • GitHub Pages is substantially easier to setup and use, and is capable of medium websites getting several million hits / year
  • GitLab Pages (setup described below) has more features and flexibility for advanced users

GitLab Pages quick setup

  1. create a new GitLab Project named (put your GitLab username in for “username”)
  2. [if you already have a GitHub Pages website] Import from GitHub OR create/copy in your existing static website (if you had a GitHub Pages website, copy it here). If the latter, clone to your PC.
  3. on the GitLab project page e.g. click Set up CI
  4. you’re automatically creating a .gitlab-ci.yml file. Under the “apply a GitLab CI YAML template” pick appropriate for your site. If you’re coming from GitHub Pages it’s probably Jekyll.
  5. Your site is now building, as seen with the Pipelines tab of your website project. It takes about 3-4 minutes to install the gems for a Jekyll site, then 2-3 more minutes to complete the build depending on the size of your website. The public URL should be If it’s not found, be sure you name your repo
  6. Once you can browse, in your Project Settings → Pages add TWO new domains if you have paid for your own domain name (here using
  7. This step can take your website down–do this at low traffic times.

    Once you’re satisfied it works, you can setup/transfer DNS to GitLab. Suppose your domain is, then set your DNS records to CNAME
    www         CNAME

    assuming your DNS provider supports CNAME flattening such as Cloudflare.

SSL Config

GitLab Pages used with for example Cloudflare works well to provide HTTPS with your custom domain name as per this procedure. With that procedure you can enable SSL “Full (Strict)” security.

Update limits

Free GitLab accounts currently give 2000 minutes/month build “pipeline” time. For a moderate sized website, let’s assume 5 minutes build time. So you could do 400 pushes/month or 13 pushes/day on average–that should be enough for a small to moderate website. You can cancel pipelines / runs to save wasted builds if you made a push and then are making another push right after.

For frequently updated, medium sized websites (hundreds or thousands of pages) it can be better to build the site locally on your PC or on a CI and then deploy to GitLab, because you can run out of free GitLab Runner quota before the month is over.

Private source repo

Both GitLab and GitHub allow the source files (e.g. Markdown) to be private for a public website. You should have a private website repo. Otherwise Google may present search results from your website repo Markdown code instead of or alongside the rendered webpages!


  • You could build on your laptop (or cloud service like Wercker) with any static generator such as Hugo and push HTML to GitHub Pages.
  • Useful Jekyll plugins that GitHub doesn’t whitelist include jekyll-archives (page per category/tag)