Since its launch in 2014, GitLab has been one of the most widely used software hosting and collaborative development platforms for individuals and businesses.
Its popularity is down to several features that allow developers to collaborate and build efficiently. The software supports online code storage, issue tracking, and project management for small and large development teams.
GitLab’s built-in Continuous Integration and Delivery features are especially beloved because they save teams plenty of time and make quality assurance more efficient.
As a result, the web-based DevOps tool has over 30 million registered users, with companies like Nvidia, Siemens, and Goldman Sachs among the prominent ones.
There is also the fact that it is free for individuals, making it a go-to option for aspiring developers and single-member development projects.
Yet, GitLab is not perfect. At least not to everyone. It has known imperfections such as the fact its large array of features has a learning curve. Or that individuals with free subscriptions only have access to 400 CI/CD minutes per month.
As a result, there is a need for alternatives. In this article, we will be exploring some of the worthy options. However, before that, it is important to know what GitLab is.
Before you dive in, you should know that although some are, not every alternative on this list is completely free. The referred pricing of each software is from available information as of the time of writing.
For more up-to-date information, kindly check out the software’s website.
If GitLab has a major rival or competitor, it is GitHub, and it is not just because they have a similar name. The first alternative on our list is the famous development platform that has become the de facto home of developers globally.
While primarily used for source code management, GitHub is also an all-in-one software development platform. Project managers and developers alike can use it to work on a project from scratch, from planning to deployment.
Also, you can get a huge head start on anything you are working on by searching through the tool’s over 200 million repositories.
Furthermore, GitHub has Pull requests that allow contributors to notify you when they make changes to your repository. You can determine who has access and easily accept any recommended changes without compromising the overall integrity of your code.
It also has a capable solution for Continuous Integration/Delivery. The feature is one of the most admired by GitLab’s users, and GitHub offers something similar with Actions.
With it, you can automate anything and improve the quality of your DevOps using your code, community members, or one of over 5000 in the Actions Marketplace. Oh, and you can run them in any language or operating system.
Lastly, GitHub is equally pocket-friendly. Basic features like unlimited public and private repositories and package storage are free to individuals and organizations.
The popular software hosting service also has native apps for mobile devices on iOS and Android. It also has apps for Windows and Mac devices. This makes code deployment an anywhere and anytime affair, making it easier and faster.
For paid plans that have additional features, the most expensive subscription costs $21 per user. However, aspiring developers can use the extra features for a fraction of the cost with GitHub’s Student Discounts.
RhodeCode was around for a few years before Sizov and Zaporozhets launched GitLab. Marcin Kuzminski created it in 2010 as a more secure and efficient source code management platform for large organizations. As a result, this hosting service is enterprise-focused.
However, that doesn’t mean it cannot serve a purpose for individuals looking for an alternative to GitLab. There is a Community Edition that is free and open-source, offering several useful features. These include —
- Unlimited number of users and repositories
- Pull requests
- Source code indexing and advanced code reviews
- Dedicated domain with SSL security
The enterprise version, RhodeCode Enterprise Edition, offers the same features. It also comes with technical support and enterprise authentication for users.
This GitLab alternative provides support for Subversion, Mercurial, and Git repositories as a repository management platform. With it, project managers can access all the repositories in their organization from one location.
RhodeCode also offers workflow automation with tools that aid the integration of the existing code base with new tools. This enables you to build and deliver projects on time without compromising on stated best practices.
You also get administrator-centralized user management on RhodeCode. They can give and revoke permissions to individuals or groups. It is also possible to set different types of permissions, such as editing or read-only access.
What’s more, this SCM tool offers a high level of code security. It has an advanced permission system that limits user access to a repository with IP restrictions.
Additionally, because the RhodeCode Community Edition is open-source, you can create isolated environments for your codes by installing the software on your own machine.
The entry barrier to try RhodeCode is pretty low too. Individuals and small businesses can try out the community version, which is free. If you love it, you can access additional features at $75 per user.
Unlike RhodeCode, Bitbucket is primarily a Git source code repository hosting service. Created by Jesper Noehr, written in Python, and launched in 2008. It offers commercial and free subscriptions for all kinds of users.
The free subscription comes with unlimited private repositories for individuals and teams with less than five members.
Like most software hosting services on this list, Bitbucket is more than a code management platform. It also supports collaboration between software development teams for building, testing, and deploying projects. Some of its collaboration features include —
- Merge checks
- Pull requests and code review
- Code search and documentation
It also has an impressive issue-tracking solution. The code management service has an integrated issue/tickets management system.
Additional features include integrated CI/CD that enables teams to work fast and more efficiently together. The service also has third-party integration with Jira and Trello, allowing you to create Bitbucket branches from within these apps.
This particular integration with other Atlassian project management tools is popular among big enterprises that use the software company’s products.
You can also achieve further integration with tools like Bitbucket Connect and Bitbucket webhooks.
Another thing, Bitbucket allows importing existing repositories from other code hosting services. You can import manually by selecting the service via a dropdown menu or automatically via the URL.
For users who are new to Git, this GitLab alternative offers educational resources to help users build reliable and effective workflows. Users can learn using a free Git GUI or a set of interactive tutorials.
Another thing, Bitbucket is cheaper than GitLab. Its Standard plan costs $3 per user, while the Premium plan costs $6 per user for a maximum of 100 users.
The service’s premium features are also free to use for development teams working on open source projects and non-profit organizations.
Most source code management services offer cloud storage. On-premises setups, however, tend to be reserved for enterprise users because they are more expensive. But what about the regular developer who wants to self-host their code repository?
Enter Gitea. An open-source, community-managed GitLab alternative launched in October 2016 after a group of users forked Gogs, an older self-hosted Git service. The service now has an MIT OSS license and is managed by the community.
The web-based tool is written in Go, and users can host it on all Go-supported platforms. This includes macOS, Windows, and Linux.
However, it is best used as a lightweight Git server. It consumes less memory, running perfectly fine on 512MB and CPU power. It is also an inexpensive way to familiarize yourself with the Git environment, as an individual or as a team. And there is a lot to learn with Gitea.
Despite its non-commercial model, it is feature-rich when it comes to collaborative software development control. It includes all the highlights such as bug tracking, code review, pull requests, and wikis. It also supports multiple code maintainers, meeting a crucial need of collaborative development.
If you need even more features, Gitea also supports webhooks. And because it is community-managed, bugs are quickly resolved, making it a reliable tool.
Furthermore, it is completely free. Its development is funded by donations from organizations like DigitalOcean, Equinix, and Open Collective.
Open source projects often attract many developers. But when you’re working on projects with no commercial revenue, paying for access for each user can be expensive on subscription-based SCM services.
Solving this problem is the unique selling point that makes SourceForge a credible alternative to GitLab. It is a web service that is completely free to open-source projects, offering free hosting and access to developer tools.
So far, its generosity has attracted more than 502,000 projects and over 3.7 million users. If you choose to switch, you will be part of a large and growing community.
But getting a service for free is only meaningful if it is useful, and SourceForge very much is. As a web-based source code repository, it has features like —
- Bug tracking
- Wiki documentation
- Micro-blog for project updates
- Developer and user mailing lists
- User support forms and reviews
SourceForge doesn’t just manage Git repositories either. You can use it for revision control systems like CVS, SVN, Bazaar, and Mercurial.
Taking the jump from GitLab is not hard either. The platform provides clear and simple tools to import entire or selected repositories into new or existing SourceForge projects.
Another benefit of using SourceForge as a GitLab alternative is that it is a great place to discover new software for businesses and individuals.
It has an internal ranking system for developers to find trending projects in various niches to contribute to. Those looking for business software can also discover, review, and buy software on the platform.
Not a fan of Gitea? Then consider Gogs, the open-source project that birthed the self-hosted Git service. Also built with Go, it is a simple, stable Git service that you can set up on any device, including a Raspberry Pi.
You can run it on any operating system, including Windows, Mac, Linux, or ARM. Besides the OS support for Go compilation, it also has memory requirements as low as 512MB.
Gogs is 100% open source and completely free of charge. The source code is accessible on GitHub, and the service is open to the public under the MIT license.
For anyone new to Git who wants a self-hosted code management service, Gogs is easy to set up. All you have to do is run a binary file or ship it in Docker or Vagrant environments.
Although it does not come with built-in Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery features, it is still good for collaborative development. It has Repository Pull Mirroring, which makes it easy for you to manage local forks and track replicas.
Other available features include —
- Ability to manage permissions and SSH keys
- Pull and merge requests
- Remote repository push mirroring
- Wiki documentation
Gogs also supports code review and bug tracking. Another notable feature is third-party authentication by sources like LDAP, PAM, SMTP, and PAM.
Also Read: Best Firebase Alternatives
7. Azure DevOps
No list about GitLab alternatives would be complete without Azure DevOps, Microsoft’s solution for collaborative software development. Formerly known as Visual Studio and still called that in many quarters, it is a robust tool that comes in two distinct forms.
The first one is Azure DevOps Server. It is a version control system that is available as an on-premise and online offering. Users who wish to keep their code and data on their network can opt for the on-premise version.
The second is Azure DevOps Services. This one is entirely online, and it is a reliable hosted service for repositories with global scalability. While both of them are useful software management solutions, Services offer additional features like simplified server management.
Speaking of features, Azure DevOps has several of them. With its Pipeline tool, you can perform CI/CD for any platform or use its Repos service for effective code reviews and access to unlimited free repositories.
It also has Azure Test Plans for manual and exploratory testing and Azure Artifacts for universal package repository. You can integrate and share packages like Maven, NuGet, npm, and Python from any type of source with team members.
Also, Azure DevOps is a worthy alternative to GitLab if you work with Microsoft products because of the ecosystem. A good example of the product’s wide range integration is Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel.
Integrating with the former aids storyboard development, and the latter enables bulk update, entry, and export of work items.
Even though it is still in the beta stage, Quire already has tongues wagging as a task management and collaboration tool. An all-in-one project management software, Quire is designed to help small and medium-sized businesses create and manage their to-do lists.
It also aids collaboration among teams, thanks to plenty of facilitating features.
Some of these features include document management, file sharing, and milestone tracking. Quire also comes with a Kanban board for task prioritization and workflow visualization.
Its application programming interface (API) integrates with third-party applications like iCal, Outlook Calendar, and Slack. Simply put, if you want software that handles code management and other types of task management activities, Quire is worth looking at.
This means it’s not just useful for organizations either. Freelancers working on multiple projects or tasks can also use it to structure and track work items.
As a result of its broadened capabilities, it has a user-friendly interface with an intuitive design with no learning curve. All you have to do is sign up and Quire will be up and ready to make your team more efficient.
However, you should know that there is no pricing available yet for this software because it is still in beta. For now, you can simply enjoy it for free.
GitLab performs multi-dimensional functions that span project management and software deployment. If you are looking for an alternative that primarily addresses the latter, then check out Buddy.Works. It is a web-based continuous integration and delivery software.
Git developers can use it to build, test, and deploy applications and websites using their code or code from software hosting tools like GitLab, GitHub, and Bitbucket.
Built with a focus on Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery, automation is the main selling point for Buddy.Works. You can use it to automate several actions in the workflow by creating pipelines, thereby shortening the time to deployment.
It comes with more than 100 built-in actions that you can add with the click of a button to speed things up in the pipeline. You can use these actions to build websites, generate static sites, and access RPM tools.
As for usability, it is easy to adopt Buddy as part of your software development stack. It has a GUI, and it is intuitive. You don’t need to view tutorials or read documentation to get started. Users can create pipelines easily and automate steps in the deployment process in minutes.
Pricing-wise, Buddy.Works also has a low barrier of entry. It has a free plan fit for freelancers. The software’s paid plans contain additional features and start at $75 per month. The On-premises plan starts at $35/month per user.
The last GitLab alternative on our list is Launchpad. It is a web-based software collaboration platform that allows users to develop and maintain open-source software.
Although owned by Canonical Ltd, it is still an open-source software hosting tool with a GNU Affero General Public License. The platform launched in 2004 but has yet to gain widespread popularity like other GitLab alternatives on this list. That is mostly because the platform is considered only for ‘Ubuntu stuff.’
While the dated interface might turn off some people, Launchpad makes up for its lack of aesthetics by being an effective collaborative platform. It is all business with this one.
The service features a lot of Ubuntu-targeted projects. Still, it has good support for Git, SVN, Mercurial, and Bazaar on any operating system. Users can host or import repositories in these formats on Launchpad and access its many features. Some of its long list of features include —
- Bug tracking
- Specification tracking
- Code reviews
You can also check out more than 44,000 projects on the platform for inspiration or to contribute to. The platform allows you to join an existing development team or create and run one yourself.
There is also community support if you need answers and a translation site to help you localize your applications’ human languages.
All of these are free to users. You simply have to register your account to access the platform’s array of features. If you prefer to test it out before committing your email address, you can test it in its sandbox environment.
One notable downside, though, is its stale interface. While most of the alternatives on our list are mostly easy to use with a modern interface, this one sports a dated one.
Besides that, it also has a different workflow from GitLab or popular alternatives like GitHub. While that doesn’t necessarily make it hard, it takes some getting used to.
If you don’t mind these issues, Launchpad is a free and effective alternative to GitLab.
With over 30 million registered users and over 3,000 contributors, GitLab is one of the best code repositories used by programmers worldwide.
At the very least, it is one of the most popular, and as we’ve discussed, there are plenty of reasons for that.
Yet, with limited customizations for issue tracking and a substantial learning curve to implement CI/CD, finding an alternative tool is not entirely out of place.
Of the ten great alternatives we have discussed so far, we recommend GitHub as the overall best alternative to GitLab.
Despite their similarities, GitHub has a larger community of users at individual and enterprise levels. This makes the transition from GitLab easier if you encounter any issue, especially since they also have a similar workflow.
Also, the large community means plenty of public repositories for users to build projects on, thereby shortening development and deployment time.
If you want to move away from GitLab, these inherent advantages make GitHub the perfect alternative.