Jenkins and GitLab are popular tools for continuous integration and continuous development, but which software is right for you? Learn how to compare the features of these DevOps tools.

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With DevOps, the need to constantly develop, test, and deploy new features is crucial, and it requires specialized tools to help automate and streamline the process to make it seamless. Two popular choices for CI / CD solutions are Jenkins and GitLab and these tools are very suitable for specific DevOps requirements. We compare the features and uses of Jenkins and GitLab.

What is Jenkins?

Jenkins is a free to use open source automation server for CI / CD management. Jenkins runs on Windows, Linux and Mac servers and has a handy installer that makes setup very easy.

One of Jenkins’ biggest strengths is its list of over 1,700 add-ons that make customization and integration very easy. It also gives Jenkins the ability to adapt to almost any requirement.

What is GitLab?

GitLab is an open source CI / CD management tool, but based on freemium, that offers full DevOps support, including important built – in features such as problem tracking and version control.

GitLab only works on Linux-based servers, although it can run on some Windows systems with advanced workarounds. GitLab also has slightly higher prerequisites than Jenkins and a suitable server will need node.js, Git, Ruby and Redis instead of just JRE.

Jenkins vs. GitLab: Comparison of Features

Feature Jenkins GitLab
Windows and Mac support Yes No
Track problems No Yes
Advanced plug-in support Yes No
Support available No Yes
Built-in version tracking No Yes

Direct comparison: Jenkins vs. GitLab

Easy installation

Jenkins and GitLab offer a very clear and easy installation process, and both options are also local tools, so you’ll need your own server.

Installing Jenkins is very easy. The only prerequisite is to first install the Java Runtime Environment, then simply download the Jenkins installer and follow the prompts. Once installed, you will create an administrator account and then access the tools and features through a web browser interface.

GitLab can be a little more complicated to install, especially if you have no experience with the specific Linux compilations it requires. All tools and features are included in one Omnibus package, so downloading the package that suits your installation is easy.

GitLab offers the ability to run Kubernetes, which can be useful if you already have this infrastructure and are familiar with Kubernetes. Docker images are also officially supported

GitLab supports cloud installations using AWS, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure. Gitlab offers special pre-configured compilations for the popular three cloud services to make installation and configuration easier. When it comes to cloud installations, GitLab is definitely the better choice between the two.

User interface

Both Jenkins and GitLab have user-friendly interfaces. With Jenkins, this can be browser-based or through a plugin theme that users can choose from. With GitLab there is an option known as Operations Dashboard. This shows all projects at a glance, along with pipelines and other indicators.


Both DevOps tools offer the ability to build, customize, or scale based on your needs.

Jenkins really excels with its plug-in library, which allows it to move from a simple project management tool to full product lifecycle management. But as more plugins are added, the whole system may start to get a little cluttered and feel assembled. Extreme scaling can be problematic with Jenkins compared to GitLab.

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With GitLab, although Jenkins doesn’t have the plug-in library, it offers more fully integrated tools for DevOps. This makes it a much better option for scaling in the long run. Although initially not as directly flexible as flexibility or scaling is pushed out, GitLab is starting to move forward in this regard.

Jenkins’ choice against GitLab

Jenkins excels in small and medium-sized environments, where budgets and manpower may be limited. It is easy to use, very easy to install and configure and can be adapted with the growth of your projects with extensive support for plug-ins.

GitLab is a premium tool that seems to serve medium to large environments, where added DevOps tools such as problem tracking, version control, and complex pipelines need to be managed. This makes GitLab great when it comes to collaborating with code and managing code repositories.

Both Jenkins and GitLab are extremely capable and mature tools. Choosing between the two is really just a matter of comparing their strengths with the environment in which you plan to use them.

Jenkins vs GitLab: DevOps software comparison

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