Git, GitHub and GitLab: Which is better for DevOps?

Git, GitHub and GitLab are very similar in several areas. In addition to having almost the same name, they are also known for being based on the popular Git distributed system. What are the differences between GitHub and GitLab and which is the best option?

Git, GitLab and GitHub

GitLab and GitHub are development platforms focused on the open-source Git system for distributed version control. In recent years, Git has become a tool that many developers can’t imagine working without. Read our previous article What is Git. It plays an key role in many areas, and is particularly key for DevOps engineers.

Along with Git, you can use other systems such as GitLab or GitHub. Both options share some features, but they differ in many aspects.

GitHub –what is it?

GitHub is a web hosting service for software development and version control using Git. GitHub has a number of features, such as access control, bug tracking, task management, and continuous integration. This gives you the confidence that you’ll find your way around it.

GitHub is typically used as a hosting platform for open-source projects because it offers free web hosting for this type of projects. As of January 2019, private repositories can also be deposited for free via GitHub.

History of GitHub

Development of the GitHub platform began in October 2007 by four developers – Tom Preston-Werner, Chris Wanstrath, PJ Hyett, and Scott Chacon. A few months later, in April 2008, they launched the website.

One of the most significant users of the GitHub system is Microsoft. It utilizes GitHub primarily for its open-source projects and development tools, such as .Net Core, Chakra Core, MSBuild, PowerShell, PowerToys, Visual Studio Code, Windows Calculator, Windows Terminal, and Microsoft Docs.

In 2018, Microsoft acquired GitHub and turned it into one of its subsidiaries.

github repositories screenshot
One of Github’s many interfaces – repositories.

The possibilities of use

GitHub is most commonly used in software development, supporting various features and formats. They are:

  • Documentation – the system documents everything you need, including automatically provided templates like and files, which are in Markdown language.
  • Wiki for each project – wikis are web pages that allow visitors to add, edit, and remove content. GitHub provides such a web page for each project.
  • Issue tracking system – thanks to this, you can identify where the error occurred and quickly fix it.
  • Version history – you can easily revert to some older versions and restore them, or just check if there is an error in them.
  • Mentioning individuals – GitHub supports the option to tag another person for notifications or changes. Simply mention them using the “@” symbol.
  • Writing code with AI assistanceartificial intelligence and programming with Github Copilot.
  • Other features– GitHub’s other features include:
    • discussions,
    • emoticons,
    • searching for differences,
    • integration of directories,
    • nested task lists in files,
    • visualization of geospatial data,
    • browsing PDF documents.

Using GitHub projects can be accessed and managed using a standard command line. GitHub also allows the general public to browse public repositories directly on the site and download them. However, only registered users can contribute to them.

The main goal of GitHub is to facilitate version control and issue tracking in software development. Labels, milestones and handy searches are available for tracking. As part of version control, Git allows so-called. download requests, which can be used to suggest changes to the source code.

Users who have the opportunity to review the proposed changes can see the difference between the status quo and the requested changes and approve the proposal.

GitHub Types

When you choose GitHub, you have to choose one of the available types:

  • GitHub Free – the free version, which is suitable especially for programming beginners. This is due to the fact that the version is quite limited and does not include everything that a senior Java developer might require, for example.
  • GitHub Team – a paid version that is suitable for individuals and organizations. It is a golden middle way suitable for advanced students.
  • GitHub Enterprise – the most expensive but also the most comprehensive option, which includes everything in the Free and Team versions plus some additional features. It is suitable for large companies and those who require more than what GitHub Team offers.

Interesting fact

According to the latest data and statistics, as of January 2023, GitHub had over 100 million users.

GitLab – what is it?

GitLab is a DevOps software suite that can develop, secure, and operate software. It works very similarly to GitHub, which means it provides hosting for open source development projects. In addition, it allows its software to be used on third-party servers.

gitlab screenshot
Gitlab 15.10

History of GitLab

GitLab Inc. was founded in 2014 by two developers – Dmitriy Zaporozhets and Sytse Sijbrandij. Its goal was to continue developing a platform for sharing code, which was launched by Dmitriy Zaporozhets in 2011.

GitLab poskytuje svoju platformu ako freemium službu. In practice, this means that the basic product is provided for free, but its extended versions are paid for.

Possibilities of use

The basic user feature of GitLab is a visual Git repository management system that allows developers to browse, control, merge, and perform both simple and advanced daily tasks.

The bulk of the UI is powered by Ruby on Rails. It launches tasks through a job queue on the Redis server to a backend helper called GitLab Runner, written in the Go language.

GitLab also offers a wide range of plugins and integrations, allowing you to expand and customize it according to your specific needs.

Another advantage is that the open-source license gives you the opportunity to run a copy of GitLab Community Edition (CE) on your servers, whether in the cloud or locally.

Other GitLab features include:

  • practical team planning,
  • creating checklists,
  • use of emoji,
  • use of pre-prepared templates,
  • diskusie s ostatnými členmi tímu,
  • filters to filter activity,
  • tracking changes,
  • labels,
  • milestones,
  • locking the discussion,
  • anticipating a duplication problem,
  • task list creation,
  • time tracking.

Using GitLab

The main advantage of GitLab is that it allows all team members to work on each phase of the project together, without being in the same place. In addition, GitLab also enables change tracking, scheduling, and more, so developers can automate the entire DevOps lifecycle and achieve the best results.

The whole process of using GitLab is quick and easy. Even beginners who have not worked with a similar system before will have no problem with it.

GitLab types

Three alternatives are currently available for developers. They are:

  • GitLab Free – a free solution for those who are just getting started with programming in Java or another programming language, or those who just need a limited version with a few features.
  • GitLab Premium – a paid alternative for smaller teams and developers who need advanced features.
  • GitLab Ultimate – the most expensive alternative that also provides the most features and options. It is suitable for large teams and companies, or for very demanding developers.

Differences between GitHub and GitLab

Už viete, ako jednotlivé systémy fungujú, aké sú ich funkcie a aké alternatívy sú k dispozícii. But to make the right choice, you need to know the biggest differences between GitLab and GitHub. We’ve written them all down for you.

CI/CD tools

The GitLab system is known for having built-in continuous integration, or CI for short. Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD), and DevOps workflows.

GitHub is different. Although it allows you to work with the CI/CD tools of your choice, you will have to interact with them independently. GitHub users typically work with a third-party CI program such as Jenkins, CircleCI, or TravisCI.

Branch merging with GitHub and GitLab

GitHub supports merging new branches with the main branch. So you’re always ready to deploy quickly, and if something goes wrong, you can restore your old version in seconds.

Within GitLab, you create multiple separate branches for each changeset. These separate branches are always over and above the main branch. Although a multi-branch system is not bad, but it requires a multi-stage testing process. One code check when requesting a merger is not enough.

GitHub, GitLab and integration with tools

Another difference is that GitLab offers you a complete software development solution and allows you to integrate with certain programs and platforms. These include Jira, Microsoft Teams, Slack and Gmail.

GitHub provides fewer services within its own program, but on the other hand it offers the possibility to integrate with many external programs. You can find many of them in the GitHub Marketplace.


The difference between GitLab and GitHub is also the prices for their premium alternatives.

Prices for GitHub:

  • GitHub Team – $44 per user per year
  • GitHub Enterprise – $231 per user per year

Prices for GitLab:

  • GitHub Premium – $19 per user per month
  • GitHub Ultimate – $99 per user per month

However, when choosing one of the options, you should consider price as the last deciding factor. The most important thing is that the system suits you in terms of features and the way it works. So you’d do well to try both options in their free versions to start, and then make a decision.

What makes GitLab and GitHub the same?

GitLab and GitHub also share several features. For example, both systems have a command line interface for advanced developers and also offer a web interface for new developers.

Interestingly, while both solutions support open-source, they use a mixed programming model. GitLab uses open-source only for the free GitLab Community Edition. The paid version of GitLab Enterprise Edition is not open-source and comes with more features and support.

The GitHub code contains open-source code, but it is generally not an open-source project.

Despite all the aforementioned, both systems provide web-based open-source repositories and allow local changes to files with remote storage.

Consequently, it should not be forgotten that GitLab and GitHub are the same in that they use the open-source Git system as their foundation.

Choose one of the systems and get your dream job

Basic or advanced knowledge of Gitlab or GitHub can broaden your horizons and open the door to your dream job. Explore available resources such as articles, e-books and videos to learn how to develop software quickly and easily. And if you’re interested in working in IT, take a look at our job offers.

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