GitLab is the new GitHub?

By on October 4, 2015
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With a new version of its product in the offing and $4 million in Series A funding in its pocket, GitLab — creator of an open source alternative to code-hosting nexus GitHub — is setting out to expand its reach with enterprise customers.

While it seems nearly impossible for a third party to displace GitHub as a public code-sharing resource, on the enterprise side and behind the firewall GitLab may have a fighting chance — provided a generation of developers already comfortable with GitHub don’t simply opt for GitHub as a default.

GitLab offers many of the same features as GitHub: It’s a software repository with a Web front end and many workflow features. But GitLab is open source (MIT-licensed). GitLab can be hosted on the hardware of one’s choice, inside or outside the firewall, without upfront payments.

The enterprise edition of GitLab, which comes at a cost, adds enterprise-specific features like deeper support for LDAP, workgroup-related functionality, and closer integration with other workflow systems like JIRA. But some features in the free, open source version also have enterprise appeal, such as direct importing of projects from GitHub and two-factor authentication.

GitLab claims to be flat-out better than GitHub, thanks to features like authentication levels for users and protected branches (although GitHub added a version of the latter earlier this month). Support for large binaries — which GitHub has long been criticized for not handling well (although recent changes are meant to address the complaint) — is also part of GitLab’s package, albeit only for enterprise users. In addition, GitLab competes on price, costing $49 per user, per year, versus GitHub’s $249.

Which one will you choose?

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