Not so long ago I had to make a static website, and was figuring out how to do this. I came across hugo. And I really liked how quickly you can build and publish a website from markdown.

A while ago google made the .dev available for peanuts, so, impulsively, I bought one. From $12 you can get one, and start doing awesome stuff with this. But I didn’t. I parked the domain for a while. There are plenty of cloud providers that will host your website for you, like AWS, Netlify and many more.

But I had no clue where to host this, because I am lazy and cheap. Then for work I had to do something similar, and I wondered if I could just host my GitLab Pages on my own domain. And guess what, you can, and it is amazingly simple!

I started to write out some boilerplate (easy), picked a theme I liked (easy, I used m10c), and off I went.

Here I will try to explain how I got from writing some basic markdown to running it on my own domain (well, technically it doesn’t. But it appears so).

You can find the repository of this site here. I like yaml over toml. Therefor I will use the yaml configuration option from hugo.

My config is as follows, but also available here

title: Rik de Groot
enableRobotsTXT: true
languageCode: en-us
assetsDir: content/assets
themesDir: themes
metaDataFormat: yaml
    posts: /-/:year/:month/:day/:title
    tags: /:slug
paginate: 10
theme: m10c
enableGitInfo: true
googleAnalytics: <GA tracking code>

# enable auto code highlighting without effort
pygmentsCodefencesGuessSyntax: true
pygmentsUseClasses: true
pygmentsStyle: monokai
pygmentsCodeFences: true

# Site parameters
    author: Rik de Groot
    description: Code, cook and bake. Tech Lead @FinLeaseNL
    avatar: assets/images/rik-de-groot.jpg
        - assets/og/cover.png
        - name: gitlab
        - name: twitter
        - name: linkedin
    ## Use the green styles
        darkestColor: "#282e37"
        darkColor: "#3d434c"
        primaryColor: "#67eba2"
        lightColor: "#d3d3d3"
        lighestColor: "#fff"

The nice thing about using the tools that are popular, is that a lot of people already figured out stuff for you. All you need to do is Google it. So I did. You can find all about deploying a hugo app to GitLab pages in this example.

I used the following .gitlab-ci.yml configuration to get the job done. Gitlab published a docker container, that can be used to build your project (see the above example form GitLab). But I like to have the extended features as well, so I created my own which is available in the container registry of the project. But not too much credits to myself, because I based it on the container from jguyomard. You can find the project on GitHub.

# .gitlab-ci.yml
    - pages

# the theme is submoduled, so make sure to do a recursive clone

    stage: pages
        - git clean -ffdx
        # files are in a subdirectory of the project
        - cd site
        - hugo --contentDir content/
          --config config/config.yaml
          --destination ../public/
            - public
            - tags
            - main

Now that you build your static site in GitLab, and deploy it to GitLab Pages, you can add your own domain to GitLab pages by following a few steps.

Add your domain to GitLab Pages

Now we can add the domain to GitLab Pages. In your project, go to Settings > Pages. Here click the New domain button.

Fill in your domain, and set the Automatic certificate management using Let's Encrypt switch on.

Configure your own domain in GitLab Pages settings.

Verify your domain

To verify your domain, you will need to add two fields to your DNS. I am using Google domains, but it is all more or less the same. All you need is privileges to alter the DNS settings of your domain.

Youl will have to add two records, so GitLab can verify you own the domain.

First you will have to add a CNAME record <> CNAME <yourusername> to forward the url to gitlab pages, and a TXT record to verify the domain is yours TXT gitlab-pages-verification-code=<somerandomcode>.

Configure dns records in google domains.

Then hit the verify button. It might not work straight away because the records need to be synced. But in my case it was less than 5 minutes.

Before adding DNS records, domain fails to verify
Verify that the domain is yours after adding the verification code to your DNS

If it worked, the status will change to verified

Domain verified by GitLab.

And in the overview, you will see that your domain is listed in the Access pages section

Domain added to GitLab Pages.

Add a let’s encrypt certificate to your page

Gitlab has this great help on how to use let’s encrypt in combination with GitLab Pages. Following the steps from their manual will get you all you need to register your https certificate to your domain.


I had to register using certbot. Just install the binary using the package manager of your OS.

certbot certonly -a manual -d --email

And it gave me the code in return of format A.B. Mine looked like


then create a directory public/.well-known/acme-challenge/A, in my case public/.well-known/acme-challenge/MXDCs3RTdKM5KNIJFbogSwTLoiduCbtyHKZ2k1zxvWQ/. Inside this directory, put a file index.html with the full A.B key in it, just as suggested by the certbot output

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
NOTE: The IP of this machine will be publicly logged as having requested this
certificate. If you're running certbot in manual mode on a machine that is not
your server, please ensure you're okay with that.

Are you OK with your IP being logged?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
(Y)es/(N)o: y

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Create a file containing just this data:


And make it available on your web server at this URL:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

At this point, pause. DO NOT continue yet. If you did, no problem. Validation will fail, but the next time you run it, you will get the same code.

So the file public/.well-known/acme-challenge/MXDCs3RTdKM5KNIJFbogSwTLoiduCbtyHKZ2k1zxvWQ/index.html would look like

<!-- index.html -->

Basically that is it. You can continue the certificate registration, although it will probably fail. Make sure that GitLab deploys your pages with the certificate directory .well-known/acme-challenge/A in it. You can check this by visiting https://<your-domain>/.wel-known/acme-challenge/A/. It should serve you this html page with the key in it. Then you can run the certbot command again, and it should present you the success message

 - Congratulations! Your certificate and chain have been saved at:
   Your key file has been saved at:
   Your cert will expire on 2019-10-17. To obtain a new or tweaked
   version of this certificate in the future, simply run certbot
   again. To non-interactively renew *all* of your certificates, run
   "certbot renew"
 - If you like Certbot, please consider supporting our work by:

   Donating to ISRG / Let's Encrypt:
   Donating to EFF:          

You’re done!

Hope it helps