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Guard gitlab jobs from multiple simultaneous executions

Project description

pipeline status


Guard Gitlab CI pipeline jobs from multiple parallel executions.

$ PRIVATE_TOKEN="$GITLAB_API_TOKEN" gitlab-job-guard
$ my-unguarded-deployment-task --to=production

gitlab-job-guard will block if it detects other pipelines running for the current project to avoid multiple pipelines from clobbering up a deployment/environment. This is especially a problem when jobs are distributed and picked up by multiple gitlab runners.

While gitlab will auto-cancel redundant, pending pipelines for the same branch by default - this is not the case for multiple pipelines from different branches targeting a particular deployment/environment. Gitlab has no way to detect or control these user-defined branch-to-environment mappings and this means environments can easily be left in an unsafe/broken state. (e.g. terraform apply or ansible, etc from different pipelines running at the same time).

gitlab-job-guard uses the Gitlab API to determine if existing pipelines are scheduled and to backoff-and-retry until it is safe to proceed even if jobs are distributed across multiple runners. Conflicts are detected by user-defined matches on pipeline ref names (branch, tag, etc) and/or pipeline status.


The simplest use-case would likely be placing gitlab-job-guard in a before_script section in your gitlab-ci.yml to protect all jobs (though this can slow things down and be unfriendly to your local gitlab-ops).

$GITLAB_API_TOKEN is a Personal Access Token with at minimum api scope.

  - PRIVATE_TOKEN="$GITLAB_API_TOKEN" gitlab-job-guard

Though often, most pipelines only need to guard the critical jobs that share common state/data (i.e. a provisioning/deployment job, an artifact build/release job, etc).

  stage: deploy
    - PRIVATE_TOKEN="$GITLAB_API_TOKEN" gitlab-job-guard
    - my-unguarded-deployment-task --to=production

e.g To guard something critical like a terraform job running for a tag.

  stage: provision
    - gitlab-job-guard --guard-ref-regex='^v[0-9\.]+'  # Regex matches tags
    - terraform plan  ...
    - terraform apply ...
    - tags

Other usages

--guard-ref-regex takes a regular expression to detect conflicts on other pipelines whose ref name (branch, tag) is a (partial) match. This allows for guarding of jobs in the complex use-cases.

To hold jobs for a collisions on pattern matches on the branch/tag names.

gitlab-job-guard -c=^master$                # Match branch names matching 'master' exactly

gitlab-job-guard -c=^(master|dev(elop)?)$   # Match any of the mainline branches

gitlab-job-guard -c=^(feature|release|hotfix)/  # Match any gitflow transient branch prefixes

gitlab-job-guard -c=^[0-9]\-                # Match branch names beginning with a number
                                            # and dash ignoring all other text.
                                            # e.g. a gitlab branch made from an issue

gitlab-job-guard -c=^v?[\d.]+$              # Match (semver) tags like v1.0.9, 2.0

gitlab-job-guard -c=^environment/           # Match any environment deployments?

gitlab-job-guard -c=^environment/dc1.+      # Match environment deployments to DC1?

gitlab-job-guard -c="$CI_BUILD_REF_NAME"    # Match current branch name (partially).
                                            # i.e. 'master' matches 'feature/master-document'

gitlab-job-guard -c="^$CI_BUILD_REF_NAME$"  # Match current branch name (exactly).
                                            # i.e. 'master' does not match 'master-deployment'

gitlab-job-guard -c='.+' -s='running|pending'  # Match any pipeline in running or pending state

To hold a job for a collision on part of the ref name (e.g. on branch prefix such as feature/ or hotfix/ or release/, etc a la gitflow).

# Assuming current pipeline is for the 'feature/foo' branch and that
# CI_BUILD_REF_NAME=feature/foo

# Extract the branch prefix
CI_BUILD_REF_PREFIX=$(echo "$CI_BUILD_REF_NAME" | sed -r 's@(.+/)(.+)@\1@')

# CI_BUILD_REF_PREFIX now contains 'feature/'
# This will now block if there are any other pipelines running or pending
# for feature/ branches.
gitlab-job-guard -c="^$CI_BUILD_REF_PREFIX" -s='running|pending'

Other arguments

Typically gitlab-job-guard reads in the following environment variables to compose its arguments. NOTE: environment variables take precedence over arguments passed at the CLI and so only the user-specified arguments/envvars need to be set. Setting these as protected environment variables avoids leaking sensitive information and needing to duplicate them for every call.

envvar              |  argument             | source
-------------------   ---------------------   ----------------
GUARD_REF_REGEX     | --guard-ref-regex     | user specified
GUARD_STATUS_REGEX  | --guard-status-regex  | user specified
PRIVATE_TOKEN       | --private-token       | user specified
GUARD_TIMEOUT       | --guard-timeout       | user specified
CI_PROJECT_ID       | --ci-project-id       | runner environment
CI_BUILD_REF_NAME   | --ci-build-ref-name   | runner environment
CI_API_V4_URL       | --ci-api-v4-url       | runner environment
CI_PIPELINE_ID      | --ci-pipeline-id      | runner environment

See gitlab-job-guard -h for the full argument set and current/default values.


gitlab-job-guard will backoff-and-retry until it is safe to proceed or a timeout is reached. An exit code of 0 indicates no other pipelines conflict and that the job can continue. On reaching the timeout (1 hour by default to align with the default timeout for gitlab jobs), it will return an error to fail the job. The timeout in seconds can be set via -w/--guard-timeout.

If a fail-fast approach is needed, the -x/--no-wait flag will cause gitlab-job-guard to exit immediately on conflicts. (Though, this means the pipeline run will have to be restarted some other way or abandoned).


For long-running pipelines, this solution can have subtle consequences with growing queues and increased contention and unpredictability as to which pipeline is the first-past-the-post. An older pipeline taking precedence over newer commits if often not desired and newer pipelines always winning is probably desired.

  • Handle existing conflicting pipelines - cancel them or give-way.
  • Narrow down conflicts to jobs (CI_JOB_NAME) or stages (CI_JOB_STAGE) so that other parts of the pipelines that do not share state are allowed to run freely.

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