What is the Difference Between GitHub and GitLab?

Anyone interested in programming looking to build a career in software development will have come across the terms’ Git’, ‘GitHub’, ‘GitLab’ or ‘Bitbucket’. In the 21st century, where coding is the most opted career option, platforms like GitHub have made it easier to facilitate collaborative interactions among coders worldwide. They have helped the technological world grow faster than ever, even in pandemic and post-pandemic situations.

This article will discuss these platforms in-depth and conduct a detailed GitHub vs GitLab vs Bitbucket analysis to determine the difference between GitLab and GitHub. 

What is Git?

GIT is a version control system that is used to keep track of code changes. Gitt is a system that stores code updates and changes them in real-time. The Git server syncs the updates on its cloud-based platform. The rise in the popularity of GitHub can be credited to its distributed nature, as it allows developers to share their work and develop projects together. Statistics say that 90% of companies in the tech sector use Git. 

Git has been taking the software world by storm because of its easy branching software and the ability to upload work from anywhere in the world. One just needs strong coding knowledge and an internet connection to complete projects and send them to clients across the globe. It has made coding more organic and accessible and has allowed coders to work remotely from their comfort region without compromising the quality of the end product. 

What is GitHub?

GitHub is a graphical web-based repository hosting service powered by Git. Presently it hosts more than 38 million projects on its servers. Launch date 2008, it was one of the first Git-based open source hosting platforms. The ability to share code amongst users made it vastly famous among coders. Presently GitHub has more than 30 million users. 

In 2018, Microsoft bought the proprietary rights of GitHub for a whopping 7.5 billion dollars. This transfer of control has installed a fear amongst users regarding the availability of its open-source roots in the future. As a result, coders have started to search for free and open-source alternatives to GitHub. This is where GitLab enters into the picture.  

What is GitLab?

Launched in 2011, GitLab is also a Git-based repository platform like GitHub. Developed on the limitations of GitHub, GitLab provides a lot of new dimensions to the DevOps lifecycle. It provides a single interface for the entire DevOps lifecycle. Gradually major organizations like IBM, Sony, NASA, and major tech companies are shifting towards using GitLab. 

What is Bitbucket?

Bitbucket is based on the Mercurial platform. Later in 2011, when Atlassian acquired Bitbucket, the owners shifted it to Git servers. Atlassian is a company that develops tools like Jira and Trello. Jira is one of the most widely used project management tools available in the market right now. Integration with Jira helps the developers to nourish their project and provide the structure from a conceptual stage to a deliverable stage.  

Difference between GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket

Although many people claim that it is a clone of GitHub, GitLab has many added features and supports a lot more third-party involvement than GitHub. We can sum up the differences among these three leading project management platforms based on Git in the following table: 


Bitbucket GitHub



Bitbucket is not open source  GitHub is not open source and only without a subscription

GitLab is open source and allows users to use all features without any monetary compensation

Project analysis

Users can see the project Analysis chart and the burndown chart  on this platform Users can neither view the project analysis charts nor the burndown charts on the GitHub platform

Users can see the burndown and project analysis chart here

Private repositories

The bitbucket platform allows free private repositories to its clients GitHub allows free private repositories, But with three collaborators, only 

GitLab offers unlimited free private repositories

Public repositories

Free public repositories Collaboration with public repositories are free on GitHub

GitLab also provides unlimited free public repositories


The bitbucket platform does not support any navigation features Users can navigate usability on the GitHub platform

GitLab allows the feature of navigation into the repository 

CI integration 

Bitbucket allows an integrated CI functionality system GitHub does not allow any integration on its platform by default. However, users can install third-party applications for the same 

Integrated CI functionality is offered, especially for the GitLab server.

Issue templates or merge requests

This feature is unavailable on the bitbucket platform Users can merge requests for issue templates in GitHub Developers can issue templates or merge requests on the GitLab  platform too 


Built-in deployment

Deployment requires  integration of third-party apps

Built-in deployment facilities available

Detailed discussion on some of the differences between GitHub and GitLab

1. Import/Export of Data

GitLab is more potent at facilitating the import and export of data from third-party sources. On the other hand, GitHub is more restricted. It uses a separate tool named ‘GitHub importer’ for this purpose.

2. Authentication

GitLab allows stakeholders to assign individual access levels depending on the load of the project and its respective tasks. One can issue tracker access without providing source code access. This facility is highly mobile for role-based contributors of large organizations. 

In contrast, GitHub requires company stakeholders to grant read-write access to the different repositories on its server.  

3. Deployment

GitHub does not have any deployment framework of its own. It requires third-party services like Heroku to deploy applications.

On the contrary, GitLab provides a built-in streamlined deployment platform. Kubernetes is used for delivering a unified deployment experience in one single application. 

4. Tracking Comments

GitHub offers holistic support of comment updates and its history. Users have the option of removing essential private details from a comment’s edit history. 

This feature is unavailable in GitLab. 

5. Open-source

GitHub is not entirely free. It offers some free repositories, but most of the critical features need a subscription to unlock. 

GitLab is a free and open-source self-hosting service. All of its editions (community edition, professional edition, enterprise edition) are entirely free to use. 

GitHub vs GitLab: Benefits and limitations of GitHub

1. Advantages of GitHub

  • It is easy to integrate with third-party service-providing applications.
  • GitHub has free as well as paid options. The quality of service of the paid version is better than the free version. 
  • It is easy to use and has the maximum number of users among similar platforms.
  • It supports SVN, HG, and TFS. 

2. Disadvantages of GitHub

  • The API structure requires a lot of amendment and development.
  • It only allows three private repositories. Therefore, private repositories are pretty costly.
  • It does not contain many e updated functions.
  • Single files have a size restriction of 100 MB only. 

GitHub vs GitLab: Benefits and limitations of GitLab

1. Advantages of GitLab

  • It supports CI/CD lifecycle.
  • It is entirely free, with an open-source license.
  • Package distribution services are also available
  • All plans allow self-hosting facilities
  • Codes are easy to learn and maintain

2. Disadvantages of GitLab

  • Although private repositories are free, they have several common issues.
  • It lacks some enterprise-level features
  • Problematic upgrading process
  • Bug issues make the interface relatively slower than its competitors.

Similarities between GitHub and GitLab 

Apart from their differences, both GitHub and GitLab have a lot of similarities and common aspects as both aim to provide similar solutions. Some of the similarities between them are: 

  • Both platforms used bug trackers for quality assurance. 
  • Both have a vital issue tracking features that help the user to appoint members to solve problems and provide status updates according to requirements.
  • Even though GitLab has better enterprise-demanding features, both perform equally at the enterprise level. 
  • On both platforms, milestones can be set up quickly and sorted based on various assets. 


As we can infer from the above discussion, the debate of GitHub vs GitLab narrows down to the individual requirement. A significant shift of users from GitHub to GitLab occurred due to the transfer of ownership of the former pl88. Irrespective of differences, we can conclude that knowledge of either one is essential to achieving success in coding. A decorated GitHub or GitLab profile attracts IT recruiters and helps bag lucrative job offers in the machine learning and Artificial Intelligence career sector.

Suppose you want to acquire in-depth expertise in programming platforms like GitHub and GitLab. In that case, we recommend joining upGrad’s Master of Science in Machine Learning & AI from IIIT Bangalore and Liverpool John Moores University. Students stand to earn a dual IIITB & LJMU alumni status and access to upGrad’s 40,000+ paid learners base for collaborative educational opportunities. Included in the 18-month program are also 25+ mentorship sessions from industry experts and 360° career support. 

So, start your learning journey today! 

Which one is more platform-specific between GitHub and GitLab?

At the end of the day, it falls on a user’s needs to conclude whether GitHub suits them or GitLab. It also depends on a project's requirements.

Being the most popular Git repository hosting platform, GitHub is best for working on open source projects. It has a faster interface and provides connections with coders and app developers across the world. GitLab, on the other hand, offers more coverage for your software lifecycle. The tools required for DevOps are pre-installed. It makes self-hosting easier than GitHub.

What are the languages used in Git?

Git server allows usage of most of the functional programming languages in the market like:

1. C
2. C++
3. Python
4. Perl
5. Tcl

What are the significant benefits of using GitHub or GitLab?

Nearly all open source projects are managed by Git using project management programs. GitHub is the most frequently used, trusted, and popular platform amongst developers. The significant benefits of using GitHub are:

1. Markdown facilities.
2. The great exposure of the project work.
3. One can track the changes happening to their code across different versions.
4. It acts as a platform for showcasing one's talent. Recruiters often show a higher preference towards an engaging GitHub profile.

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