Top 4 differences we found in GitHub vs. GitLab for Public Repositories

The combination of public repositories, open source, and cloud has accelerated exponential digital proliferation globally. GitHub claims over 65 million users and 206 million repositories. At this scale, GitHub could potentially eclipse every other repository provider. Do read about different repository providers in our earlier post.

Since public repositories foster exponential digital growth, we took a deep dive of public repositories between the top 2 providers. So, here is GitHub vs. GitLab for Public Repositories!

Infographic summarizing GitHub vs. GitLab Public Repositories statistics
  1. Size does matter, and GitHub’s market share in public repositories is 32 times its nearest competitor, GitLab. While GitHub claims over 206 million repositories, we were able to verify about 30 million public GitHub repositories against GitLab’s 905 thousand.
  2. What’s inside the repositories may surprise you! We took a sample of the most popular repositories and the least popular repositories in GitLab. Overall we found there was 81% duplication between GitLab and GitHub in this sample. We further saw a 64% overlap in the Most popular sample and a whopping 98% overlap in the least popular. It seems to indicate that the critical projects choose a repository and use another for mirroring, while the enthusiast developers create duplicate projects across providers. Maybe for learning?
  3. Then we looked at user activity. GitHub almost has 50X more stargazers on average over GitLab. It also has over 15X more forks and 3X more releases over the average GitLab public repository.
  4. GitHub and GitLab both support the open source initiative, having been born from one. We saw GitHub supporting about 40 open source software license types against GitLab’s 30. GitLab was at 79% against GitHub’s 52% on the dreaded unlicensed public repository software percentage.

Our analysis shows that GitHub has a dominant market share and is more active and slightly safer to pick a licensed public repository than GitLab.

The disparity in scale reminds us of the early public cloud days where AWS eclipsed every other cloud provider in market share. It is interesting to see that cloud providers, except for Microsoft, are still focusing on applications’ runtime vs. the applications themselves. Will we see a correction in this repository market? Maybe it’s that compute is more profitable than storage now!

Happy Reuse!


While every effort has been made to provide accurate and updated information, we regret any omission or error.

Overlap analysis was performed using the 50 most and 50 least popular public repositories on GitLab, compared with GitHub public repositories.

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