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Choosing the runner for a job

Define the type of machine that will process a job in your workflow.

Overview

Use jobs.<job_id>.runs-on to define the type of machine to run the job on.

  • The destination machine can be either a GitHub-hosted runner, larger runner, or a self-hosted runner.

  • You can target runners based on the labels assigned to them, or their group membership, or a combination of these.

  • You can provide runs-on as:

    • a single string
    • a single variable containing a string
    • an array of strings, variables containing strings, or a combination of both
    • a key: value pair using the group or labels keys
  • If you specify an array of strings or variables, your workflow will execute on any runner that matches all of the specified runs-on values. For example, here the job will only run on a self-hosted runner that has the labels linux, x64, and gpu:

    runs-on: [self-hosted, linux, x64, gpu]
    

    For more information, see "Choosing self-hosted runners."

  • You can mix strings and variables in an array. For example:

    on:
      workflow_dispatch:
        inputs:
          chosen-os:
            required: true
            type: choice
            options:
            - Ubuntu
            - macOS
    
    jobs:
      test:
        runs-on: [self-hosted, "${{ inputs.chosen-os }}"]
        steps:
        - run: echo Hello world!
    
  • If you would like to run your workflow on multiple machines, use jobs.<job_id>.strategy.

Note: Quotation marks are not required around simple strings like self-hosted, but they are required for expressions like "${{ inputs.chosen-os }}".

Choosing GitHub-hosted runners

If you use a GitHub-hosted runner, each job runs in a fresh instance of a runner image specified by runs-on.

Available GitHub-hosted runner labels are:

OS (YAML workflow label) Notes
ubuntu-latest, ubuntu-22.04, ubuntu-20.04 The ubuntu-latest label currently uses the Ubuntu 22.04 runner image.
windows-latest, windows-2022, windows-2019 The windows-latest label currently uses the Windows 2022 runner image.
macos-latest, macos-14 [Beta], macos-13, macos-12, macos-11 The macos-latest workflow label currently uses the macOS 12 runner image.

For more information about GitHub-hosted runner specifications, see "About GitHub-hosted runners."

Note: The -latest runner images are the latest stable images that GitHub provides, and might not be the most recent version of the operating system available from the operating system vendor.

Warning: Beta and Deprecated Images are provided "as-is", "with all faults" and "as available" and are excluded from the service level agreement and warranty. Beta Images may not be covered by customer support.

Example: Specifying an operating system

runs-on: ubuntu-latest

For more information, see "Using GitHub-hosted runners."

Choosing self-hosted runners

To specify a self-hosted runner for your job, configure runs-on in your workflow file with self-hosted runner labels.

All self-hosted runners have the self-hosted label. Using only this label will select any self-hosted runner. To select runners that meet certain criteria, such as operating system or architecture, we recommend providing an array of labels that begins with self-hosted (this must be listed first) and then includes additional labels as needed. When you specify an array of labels, jobs will be queued on runners that have all the labels that you specify.

Although the self-hosted label is not required, we strongly recommend specifying it when using self-hosted runners to ensure that your job does not unintentionally specify any current or future GitHub-hosted runners.

Example: Using labels for runner selection

runs-on: [self-hosted, linux]

For more information, see "About self-hosted runners" and "Using self-hosted runners in a workflow."

Choosing runners in a group

You can use runs-on to target runner groups, so that the job will execute on any runner that is a member of that group. For more granular control, you can also combine runner groups with labels.

Runner groups can only have larger runners or self-hosted runners as members.

Example: Using groups to control where jobs are run

In this example, Ubuntu runners have been added to a group called ubuntu-runners. The runs-on key sends the job to any available runner in the ubuntu-runners group:

name: learn-github-actions
on: [push]
jobs:
  check-bats-version:
    runs-on: 
      group: ubuntu-runners
    steps:
      - uses: actions/checkout@v4
      - uses: actions/setup-node@v3
        with:
          node-version: '14'
      - run: npm install -g bats
      - run: bats -v

Example: Combining groups and labels

When you combine groups and labels, the runner must meet both requirements to be eligible to run the job.

In this example, a runner group called ubuntu-runners is populated with Ubuntu runners, which have also been assigned the label ubuntu-20.04-16core. The runs-on key combines group and labels so that the job is routed to any available runner within the group that also has a matching label:

name: learn-github-actions
on: [push]
jobs:
  check-bats-version:
    runs-on:
      group: ubuntu-runners
      labels: ubuntu-20.04-16core
    steps:
      - uses: actions/checkout@v4
      - uses: actions/setup-node@v3
        with:
          node-version: '14'
      - run: npm install -g bats
      - run: bats -v

Example: using prefixes to differentiate runner groups

For example, if you have a runner group named my-group in the organization and another named my-group in the enterprise, you can update your workflow file to use org/my-group or ent/my-group to differentiate between the two.

Using org/:

runs-on:
  group: org/my-group
  labels: [ self-hosted, label-1 ]

Using ent/:

runs-on:
  group: ent/my-group
  labels: [ self-hosted, label-1 ]