GitOps for k8s
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How to release Flux and the Helm operator

The release process needs to do these things:

  • create a new release on GitHub, with a tag
  • push Docker image(s) to Docker Hub
  • possibly upload the fluxctl binaries to the GitHub release
  • make sure the version is entered into the checkpoint database so that up-to-date checks report back accurate information

Much of this is automated, but it needs a human to turn the wheel.


The Flux daemon and the Helm operator have separate releases, and use different branches and tags. Flux daemon releases use just a semver version, like 1.8.1, and the Helm operator uses the prefix “helm”, e.g., helm-0.5.0.

Each minor version has its own “release series” branch, from which patch releases will be put together, called e.g., release/1.8.x, or for the Helm operator, release/helm-0.5.x.

The CircleCI script runs builds for tags, which push Docker images and upload binaries. This is triggered by creating a release in GitHub, which will create the tag.


  • CircleCI must have a secret environmental variable called GITHUB_TOKEN which is a personal access token. (This is almost certainly already set up, but mentioned here in case it needs to be reinstated.)

Release process

Preparing the release PR

  1. If the release is a new minor version, create a “release series” branch and push it to GitHub.

    Depending on what is to be included in the release, you may need to pick a point from which branch that is not HEAD of master. But usually, it will be HEAD of master.

  2. From the release series branch, create another branch for the particular release. This will be what you submit as a PR.

    For example,

    git checkout release/1.8.x
    git pull origin
    git checkout -b release/1.8.1
  3. Put the commits you want in the release, into your branch

    If you just created a new release series branch, i.e., this is a x.y.0 patch release, you may already have what you need, because you’ve just branched from master.

    If this is not the first release on this branch, you will need to either merge master, or cherry-pick commits from master, to get the things you want in the release.

  4. Put an entry into the changelog

    For the Flux daemon, it’s; for the Helm operator, it’s Follow the format established, and commit your change.

    If you cherry-picked commits, remember to only mention those changes.

    To compile a list of people (GitHub usernames) to thank, you can use a script (if you have access to weaveworks/dx) or peruse the commits/PRs merged/issues since the last release. There’s no exact way to do it. Be generous.

  5. Post the branch as a PR to the release series

    Push the patch release branch -- e.g., release/1.8.1 -- to GitHub, and create a PR from it.

    Note: You will need to change the branch the PR targets, from master to the release series, e.g., release/1.8.x, while creating the PR.

  6. Get the PR reviewed, and merge it.

Creating the release

  1. Create a release in GitHub

    Use a tag name as explained above; semver for the Flux daemon, helm- then the semver for the Helm operator.

    Copy and paste the changelog entry. You may need to remove newlines that have been inserted by your editor, so that it wraps nicely.

    Publishing the release will create the tag, and that will trigger CI to build images and binaries.

After publishing the release

  1. Put an entry in the checkpoint database

    Add a row to the checkpoint database (or ask someone at Weaveworks to do so). This is so that the up-to-date check will report the latest available version correctly.

  2. Merge the release series branch back into master, so it has the changelog entry.

    You can do this by creating a new PR in GitHub -- you don’t need to create any new branches, since you want to merge a branch that already exists.

  3. Consider updating the deploy manifest examples and the Helm chart.

    The example manifests are in deploy and deploy-helm. Check the changes included in the release, to see if arguments, volume mounts, etc., have changed.

    You can do these as additional PRs. Read on, for how to publish a new Helm chart version.

Helm chart release process

  1. Create a new branch as in chart-bump
  2. Update appVersion with the new Flux version in chart/flux/Chart.yaml
  3. Bump the chart version in chart/flux/Chart.yaml
  4. Update image.tag with the new Flux version in chart/flux/values.yaml
  5. For Flux Helm Operator update helmOperator.tag in chart/flux/values.yaml
  6. Create a PR from chart-bump
  7. After the PR is merged, tag the master with the chart version git tag chart-0.2.2 and push it upstream
  8. Checkout the gh-pages branch and run ./bin/ chart-0.2.2, this will generate a new chart release package
  9. Add all files generated by and push those changes to gh-pages