Frequently asked questions

General questions

Also see

What does Flux do?

Flux automates the process of deploying new configuration and container images to Kubernetes.

How does it automate deployment?

It synchronises all manifests in a repository with a Kubernetes cluster. It also monitors container registries for new images and updates the manifests accordingly.

How is that different from a bash script?

The amount of functionality contained within Flux warrants a dedicated application/service. An equivalent script could easily get too large to maintain and reuse.

Anyway, we’ve already done it for you!

Why should I automate deployment?

Automation is a principle of lean development. It reduces waste, to provide efficiency gains. It empowers employees by removing dull tasks. It mitigates against failure by avoiding silly mistakes.

I thought Flux was about service routing?

That’s where we started a while ago. But we discovered that automating deployments was more urgent for our own purposes.

Staging deployments with clever routing is useful, but it’s a later level of operational maturity.

There are some pretty good solutions for service routing: Envoy, Istio for example. We may return to the matter of staged deployments.

Are there prerelease builds I can run?

There are builds from CI for each merge to master branch. See fluxcd/flux-prerelease.

Technical questions

Does it work only with one git repository?

At present, yes it works only with a single git repository containing Kubernetes manifests. You can have as many git repositories with application code as you like, to be clear – see below.

There’s no principled reason for this, it’s just a consequence of time and effort being in finite supply. If you have a use for multiple git repo support, please comment in https://github.com/fluxcd/flux/issues/1164.

In the meantime, for some use cases you can run more than one Flux daemon and point them at different repos. If you do this, consider trimming the RBAC permissions you give each daemon’s service account.

This Flux (daemon) operator project may be of use for managing multiple daemons.

Do I have to put my application code and config in the same git repo?

Nope, but they can be if you want to keep them together. Flux doesn’t need to know about your application code, since it deals with container images (i.e., once your application code has already been built).

Is there any special directory layout I need in my git repo?

Nope. Flux doesn’t place any significance on the directory structure, and will descend into subdirectories in search of YAMLs. Although kubectl works with JSON files, Flux will ignore JSON. It avoids directories that look like Helm charts.

If you have YAML files in the repo that aren’t for applying to Kubernetes, use --git-path to constrain where Flux starts looking.

See also requirements.md for a little more explanation.

Why does Flux need a git ssh key with write access?

There are a number of Flux commands and API calls which will update the git repo in the course of applying the command. This is done to ensure that git remains the single source of truth.

For example, if you use the following fluxctl command:

fluxctl release --controller=deployment/foo --update-image=bar:v2

The image tag will be updated in the git repository upon applying the command.

For more information about Flux commands see the fluxctl docs.

Can I run Flux with readonly Git access?

Yes. You can use the --git-readonly command line argument. The Helm chart exposes this as git.readonly.

This will prevent Flux from trying to write to your repository. You should also provide a readonly SSH key; e.g., on GitHub, leave the Allow write access box unchecked when you add the deploy key.

Does Flux automatically sync changes back to git?

No. It applies changes to git only when a Flux command or API call makes them.

Will Flux delete resources when I remove them from git?

Flux has an garbage collection feature, enabled by passing the command-line flag --sync-garbage-collection to fluxd.

The garbage collection is conservative: it is designed to not delete resources that were not created by fluxd. This means it will sometimes not delete resources that were created by fluxd, when reconfigured. Read more about garbage collection here.

How do I give Flux access to an image registry?

Flux transparently looks at the image pull secrets that you attach to workloads and service accounts, and thereby uses the same credentials that Kubernetes uses for pulling each image. In general, if your pods are running, then Kubernetes has pulled the images, and Flux should be able to access them too.

There are exceptions:

  • One way of supplying credentials in Kubernetes is to put them on each node; Flux does not have access to those credentials.

  • In some environments, authorisation provided by the platform is used instead of image pull secrets:

    • Google Container Registry works this way; Flux will automatically attempt to use platform-provided credentials when scanning images in GCR.

    • Amazon Elastic Container Registry (ECR) has its own authentication using IAM. If your worker nodes can read from ECR, then Flux will be able to access it too.

To work around exceptional cases, you can mount a docker config into the Flux container. See the argument --docker-config in the daemon arguments reference.

See also Why are my images not showing up in the list of images?

How often does Flux check for new images?

  • Flux scans image registries for metadata as quickly as it can, given rate limiting; and,

  • checks if any automated workloads needs updates every five minutes, by default.

The latter default is quite conservative, so you can try lowering it (it’s set with the flag --automation-interval).

Please don’t increase the rate limiting numbers (--registry-rps and --registry-burst) – it’s possible to get blacklisted by image registries if you spam them with requests.

If you are using GCP/GKE/GCR, you will likely want much lower rate limits. Please see fluxcd/flux#1016 for specific advice.

How often does Flux check for new git commits (and can I make it sync faster)?

Short answer: every five minutes; and yes.

There are two flags that control how often Flux syncs the cluster with git. They are

  • --git-poll-interval, which controls how often it looks for new commits

  • --sync-interval, which controls how often it will apply what’s in git, to the cluster, absent new commits.

Both of these have five minutes as the default. When there are new commits, it will run a sync then and there, so in practice syncs happen more often than --sync-interval.

If you want to be more responsive to new commits, then give a shorter duration for --git-poll-interval, so it will check more often.

It is less useful to shorten the duration for --sync-interval, since that just controls how often it will sync without there being new commits. Reducing it below a minute or so may hinder Flux, since syncs can take tens of seconds, leaving not much time to do other operations.

How do I use my own deploy key?

Flux uses a k8s secret to hold the git ssh deploy key. It is possible to provide your own.

First delete the secret (if it exists):

kubectl delete secret flux-git-deploy

Then create a new secret named flux-git-deploy, using your private key as the content of the secret (you can generate the key with ssh-keygen -q -N "" -f /full/path/to/private_key):

kubectl create secret generic flux-git-deploy --from-file=identity=/full/path/to/private_key

Now restart fluxd to re-read the k8s secret (if it is running):

kubectl delete $(kubectl get pod -o name -l name=flux)

If you have installed flux through Helm, make sure to pass --set git.secretName=flux-git-deploy when installing/upgrading the chart.

How do I use a private git host (or one that’s not github.com, gitlab.com, bitbucket.org, dev.azure.com, or vs-ssh.visualstudio.com)?

As part of using git+ssh securely from the Flux daemon, we make sure StrictHostKeyChecking is on in the SSH config. This mitigates against man-in-the-middle attacks.

We bake host keys for github.com, gitlab.com, bitbucket.org, dev.azure.com, and vs-ssh.visualstudio.com into the image to cover some common cases. If you’re using another service, or running your own git host, you need to supply your own host key(s).

How to do this is documented in “Using a private Git host”.

Why does my CI pipeline keep getting triggered?

There’s a couple of reasons this can happen.

The first is that Flux pushes commits to your git repo, and if that repo is configured to go through CI, usually those commits will trigger a build. You can avoid this by supplying the flag --ci-skip so that Flux’s commit will append [ci skip] to its commit messages. Many CI systems will treat that as meaning they should not run a build for that commit. You can use --ci-skip-message, if you need a different piece of text appended to commit messages.

The other thing that can trigger CI is that Flux pushes a tag to the upstream git repo whenever it has applied new commits. This acts as a “high water mark” for Flux to know which commits have already been seen. The default name for this tag is flux-sync, but it can be changed with the flags --git-sync-tag and --git-label. The simplest way to avoid triggering builds is to exclude this tag from builds – how to do that will depend on how your CI system is configured.

Here’s the relevant docs for some common CI systems:

Can I restrict the namespaces that Flux can see or operate on?

Flux will only operate on the namespaces that its service account has access to; so the most effective way to restrict it to certain namespaces is to use Kubernetes’ role-based access control (RBAC) to make a service account that has restricted access itself. You may need to experiment to find the most restrictive permissions that work for your case.

You will need to use the command-line flag --k8s-allow-namespace to enumerate the namespaces that Flux attempts to scan for workloads.

Can I change the namespace Flux puts things in by default?

Yes. The fluxd image has a “kubeconfig” file baked in, which specifies a default namespace of "default". That means any manifest not specifying a namespace (in .metadata.namespace) will be given the namespace "default" when applied to the cluster.

You can override this by mounting your own “kubeconfig” file into the container from a configmap, and using the KUBECONFIG environment entry to point to it. The example deployment shows how to do this, in commented out sections – it needs extra bits of config in three places (the volume, volumeMount, and env entries).

The easiest way to create a suitable “kubeconfig” will be to adapt the file that is baked into the image. Save that locally as my-kubeconfig, edit it to change the default namespace, then create the configmap, in the same namespace you run Flux in, with something like:

kubectl create configmap flux-kubeconfig --from-file=config=./my-kubeconfig

Be aware that the expected location ($HOME/.kube/) of the kubeconfig file is also used by kubectl to cache API responses, and mounting from a configmap will make it read-only and thus effectively disable the caching. For that reason, take care to mount your configmap elsewhere in the filesystem, as the example shows.

Can I temporarily make Flux ignore a manifest?

Yes. The easiest way to do that is to use the following annotation in the manifest, and commit the change to git:

    fluxcd.io/ignore: true

To stop ignoring these annotated resources, you simply remove the annotation from the manifests in git. A live example can be seen here.

Flux will ignore any resource that has the annotation either in git, or in the cluster itself; sometimes it may be easier to annotate a running resource in the cluster as opposed to committing a change to git.

Mixing both kinds of annotations (in git, and in the cluster), can make it a bit hard to figure out how/where to undo the change (cf flux#1211). If the annotation exists in either the cluster or in git, it will be respected, so you may need to remove it from both places.

How can I prevent Flux overriding the replicas when using HPA?

When using a horizontal pod autoscaler you have to remove the spec.replicas from your deployment definition. If the replicas field is not present in Git, Flux will not override the replica count set by the HPA.

Can I disable Flux registry scanning?

You can exclude images from being scanned by providing a list of glob expressions using the registry-exclude-image flag.

Exclude images from Docker Hub and Quay.io:

--registry-exclude-image=docker.io/*,quay.io/*

And the Helm install equivalent (note the \, separator):

--set registry.excludeImage="docker.io/*\,quay.io/*"

Exclude images containing test in the FQN:

--registry-exclude-image=*test*

Disable image scanning for all images:

--registry-exclude-image=*

Does Flux support Kustomize/Templating/My favorite manifest factorization technology?

Yes!

Flux supports technology-agnostic manifest factorization through .flux.yaml configuration files placed in the Git repository. To enable it supply the command-line flag --manifest-generation=true to fluxd.

See .flux.yaml configuration files documentation for further details.