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Installing and Testing Helm and Tiller

Hands-On Lab


Photo of Michael McClaren

Michael McClaren

Linux Training Architect I in Content





This Hands-On Lab is intended to provide practice with installing and configuring Helm in a Kubernetes environment.

What are Hands-On Labs?

Hands-On Labs are scenario-based learning environments where learners can practice without consequences. Don't compromise a system or waste money on expensive downloads. Practice real-world skills without the real-world risk, no assembly required.

Installing and Testing Helm and Tiller


Welcome aboard. We're going to walk through the installation and testing of Helm and Tiller. When we look at the Linux Academy lab credentials page, we'll see usernames, passwords, and IP addresses (public and private) for a Kube Master and two Kube Nodes.

Let's get logged into the Kube Master:

ssh cloud_user@<IP ADDRESS>

Once we answer yes at the authenticity warning prompt, and we're in.

The Lay of the Land

Let's see what we're dealing with, as far as Kubernetes goes:

kubectl get nodes

That will show that we have three nodes running, and one of them is a master.

Install Helm and Tiller in the Existing Cluster

Download the helm binary release:

curl > ./helm.tar.gz

If we run a quick ls, we'll see that new helm.tar.gz sitting in our directory. Extract the archive:

tar -xvf ./helm.tar.gz

Now we can navigate to the linux-amd64 directory:

cd linux-amd64

If we run another ls, we'll see two executable files, helm and tiller. Let's move them to the /usr/local/bin directory:

sudo mv ./helm /usr/local/bin
sudo mv ./tiller/usr/local/bin

To ensure that the helm command is available, let's get back into our home directory and run the helm version command:

cd ~
helm version

We get a version, meaning Helm is good to go, but we get an error that Helm couldn't find Tiller. So we can install it with this:

helm init

Wait for a bit for things to start up, then run the version command again to ensure that Tiller is available:

helm version

Now we can see that there's a Tiller server.

Deploy the Example nginx Chart

Ensure that you are in the cloud_user home directory. An ls should show a directory named nginx that contains the chart we need:

cd ~
ls nginx

This last command should return a directory listing containing Chart.yaml. Install the nginx chart with this:

helm install ./nginx

This command should error with a "name" error, due to the tiller service account missing.

Correct Errors

Our problem is that missing service account, so let's create one:

kubectl create serviceaccount --namespace kube-system tiller

Now we'll create a Tiller cluster rule:

kubectl create clusterrolebinding tiller-cluster-rule --clusterrole=cluster-admin --serviceaccount=kube-system:tiller

Let's patch the Tiller deployment:

kubectl patch deploy --namespace kube-system tiller-deploy -p'{"spec":{"template":{"spec":{"serviceAccount":"tiller"}}}}'

If we wait for the tiller pod to restart with the update, we can try installing the nginx example chart again:

helm install ./nginx

Verify That the Container is Running

Once the release has completed and we see the release output, let's locate the cluster IP for the service that has been created. It was in the output of the helm install command. We're going to need that IP to confirm that the nginx pod has been deployed correctly:

curl <CLUSTER-IP>:8888

This should return an HTML message:

<h1>Hello</h1> <p>This is a test</p>

Finishing Up

Our Helm release was just a test, so we need to clean it up so that developers can get in here to work on a something fresh. We do that by getting the release name from Helm, and then deleting that release:

helm ls --short
helm delete <RELEASE NAME>

To confirm that the release has been removed, we can run this command, which should return nothing:

helm ls

Now we can run this:

kubectl get pods

We shouldn't see any running pods related to our release.


Well, we've installed Helm from our binary, corrected an issue with the service account, and now we can actually deploy Helm releases. We're good to go. Congratulations!