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ChRIS in Production using Helm

In production, ChRIS should be deployed on Kubernetes or OpenShift using Helm.

Background: what is Kubernetes and Helm?

Kubernetes coordinates how containers run on a cluster of computers working together. Even in the case of a single-machine ChRIS deployment, using Kubernetes is still recommended for production because it is a standard solution for container management.

Helm is often described as a package manager for Kubernetes. It uses templates from third-party repositories to create Kubernetes resources, such as services and deployments.



Once Helm has been set up correctly, add the repo as follows:

helm repo add fnndsc

If you had already added this repo earlier, run helm repo update to retrieve the latest versions of the packages. You can then run helm search repo fnndsc to see the charts.

To install the chris chart, obtain a copy of values.yaml and modify it to suit your needs.

helm show values fnndsc/chris > values.yaml

When you're ready, install it.


The command helm upgrade --install --create-namespace ... is a combination of the commands kubectl create namespace ..., helm install, and helm upgrade. It:

  1. Creates the namespace if it does not already exist.
  2. If this is the first time running the command, install the chart, otherwise upgrade it.

To install chris with a configuration values file called values.yaml:

helm upgrade --install --create-namespace --namespace chris --values values.yaml chris-prod fnndsc/chris

To uninstall the chart:

helm delete --namespace chris chris-prod

Finally, to nuke everything:

kubectl delete namespace chris

Special Cases

Here are some common situations where the default values will not work.

NFS Server Workarounds

A NFS-based storage class (for instance, using nfs-subdir-external-provisioner) may require that all (stateful) containers run as a user with a specific UID. This can be achieved by configuring securityContext.

RWO Volume Workarounds

It is strongly recommended to use ReadWriteMany volumes. If your storage class can only provide ReadWriteOnce (RWO) volumes, then you need to do two workarounds.

When installing fnndsc/chris set the value cube.enablePodAffinityWorkaround=true

helm install --set cube.enablePodAffinityWorkaround=true chris-one fnndsc/chris

Once chris-one is installed, you need to reconfigure pman to use the node which everything is running on. In the example below, we are using oc instead of kubectl.

selector='-l -l'
node=$(oc get pod -o jsonpath='{.items[0].spec.nodeName}' $selector)
helm upgrade --reuse-values chris-one fnndsc/chris --set$node
oc rollout restart deployment $selector

Reverse Proxy for HTTPS


OpenShift Routes use a HTTP reverse proxy behind the scenes.

If CUBE is behind a (trusted) reverse proxy which adds HTTPS, you must set the config to be

# the two settings below tell CUBE to trust the reverse proxy's HTTPS headers

# for extra security...

# other configs...
AUTH_LDAP: "false"

What's Included?

The chris chart gives you:

What's not included?

Tips and Tricks

Use NodePort

If Kubelet is running on your host (whether your host is part of the cluster, or you're running Kubernetes on your host for locatl development using something like KinD) you can configure chris to use NodePort as a convenient ingress solution.

helm upgrade --install --create-namespace --namespace chris chris fnndsc/chris \
--set cube.server.service.type=NodePort \
--set cube.server.service.nodePort=32000 \
--set cube.server.service.nodePortHost=$(hostname)

Superuser Creation

A superuser is created automatically for system use. Its password can be specified as a value, for example

helm upgrade --install --reuse-values chris fnndsc/chris \
--set chris_admin.username=christopher \
--set \
--set chris_admin.password=H4RD2GUE2234

If it is necessary to reset this superuser's password, simply restart the "heart" deployment.

kubectl rollout restart deployment -l



See Also

Related blog post: Django Superuser Creation using Helm