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Helm is the package management tool of choice for Kubernetes. Helm charts provide templating syntax for Kubernetes YAML manifest documents. With Helm, developers or cluster administrators can create configurable templates known as Charts, instead of just using static manifests. For more information about creating your own Chart catalog, check out the docs at

K3s does not require any special configuration to support Helm. Just be sure you have properly set the kubeconfig path as per the cluster access documentation.

K3s includes a Helm Controller that manages installing, upgrading/reconfiguring, and uninstalling Helm charts using a HelmChart Custom Resource Definition (CRD). Paired with auto-deploying AddOn manifests, installing a Helm chart on your cluster can be automated by creating a single file on disk.

Using the Helm Controller

The HelmChart Custom Resource captures most of the options you would normally pass to the helm command-line tool. Here's an example of how you might deploy Apache from the Bitnami chart repository, overriding some of the default chart values. Note that the HelmChart resource itself is in the kube-system namespace, but the chart's resources will be deployed to the web namespace, which is created in the same manifest. This can be useful if you want to keep your HelmChart resources separated from the the resources they deploy.

apiVersion: v1
kind: Namespace
name: web
kind: HelmChart
name: apache
namespace: kube-system
chart: apache
targetNamespace: web
valuesContent: |-
type: ClusterIP
enabled: true
enabled: true

HelmChart Field Definitions

FieldDefaultDescriptionHelm Argument / Flag Equivalent
metadata.nameHelm Chart nameNAME
spec.chartHelm Chart name in repository, or complete HTTPS URL to chart archive (.tgz)CHART
spec.targetNamespacedefaultHelm Chart target namespace--namespace
spec.versionHelm Chart version (when installing from repository)--version
spec.repoHelm Chart repository URL--repo
spec.repoCASpecify the certificates of HTTPS-enabled servers--ca-file
spec.helmVersionv3Helm version to use (v2 or v3)
spec.bootstrapFalseSet to True if this chart is needed to bootstrap the cluster (Cloud Controller Manager, etc)
spec.setOverride simple default Chart values. These take precedence over options set via valuesContent.--set / --set-string
spec.jobImageSpecify the image to use when installing the helm chart. E.g. rancher/klipper-helm:v0.3.0 .
spec.timeout300Timeout in seconds for Helm operations--timeout
spec.failurePolicyreinstallSet to abort which case the Helm operation is aborted, pending manual intervention by the operator.
spec.valuesContentOverride complex default Chart values via YAML file content--values
spec.chartContentBase64-encoded chart archive .tgz - overrides spec.chartCHART

Content placed in /var/lib/rancher/k3s/server/static/ can be accessed anonymously via the Kubernetes APIServer from within the cluster. This URL can be templated using the special variable %{KUBERNETES_API}% in the spec.chart field. For example, the packaged Traefik component loads its chart from https://%{KUBERNETES_API}%/static/charts/traefik-12.0.000.tgz.


The name field should follow the Helm chart naming conventions. Refer to the Helm Best Practicies documentation to learn more.

Customizing Packaged Components with HelmChartConfig

Version Gate

Available as of v1.19.1+k3s1

To allow overriding values for packaged components that are deployed as HelmCharts (such as Traefik), K3s supports customizing deployments via a HelmChartConfig resources. The HelmChartConfig resource must match the name and namespace of its corresponding HelmChart, and it supports providing additional valuesContent, which is passed to the helm command as an additional value file.


HelmChart spec.set values override HelmChart and HelmChartConfig spec.valuesContent settings.

For example, to customize the packaged Traefik ingress configuration, you can create a file named /var/lib/rancher/k3s/server/manifests/traefik-config.yaml and populate it with the following content:

kind: HelmChartConfig
name: traefik
namespace: kube-system
valuesContent: |-
name: traefik
tag: v2.8.5
enabled: true
enabled: true
permanentRedirect: false

Migrating from Helm v2

Version Gate

As of v1.17.0+k3s.1 Helm v3 is supported and used by default.

K3s can handle either Helm v2 or Helm v3. If you wish to migrate to Helm v3, this blog post by Helm explains how to use a plugin to successfully migrate. Refer to the official Helm 3 documentation here for more information. Just be sure you have properly set your kubeconfig as per the section about cluster access.


Helm 3 no longer requires Tiller and the helm init command. Refer to the official documentation for details.