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Transfer ownership of a kubernetes release to helm
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Transfer ownership of existing kubernetes release to helm.

Let's say you have an existing kubernetes deployment that you want to migrate to helm. helm currently doesn't have any functionality to migrate owneship of those existing resources to itself. This plugin attempts to solve that problem.

How Does it Work?

helm v2 records information about a release in a configmap. When you try to upgrade the release, helm uses this information to figure out what to do. This plugin simply downloads the existing resource configurations, creates a helm "Chart" with this information, and stores it in a configmap in the format helm is expecting. You can then use helm to "upgrade" this release using a Chart that you have built.

How Does This Differ From Chartify?

Think of helm-take-ownership as a companion to chartify. chartify creates a Chart from existing resources, but it doesn't migrate those resources to helm control. helm-take-ownership can migrate those resources to helm's control. So, you migrate your resources with helm-take-ownership, and then use chartify to create a Chart from those resources. In the future, if you need to make any changes to your Chart, you can use helm to upgrade the release and everything should (hopefully) work beautifully, as if you used helm all along.


helm-take-ownership is a helm plugin. Installation is simple:

helm plugin install


helm-take-ownership's operation is fairly simple. You tell it what resources to include in the helm release using command line flags, plus any additional kubernetes connection options (namespace, context, etc) and a name for the release. For example:

helm own --deploy my-deployment --svc my-service -n stg my-release

The above example would instruct helm-take-ownership to associate a deployment called my-deployment and a service called my-service in the stg namespace to a helm release called my-release.

The naming of flags for kubernetes resources is the same as with kubectl get (--deployment, --service, etc), including shorthands (--deploy, --svc, etc). kubernetes connection options (such as namespace, context, etc) are prepended with k8s (ex: --k8s-namespace, --k8s-context, etc). If no kubernetes connection options are passed, it will use your default configuration, the same way kubectl will.

Full usage is available from the command line:

helm own --help

Some Notes

I built this tool for my own use. Currently, there are two things this plugin will do that you might not want:

  1. It will remove any nodePort values from services. In my setup, I'm relying on kubernetes giving me a random nodePort. When helm-take-ownership downloads the resources from kubernetes, the random nodePort is in the data. If I then try to use helm to upgrade this release with a service definition that does not define a nodePort, helm removes the nodePort causing kubernetes to give me another port. This is undesirable.
  2. It will remove any selector from a deployment spec. Similar to point #1: I'm relying on kubernetes giving me a default value here. When I do a helm upgrade, if I have the selector, helm removes it and kubernetes recreates it causing a new replicaset to be created. The existing replicaset is "lost" in the transition; orphaned and unmanaged.

I think, in the future, it might make sense to have some sort of "edit" option that would allow a user to edit the Chart before it is installed to take care of these very specific use cases.


helm-take-ownership is written in go and uses glide to manage dependencies.

# Grab latest code and install dependencies:
git clone
cd helm-take-ownership
make dependencies

# Install plugin locally
# helm plugin remove own
helm plugin install $(pwd)

# Build locally

If you'd like to contribute to helm-take-ownership, submit a pull request.


  • command line switch to switch between helm configmaps and secrets
  • command line switch to set the helm namespace (defaults to kube-system)
  • allow a user to edit the Chart before installing it
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