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Quick-Start using Cert-Manager with NGINX Ingress

Step 0 - Install Helm Client

Skip this section if you have helm installed.

The easiest way to install cert-manager is to use Helm, a templating and deployment tool for Kubernetes resources.

First, ensure the Helm client is installed following the Helm installation instructions.

For example, on macOS:

$ brew install kubernetes-helm

Step 1 - Installer Tiller

Skip this section if you have Tiller set-up.

Tiller is Helm's server-side component, which the helm client uses to deploy resources.

Deploying resources is a privileged operation; in the general case requiring arbitrary privileges. With this example, we give Tiller complete control of the cluster. View the documentation on securing helm for details on setting up appropriate permissions for your environment.

Create the a ServiceAccount for tiller:

$ kubectl create serviceaccount tiller --namespace=kube-system
serviceaccount "tiller" created

Grant the tiller service account cluster admin privileges:

$ kubectl create clusterrolebinding tiller-admin --serviceaccount=kube-system:tiller --clusterrole=cluster-admin "tiller-admin" created

Install tiller with the tiller service account:

$ helm init --service-account=tiller
$HELM_HOME has been configured at /Users/myaccount/.helm.

Tiller (the Helm server-side component) has been installed into your Kubernetes Cluster.

Please note: by default, Tiller is deployed with an insecure 'allow unauthenticated users' policy.
To prevent this, run `helm init` with the --tiller-tls-verify flag.
For more information on securing your installation see:
Happy Helming!

Update the helm repository with the latest charts:

$ helm repo update
Hang tight while we grab the latest from your chart repositories...
...Skip local chart repository
...Successfully got an update from the "stable" chart repository
...Successfully got an update from the "coreos" chart repository
Update Complete. ⎈ Happy Helming!

Step 2 - Deploy the NGINX Ingress Controller

A kubernetes ingress controller is designed to be the access point for HTTP and HTTPS traffic to the software running within your cluster. The nginx-ingress controller does this by providing an HTTP proxy service supported by your cloud provider's load balancer.

You can get more details about nginx-ingress and how it works from the documentation for nginx-ingress.

Use helm to install an Nginx Ingress controller:

$ helm install stable/nginx-ingress --name quickstart

NAME:   quickstart
LAST DEPLOYED: Sat Nov 10 10:25:06 2018
NAMESPACE: default

==> v1/ConfigMap
NAME                                 AGE
quickstart-nginx-ingress-controller  0s

==> v1beta1/ClusterRole
quickstart-nginx-ingress  0s

==> v1beta1/Deployment
quickstart-nginx-ingress-controller       0s
quickstart-nginx-ingress-default-backend  0s

==> v1/Pod(related)

NAME                                                      READY  STATUS             RESTARTS  AGE
quickstart-nginx-ingress-controller-6cfc45747-wcxrg       0/1    ContainerCreating  0         0s
quickstart-nginx-ingress-default-backend-bf9db5c67-dkg4l  0/1    ContainerCreating  0         0s

==> v1/ServiceAccount

NAME                      AGE
quickstart-nginx-ingress  0s

==> v1beta1/ClusterRoleBinding
quickstart-nginx-ingress  0s

==> v1beta1/Role
quickstart-nginx-ingress  0s

==> v1beta1/RoleBinding
quickstart-nginx-ingress  0s

==> v1/Service
quickstart-nginx-ingress-controller       0s
quickstart-nginx-ingress-default-backend  0s

The nginx-ingress controller has been installed.
It may take a few minutes for the LoadBalancer IP to be available.
You can watch the status by running 'kubectl --namespace default get services -o wide -w quickstart-nginx-ingress-controller'

An example Ingress that makes use of the controller:

  apiVersion: extensions/v1beta1
  kind: Ingress
    annotations: nginx
    name: example
    namespace: foo
      - host:
            - backend:
                serviceName: exampleService
                servicePort: 80
              path: /
    # This section is only required if TLS is to be enabled for the Ingress
        - hosts:
          secretName: example-tls

If TLS is enabled for the Ingress, a Secret containing the certificate and key must also be provided:

  apiVersion: v1
  kind: Secret
    name: example-tls
    namespace: foo
    tls.crt: <base64 encoded cert>
    tls.key: <base64 encoded key>

It can take a minute or two for the cloud provider to provide and link a public IP address. When it is complete, you can see the external IP address using the kubectl command:

This command shows you all the services in your cluster (in the default namespace), and any external IP addresses they have. When you first create the controller, your cloud provider won't have assigned and allocated an IP address through the LoadBalancer yet. Until it does, the external IP address for the service will be listed as <pending>.

Your cloud provider may have options for reserving an IP address prior to creating the ingress controller and using that IP address rather than assigning an IP address from a pool. Read through the documentation from your cloud provider on how to arrange that.

Step 3 - Assign a DNS name

The external IP that is allocated to the ingress-controller is the IP to which all incoming traffic should be routed. To enable this, add it to a DNS zone you control, for example as

This quickstart assumes you know how to assign a DNS entry to an IP address and will do so.

Step 4 - Deploy an Example Service

Your service may have its own chart, or you may be deploying it directly with manifests. This quickstart uses manifests to create and expose a sample service. The example service uses kuard, a demo application which makes an excellent back-end for examples.

The quickstart example uses three manifests for the sample. The first two are a sample deployment and an associated service:

.. literalinclude:: example/deployment.yaml
   :language: yaml

.. literalinclude:: example/service.yaml
   :language: yaml

You can create download and reference these files locally, or you can reference them from the GitHub source repository for this documentation. To install the example service from the tutorial files straight from GitHub, you may use the commands:

$ kubectl apply -f
deployment.extensions "kuard" created

$ kubectl apply -f
service "kuard" created

An ingress resource is what Kubernetes uses to expose this example service outside the cluster. You will need to download and modify the example manifest to reflect the domain that you own or control to complete this example.

A sample ingress you can start with is:

.. literalinclude:: example/ingress.yaml
   :language: yaml

You can download the sample manifest from github, edit it, and submit the manifest to Kubernetes with the command:

$ kubectl create --edit -f

# edit the file in your editor, and once it is saved:
ingress.extensions "kuard" created


The ingress example we show above has a host definition within it. The nginx-ingress-controller will route traffic when the hostname requested matches the definition in the ingress. You can deploy an ingress without a host definition in the rule, but that pattern isn't usable with a TLS certificate, which expects a fully qualified domain name.

Once it is deployed, you can use the command kubectl get ingress to see the status
of the ingress:
kuard     *                   80, 443   17s

It may take a few minutes, depending on your service provider, for the ingress to be fully created. When it has been created and linked into place, the ingress will show an address as well:

NAME      HOSTS     ADDRESS         PORTS     AGE
kuard     *   80        9m


The IP address on the ingress may not match the IP address that the nginx-ingress-controller. This is fine, and is a quirk/implementation detail of the service provider hosting your Kubernetes cluster. Since we are using the nginx-ingress-controller instead of any cloud-provider specific ingress backend, use the IP address that was defined and allocated for the nginx-ingress-service LoadBalancer resource as the primary access point for your service.

Make sure the service is reachable at the domain name you added above, for example The simplest way is to open a browser and enter the name that you set up in DNS, and for which we just added the ingress.

You may also use a command line tool like curl to check the ingress.

$ curl -kivL -H 'Host:' ''

The options on this curl command will provide verbose output, following any redirects, show the TLS headers in the output, and not error on insecure certificates. With nginx-ingress-controller, the service will be available with a TLS certificate, but it will be using a self-signed certificate provided as a default from the nginx-ingress-controller. Browsers will show a warning that this is an invalid certificate. This is expected and normal, as we have not yet used cert-manager to get a fully trusted certificate for our site.


It is critical to make sure that your ingress is available and responding correctly on the internet. This quickstart example uses Let's Encypt to provide the certificates, which expects and validates both that the service is available and that during the process of issuing a certificate uses that valdiation as proof that the request for the domain belongs to someone with sufficient control over the domain.

Step 5 - Deploy Cert Manager

We need to install cert-manager to do the work with kubernetes to request a certificate and respond to the challenge to validate it. We can use helm to install cert-manager. This example installed cert-manager into the kube-system namespace from the public helm charts.

# Install the cert-manager CRDs. We must do this before installing the Helm
# chart in the next step for `release-0.8` of cert-manager:
$ kubectl apply -f

## IMPORTANT: if the cert-manager namespace **already exists**, you MUST ensure
## it has an additional label on it in order for the deployment to succeed
$ kubectl label namespace cert-manager"true"

## Add the Jetstack Helm repository
$ helm repo add jetstack
## Updating the repo just incase it already existed
$ helm repo update

## Install the cert-manager helm chart
$ helm install --name cert-manager --namespace cert-manager jetstack/cert-manager

NAME:   cert-manager
LAST DEPLOYED: Wed Jan  9 13:36:13 2019
NAMESPACE: cert-manager

==> v1beta1/ClusterRoleBinding
NAME                                 AGE
cert-manager-webhook-ca-sync         2s
cert-manager-webhook:auth-delegator  2s
cert-manager                         2s

==> v1beta1/APIService
NAME                                  AGE  2s

==> v1alpha1/Certificate
cert-manager-webhook-webhook-tls  1s
cert-manager-webhook-ca           1s

==> v1beta1/ValidatingWebhookConfiguration
cert-manager-webhook  1s

==> v1/ServiceAccount
NAME                          SECRETS  AGE
cert-manager-webhook-ca-sync  1        2s
cert-manager-webhook          1        2s
cert-manager                  1        2s

==> v1beta1/RoleBinding
NAME                                                AGE
cert-manager-webhook:webhook-authentication-reader  2s

==> v1beta1/Deployment
cert-manager-webhook  1        1        1           0          2s
cert-manager          1        1        1           0          2s

==> v1/Job
NAME                          DESIRED  SUCCESSFUL  AGE
cert-manager-webhook-ca-sync  1        0           2s

==> v1beta1/CronJob
cert-manager-webhook-ca-sync  * * */24 * *  False    0       <none>         2s

==> v1beta1/ClusterRole
NAME                          AGE
cert-manager-webhook-ca-sync  2s
cert-manager                  2s

==> v1/ClusterRole
cert-manager-webhook:webhook-requester  2s
cert-manager-view                       2s
cert-manager-edit                       2s

==> v1/Service
NAME                  TYPE       CLUSTER-IP    EXTERNAL-IP  PORT(S)  AGE
cert-manager-webhook  ClusterIP  <none>       443/TCP  2s

==> v1/ConfigMap
NAME                          DATA  AGE
cert-manager-webhook-ca-sync  1     2s

==> v1alpha1/Issuer
NAME                           AGE
cert-manager-webhook-ca        1s
cert-manager-webhook-selfsign  1s

==> v1/Pod(related)
NAME                                   READY  STATUS             RESTARTS  AGE
cert-manager-webhook-745b49d445-rnxm2  0/1    ContainerCreating  0         2s
cert-manager-9cdd9f774-t856z           0/1    ContainerCreating  0         2s
cert-manager-webhook-ca-sync-ddf4b     0/1    ContainerCreating  0         2s

cert-manager has been deployed successfully!

In order to begin issuing certificates, you will need to set up a ClusterIssuer
or Issuer resource (for example, by creating a 'letsencrypt-staging' issuer).

More information on the different types of issuers and how to configure them
can be found in our documentation:

For information on how to configure cert-manager to automatically provision
Certificates for Ingress resources, take a look at the `ingress-shim`

Cert-manager uses two different custom resources, also known as CRD's, to configure and control how it operates, as well as share status of its operation. These two resources are:

:doc:`Issuers </reference/issuers>` (or :doc:`ClusterIssuers </reference/clusterissuers>`)

An Issuer is the definition for where cert-manager will get request TLS certificates. An Issuer is specific to a single namespace in Kubernetes, and a ClusterIssuer is meant to be a cluster-wide definition for the same purpose.

:doc:`Certificate </reference/certificates>`

A certificate is the resource that cert-manager uses to expose the state of a request as well as track upcoming expirations.

Step 6 - Configure Let's Encrypt Issuer

We will set up two issuers for Let's Encrypt in this example. The Let's Encrypt production issuer has very strict rate limits. When you are experimenting and learning, it is very easy to hit those limits, and confuse rate limiting with errors in configuration or operation.

Because of this, we will start with the Let's Encrypt staging issuer, and once that is working switch to a production issuer.

Create this definition locally and update the email address to your own. This email required by Let's Encrypt and used to notify you of certificate expirations and updates.

.. literalinclude:: example/staging-issuer.yaml
   :language: yaml

Once edited, apply the custom resource:

$ kubectl create --edit -f "letsencrypt-staging" created

Also create a production issuer and deploy it. As with the staging issuer, you will need to update this example and add in your own email address.

.. literalinclude:: example/production-issuer.yaml
   :language: yaml
   :emphasize-lines: 10

$ kubectl create --edit -f "letsencrypt-prod" created

Both of these issuers are configured to use the :doc:`HTTP01 </tasks/issuers/setup-acme/http01/index>` challenge provider.

Check on the status of the issuer after you create it:

You should see the issuer listed with a registered account.

Step 7 - Deploy a TLS Ingress Resource

With all the pre-requisite configuration in place, we can now do the pieces to request the TLS certificate. There are two primary ways to do this: using annotations on the ingress with :doc:`ingress-shim </tasks/issuing-certificates/ingress-shim>` or directly creating a certificate resource.

In this example, we will add annotations to the ingress, and take advantage of ingress-shim to have it create the certificate resource on our behalf. After creating a certificate, the cert-manager will update or create a ingress resource and use that to validate the domain. Once verified and issued, cert-manager will create or update the secret defined in the certificate.


The secret that is used in the ingress should match the secret defined in the certificate. There isn't any explicit checking, so a typo will resut in the nginx-ingress-controller falling back to its self-signed certificate. In our example, we are using annotations on the ingress (and ingress-shim) which will create the correct secrets on your behalf.

Edit the ingress add the annotations that were commented out in our earlier example:

.. literalinclude:: example/ingress-tls.yaml
   :language: yaml
   :emphasize-lines: 6-8

and apply it:

$ kubectl create --edit -f
ingress.extensions "kuard" configured

Cert-manager will read these annotations and use them to create a certificate, which you can request and see:

$ kubectl get certificate
NAME                     AGE
quickstart-example-tls   38s

Cert-manager reflects the state of the process for every request in the certificate object. You can view this information using the kubectl describe command:

The events associated with this resource and listed at the bottom of the describe results show the state of the request. In the above example the certificate was validated and issued within a couple of minutes.

Once complete, cert-manager will have created a secret with the details of the certificate based on the secret used in the ingress resource. You can use the describe command as well to see some details:

$ kubectl describe secret quickstart-example-tls

Name:         quickstart-example-tls
Namespace:    default


tls.crt:  3566 bytes
tls.key:  1675 bytes

Now that we have confidence that everything is configured correctly, you can update the annotations in the ingress to specify the production issuer:

.. literalinclude:: example/ingress-tls-final.yaml
   :language: yaml

$ kubectl create --edit -f

ingress.extensions "kuard" configured

You will also need to delete the existing secret, which cert-manager is watching and will cause it to reprocess the request with the updated issuer.

$ kubectl delete secret quickstart-example-tls

secret "quickstart-example-tls" deleted

This will start the process to get a new certificate, and using describe you can see the status. Once the production certificate has been updated, you should see the example KUARD running at your domain with a signed TLS certificate.

You can see the current state of the ACME Order by running kubectl describe on the Order resource that cert-manager has created for your Certificate:

$ kubectl describe order quickstart-example-tls-889745041
  Type    Reason      Age   From          Message
  ----    ------      ----  ----          -------
  Normal  Created     90s   cert-manager  Created Challenge resource "quickstart-example-tls-889745041-0" for domain ""

Here, we can see that cert-manager has created 1 'Challenge' resource to fulfil the Order. You can dig into the state of the current ACME challenge by running kubectl describe on the automatically created Challenge resource:

$ kubectl describe challenge quickstart-example-tls-889745041-0

  Presented:   true
  Processing:  true
  Reason:      Waiting for http-01 challenge propagation
  State:       pending
  Type    Reason     Age   From          Message
  ----    ------     ----  ----          -------
  Normal  Started    15s   cert-manager  Challenge scheduled for processing
  Normal  Presented  14s   cert-manager  Presented challenge using http-01 challenge mechanism

From above, we can see that the challenge has been 'presented' and cert-manager is waiting for the challenge record to propagate to the ingress controller. You should keep an eye out for new events on the challenge resource, as a 'success' event should be printed after a minute or so (depending on how fast your ingress controller is at updating rules):

$ kubectl describe challenge quickstart-example-tls-889745041-0

  Presented:   false
  Processing:  false
  Reason:      Successfully authorized domain
  State:       valid
  Type    Reason          Age   From          Message
  ----    ------          ----  ----          -------
  Normal  Started         71s   cert-manager  Challenge scheduled for processing
  Normal  Presented       70s   cert-manager  Presented challenge using http-01 challenge mechanism
  Normal  DomainVerified  2s    cert-manager  Domain "" verified with "http-01" validation


If your challenges are not becoming 'valid' and remain in the 'pending' state (or enter into a 'failed' state), it is likely there is some kind of configuration error. Read the :doc:`Challenge resource reference docs </reference/challenges>` for more information on debugging failing challenges.

Once the challenge(s) have been completed, their corresponding challenge resources will be deleted, and the 'Order' will be updated to reflect the new state of the Order:

$ kubectl describe order quickstart-example-tls-889745041
  Type    Reason      Age   From          Message
  ----    ------      ----  ----          -------
  Normal  Created     90s   cert-manager  Created Challenge resource "quickstart-example-tls-889745041-0" for domain ""
  Normal  OrderValid  16s   cert-manager  Order completed successfully

Finally, the 'Certificate' resource will be updated to reflect the state of the issuance process. If all is well, you should be able to 'describe' the Certificate and see something like the below:

$ kubectl describe certificate quickstart-example-tls

    Last Transition Time:  2019-01-09T13:57:52Z
    Message:               Certificate is up to date and has not expired
    Reason:                Ready
    Status:                True
    Type:                  Ready
  Not After:               2019-04-09T12:57:50Z
  Type    Reason         Age                  From          Message
  ----    ------         ----                 ----          -------
  Normal  Generated      11m                  cert-manager  Generated new private key
  Normal  OrderCreated   11m                  cert-manager  Created Order resource "quickstart-example-tls-889745041"
  Normal  OrderComplete  10m                  cert-manager  Order "quickstart-example-tls-889745041" completed successfully
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