Helm tiller plugin aka Tillerless Helm
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Tillerless Helm plugin

Helm plugin for using Tiller locally and in your CI/CD pipelines.

My blog post on why Tillerless Helm is needed and what it solves.

Note: For a better security Tiller plugin comes with preset storage as Secret.


Install Helm client as per one of recomended ways.

Note: Initialize helm with helm init --client-only, flag --client-only is a must as otherwise you will get Tiller installed in to Kubernetes cluster.

Then install the latest plugin version:

helm plugin install https://github.com/rimusz/helm-tiller



helm tiller install
helm tiller start [tiller_namespace]
helm tiller start-ci [tiller_namespace]
helm tiller stop
helm tiller run [tiller_namespace] -- [command] [args]

Available Commands:
install   Manually install/upgrade Tiller binary
start     Start Tiller and open new pre-set shell
start-ci  Start Tiller without opening new shell
run       Start Tiller and run arbitrary command within the environment
stop      Stop Tiller

Available environment variables:

  • To silence plugin specific messages by setting HELM_TILLER_SILENT=true, only helm cli output will be printed.
  • To change default Tiller port by setting HELM_TILLER_PORT=44140, default is 44134.
  • To change Tiller storage to configmap by setting HELM_TILLER_STORAGE=configmap, default is secret.
  • To store Tiller logs in $HOME/.helm/plugins/helm-tiller/logs by setting HELM_TILLER_LOGS=true.
  • You can set a specific folder/file for Tiller logs by setting HELM_TILLER_LOGS_DIR=/some_folder/tiller.logs.
  • To change default Tiller maximum number of releases kept in release history by setting e.g. to 20 HELM_TILLER_HISTORY_MAX=20.

Tiller start examples

Start Tiller with pre-set bash shell HELM_HOST=, it is handy to use locally:

helm tiller start

The default working Tiller namespace is kube-system, you can set another one:

helm tiller start my_tiller_namespace

Tip: You can have many Tiller namespaces, e.g. one per team, just pass the name as an argument when you starting Tiller.

In CI pipelines you do not really need pre-set bash to be opened, so you can use:

helm tiller start-ci
export HELM_HOST=

Then your helm will know where to connect to Tiller and you do not need to make any changes in your CI pipelines.

And when you done stop the Tiller:

helm tiller stop

Tiller run examples

Another option for CI workflows.

Examples use of tiller run, that starts/stops tiller before/after the specified command:

helm tiller run helm list
helm tiller run my-tiller-namespace -- helm list
helm tiller run my-tiller-namespace -- bash -c 'echo running helm; helm list'

Handy bash aliases for use Tillerless locally:

alias hh="helm tiller run helm"
alias hr="helm tiller run"
alias ht="helm tiller start"
alias hts="helm tiller stop"

Examples of alias use:

# helm tiller run helm list
hh ls

# helm tiller run my-tiller-namespace -- helm list
hr my-tiller-namespace -- helm list

# helm tiller run my-tiller-namespace -- bash -c 'echo running helm; helm list'
hr my-tiller-namespace -- bash -c 'echo running helm; helm list'

Tiller binaries

Tiller binaries for v2.11 Helm and above versions

Beginning of Helm v2.11 release, helm archive file comes packed with tiller binary as well. Plugin will check the version and download the right archive file. No more building/retrieving of tiller binary is needed anymore.

Build/retrieve Tiller binaries and publish them for v2.10 Helm

To build MacOS and to retrieve Linux binaries and then publish them to GCS bucket run on your Mac:

TILLER_VERSION=2.10.0 GCS_BUCKET=my_bucket make build

Build patched Tiller binaries and publish them for pre v2.10 Helm

Note: Tillerin pre v2.10 does not support kubeconfig files which use user authentication via auth-provider, so you need to use this approach for all pre v2.10 tiller releases.

To build patched MacOS and Linux tiller binaries and then publish them to GCS bucket run on your Mac:

TILLER_VERSION=2.9.1 GCS_BUCKET=my_bucket make build-patch