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Tillerless Helm v2 plugin

License CircleCI Release

Helm v2 plugin for using Tiller locally and in your CI/CD pipelines.

Blog post Tillerless Helm v2 on why Tillerless Helm is needed and what it solves.

Migration to Helm v3

Helm 3.0.0 has been released, check it out my blog post How to migrate from Helm v2 to Helm v3.


Install Helm client as per one of recommended 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


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


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 default Tiller probe port by setting HELM_TILLER_PROBE_PORT=44141, default is 44135 - requires Helm >= 2.14.
  • 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.
  • To not automatically create a namespace if it is missing by setting CREATE_NAMESPACE_IF_MISSING=false.

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'

Terraform Tiller examples

To use tiller with terraform-helm-provider, use helm tiller start-ci and set the helm provider's host to point to the locally started tiller.

$ helm tiller start-ci
provider "helm" {
  host = ""
  install_tiller = false

This will greatly simplify your usage of terraform-helm-provider as there is no longer a need to create service accounts, and deploy tiller along with the problems that come with it.

Using Tiller with Minikube

While using Minikube, it is important to stop, and restart tiller after a minikube delete and minikube start.

$ minikube delete
$ minikube start
$ helm tiller stop
$ helm tiller start