Setting Up Helm v2 on Windows

5 min readSep 18, 2019


The Kubernetes Package Manager

Helm is a Kubernetes Package Manager designed to help you install applications on your cluster with ease. Basically, someone will create a helm software package called a Chart, and by using Helm, all you have to do is fill out a configuration yml file and Helm will install the Chart for you. You no longer have to build your own deployment files and installation strategies for operational services. Think of it like Chocolately or Snap but with Kubernetes as the OS, if that analogy makes sense.

Install Helm on Windows

You need the Helm binaries on your machine.

choco install kubernetes-helm
choco install kubernetes-helm and its output

After installing Helm, we have to initialize it. In order to ensure we have a smooth installation, we need to check our RBAC set up for Helm.

Setting Up Helm on Kubernetes

Helm consists of Helm (Client) and Tiller (Server). Tiller gets deployed to Kubernetes and will need permissions to deploy apps.

There are a few ways to install Helm. You can give the tiller service account cluster-admin rights, deploy the tiller server service to the kube-system namespace, and call it a day. Helm will be able to install apps in any namespace.

You can also deploy tiller and to its own namespace and deploy apps restricted to that namespace only, or you can you do what I prefer, which is to install tiller into its own namespace, and then allow it to deploy to other namespaces of my choosing. In this scenario, we will do just that by creating 2 namespaces:

  • airwave-tiller = this is where we will install the tiller server service
  • airwave-deploy = this is where we will be deploying apps using helm
kubectl apply -f
kubectl apply -f

Now that you have the namespaces, you want to apply the proper Role and RoleBinding. You will create a service account tiller in the namespace airwave-tiller and bind it to the Role tiller-manager.
kubectl apply -f

Double-check the service account and verify which namespace it was applied to.

kubectl get ns
kubectl get sa
kubectl get sa -n airwave-tiller

Initialize Helm

Now that you have some customization going on, make sure you initialize Helm with the proper settings.

helm init --service-account tiller  --tiller-namespace airwave-tiller --history-max 200
kubectl get pods -n airwave-tiller to double-check your work

You can now deploy applications using Helm to your airwave-tiller namespace.

Here we go!

Let’s test it. First, update your helm repo and then let’s install a mysql Chart (what Helm calls a package).

helm repo update
helm install stable/mysql --namespace airwave-tiller --tiller-namespace airwave-tiller
Examples showing multiple installation attempts, and the RBAC taking effect since my kubectl context is set to the “default” namespace

You can verify that the pod is running by checking the output and with the name of the running pod.

kubectl get pods -n airwave-tiller

Deploy to another namespace

Now that you can deploy to the airwave-tiller namespace, let’s try perform a negative test of trying to deploy mysql to the airwave-deploy namespace.

helm install stable/mysql --namespace airwave-deploy --tiller-namespace airwave-tiller

It fails because the service account tiller in the airwave-tiller namespace doesn’t have access to the namespace resource of airwave-deploy.

Let’s fix that by applying the proper role and role binding

kubectl apply -f

Try it again

helm install stable/mysql --namespace airwave-deploy --tiller-namespace airwave-tiller
You can see it deploying now

There you have it. You can now deploy applications using Helm to various namespaces. If you have any suggestions on how I can improve this, just leave me a comment. Thanks for reading!

Clean Up

Check your Helm installations

helm ls --tiller-namespace airwave-tiller

Delete those apps

helm delete <name> --tiller-namespace airwave-tiller

Then remove all the Kubernetes changes

kubectl delete -f
kubectl delete -f
kubectl delete -f
kubectl delete -f
choco uninstall kubernetes-helm

If you want to upgrade to Helm v3, check out this article.




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