Rancher provides a catalog of charts that make it easy to repeatedly deploy any applications.

Catalogs are GitHub repositories filled with applications that are ready-made for deployment. Applications are bundled in objects called charts.

Charts are a packaging format popularized by Helm. Think of them as templates for deployments. Per Helm, charts are:

A collection of files that describe a related set of Kubernetes resources. A single chart might be used to deploy something simple, like a memcached pod, or something complex, like a full web app stack with HTTP servers, databases, caches, and so on.

Rancher improves on Helm catalogs and charts. All native Helm charts can work within Rancher, but Rancher adds several enhancements to improve their user experience.

Enabling Built-in Catalogs

Within Rancher, there are default catalogs packaged as part of Rancher. These can be enabled or disabled by an administrator.

  1. From the Global view, choose Catalogs from the main menu.
  2. Toggle the default catalogs that you want use to a setting of Enabled.

    • Library

      The Library Catalog includes charts curated by Rancher. Rancher stores charts in a Git repository to expedite the fetch and update of charts. In Rancher 2.x, only global catalogs are supported. Support for cluster-level and project-level charts will be added in the future.

      This catalog features Rancher Charts, which include some notable advantages over native Helm charts.

    • Helm Stable

      This catalog, , which is maintained by the Kubernetes community, includes native Helm charts. This catalog features the largest pool of apps.

    • Helm Incubator

      Similar in user experience to Helm Stable, but this catalog is filled with applications in beta.

Result: The chosen catalogs are enabled. Wait a few minutes for Rancher to replicate the catalog charts. When replication completes, you’ll be able to see them in any of your projects by selecting Catalog Apps from the main menu.

Adding Custom Catalogs

Adding a catalog is as simple as adding a catalog name, a URL and a branch name. The URL needs to be one that git clone can handle and must end in .git. The branch name must be a branch that is in your catalog URL. If no branch name is provided, it will use the master branch by default. Whenever you add a catalog to Rancher, it will be available immediately.

Notes:

  • Currently, you can only add custom catalogs to Rancher at the global level. Therefore, any catalog that you add is shared with all clusters and projects.

  • Currently, only unauthenticated catalogs are supported.

  1. From the Global view, choose Catalogs from the main menu.
  2. Click Add Catalog.
  3. Complete the form and click Create.

Result: Your catalog is added to Rancher.

Launching Catalog Applications

After you’ve either enabled the built-in catalogs or added your own custom catalog, you can start launching any catalog application.

  1. From the Global view, open the project that you want to deploy to.

  2. From the main menu, choose Catalog Apps. Then click Launch.

  3. Find the app that you want to launch, and then click View Now.

  4. Under Configuration Options enter a Name. By default, this name is also used to create a Kubernetes namespace for the application.

    • If you would like to change the Namespace, click Customize and enter a new name.
    • If you want to use a different namespace that already exists, click Customize, and then click Use an existing namespace. Choose a namespace from the list.
  5. Select a Template Version.

  6. Complete the rest of the Configuration Options.

    • For native Helm charts (i.e., charts from the Helm Stable or Helm Incubator catalogs), answers are provided as key value pairs in the Answers section.
    • Keys and values are available within Detailed Descriptions.
    • When entering answers, you must format them using the syntax rules found in Using Helm: The format and limitations of –set, as Rancher passes them as --set flags to Helm.

      For example, when entering an answer that includes two values separated by a comma (i.e., abc, bcd), wrap the values with double quotes (i.e., "abc, bcd").

  7. Review the files in Preview. When you’re satisfied, click Launch.

Result: Your application is deployed to your chosen namespace. You can view the application status from the project’s:

  • Workloads view
  • Catalog Apps view

Deleting Catalog Application Deployments

As a safeguard to prevent you from unintentionally deleting other catalog applications that share a namespace, deleting catalog applications themselves does not delete the namespace they’re assigned to. Therefore, when you want to delete a deployed catalog application, assuming that it’s the only app in its namespace, delete the namespace rather than the catalog app itself. Deleting the namespace deletes both the namespace and the catalog app, whereas deleting the catalog app only deletes the app but not the namespace.

  1. From the Global view, open the project that contains the catalog application that you want to delete.

  2. From the main menu, choose Namespaces.

  3. Find the namespace running your catalog app. Select it and click Delete.

Result: The catalog application deployment and its namespace are deleted.