This section describes how to choose a Rancher version.

For a high-availability installation of Rancher, which is recommended for production, the Rancher server is installed using a Helm chart on a Kubernetes cluster. Refer to the Helm version requirements to choose a version of Helm to install Rancher.

For single node installations of Rancher, which is used for development and testing, you will install Rancher as a Docker image.

When performing single-node installs, upgrades, or rollbacks, you can use tags to install a specific version of Rancher.

Server Tags

Rancher Server is distributed as a Docker image, which have tags attached to them. You can specify this tag when entering the command to deploy Rancher. Remember that if you use a tag without an explicit version (like latest or stable), you must explicitly pull a new version of that image tag. Otherwise, any image cached on the host will be used.

Tag Description
rancher/rancher:latest Our latest development release. These builds are validated through our CI automation framework. These releases are not recommended for production environments.
rancher/rancher:stable Our newest stable release. This tag is recommended for production.
rancher/rancher:<v2.X.X> You can install specific versions of Rancher by using the tag from a previous release. See what’s available at DockerHub.

Notes:

  • The master tag or any tag with -rc or another suffix is meant for the Rancher testing team to validate. You should not use these tags, as these builds are not officially supported.
  • Want to install an alpha review for preview? Install using one of the alpha tags listed on our announcements page (e.g., v2.2.0-alpha1).

    Caveat: Alpha releases cannot be upgraded to or from any other release.

When installing, upgrading, or rolling back Rancher Server in a high availability configuration, Rancher server is installed using a Helm chart on a Kubernetes cluster. Therefore, as you prepare to install or upgrade a high availability Rancher configuration, you must add a Helm chart repository that contains the charts for installing Rancher.

Refer to the Helm version requirements to choose a version of Helm to install Rancher.

Helm Chart Repositories

Rancher provides several different Helm chart repositories to choose from. We align our latest and stable Helm chart repositories with the Docker tags that are used for a single node installation. Therefore, the rancher-latest repository will contain charts for all the Rancher versions that have been tagged as rancher/rancher:latest. When a Rancher version has been promoted to the rancher/rancher:stable, it will get added to the rancher-stable repository.

Type Command to Add the Repo Description of the Repo
rancher-latest helm repo add rancher-latest https://releases.rancher.com/server-charts/latest Adds a repository of Helm charts for the latest versions of Rancher. We recommend using this repo for testing out new Rancher builds.
rancher-stable helm repo add rancher-stable https://releases.rancher.com/server-charts/stable Adds a repository of Helm charts for older, stable versions of Rancher. We recommend using this repo for production environments.
rancher-alpha helm repo add rancher-alpha https://releases.rancher.com/server-charts/alpha Adds a repository of Helm charts for alpha versions of Rancher for previewing upcoming releases. These releases are discouraged in production environments. Upgrades to or from charts in the rancher-alpha repository to any other chart, regardless or repository, aren’t supported.


Instructions on when to select these repos are available below in Switching to a Different Helm Chart Repository.

Note: The introduction of the rancher-latest and rancher-stable Helm Chart repositories was introduced after Rancher v2.1.0, so the rancher-stable repository contains some Rancher versions that were never marked as rancher/rancher:stable. The versions of Rancher that were tagged as rancher/rancher:stable prior to v2.1.0 are v2.0.4, v2.0.6, v2.0.8. Post v2.1.0, all charts in the rancher-stable repository will correspond with any Rancher version tagged as stable.

Helm Chart Versions

Rancher Helm chart versions match the Rancher version (i.e appVersion).

For the Rancher v2.1.x versions, there were some Helm charts, that were using a version that was a build number, i.e. yyyy.mm.<build-number>. These charts have been replaced with the equivalent Rancher version and are no longer available.

Switching to a Different Helm Chart Repository

After installing Rancher, if you want to change which Helm chart repository to install Rancher from, you will need to follow these steps.

Note: Because the rancher-alpha repository contains only alpha charts, switching between the rancher-alpha repository and the rancher-stable or rancher-latest repository for upgrades is not supported.

  1. List the current Helm chart repositories.

    helm repo list
    
    NAME                  URL
    stable                https://kubernetes-charts.storage.googleapis.com
    rancher-<CHART_REPO>        https://releases.rancher.com/server-charts/<CHART_REPO>
    
  2. Remove the existing Helm Chart repository that contains your charts to install Rancher, which will either be rancher-stable or rancher-latest depending on what you had initially added.

    helm repo remove rancher-<CHART_REPO>
    
  3. Add the Helm chart repository that you want to start installing Rancher from.

    helm repo add rancher-<CHART_REPO> https://releases.rancher.com/server-charts/<CHART_REPO>
    
  4. Continue to follow the steps to upgrade Rancher from the new Helm chart repository.