After Helm 3 was released, the instructions for upgrading Rancher on a Kubernetes cluster were updated to use Helm 3.

If you are using Helm 2, we recommend migrating to Helm 3 because it is simpler to use and more secure than Helm 2.

This section provides a copy of the older instructions for upgrading Rancher with Helm 2, and it is intended to be used if upgrading to Helm 3 is not feasible.

The following instructions will guide you through using Helm to upgrade a Rancher server that is installed on a Kubernetes cluster.

To upgrade the components in your Kubernetes cluster, or the definition of the Kubernetes services or add-ons, refer to the upgrade documentation for RKE, the Rancher Kubernetes Engine.

If you installed Rancher using the RKE Add-on yaml, follow the directions to migrate or upgrade.

Notes:

Prerequisites

Upgrade Outline

Follow the steps to upgrade Rancher server:

A. Back up Your Kubernetes Cluster that is Running Rancher Server

Take a one-time snapshot of your Kubernetes cluster running Rancher server. You’ll use the snapshot as a restoration point if something goes wrong during upgrade.

B. Update the Helm chart repository

  1. Update your local helm repo cache.

    helm repo update
    
  2. Get the repository name that you used to install Rancher.

    For information about the repos and their differences, see 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>
    

    Note: If you want to switch to a different Helm chart repository, please follow the steps on how to switch repositories. If you switch repositories, make sure to list the repositories again before continuing onto Step 3 to ensure you have the correct one added.

  3. Fetch the latest chart to install Rancher from the Helm chart repository.

    This command will pull down the latest charts and save it in the current directory as a .tgz file.

    helm fetch rancher-<CHART_REPO>/rancher

C. Upgrade Rancher

This section describes how to upgrade normal (Internet-connected) or air gap installations of Rancher with Helm.

Get the values, which were passed with --set, from the current Rancher Helm chart that is installed.

helm get values rancher

hostname: rancher.my.org

Note: There will be more values that are listed with this command. This is just an example of one of the values.

If you are also upgrading cert-manager to the latest version from a version older than 0.11.0, follow Option B: Reinstalling Rancher. Otherwise, follow Option A: Upgrading Rancher.

Upgrade Rancher to the latest version with all your settings.

Take all the values from the previous step and append them to the command using --set key=value. Note: There will be many more options from the previous step that need to be appended.

helm upgrade rancher-<CHART_REPO>/rancher \
  --name rancher \
  --namespace cattle-system \
  --set hostname=rancher.my.org

If you are currently running the cert-manger whose version is older than v0.11, and want to upgrade both Rancher and cert-manager to a newer version, then you need to reinstall both Rancher and cert-manger due to the API change in cert-manger v0.11.

Please refer the Upgrading Cert-Manager page for more information.

  1. Uninstall Rancher

    helm delete rancher -n cattle-system
    
  2. Reinstall Rancher to the latest version with all your settings. Take all the values from the previous step and append them to the command using --set key=value. Note: There will be many more options from the previous step that need to be appended.

    helm install rancher-<CHART_REPO>/rancher \
    --name rancher \
    --namespace cattle-system \
    --set hostname=rancher.my.org
    

  1. Render the Rancher template using the same chosen options that were used when installing Rancher. Use the reference table below to replace each placeholder. Rancher needs to be configured to use the private registry in order to provision any Rancher launched Kubernetes clusters or Rancher tools.

    Based on the choice you made during installation, complete one of the procedures below.

    Placeholder Description
    <VERSION> The version number of the output tarball.
    <RANCHER.YOURDOMAIN.COM> The DNS name you pointed at your load balancer.
    <REGISTRY.YOURDOMAIN.COM:PORT> The DNS name for your private registry.
    <CERTMANAGER_VERSION> Cert-manager version running on k8s cluster.
helm template ./rancher-<VERSION>.tgz --output-dir . \
 --name rancher \
 --namespace cattle-system \
 --set hostname=<RANCHER.YOURDOMAIN.COM> \
 --set certmanager.version=<CERTMANAGER_VERSION> \
 --set rancherImage=<REGISTRY.YOURDOMAIN.COM:PORT>/rancher/rancher \
 --set systemDefaultRegistry=<REGISTRY.YOURDOMAIN.COM:PORT> \ # Available as of v2.2.0, set a default private registry to be used in Rancher
 --set useBundledSystemChart=true # Available as of v2.3.0, use the packaged Rancher system charts

Note: If you are using a Private CA signed cert, add --set privateCA=true following --set ingress.tls.source=secret.

helm template ./rancher-<VERSION>.tgz --output-dir . \
--name rancher \
--namespace cattle-system \
--set hostname=<RANCHER.YOURDOMAIN.COM> \
--set rancherImage=<REGISTRY.YOURDOMAIN.COM:PORT>/rancher/rancher \
--set ingress.tls.source=secret \
--set systemDefaultRegistry=<REGISTRY.YOURDOMAIN.COM:PORT> \ # Available as of v2.2.0, set a default private registry to be used in Rancher
--set useBundledSystemChart=true # Available as of v2.3.0, use the packaged Rancher system charts
  1. Copy the rendered manifest directories to a system with access to the Rancher server cluster and apply the rendered templates.

    Use kubectl to apply the rendered manifests.

    kubectl -n cattle-system apply -R -f ./rancher

D. Verify the Upgrade

Log into Rancher to confirm that the upgrade succeeded.

Having network issues following upgrade?

See Restoring Cluster Networking.

Rolling Back

Should something go wrong, follow the roll back instructions to restore the snapshot you took before you preformed the upgrade.