kluctl offers a simple-to-use Helm integration, which allows you to reuse many common third-party Helm Charts.

The integration is split into 2 parts/steps/layers. The first is the management and pulling of the Helm Charts, while the second part handles configuration/customization and deployment of the chart.

It is recommended to pre-pull Helm Charts with kluctl helm-pull, which will store the pulled charts inside .helm-charts of the project directory. It is however also possible (but not recommended) to skip the pre-pulling phase and let kluctl pull Charts on-demand.

When pre-pulling Helm Charts, you can also add the resulting Chart contents into version control. This is actually recommended as it ensures that the deployment will always behave the same. It also allows pull-request based reviews on third-party Helm Charts.

How it works

Helm charts are not directly installed via Helm. Instead, kluctl renders the Helm Chart into a single file and then hands over the rendered yaml to kustomize. Rendering is done in combination with a provided helm-values.yaml, which contains the necessary values to configure the Helm Chart.

The resulting rendered yaml is then referred by your kustomization.yaml, from which point on the kustomize integration takes over. This means, that you can perform all desired customization (patches, namespace override, …) as if you provided your own resources via yaml files.

Helm hooks

Helm Hooks are implemented by mapping them to kluctl hooks, based on the following mapping table:

Helm hookkluctl hook
pre-deleteNot supported
post-deleteNot supported
pre-rollbackNot supported
post-rollbackNot supported
testNot supported

Please note that this is a best effort approach and not 100% compatible to how Helm would run hooks.


The helm-chart.yaml defines where to get the chart from, which version should be pulled, the rendered output file name, and a few more Helm options. After this file is added to your project, you need to invoke the helm-pull command to pull the Helm Chart into your local project. It is advised to put the pulled Helm Chart into version control, so that deployments will always be based on the exact same Chart (Helm does not guarantee this when pulling).

Example helm-chart.yaml:

  repo: https://charts.bitnami.com/bitnami
  chartName: redis
  chartVersion: 12.1.1
  updateConstraints: ~12.1.0
  skipUpdate: false
  skipPrePull: false
  releaseName: redis-cache
  namespace: "{{ my.jinja2.var }}"
  output: helm-rendered.yaml # this is optional

When running the helm-pull command, it will search for all helm-chart.yaml files in your project and then pull the chart from the specified repository with the specified version. The pull chart will then be located in the sub-directory charts below the same directory as the helm-chart.yaml

The same filename that was specified in output must then be referred in a kustomization.yaml as a normal local resource. If output is omitted, the default value helm-rendered.yaml is used and must also be referenced in kustomization.yaml.

helmChart inside helm-chart.yaml supports the following fields:


The url to the Helm repository where the Helm Chart is located. You can use hub.helm.sh to search for repositories and charts and then use the repos found there.

OCI based repositories are also supported, for example:

  repo: oci://r.myreg.io/mycharts/pepper
  chartName: pepper
  chartVersion: 1.2.3
  releaseName: pepper
  namespace: pepper


As alternative to repo, you can also specify path. The path must point to a local Helm Chart that is relative to the helm-chart.yaml. The local Chart must reside in your Kluctl project.

When path is specified, repo, chartName, chartVersion and updateContrainsts are not allowed.


The name of the chart that can be found in the repository.


The version of the chart. Must be a valid semantic version.


Specifies version constraints to be used when running helm-update. See Checking Version Constraints for details on the supported syntax.

If omitted, Kluctl will filter out pre-releases by default. Use a updateConstraints like ~1.2.3-0 to enable pre-releases.


If set to true, skip this Helm Chart when the helm-update command is called. If omitted, defaults to false.


If set to true, skip pre-pulling of this Helm Chart when running helm-pull. This will also enable pulling on-demand when the deployment project is rendered/deployed.


The name of the Helm Release.


The namespace that this Helm Chart is going to be deployed to. Please note that this should match the namespace that you’re actually deploying the kustomize deployment to. This means, that either namespace in kustomization.yaml or overrideNamespace in deployment.yaml should match the namespace given here. The namespace should also be existing already at the point in time when the kustomize deployment is deployed.


This is the file name into which the Helm Chart is rendered into. Your kustomization.yaml should include this same file. The file should not be existing in your project, as it is created on-the-fly while deploying.


If set to true, kluctl will pass --skip-crds to Helm when rendering the deployment. If set to false (which is the default), kluctl will pass --include-crds to Helm.


This file should be present when you need to pass custom Helm Value to Helm while rendering the deployment. Please read the documentation of the used Helm Charts for details on what is supported.

Updates to helm-charts

In case a Helm Chart needs to be updated, you can either do this manually by replacing the chartVersion value in helm-chart.yaml and the calling the helm-pull command or by simply invoking helm-update with --upgrade and/or --commit being set.

Private Repositories

It is also possible to use private chart repositories and private OCI registries. There are multiple options to provide credentials to Kluctl.

Use helm repo add --username xxx --password xxx before

Kluctl will try to find known repositories that are managed by the Helm CLI and then try to reuse the credentials of these. The repositories are identified by the URL of the repository, so it doesn’t matter what name you used when you added the repository to Helm. The same method can be used for client certificate based authentication (--key-file in helm repo add).

Use helm registry login --username xxx --password xxx for OCI registries

The same as for helm repo add applies here, except that authentication entries are matched by hostname.

Use docker login for OCI registries

Kluctl tries to use credentials stored in $HOME/.docker/config.json as well, so docker login will also allow Kluctl to authenticate against OCI registries.

Use the –helm-xxx and –registry-xxx arguments of Kluctl sub-commands

All commands that interact with Helm Chart repositories and OCI registries support the helm arguments and registry arguments to specify authentication per repository and/or OCI registry.

⚠️DEPRECATION WARNING ⚠️ Previous versions (prior to v2.22.0) of Kluctl supported managing Helm credentials via credentialsId in helm-chart.yaml. This is deprecated now and will be removed in the future. Please switch to hostname/registry-name based authentication instead. See helm arguments for details.

Use environment variables to specify authentication

You can also use environment variables to specify Helm Chart repository authentication. For OCI based registries, see OCI authentication for details.

The following environment variables are supported:

  1. KLUCTL_HELM_HOST: Specifies the host name of the repository to match before the specified credentials are considered.
  2. KLUCTL_HELM_PATH: Specifies the path to match before the specified credentials are considered. If omitted, credentials are applied to all matching hosts. Can contain wildcards.
  3. KLUCTL_HELM_USERNAME: Specifies the username.
  4. KLUCTL_HELM_PASSWORD: Specifies the password.
  5. KLUCTL_HELM_INSECURE_SKIP_TLS_VERIFY: If set to true, Kluctl will skip TLS verification for matching repositories.
  6. KLUCTL_HELM_PASS_CREDENTIALS_ALL: If set to true, Kluctl will instruct Helm to pass credentials to all domains. See https://helm.sh/docs/helm/helm_repo_add/ for details.
  7. KLUCTL_HELM_CERT_FILE: Specifies the client certificate to use while connecting to the matching repository.
  8. KLUCTL_HELM_KEY_FILE: Specifies the client key to use while connecting to the matching repository.
  9. KLUCTL_HELM_CA_FILE: Specifies CA bundle to use for TLS/https verification.

Multiple credential sets can be specified by including an index in the environment variable names, e.g. KLUCTL_HELM_1_HOST=host.org, KLUCTL_HELM_1_USERNAME=my-user and KLUCTL_HELM_1_PASSWORD=my-password will apply the given credential to all repositories with the host host.org, while KLUCTL_HELM_2_HOST=other.org, KLUCTL_HELM_2_USERNAME=my-other-user and KLUCTL_HELM_2_PASSWORD=my-other-password will apply the other credentials to the other.org repository.

Credentials when using the kluctl-controller

In case you want to use the same Kluctl deployment via the kluctl-controller, you have to configure Helm and OCI credentials via spec.credentials.


Both helm-chart.yaml and helm-values.yaml are rendered by the templating engine before they are actually used. This means, that you can use all available Jinja2 variables at that point, which can for example be seen in the above helm-chart.yaml example for the namespace.

There is however one exception that leads to a small limitation. When helm-pull reads the helm-chart.yaml, it does NOT render the file via the templating engine. This is because it can not know how to properly render the template as it does have no information about targets (there are no -t arguments set) at that point.

This exception leads to the limitation that the helm-chart.yaml MUST be valid yaml even in case it is not rendered via the templating engine. This makes using control statements (if/for/…) impossible in this file. It also makes it a requirement to use quotes around values that contain templates (e.g. the namespace in the above example).

helm-values.yaml is not subject to these limitations as it is only interpreted while deploying.