ConfigMaps - Setting ConfigMaps from the oc CLI

While preparing for EX280 I learned a lot about using the CLI to configure Openshift resources. It’s always great learning to configure this stuff from the CLI because it gives you so much power and (In my opinion) a lot more understanding about how things work because you need to viluazie what you are doing in your head. Also: “Writing is thinking” (Ahrens2017)1

FYI; This blog is written for OpenShift but for most command’s oc and kubectl are interchangeable.

Understanding ConfigMaps and Secrets

In Kubernetes you can create ConfigMaps and Secrets to supply your pod’s with “information”. ConfigMaps and Secret’s look a lot alike with the major difference at this point being that Secrets encode (not encrypt) their values in base64

In this blog I’ll talk about creating ConfigMap’s and how to mount and use them. The command’s for secrets look a lot like these but I’ll save that for some other time.

Adding data to a pod using a ConfigMap

In this example we will supply a ENV key called “api_url” to a deployment. We will also add a webserver config file to the deployment.

This will look like this:

graph TD
    subgraph Namespace
        subgraph Deployment
            A[Deployment] --> |Creates| B
            B[ReplicaSet] --> |Manages| C
    D[ConfigMap: application-env] --> |Supplies Data| C
    E[ConfigMap: application-config] ---> |Supplies Data| C

Preparing the environment

So, if not clear already, you can do this on you own cluster or local K3s setup. We will use the bintami/nginx image as Deployment because it’s nice and easy

Creating the deployment

For this we will create a a new project and deploy the application with:

$ oc new-project configmaps-demo
$ oc new-app --name super-app --docker-image bitnami/nginx

This should resolve in a running nginx container called super-app:

$ oc get pods
NAME                         READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
super-app-67b7c69cfb-v5rr7   1/1     Running   0          8

Creating the ConfigMap’s

We will create 2 config maps for this example:

  • application-env containing api_url=
  • application-config containing our simple string “I am your config”

We will create the application-env ConfigMap form the CLI with:

$ oc create configmap application-env \
  --from-literal api_url=

And we will create the application-config ConfigMap from a simple file containing some string data:

$ echo "I am your config" > config.txt
$ oc create configmap application-config \
  --from-file config.txt

Adding config maps using the CLI

Now for the magic 🎩. We will add both config maps to our app super-app using the oc command line.

Adding the ConfigMap as ENV variables

You do this with the following command:

$ oc set env deployment/super-app \
  --from configmap/application-env

This will provide the KeyPair as values to the container. There a two ways to see the results.

  1. Check the pod spec with
     $ oc get pods
     NAME                         READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
     super-app-67b7c69cfb-v5rr7   1/1     Running   0          8
     $ oc get pod super-app-67b7c69cfb-v5rr7 -o yaml | grep -A 4 -e 'env:'
     - env:
       - name: API_URL
             key: api_url
  2. Connect to the pod and echo the ENV variables
     $ oc get pods
     NAME                         READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
     super-app-67b7c69cfb-v5rr7   1/1     Running   0          8
     $ oc rsh super-app-67b7c69cfb-v5rr7 bash
     (pod) $ echo $API_URL

Adding the ConfigMap as file

This is done with a slightly longer command. The following wil create a volume for the pod to mount and acces the files:

⚠️ When mounting a volume to a pod all data on the mount path will be made inaccessible. This means that any files present at /mount/config/application-config will not show up in your pod

$ oc set volume deployment/super-app \
  --add \
  --type configmap \
  --mount-path /mount/config/application-config \
  --configmap-name application-config

This will map the ConfigMap to our pod using the new Volume. We can see the result by connecting to the pod:

$ oc get pods
NAME                         READY   STATUS              RESTARTS   AGE
super-app-67b7c69cfb-v5rr7   1/1     Running             0          7m8s
$ oc rsh super-app-67b7c69cfb-v5rr7 bash

No we can cat the mounted file:

(pod) $ cat /mount/config/application-config/config.txt
      I am your config

We can also see this mount in the yaml of our pod:

$ oc get pods
NAME                         READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
super-app-79fc5bf5df-zsjlg   1/1     Running   0          12m
$ oc get pods super-app-79fc5bf5df-zsjlg -o yaml | grep mountPath -A 2
    - mountPath: /mount/config/application-config
      name: volume-qcxd4
    - mountPath: /var/run/secrets/
      name: kube-api-access-wddx2
      readOnly: true

ConfigMaps and multible keys

Please note that the config is being mounted as config.txt. This is because when we created the ConfigMap from file we did not asigne the contents of the file to a key. When you oc describe the config map you can see that the contents has been “keyed” to config.txt:

$ oc describe configmaps application-config
Name:         application-config
Namespace:    configmaps-demo
Labels:       <none>
Annotations:  <none>

I am your config 

If we wanted to mount multible files we could add more key value pairs to a single config map like:

$ echo "I am your users" > users.txt
$ echo "I am your list" > list.txt
$ oc create configmap application-config-multible \
  --from-file config.txt \
  --from-file users.txt \
  --from-file list.txt 
$ oc describe configmap application-config-multible
Name:         application-config-multible
Namespace:    configmaps-demo
Labels:       <none>
Annotations:  <none>

I am your config

I am your list

I am your users

Events:  <none> 

And mount it to the pod (on a different path):

$ oc set volume deployment/super-app \
  --add \
  --type configmap \
  --mount-path /mount/config/application-config-multible \
  --configmap-name application-config-multible

Now from the pod you’ll see the files mounted to /mount/config/application-config-multible:

(pod) $ ls -la /mount/config/application-config-multible
total 0
drwxrwsrwx. 3 root 1000150000 110 Jan 11 09:40 .
drwxr-xr-x. 3 root root        41 Jan 11 09:40 ..
drwxr-sr-x. 2 root 1000150000  57 Jan 11 09:40 ..2022_01_11_09_40_51.324279541
lrwxrwxrwx. 1 root root        31 Jan 11 09:40 -> ..2022_01_11_09_40_51.324279541
lrwxrwxrwx. 1 root root        17 Jan 11 09:40 config.txt ->
lrwxrwxrwx. 1 root root        15 Jan 11 09:40 list.txt ->
lrwxrwxrwx. 1 root root        16 Jan 11 09:40 users.txt ->

Wrapping up

So that’s it for now. As you can see we can use ConfigMap’s to supply pods with different kinds of information. We can add ENV data and provide files to the pods using a ConfigMap. You can use almost the same commands to add the data using Secrets but I’ll cover that in another blog you can read about that here

  1. Ahrens, Sönke. How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking: For Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers. North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace, 2017. 

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