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Configure a Pod to Use a ConfigMap

ConfigMaps allow you to decouple configuration artifacts from image content to keep containerized applications portable. This page provides a series of usage examples demonstrating how to create ConfigMaps and configure Pods using data stored in ConfigMaps.

Before you begin

You need to have a Kubernetes cluster, and the kubectl command-line tool must be configured to communicate with your cluster. If you do not already have a cluster, you can create one by using Minikube, or you can use one of these Kubernetes playgrounds:

To check the version, enter kubectl version.

Create a ConfigMap

Use the kubectl create configmap command to create configmaps from directories, files, or literal values:

kubectl create configmap <map-name> <data-source>

where <map-name> is the name you want to assign to the ConfigMap and <data-source> is the directory, file, or literal value to draw the data from.

The data source corresponds to a key-value pair in the ConfigMap, where

You can use kubectl describe or kubectl get to retrieve information about a ConfigMap.

Create ConfigMaps from directories

You can use kubectl create configmap to create a ConfigMap from multiple files in the same directory.

For example:

mkdir -p configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/
wget https://k8s.io/docs/tasks/configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/game.properties -O configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/game.properties
wget https://k8s.io/docs/tasks/configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/ui.properties -O configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/ui.properties
kubectl create configmap game-config --from-file=configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/

combines the contents of the configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/ directory

ls configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/
game.properties
ui.properties

into the following ConfigMap:

kubectl describe configmaps game-config
Name:           game-config
Namespace:      default
Labels:         <none>
Annotations:    <none>

Data
====
game.properties:        158 bytes
ui.properties:          83 bytes

The game.properties and ui.properties files in the configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/ directory are represented in the data section of the ConfigMap.

kubectl get configmaps game-config -o yaml
apiVersion: v1
data:
  game.properties: |
    enemies=aliens
    lives=3
    enemies.cheat=true
    enemies.cheat.level=noGoodRotten
    secret.code.passphrase=UUDDLRLRBABAS
    secret.code.allowed=true
    secret.code.lives=30
  ui.properties: |
    color.good=purple
    color.bad=yellow
    allow.textmode=true
    how.nice.to.look=fairlyNice
kind: ConfigMap
metadata:
  creationTimestamp: 2016-02-18T18:52:05Z
  name: game-config
  namespace: default
  resourceVersion: "516"
  selfLink: /api/v1/namespaces/default/configmaps/game-config
  uid: b4952dc3-d670-11e5-8cd0-68f728db1985

Create ConfigMaps from files

You can use kubectl create configmap to create a ConfigMap from an individual file, or from multiple files.

For example,

kubectl create configmap game-config-2 --from-file=configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/game.properties

would produce the following ConfigMap:

kubectl describe configmaps game-config-2
Name:           game-config-2
Namespace:      default
Labels:         <none>
Annotations:    <none>

Data
====
game.properties:        158 bytes

You can pass in the --from-file argument multiple times to create a ConfigMap from multiple data sources.

kubectl create configmap game-config-2 --from-file=configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/game.properties --from-file=configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/ui.properties
kubectl describe configmaps game-config-2
Name:           game-config-2
Namespace:      default
Labels:         <none>
Annotations:    <none>

Data
====
game.properties:        158 bytes
ui.properties:          83 bytes

Use the option --from-env-file to create a ConfigMap from an env-file, for example:

# Env-files contain a list of environment variables.
# These syntax rules apply:
#   Each line in an env file has to be in VAR=VAL format.
#   Lines beginning with # (i.e. comments) are ignored.
#   Blank lines are ignored.
#   There is no special handling of quotation marks (i.e. they will be part of the ConfigMap value)).

wget https://k8s.io/docs/tasks/configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/game-env-file.properties -O configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/game-env-file.properties
cat configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/game-env-file.properties
enemies=aliens
lives=3
allowed="true"

# This comment and the empty line above it are ignored
kubectl create configmap game-config-env-file \
        --from-env-file=configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/game-env-file.properties

would produce the following ConfigMap:

kubectl get configmap game-config-env-file -o yaml
apiVersion: v1
data:
  allowed: '"true"'
  enemies: aliens
  lives: "3"
kind: ConfigMap
metadata:
  creationTimestamp: 2017-12-27T18:36:28Z
  name: game-config-env-file
  namespace: default
  resourceVersion: "809965"
  selfLink: /api/v1/namespaces/default/configmaps/game-config-env-file
  uid: d9d1ca5b-eb34-11e7-887b-42010a8002b8

When passing --from-env-file multiple times to create a ConfigMap from multiple data sources, only the last env-file is used:

wget https://k8s.io/docs/tasks/configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/ui-env-file.properties -O configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/ui-env-file.properties
kubectl create configmap config-multi-env-files \
        --from-env-file=configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/game-env-file.properties \
        --from-env-file=configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/ui-env-file.properties

would produce the following ConfigMap:

kubectl get configmap config-multi-env-files -o yaml
apiVersion: v1
data:
  color: purple
  how: fairlyNice
  textmode: "true"
kind: ConfigMap
metadata:
  creationTimestamp: 2017-12-27T18:38:34Z
  name: config-multi-env-files
  namespace: default
  resourceVersion: "810136"
  selfLink: /api/v1/namespaces/default/configmaps/config-multi-env-files
  uid: 252c4572-eb35-11e7-887b-42010a8002b8

Define the key to use when creating a ConfigMap from a file

You can define a key other than the file name to use in the data section of your ConfigMap when using the --from-file argument:

kubectl create configmap game-config-3 --from-file=<my-key-name>=<path-to-file>

where <my-key-name> is the key you want to use in the ConfigMap and <path-to-file> is the location of the data source file you want the key to represent.

For example:

kubectl create configmap game-config-3 --from-file=game-special-key=configure-pod-container/configmap/kubectl/game.properties

kubectl get configmaps game-config-3 -o yaml
apiVersion: v1
data:
  game-special-key: |
    enemies=aliens
    lives=3
    enemies.cheat=true
    enemies.cheat.level=noGoodRotten
    secret.code.passphrase=UUDDLRLRBABAS
    secret.code.allowed=true
    secret.code.lives=30
kind: ConfigMap
metadata:
  creationTimestamp: 2016-02-18T18:54:22Z
  name: game-config-3
  namespace: default
  resourceVersion: "530"
  selfLink: /api/v1/namespaces/default/configmaps/game-config-3
  uid: 05f8da22-d671-11e5-8cd0-68f728db1985

Create ConfigMaps from literal values

You can use kubectl create configmap with the --from-literal argument to define a literal value from the command line:

kubectl create configmap special-config --from-literal=special.how=very --from-literal=special.type=charm

You can pass in multiple key-value pairs. Each pair provided on the command line is represented as a separate entry in the data section of the ConfigMap.

kubectl get configmaps special-config -o yaml
apiVersion: v1
data:
  special.how: very
  special.type: charm
kind: ConfigMap
metadata:
  creationTimestamp: 2016-02-18T19:14:38Z
  name: special-config
  namespace: default
  resourceVersion: "651"
  selfLink: /api/v1/namespaces/default/configmaps/special-config
  uid: dadce046-d673-11e5-8cd0-68f728db1985

Define Pod environment variables using ConfigMap data

Define a Pod environment variable with data from a single ConfigMap

  1. Define an environment variable as a key-value pair in a ConfigMap:
   kubectl create configmap special-config --from-literal=special.how=very 
  1. Assign the special.how value defined in the ConfigMap to the SPECIAL_LEVEL_KEY environment variable in the Pod specification.
   kubectl edit pod dapi-test-pod
   apiVersion: v1
   kind: Pod
   metadata:
     name: dapi-test-pod
   spec:
     containers:
       - name: test-container
         image: k8s.gcr.io/busybox
         command: [ "/bin/sh", "-c", "env" ]
         env:
           # Define the environment variable
           - name: SPECIAL_LEVEL_KEY
             valueFrom:
               configMapKeyRef:
                 # The ConfigMap containing the value you want to assign to SPECIAL_LEVEL_KEY
                 name: special-config
                 # Specify the key associated with the value
                 key: special.how
     restartPolicy: Never
  1. Save the changes to the Pod specification. Now, the Pod’s output includes SPECIAL_LEVEL_KEY=very.

Define Pod environment variables with data from multiple ConfigMaps

  1. As with the previous example, create the ConfigMaps first.
   apiVersion: v1
   kind: ConfigMap
   metadata:
     name: special-config
     namespace: default
   data:
     special.how: very
   apiVersion: v1
   kind: ConfigMap
   metadata:
     name: env-config
     namespace: default
   data:
     log_level: INFO
  1. Define the environment variables in the Pod specification.
   apiVersion: v1
   kind: Pod
   metadata:
     name: dapi-test-pod
   spec:
     containers:
       - name: test-container
         image: k8s.gcr.io/busybox
         command: [ "/bin/sh", "-c", "env" ]
         env:
           - name: SPECIAL_LEVEL_KEY
             valueFrom:
               configMapKeyRef:
                 name: special-config
                 key: special.how
           - name: LOG_LEVEL
             valueFrom:
               configMapKeyRef:
                 name: env-config
                 key: log_level
     restartPolicy: Never
  1. Save the changes to the Pod specification. Now, the Pod’s output includes SPECIAL_LEVEL_KEY=very and LOG_LEVEL=info.

Configure all key-value pairs in a ConfigMap as Pod environment variables

Note: This functionality is available to users running Kubernetes v1.6 and later.

  1. Create a ConfigMap containing multiple key-value pairs.
   apiVersion: v1
   kind: ConfigMap
   metadata:
     name: special-config
     namespace: default
   data:
     SPECIAL_LEVEL: very
     SPECIAL_TYPE: charm
  1. Use envFrom to define all of the ConfigMap’s data as Pod environment variables. The key from the ConfigMap becomes the environment variable name in the Pod.
   apiVersion: v1
   kind: Pod
   metadata:
     name: dapi-test-pod
   spec:
     containers:
       - name: test-container
         image: k8s.gcr.io/busybox
         command: [ "/bin/sh", "-c", "env" ]
         envFrom:
         - configMapRef:
             name: special-config
     restartPolicy: Never
  1. Save the changes to the Pod specification. Now, the Pod’s output includes SPECIAL_LEVEL=very and SPECIAL_TYPE=charm.

Use ConfigMap-defined environment variables in Pod commands

You can use ConfigMap-defined environment variables in the command section of the Pod specification using the $(VAR_NAME) Kubernetes substitution syntax.

For example:

The following Pod specification

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  name: dapi-test-pod
spec:
  containers:
    - name: test-container
      image: k8s.gcr.io/busybox
      command: [ "/bin/sh", "-c", "echo $(SPECIAL_LEVEL_KEY) $(SPECIAL_TYPE_KEY)" ]
      env:
        - name: SPECIAL_LEVEL_KEY
          valueFrom:
            configMapKeyRef:
              name: special-config
              key: SPECIAL_LEVEL
        - name: SPECIAL_TYPE_KEY
          valueFrom:
            configMapKeyRef:
              name: special-config
              key: SPECIAL_TYPE
  restartPolicy: Never

produces the following output in the test-container container:

very charm

Add ConfigMap data to a Volume

As explained in Create ConfigMaps from files, when you create a ConfigMap using --from-file, the filename becomes a key stored in the data section of the ConfigMap. The file contents become the key’s value.

The examples in this section refer to a ConfigMap named special-config, shown below.

apiVersion: v1
kind: ConfigMap
metadata:
  name: special-config
  namespace: default
data:
  special.level: very
  special.type: charm

Populate a Volume with data stored in a ConfigMap

Add the ConfigMap name under the volumes section of the Pod specification. This adds the ConfigMap data to the directory specified as volumeMounts.mountPath (in this case, /etc/config). The command section references the special.level item stored in the ConfigMap.

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  name: dapi-test-pod
spec:
  containers:
    - name: test-container
      image: k8s.gcr.io/busybox
      command: [ "/bin/sh", "-c", "ls /etc/config/" ]
      volumeMounts:
      - name: config-volume
        mountPath: /etc/config
  volumes:
    - name: config-volume
      configMap:
        # Provide the name of the ConfigMap containing the files you want
        # to add to the container
        name: special-config
  restartPolicy: Never

When the pod runs, the command ("ls /etc/config/") produces the output below:

special.level
special.type
Caution: If there are some files in the /etc/config/ directory, they will be deleted.

Add ConfigMap data to a specific path in the Volume

Use the path field to specify the desired file path for specific ConfigMap items. In this case, the special.level item will be mounted in the config-volume volume at /etc/config/keys.

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  name: dapi-test-pod
spec:
  containers:
    - name: test-container
      image: k8s.gcr.io/busybox
      command: [ "/bin/sh","-c","cat /etc/config/keys" ]
      volumeMounts:
      - name: config-volume
        mountPath: /etc/config
  volumes:
    - name: config-volume
      configMap:
        name: special-config
        items:
        - key: special.level
          path: keys
  restartPolicy: Never

When the pod runs, the command ("cat /etc/config/keys") produces the output below:

very

Project keys to specific paths and file permissions

You can project keys to specific paths and specific permissions on a per-file basis. The Secrets user guide explains the syntax.

Mounted ConfigMaps are updated automatically

When a ConfigMap already being consumed in a volume is updated, projected keys are eventually updated as well. Kubelet is checking whether the mounted ConfigMap is fresh on every periodic sync. However, it is using its local ttl-based cache for getting the current value of the ConfigMap. As a result, the total delay from the moment when the ConfigMap is updated to the moment when new keys are projected to the pod can be as long as kubelet sync period + ttl of ConfigMaps cache in kubelet.

Note: A container using a ConfigMap as a subPath volume will not receive ConfigMap updates.

Understanding ConfigMaps and Pods

The ConfigMap API resource stores configuration data as key-value pairs. The data can be consumed in pods or provide the configurations for system components such as controllers. ConfigMap is similar to Secrets, but provides a means of working with strings that don’t contain sensitive information. Users and system components alike can store configuration data in ConfigMap.

Note: ConfigMaps should reference properties files, not replace them. Think of the ConfigMap as representing something similar to the Linux /etc directory and its contents. For example, if you create a Kubernetes Volume from a ConfigMap, each data item in the ConfigMap is represented by an individual file in the volume.

The ConfigMap’s data field contains the configuration data. As shown in the example below, this can be simple – like individual properties defined using --from-literal – or complex – like configuration files or JSON blobs defined using --from-file.

kind: ConfigMap
apiVersion: v1
metadata:
  creationTimestamp: 2016-02-18T19:14:38Z
  name: example-config
  namespace: default
data:
  # example of a simple property defined using --from-literal
  example.property.1: hello
  example.property.2: world
  # example of a complex property defined using --from-file
  example.property.file: |-
    property.1=value-1
    property.2=value-2
    property.3=value-3

Restrictions

  1. You must create a ConfigMap before referencing it in a Pod specification (unless you mark the ConfigMap as “optional”). If you reference a ConfigMap that doesn’t exist, the Pod won’t start. Likewise, references to keys that don’t exist in the ConfigMap will prevent the pod from starting.

  2. If you use envFrom to define environment variables from ConfigMaps, keys that are considered invalid will be skipped. The pod will be allowed to start, but the invalid names will be recorded in the event log (InvalidVariableNames). The log message lists each skipped key. For example:

   kubectl get events
   LASTSEEN FIRSTSEEN COUNT NAME          KIND  SUBOBJECT  TYPE      REASON                            SOURCE                MESSAGE
   0s       0s        1     dapi-test-pod Pod              Warning   InvalidEnvironmentVariableNames   {kubelet, 127.0.0.1}  Keys [1badkey, 2alsobad] from the EnvFrom configMap default/myconfig were skipped since they are considered invalid environment variable names.
  1. ConfigMaps reside in a specific namespace. A ConfigMap can only be referenced by pods residing in the same namespace.

  2. Kubelet doesn’t support the use of ConfigMaps for pods not found on the API server. This includes pods created via the Kubelet’s –manifest-url flag, –config flag, or the Kubelet REST API.

Note: These are not commonly-used ways to create pods.

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