2021. május 11.

How to install ArgoCD on Kubernetes cluster?


Kubernetes became one of the de facto standards for containerized applications. Many cloud platforms from the smallest to the largest like Scaleway, DigitalOcean, AWS, Google Cloud, Azure and IBM Cloud now provide managed services for Kubernetes. Creating a cluster and deploying an application into it became so easy that it takes a couple of minutes to run your application on it.


Kubernetes became one of the de facto standards for containerized applications. Many cloud platforms from the smallest to the largest like Scaleway, DigitalOcean, AWS, Google Cloud, Azure and IBM Cloud now provide managed services for  Kubernetes. Creating a cluster and deploying an application into it became so easy that it takes a couple of minutes to run your application on it. As these companies abstract the architecture layer from the developer that you do not need  to maintain a cluster anymore, deployment of the application became the new main focus. There are many open-source tools that help you to deploy your application on clusters. In my opinion, one of the most famous ones is Argo CD. In this tutorial, we will install Argo CD on a cluster, login to UI and deploy an application with it.

What is Argo CD

Argo CD is a lightweight and easy to configure declarative GitOps tool. It is built to deploy applications to  Kubernetes. As continuous delivery (CD) has increasing popularity, Argo CD does provide many interesting capabilities. Unlike other CD tools, Argo CD is lightweight and easy to configure. It is purpose-built to deploy applications only to Kubernetes, it's UI does not have overhead UI tools. It's also built with a GitOps flow. Meaning, everything ArgoCD sees as its source of truth is stored in a repository with multiple branches for different purposes such as `canary` and `production`.


In order to follow this tutorial, you need to have a basic understanding of the Kubernetes concept. You can have a look at Kubernetes documentation to understand `Deployment` and `Service` relation. You might need to understand the basic concept of GitOps logic for ArgoCD.


Before you get started, you will need to have  the following development environment:.  

  1. Kubernetes cluster.  
  2. `kubectl` installed. You will need it to manage your clusters.  
  3. Have a kubeconfig file (default location is ~/.kube/config).  
  4. Have a GitHub account. 

Install Argo CD CLI

Once you have your cluster set and `kubectl` installed, let's install the Argo CD CLI tool. We will install it with `brew` for Mac OS, you can find other installation directives on Argo CD documentation.

brew tap argoproj/tap brew install argoproj/tap/argocd  

Install Argo CD to the cluster  

We need to install Argo CD to our cluster to be able to deploy applications.

kubectl create namespace argocd kubectl apply -n argocd -f https://raw.githubusercontent.com/argoproj/argo-cd/stable/manifests/install.yaml 

This will create a namespace within your cluster and Argo CD services and applications.

Access Argo CD API Server  

By default, Argo CD API server is not exposed to external IP for security reasons. For this tutorial, we will access  the server using port forwarding. Kubectl port-forwarding is used to connect to the API server without  exposing the service to outside. We will use the same method for our example application.  

kubectl port-forward svc/argocd-server -n argocd 8080:443

This will expose Argo CD service to localhost:8080.

Login to Argo CD in console

Before we access the Argo CD UI, we need to get and change the admin password. Let's list all the pods of `argocd`  namespace.  

kubectl get pods -n argocd | grep argocd-server  

This will output Argo CD server pod details. The name of the pod is our first password for the admin user. Once you request to login, it will ask for a username and password. Use `admin` for username, the pod's name for the password.  


argocd login localhost:8080


Change Argo CD Admin User Password

Once you logged in, change the password for the admin user with the following command. You will be asked to enter the  old password and new password.

argocd account update-password 

Login Argo CD UI

Now, let's go to localhost:8080 to access the UI.   

Create a Github Repository  

As we mentioned in the introduction, Argo CD follows GitOps flow. We will need a repository where we can store our  application manifest files. Let's create a repository and put the following `deployment`, `service` and `argocd` application`YAML files into it. For this tutorial, I used https://github.com/omegion/echo-k8s-app.  


Create a `deployment.yaml` file with the following content.  

apiVersion: apps/v1 
kind: Deployment 
 name: echo-deploymentspec: 
 replicas: 1 selector: matchLabels: app: echo-server template: metadata: labels: app: echo-server spec: containers: - name: echo-server image: jmalloc/echo-server ports: - name: http-port containerPort: 8080


Create a `service.yaml` file with the following content.  

apiVersion: v1 
kind: Service 
 name: echo-server-servicespec: 
 ports: - name: app port: 80 targetPort: 8080 selector: app: echo-server

Argo CD Application

Create an `argocd-app.yaml` file with the following content.  

apiVersion: argoproj.io/v1alpha1 
kind: Application 
 name: echo-server # name of the Argo CD application namespace: argocdspec: 
 project: default source: repoURL: https://github.com/omegion/echo-k8s-app/ # change here with your repository url targetRevision: HEAD path: kubernetes directory: recurse: true destination: server: https://kubernetes.default.svc namespace: echo-server # namespace we created syncPolicy: automated: prune: false selfHeal: false


After creating these files, push them to the repository. You can change `repoURL` with the created repository. I used  an example repository for this tutorial.  

Deploy Argo CD Application  

Once we have all three files, let's apply the Argo CD Application YAML file with `kubectl`.  

kubectl apply -f argocd-app.yaml

This will create an application in Argo CD UI.  

Access Argo CD Application with Port Forward

In order to access an application from outside in the cluster, we would need an ingress. However, we didn't create  ingress to access our application from outside in this tutorial. To access our example application, we need to use  port-forwarding as we did for `argocd-server`.  

kubectl port-forward svc/echo-server-service -n echo-server 8001:80

This will create a tunnel between your local port and the application. Visit  
on your browser. You will see the request details.  

Request served by echo-deployment-788c68557d-72fgl
HTTP/1.1 GET /  

Host: localhost:8001  
Accept-Language: en-GB,en-US;q=0.9,en;q=0.8,tr;q=0.7  
Cache-Control: max-age=0  
Upgrade-Insecure-Requests: 1  
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_14_6) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/83.0.4103.116 Safari/537.36  
Sec-Fetch-User: ?1  
Sec-Fetch-Dest: document  
Connection: keep-alive  
Accept: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,image/webp,image/apng,*/*;q=0.8,application/signed-exchange;v=b3;q=0.9  
Sec-Fetch-Site: none  
Sec-Fetch-Mode: navigate  
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate, br  


In this tutorial, we installed Argo CD into our existing cluster and created a simple application. Since Argo CD follows GitOps flow, we needed to create a repository that Argo CD application can read the manifest files from. Finally, we connect to our application with port-forward through application service and test the echo server  application.

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