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Step-By-Step Guide: Installation of Cert-Manager, Implementing Free SSL Certificates for Kubernetes Clusters

Published: at 12:00 AM

Welcome back to our ongoing dialogue about Kubernetes. In the previous article, we successfully executed the Nginx installation and made our applications internet-accessible. However, you might’ve observed that the applications are operating under the HTTP protocol, which is not secure at present.

As of July 2018, with the release of Chrome 68, Google started marking all non-HTTPS websites as ‘Not secure’ in the Chrome browser. This means that if a website doesn’t use HTTPS, Chrome displays a warning to users in the address bar, indicating that the connection is not secure. The goal of this move was to push more webmasters to secure their websites with SSL/TLS certificates, providing a safer browsing experience for users.

Securing our applications through SSL encryption is crucial, particularly in production environments. For enhanced security, it’s recommended to procure and implement valid SSL certificates for all production applications.

However, for the development or testing environments, which may not require paid SSL certificates, you can make use of Cert-Manager. This tool utilizes Let’s Encrypt to generate SSL certificates free of cost, providing a secure and cost-effective solution for non-production environments.

Cert-Manager installation

  1. Prerequisite - Kubernetes cluster with admin access is required. Make sure you have kubectl installed and configured to interact with your cluster.

  2. Add the Jetstack Helm repository - Jetstack is the organization that maintains cert-manager, and they provide a Helm repository that we can use to install it:

helm repo add jetstack
helm repo update
  1. Install cert-manager CustomResourceDefinitions (CRDs) - These are the resources that cert-manager uses to store its configuration. Run the following command to install the CRDs:

Please make certain that you are utilizing the most up-to-date version. You can achieve this by substituting v1.13.0 with the newest release from the cert-manager official GitHub repository. Visit the following link to obtain the latest version: Cert-Manager Releases.

kubectl apply -f
  1. Create cert-manager Namespace - It’s a good practice to install cert-manager in its own namespace. Use this command:
kubectl create namespace cert-manager
  1. Create value.yaml file with the content below
  defaultIssuerName: "letsencrypt-prod"
  defaultIssuerKind: "ClusterIssuer"
  1. Install cert-manager Helm chart - This will install cert-manager along with its components:
helm install cert-manager jetstack/cert-manager --values values.yaml -n cert-manager
  1. Verify the Installation - Check if the cert-manager pods are running:


  1. Cluster Issuer configuration
# File name is `cluster-issuer.yaml`
kind: ClusterIssuer
  # The name should be the same with `defaultIssuerName` above
  name: letsencrypt-prod
  namespace: cert-manager
    # Replace with your domain email.
    email: [email protected]
      name: letsencrypt-prod
      - http01:
            # The ingress class name of nginx.
            class: nginx

Apply it on the cluster:

kubectl apply -f cluster-issuer.yaml

Update echo-app ingress.

Leverage the existing echo-app to enhance your project. We’ll revise the ingress configuration to enable HTTPS for secure communication in our application. Additionally, we’ll integrate with cert-manager for automated SSL certificate generation.

kind: Ingress
  name: echo-ingress
  namespace: default
    # 1. enable cert-manager for this ingress "true"
  ingressClassName: nginx
  # 3. Config the tls secret name. Replace the domain and secretName below with your config accordingly.
    - hosts:
      secretName: tls-drunkcoding-net
    - host:
          - pathType: Prefix
            path: "/"
                name: echo-service
                  number: 80

The certificate generated from Let's Encrypt has validity of 90 days. However, the cert-manager will automatically renew the certificate as it nears its expiration date.

Verify application

Once the configuration is properly set up and the certificate has been successfully issued, you should be able to locate a certificate named tls-drunkcoding-net housed under the default namespace secrets. tls-drunkcoding-net certificate

The application is also fully functional with SSL for secure communication. Secure application communication

Below is the detailed certificate information as seen from the browser. Browser certificate details

Thank you for your time! If you have any further questions, feel free to ask. 🌟✨🎁

Steven GitHub