Getting Started with GitOps with Flux and Gitlab

Learn how to use the GitOps methodology to simplify your Kubernetes deployments.

Kentaro Wakayama

Kentaro Wakayama

July 10, 2020

Getting Started with GitOps with Flux and Gitlab


GitOps is a Kubernetes application delivery methodology. It aims to simplify the deployment and operation of Kubernetes applications.

In this article we will use Flux, which can be installed as a Kubernetes operator.

The Flux operator keeps the cluster state and a repository in sync. Any configuration change made in the repository is automatically applied to the Kubernetes cluster.

In this guide we will set up Flux and deploy a demo application via the Git repository.


To get started, we need kubectl connected to a Kubernetes cluster and a Git repository in Gitlab.

Install fluxctl

fluxctl is a command line tool to interact with Flux. On macOS you can install fluxctl with Homebrew.

brew install fluxctl

You can find installation instructions for other platforms here:

Create a Kubernetes namespace for Flux

Let’s start by creating a namespace for the Flux operator.

kubectl create namespace flux

Generate Flux manifest files

We use the fluxctl tool to generate the Kubernetes manifest files for the Flux operator. You need to specify the repository url, Git user information. You also need to provide the paths to the folders where the Kubernetes manifests are kept and the namespace where the operator should be deployed.

fluxctl install$tom-code/example-gitops-flux 
--namespace=flux > flux.yaml

Apply manifest files

Let’s apply the Flux operator using kubectl.

kubectl apply -f flux.yaml

Verify deployment

Verify the deployment by checking the status Kubernetes pods in the flux namespace. There should be the Flux operator as well as a Memchached instance, which is used by the operator to keep some internal state.

kubectl get pods -n flux

NAME                         READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
flux-5dd6d54f5b-2gbws        1/1     Running   0          67s
memcached-5fd8f56fc5-qlpsc   1/1     Running   0          67s

Retrieve SSH key via fluxctl

Flux connects to the Git repository using an SSH key. It generates the key on initial startup. You can retrieve the public SSH key via the fluxctl cli.

fluxctl identity --k8s-fwd-ns flux

Add SSH key to the Deploy Keys of the Gitlab repository

Open Gitlab, navigate to your project, go to Settings -> Repository -> Deploy Keys and add the SSH key retrieved from fluxctl. Make sure you check Write access allowed.

Clone repository

Use Git to clone the repository to your local machine and cd into the directory.

git clone
cd example-flux-gitops

Create folders for manifest files

Let’s create two folders where our Kubernetes manifest file will be kept.

mkdir namespaces workloads

Create Kubernetes manifest file for the demo namespace

We start by adding a Kubernetes namespace resource. Copy the snippet below and save it as demo-ns.yaml in the namespaces directory.

apiVersion: v1
kind: Namespace
    name: demo
  name: demo

Create Kubernetes manifest file for the nginx deployment

Next, we will add a demo nginx deployment. Copy the snippet below and save it as nginx-deploy.yaml in the workloads directory.

apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
  name: nginx-deployment
  namespace: demo
      app: nginx
  replicas: 2
        app: nginx
        - name: nginx
          image: nginx:1.14.2
            - containerPort: 80

Commit and push changes

Use Git to add the new files to the repository. Afterwards commit and push the changes to the Gitlab repository.

git add namespaces workloads
git commit -m 'Add demo resources'
git push

Verify deployment

Verify the deployment by checking the status Kubernetes pods in the demo namespace. There should be two nginx pods running.

kubectl get pods -n demo

NAME                                                   READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
nginx-deployment-6b6bc59c57-fd2w5              1/1     Running   0          57s
nginx-deployment-6b6bc59c57-vh8bh              1/1     Running   0          52s


We deployed Flux and configured it to work with a Gitlab repository. Changes to the Git repository are deployed to the cluster automatically.

As you can see, there is no external client which needs access to the Kubernetes cluster which makes the process very secure and makes it perfect for deployments in highly regulated environments such as in the insurance and fintech industries.

Having a central repository to manage the Kubernetes manifest files makes the deployment easier to operate and removes complexity which comes with Kubernetes from the repository and pipelines of the services.

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Get in Touch

Contact: Kentaro Wakayama


Tel: +49 711 838 823 38

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