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Release process

The kOps project is released on an as-needed basis. The process is as follows:

Release branches

We maintain a release-1.21 branch for kOps 1.21.X, release-1.22 for kOps 1.22.X, etc.

master is where development happens. We create new branches from master as we prepare for a new minor release. As we are preparing for a new Kubernetes release, we will try to advance the master branch to focus on the new functionality and cherry-pick back to the release branches only as needed.

Generally we don't encourage users to run older kOps versions, or older branches, because newer versions of kOps should remain compatible with older versions of Kubernetes.

Beta and stable releases should be made from the release-1.X branch. The tags should be made on the release branches. Alpha releases may be made on either master or a release branch.

Creating new release branches

Typically, kOps alpha releases are created off the master branch and beta and stable releases are created off of release branches. In order to create a new release branch off of master prior to a beta release, perform the following steps:

  1. Update the periodic E2E Prow jobs for the "next" kOps/Kubernetes minor version.
  2. Edit to add the new minor version to k8s_versions and kops_versions. Also update the list of minor versions in generate_versions(), generate_pipeline(), and generate_presubmits_e2e().
  3. Edit the testgrid config.yaml to add the new minor version to both lists in the file, prefixed with kops-k8s-.
  4. Remove the oldest minor version from each of those lists.
  5. Run the script.
  6. Create a new milestone in the GitHub repo.
  7. Update prow's milestone_applier config to update master to use the new milestone and add an entry for the new feature branch. Create this as a separate PR as it will require separate review.
  8. Create the new release branch in git and push it to the GitHub repo.
  9. On the master branch, create a PR to update to the next minor version:
  10. Update OldestSupportedKubernetesVersion and OldestRecommendedKubernetesVersion in apply_cluster.go
  11. Add a row for the new minor version to
  12. Fix any tests broken by the now-unsupported versions.
  13. Create release notes for the next minor version. The release notes should mention the Kubernetes support removal and deprecation.
  14. On master, off of the branch point, create the first alpha release for the new minor release.

Creating releases

Send Pull Request to propose a release

See 1.22.0-beta.2 PR for an example.

Use the hack/set-version script to update versions, using the new version as the argument. Then update the golden tests.

hack/set-version 1.22.0

Commit the changes (without pushing yet):

VERSION=$(tools/ | grep VERSION | awk '{print $2}')
git checkout -b release_${VERSION}
git add . && git commit -m "Release ${VERSION}"

This is the "release commit". Push and create a PR.

git push -u origin release_${VERSION}
gh pr create -f

Wait for the PR to merge.

Reviewing the release commit PR

To review someone else's release commit, verify that:

  • A release at that point is desired. (For example, there are no unfixed blocking bugs.)
  • There is nothing in the commit besides version number updates and golden outputs.

The "verify-versions" CI task will ensure that the versions have been updated in all the expected places.

Tag the release commit

(TODO: Can we automate this? Maybe we should have a tags.yaml file)

Check out the release commit. Make sure you are not on a newer one! Do not tag the merge commit!

git tag -a -m "Release ${VERSION}" v${VERSION}
git show v${VERSION}

Double check it is the release commit!

git push v${VERSION}

Wait for CI job to complete

The staging CI job should now see the tag, and build it (from the trusted prow cluster, using Google Cloud Build).

It (currently) takes about 30 minutes to run.

In the meantime, you can compile the release notes...

Compile release notes

This step is not necessary for an ".0-alpha.1" release as these are made off of the branch point for the previous minor release.

The relnotes tool is from kopeio/shipbot.

For example:

git checkout master
git pull upstream master
git checkout -b relnotes_${VERSION}

FROM=1.21.0-alpha.2 # Replace "1.21.0-alpha.2" with the previous version
DOC=$(expr ${VERSION} : '\([^.]*.[^.]*\)')
git log v${FROM}..v${VERSION} --oneline | grep Merge.pull | grep -v Revert..Merge.pull | cut -f 5 -d ' ' | tac  > /tmp/prs
echo -e "\n## ${FROM} to ${VERSION}\n"  >> docs/releases/${DOC}
relnotes  -config .shipbot.yaml  < /tmp/prs  >> docs/releases/${DOC}

Review then send a PR with the release notes:

git add -p docs/releases/${DOC}
git commit -m "Release notes for ${VERSION}"
git push -u origin relnotes_${VERSION}
gh pr create -f

Propose promotion of artifacts

The following tools are prerequisites:

Create container promotion PR:

cd ${GOPATH}/src/

git checkout main
git pull upstream main
git checkout -b kops_images_${VERSION}

echo "" >> images.yaml
echo "# ${VERSION}" >> images.yaml
kpromo cip run --snapshot --snapshot-tag ${VERSION} >> images.yaml

Currently we send the image and non-image artifact promotion PRs separately.

cd ${GOPATH}/src/
git add -p
git commit -m "Promote kOps $VERSION images"
git push -u origin kops_images_${VERSION}
gh pr create -f

Create binary promotion PR:

cd ${GOPATH}/src/

git checkout main
git pull upstream main
git checkout -b kops_artifacts_${VERSION}

rm -rf ./k8s-staging-kops/kops/releases
mkdir -p ./k8s-staging-kops/kops/releases/${VERSION}/
gsutil rsync -r  gs://k8s-staging-kops/kops/releases/${VERSION}/ ./k8s-staging-kops/kops/releases/${VERSION}/

kpromo manifest files --src k8s-staging-kops/kops/releases/ >> artifacts/manifests/k8s-staging-kops/${VERSION}.yaml

Verify, then send a PR:

git add artifacts/manifests/k8s-staging-kops/${VERSION}.yaml
git commit -m "Promote kOps $VERSION binary artifacts"
git push -u origin kops_artifacts_${VERSION}
gh pr create -f

Upon approval and merge of the binary promotion PR, artifacts will be promoted to via postsubmit. The process is described in detail here.

Promote to GitHub (all releases)

The shipbot tool is from kopeio/shipbot.

Binaries to github (all releases):

cd ${GOPATH}/src/
git checkout v$VERSION
shipbot -tag v${VERSION} -config .shipbot.yaml -src ${GOPATH}/src/${VERSION}/

Promote to S3 (stable releases < 1.22)

aws s3 sync --acl public-read ${GOPATH}/src/${VERSION}/ s3://kubeupv2/kops/${VERSION}/

Smoke test the release

This step is only necessary for stable releases (as binary artifacts are not otherwise promoted to


mv kops ko
chmod +x ko

./ko version

Also run through a kops create cluster flow, ideally verifying that everything is pulling from the new locations.

Publish to GitHub

  • Download release
  • Validate it
  • Add notes
  • Publish it

Release to Homebrew

This step is only necessary for stable releases in the latest stable minor version.

  • Following the documentation we must release a compatible homebrew formulae with the release.
  • This should be done at the same time as the release, and we will iterate on how to improve timing of this.

Update conformance results with CNCF

This step is only necessary for a first stable minor release (a ".0").

Use the following instructions:

Update latest minor release in documentation

This step is only necessary for a first stable minor release (a ".0").

Create a PR that updates the following documents:

  • Rotate the new version into the version matrix in both and
  • Remove the "has not been released yet" header in the version's release notes.

This step is only necessary for a first beta minor release (a ".0-beta.1").

Create a PR that updates the following document:

  • Add a reference to the version's release notes in mkdocs.yml

Update the alpha channel and/or stable channel

Once we are satisfied the release is sound:

  • Bump the kOps recommended version in the alpha channel

Once we are satisfied the release is stable:

  • Bump the kOps recommended version in the stable channel