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This file documents the release process used through kops 1.18. For the new process that will be used for 1.19, please see the new release process

Release Process

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

  1. An issue is proposing a new release with a changelog since the last release
  2. All OWNERS must LGTM this release
  3. An OWNER runs git tag -s $VERSION and inserts the changelog and pushes the tag with git push $VERSION
  4. The release issue is closed
  5. An announcement email is sent to with the subject [ANNOUNCE] kops $VERSION is released


We maintain a release-1.16 branch for kops 1.16.X, release-1.17 for kops 1.17.X etc.

master is where development happens. We create new branches from master as a new kops version is released, or in preparation for a new 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 start cherry-picking back more selectively 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.

Releases should be done from the release-1.X branch. The tags should be made on the release branches.

We do currently maintain a release branch which should point to the same tag as the current release-1.X tag.

New Kubernetes versions and 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. Create a new periodic E2E prow job for the "next" kubernetes minor version.
  2. All Kops prow jobs are defined here
  3. Create a new presubmit E2E prow job for the new release branch.
  4. Create a new milestone in the GitHub repo.
  5. Update prow's milestone_applier config to update master to use the new milestone and add an entry for the new branch that targets master's old milestone.
  6. Create the new release branch in git and push it to the GitHub repo.

Update versions

See 1.5.0-alpha4 commit for example

  • Use the hack/set-version script to update versions: hack/set-version 1.20.0 1.20.1

The syntax is hack/set-version <new-release-version> <new-ci-version>

new-release-version is the version you are releasing.

new-ci-version is the version you are releasing "plus one"; this is used to avoid CI jobs being out of semver order.


new-release-version new-ci-version
1.20.1 1.20.2
1.21.0-alpha.1 1.21.0-alpha.2
1.21.0-beta.1 1.21.0-beta.2
  • Update the golden tests: hack/

  • Commit the changes (without pushing yet): git commit -m "Release 1.X.Y"

Check builds OK

rm -rf .build/ .bazelbuild/
make ci

Push new kops-controller / dns-controller images

# For versions prior to 1.18: make dns-controller-push DOCKER_REGISTRY=kope
make dns-controller-push DOCKER_IMAGE_PREFIX=kope/

make kube-apiserver-healthcheck-push DOCKER_IMAGE_PREFIX=kope/

make kops-controller-push DOCKER_IMAGE_PREFIX=kope/

Upload new version

# export AWS_PROFILE=??? # If needed
make upload UPLOAD_DEST=s3://kubeupv2

Tag new version

Make sure you are on the release branch git checkout release-1.X

make release-tag
git push
git push --tags

# Sync the origin alias back up
git fetch origin

Update release branch

For the time being, we are also maintaining a release branch. We push released versions to that.

git push release-1.17:release

Pull request to master branch (for release commit)

Upload to github

Use shipbot to upload the release:

make release-github

Compile release notes


git log ${FROM}..${TO} --oneline | grep Merge.pull | grep -v Revert..Merge.pull | cut -f 5 -d ' ' | tac  > /tmp/prs
echo -e "\n## ${FROM} to ${TO}\n"  >> docs/releases/${DOC}
relnotes  -config .shipbot.yaml  < /tmp/prs  >> docs/releases/${DOC}

On github

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

Release kops to homebrew

  • 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 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

Update conformance results with CNCF

Use the following instructions: