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Deploying Bitnami's Postgres Helm Chart on OpenShift

Tyler Auerbeck
・5 min read

If you've deployed a Helm chart that depends on Postgres lately, you've likely found yourself coming across Bitnami's chart as a dependency (or even just being used to deploy Postgres itself!). This has been very useful for others to standardize on and allows us all to spin up a Postgres instance quickly. However, I've found myself on the wrong end of this chart a handful of times in the past as I am generally looking to run things on top of OpenShift. Because of the security defaults present on OpenShift, some of the default settings of this chart cause the deployment to fail and you end up finding yourself looking at an error that looks like this:

Events:
  Type     Reason        Age               From                    Message
  ----     ------        ----              ----                    -------
  Warning  FailedCreate  1s (x11 over 7s)  statefulset-controller  create Pod pg-postgresql-0 in StatefulSet pg-postgresql failed error: pods "pg-postgresql-0" is forbidden: unable to validate against any security context constraint: [provider restricted: .spec.securityContext.fsGroup: Invalid value: []int64{1001}: 1001 is not an allowed group spec.containers[0].securityContext.runAsUser: Invalid value: 1001: must be in the ranges: [1000630000, 1000639999]]
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To hopefully save you some of the same grief that I've went through, I figured I would write up how to get around these issues moving forward.

What Does This Error Mean

Before we go about fixing this issue, it's helpful to understand what this error is actually telling us. The key part to pay attention to is unable to validate against any security context constraint. What this is telling us is essentially: ⚠️🔥⚠️🔥. By default, OpenShift has a number of security measures in place. One of them defines the range that a UID must be within in a given project. When running an application in OpenShift, it will attempt to assign a random UID within this range to the application running within the pod. What a number of Helm charts do is attempt to set the securityContext for you. This tends to cause some issues in OpenShift as these securityContexts dont align with the rules that are in place, which cause the application to not be able to start up.

In some well designed charts (such as those in the Bitnami collection), there are parameters that allow you to to configure this appropriately, which is what we will look at next!

How To Resolve It

By looking at the values.yaml file provided by the Postgres chart, Bitnami actually gives us a few hints as to what we need to do.

  ## Init container Security Context
  ## Note: the chown of the data folder is done to securityContext.runAsUser
  ## and not the below volumePermissions.securityContext.runAsUser
  ## When runAsUser is set to special value "auto", init container will try to chwon the
  ## data folder to autodetermined user&group, using commands: `id -u`:`id -G | cut -d" " -f2`
  ## "auto" is especially useful for OpenShift which has scc with dynamic userids (and 0 is not allowed).
  ## You may want to use this volumePermissions.securityContext.runAsUser="auto" in combination with
  ## pod securityContext.enabled=false and shmVolume.chmod.enabled=false
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What this tells us is that we want to have something that looks like the following included in our own values.yaml:

volumePermissions:
  enabled: false
  securityContext:
    runAsUser: "auto"

securityContext:
  enabled: false

shmVolume:
  chmod:
    enabled: false
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So let's give this a shot. We'll first want to configure our environment so that we can deploy the Postgres chart. To do this, we just want to let our Helm client know where to find the chart:

helm repo add bitnami https://charts.bitnami.com/bitnami
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Once this is done, we can create our own my-values.yaml with the above values. This will allow us to override what is provided by the Bitnami chart defaults. After we have this saved to our file, we can run things into our cluster with the following:

helm install our-release -f my-values.yaml 
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Afterwards you should see mention of a successful installation and some instructions on how to get logged in, interact with the cluster, etc. What we want to check though is the status of the StatefulSet. This will look something like:

╰─ oc get sts
NAME            READY   AGE
pg-postgresql   0/1     5m
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At this point, it looks things still aren't up and running. By running the following we'll also confirm that we see a similar error:


Events:
  Type     Reason        Age               From                    Message
  ----     ------        ----              ----                    -------
  Warning  FailedCreate  1s (x10 over 4s)  statefulset-controller  create Pod pg-postgresql-0 in StatefulSet pg-postgresql failed error: pods "pg-postgresql-0" is forbidden: unable to validate against any security context constraint: [spec.containers[0].securityContext.runAsUser: Invalid value: 1001: must be in the ranges: [1000630000, 1000639999]]
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If we take a look at the original comment in the default values.yaml, we seem to have disabled all of the appropriate securityContext options to allow OpenShift to start configuring this itself. However, what we've discovered is a common problem with comments. They're static 💀. The longer they stick around, the more likely to become out of date they are. A quick search for securityContext in the values file shows us the following:

containerSecurityContext:
  enabled: true
  runAsUser: 1001
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This is also confirmed if you search the ArtifactHub page for this chart and search OpenShift.

For OpenShift, one may either define the runAsUser and fsGroup accordingly, or try this more dynamic option: volumePermissions.securityContext.runAsUser="auto",securityContext.enabled=false,containerSecurityContext.enabled=false,shmVolume.chmod.enabled=false
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So to clean this up, all we need to do is add the above to our my-values.yaml file:

volumePermissions:
  enabled: false
  securityContext:
    runAsUser: "auto"

securityContext:
  enabled: false

shmVolume:
  chmod:
    enabled: false

containerSecurityContext:
  enabled: false
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Once this is in place, we can just clean up after our previous installation and then reinstall our chart to make sure things are in good shape:

╰─ helm uninstall our-release
╰─ helm install our-release -f my-values.yaml
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Afterwards, we should see similar messages that we saw during our previous install. But now when we go to look at the status of our StatefulSet, we should be in a much better place.

╰─ oc describe sts
<snip>
Events:
  Type    Reason            Age   From                    Message
  ----    ------            ----  ----                    -------
  Normal  SuccessfulCreate  9s    statefulset-controller  create Pod pg-postgresql-0 in StatefulSet pg-postgresql successful
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We should now be able to see the pod being created (assuming that we don't hit any odd dockerhub limitations):

╰─ oc get pods
NAME              READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
pg-postgresql-0   1/1     Running   0          87s
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And just like that, we have a functional Postgres instance that we're able to interact with. Hopefully this was helpful to you and will help you in the future with other charts that act in a similar manner! If you run into any issues or see any issue with what is noted above, feel free to reach out!

Update:
About halfway through this article, I noticed that this was really rooted in a documentation error and only hits folks like myself who don't venture away from the terminal too much. If you look at the README for this chart (which I believe also feeds the ArtifactHub landing page), you'll see a note that says that this additional securityContext settings needs set to false. I've updated the article to call this out in the appropriate places.

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