Notes: BuildKite and Kubernetes Rolling Update

This is kind of a textbook case that container is much more efficient than VM. The CI pipeline in comparison uses AWS CloudFormation to build new VMs and drain old VMs to do a rolling update, which takes around 10 minutes for everything even if it’s just 1 line of code changed. I did a new pipeline with BuildKite and Kubernetes and a deploy is done within 2 minutes.

The key points to make the pipeline fast are:

  1. In the Dockerfile, the part that changes more frequently should be put at the bottom of the file, so that docker can maximise its build speed by using cached intermediate images.
  2. Reload Kubernetes config maps with this:
    kubectl create configmap nginx-config --from-file path/to/nginx.conf -o yaml --dry-run |kubectl replace -f -
  3. Reload containers with this(I use ECR):
    $BUILDKITE_BUILD_NUMBER obviously is the build number environment variable provided by BuildKite.

    kubectl set image deployment/my_deployment \$BUILDKITE_BUILD_NUMBER \$BUILDKITE_BUILD_NUMBER
  4. Finally watch rolling update progress with this command:
    kubectl rollout status deployment/my_deployment


Why I like BuildKite

BuildKite is a relative new CI toolkit I would like to replace Jenkins with. Here are some pros and cons I thought I could share:


  • Designed with containers(docker) in mind.
  • Hybrid architecture, console as a hosted service where agents can run anywhere with internet connectivity
  • Build pipeline as code, also very easy to write because it’s just yaml
  • Parallelism in pipeline
  • It’s made in Melbourne
  • Artifacts can be stored in own S3 bucket
  • Well organised UI with a neat github like style


  • If there are lots of agents running, some orchestration is needed
  • Some features are in beta quality still


Play a bit Kubernetes with Minikube

I’ve just played a bit Kubernetes on my Arch Linux laptop, with Minikube. It’s easier than I thought.

Since I’ve already installed VirtualBox from the start, I can use minikube right after I installed it with

curl -Lo minikube && chmod +x minikube && sudo mv minikube /usr/local/bin/

The command I used to start minikube is

minikube start --cpus 4 --memory 4096 --insecure-registry ""

It’s obvious that I wanted to allocate 4 CPUs and 4GB memory to the Kubernetes cluster. The –insecure-registry option is useful when I want to use a local Docker Registry without SSL.

Check if the cluster is ready with

minikube status

And launch the Kubernetes Dashboard with

minikube dashboard

After all these, it’s time to play with Kubernetes(kubectl command). However the local Kubernetes cluster doesn’t have DNS management like its cloud counterpart does. I wanted to have a load balancer too so I needed to get the IP and then tell kubectl to use the IP for the load balancer service:

minikube ip

Then in the yaml file for kubectl:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
  type: LoadBalancer

For now I found this necessary otherwise the service stuck at pending state.