General Overview

Basic unit of narrenschiff is a course i.e. file or group of files storing tasks that are to be performed in sequential order. course is YAML file e.g.:

- name: Deploy config map
    command: apply
      filename: "configmap.yaml"

- name: Apply namespaces and RBAC settings
    command: apply
        - namespaces.yaml  # filenames are referenced relative to files/ dir
        - rbac.yaml

Each YAML file in the project is treated as a template file i.e. each course can have template variables. Template language that is powering Narrenschiff is Jinja2.

File paths are referenced relative to the files/ directory in the course project root. files/ is reserved for Jinja2 templates of Kubernetes manifests.

The basic directory layout should resemble something like this:

infrastructure/  <-- root project (all commands are executed from here)
├── .narrenschiff.yaml  <-- root project configuration
└── webapp  <-- course project
    ├── files  <-- Templates for you manifest files
    │   ├── app
    │   │   ├── configmap.yaml
    │   │   └── deployment.yaml
    │   ├── db
    │   │   ├── deployment.yaml
    │   │   └── secret.yaml
    │   ├── namespaces.yaml
    │   └── rbac.yaml
    ├── chest  <-- directory with arbitrary nesting may be used in addition to chest.yaml
    │   ├── database.yaml
    │   └── secrets.yaml
    ├── vars  <-- directory with arbitrary nesting may be used in addition to vars.yaml
    │   ├── common.yaml
    │   ├── domains.yaml
    │   └── apps
    │       └── prod.yml
    ├── overrides  <-- encrypted helm values.yaml overrides i.e. secretmaps
    │   └── values.yaml
    ├── tasks.yaml  <-- course file describing the deployment process
    ├── secretmap.yaml  <-- paths to encrypted files
    ├── chest.yaml  <-- encrypted variables
    └── vars.yaml  <-- cleartext variables

files/ directory is a directory reserved for your Kubernetes manifests. With narrenschiff you can use Jinja2 templating language to inject variables into the manifests.

You can use vars.yaml and chest.yaml to define variables for you project. vars.yaml or vars/ directory contains unencrypted variables. chest.yaml or chest/ directory is a place to stash your treasures (i.e. keys, secrets, passwords, etc.). Both vars/ and chest/ directories can have arbitrary nesting and files within them can have arbitrary names. However, all variable names contained across these files must be unique! All boolean values must be quoted.

You can also encrypt files and commit them to your source code safely. Files are encrypted, and stored at desired location, and relative paths to the files are saved in secretmap.yaml. For example, when you deploy a Helm chart, it is often common to override default values.yaml. However, this is unencrypted file which can be used to configure secrets. You can stash your values.yaml override as a secretmap, and commit it to the source code without any worry of passwords and secrets leaking.

Chest files have flat dictionary structure. No nesting of the keys is allowed:

dbPassword: 6Wziywgso3YsosQNfMeufodDZxEaOyujHM+ch9Pxe5u1u2ZO5e7G9bPOhEIVYo8n
hashKey: uSn/rKMdbMArR0SnWcbtP1Z64/Y8LI8LNOZGbVZUmm5ioFLV/NwP6OcyTNGgMSGi

The app is deployed as:

$ narrenschiff sail --set-course webapp/tasks.yaml

After you execute this, the following happens:

  1. All variables from vars files, chests, and secretmaps are collected (only those files that are contained within the course project are used - course project is the directory in which the executed course is located)

  1. Load vars.yaml

  2. Load all files from the vars/ directory if it exists

  3. Load and decrypt all variables from chest.yaml

  4. Load all files from the chest/ directory if it exists

  5. Load all variables from secretmap.yaml

  6. Merge all files

  1. Variables are checked for duplicates, if there are any, the ship cannot take this course

  2. Course file is supplied with collected variables and executed

  3. Tasks are executed in sequential order, each YAML file is supplied with collected variables, and secretmaps are decrypted

You can either use chest.yaml or chest.yml file per course project, but not both. Choose one extension, and stick to it. A course project is a directory where course file is located.

Treasure is encrypted using password (key) and salt (spice). These are stored in simple text files. The root of the project must contain the .narrenschiff.yaml configuration file that stores paths to these files. Keep in mind that while .narrenschiff.yaml should be source controlled, password and salt file should never be committed to your repo! Here is the example of the configuration file:

# .narrenschiff.yaml
key: ~/.infrastructure/password.txt  # path to file containing password for encrypting files
spice: ~/.infrastructure/salt.txt  # path to file containing salt (salt should be random and long)

If you have a fairly complex course, and you want to execute only a specific set of tasks, you can use beacons:

- name: List all namespaces
    command: get namespaces

- name: List all pods
    command: get pods
    - always
    - pods

- name: Check pod resources
    command: top pods
    - stats
    - pods

- name: Check node resources
    command: top nodes
    - stats

Now you can easily select which collection of tasks you want to execute:

narrenschiff sail --set-course stats.yaml --follow-beacons stats,pods

Note that always is a special keyword for beacons! Tasks marked with always are always executed, regardless of the becaons you specified on the command line.



Templated YAML file containing list of tasks to be performed.

course project

Directory in which the main course is located. This directory also contains vars.yaml, chest.yaml, secretmap.yaml, and other files needed to run the course.


Sensitive information, keys, secrets, and passwords are stored


File or files in which your treasure is stored.


Master password for encrypting strings


Salt used for encrypting strings


Encrypted file (currently only supported for helm module)