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Learn how to set Certificate defaults automatically

Last Verified: 19 January 2024

Objective

We will set up a cluster where a user specifies as little YAML as possible in Certificate resources. This will be achieved by utilizing Kyverno to apply custom "default" values to the Certificate fields, that are not specified by a user.

There are some benefits to having defaults:

  • Certificate consumers minimize their YAML resources.
  • Certificate consumers retain flexibility to override fields when needed.
  • Cluster operators can decide what the default should be, rather than having to rely on built-in defaults from cert-manager.

Use cases

By setting custom defaults across our cluster, we enable platform teams to tackle use cases such as:

  • To ensure that CertificateRequest resources get cleaned up.

    Use a ClusterPolicy to set a custom default value for the Certificate.Spec.RevisionHistoryLimit field.

  • To help your users choose secure default key settings for their Certificate resources.

    Use a ClusterPolicy to set custom default values for the Certificate.Spec.PrivateKey fields.

  • To default the Issuer for users within the cluster.

    Use a ClusterPolicy to set a custom default for the Certificate.spec.issuerRef fields.

  • To set a default pattern for the naming of the Secret where the certificate will be populated.

    Use a ClusterPolicy to set a custom default value for the spec.secretName required field.

  • Make application developers' lives easier by allowing them to create secure X.509 TLS certificates with the minimum of configuration.

    Use a ClusterPolicy to set all other required Certificate.spec fields. Only a single identity specification field will be required, one of:

    • commonName or literalSubject
    • dnsNames
    • uris
    • emailAddresses
    • ipAddresses
    • otherNames

Process

We will set up defaults for three different scenarios, getting slightly more advanced each time:

  1. Setting defaults for optional Certificate resource fields.
  2. Setting defaults for required Certificate resource fields.
  3. Setting defaults for Certificate resource fields, when using Ingress annotations to request certificates.

Setup

Prerequisites

đŸ’ģ Software

  1. kubectl: The Kubernetes command-line tool which allows you to configure Kubernetes clusters.
  2. helm: A package manager for Kubernetes.
  3. kind (OPTIONAL): For creating a local Kubernetes environment that runs in Docker or other container runtimes.

Local Kubernetes Environment

⚠ī¸ This step can be skipped if you have another Kubernetes environment.

  1. Create a cluster environment using kind for this tutorial.

    kind create cluster --name defaults

    ⏲ It should take less than one minute to create the cluster, depending on your machine.

    ⚠ī¸ This cluster is only suitable for learning purposes. It is not suitable for production use.

Software Installation

Once you have your cluster environment, install the required Kubernetes packages using helm.

  1. Set some environment variables for the helm chart versions:

    export CERT_MANAGER_CHART_VERSION="v1.14.4" \
    KYVERNO_CHART_VERSION="3.1.4" \
    INGRESS_NGINX_CHART_VERSION="4.9.0"
  2. Install cert-manager

    helm upgrade --install cert-manager cert-manager \
    --namespace cert-manager \
    --version $CERT_MANAGER_CHART_VERSION \
    --set installCRDs=true \
    --set startupapicheck.enabled=false \
    --create-namespace \
    --repo https://charts.jetstack.io/
  3. Install Kyverno

    helm upgrade --install kyverno kyverno \
    --namespace kyverno-system \
    --version $KYVERNO_CHART_VERSION \
    --create-namespace \
    --repo https://kyverno.github.io/kyverno/
  4. Install ingress-nginx

    helm upgrade --install ingress-nginx ingress-nginx \
    --namespace ingress-nginx \
    --version $INGRESS_NGINX_CHART_VERSION \
    --create-namespace \
    --repo https://kubernetes.github.io/ingress-nginx

For complete installation instructions, please refer to the following links:

Setting Defaults

The main tutorial starts here with some background, before tackling each of the three scenarios.

Required vs Non-required

The Certificate resource has a spec section with a number of "required" fields. This means these fields must be present when you create a Certificate resource. There are also a number of other fields that are not required to be explicitly defined on each Certificate resource. This essentially means the value of one of these fields is either not required, or has defaults defined somewhere else. That somewhere else could be in the cert-manager code base, or indeed by the issuer that creates and returns the X.509 certificate. Let's explore how we can manipulate these values to be something custom and make the Certificate user's life easier.

We will set up some ClusterPolicy resources and Certificate resources in this tutorial. We will make reference to a ClusterIssuer in the Certificate spec that doesn't exist, but for this tutorial the ClusterIssuer is not required as we will not actually be requesting certificates. That means anyone can follow this tutorial even without their own domain.

⚠ī¸ To make it easy to get started we are using cluster scoped ClusterPolicy resources. You can scope your defaults to the namespace level through the use of Policy resources in the future, but that will not be covered in this tutorial.

1 - Defaulting optional fields

In this section we will create rules which set three fields for all Certificate resources automatically. None of the three fields here are required fields, but they might need to be set depending on platform and issuer preferences. These rules will:

ℹī¸ Note how these rules tackle the first two of our uses cases.

  1. First take a look at the ClusterPolicy:

    apiVersion: kyverno.io/v1
    kind: ClusterPolicy
    metadata:
    name: mutate-certificates
    spec:
    failurePolicy: Fail
    rules:
    # Set a sane default for the history field if not already present
    - name: set-revisionHistoryLimit
    match:
    any:
    - resources:
    kinds:
    - Certificate
    mutate:
    patchStrategicMerge:
    spec:
    # +(...) This is the clever syntax for if not already set
    +(revisionHistoryLimit): 2
    # Set rotation to always if not already set
    - name: set-privateKey-rotationPolicy
    match:
    any:
    - resources:
    kinds:
    - Certificate
    mutate:
    patchStrategicMerge:
    spec:
    privateKey:
    +(rotationPolicy): Always
    # Set private key details for algorithm and size
    - name: set-privateKey-details
    match:
    any:
    - resources:
    kinds:
    - Certificate
    mutate:
    patchStrategicMerge:
    spec:
    privateKey:
    +(algorithm): ECDSA
    +(size): 521
    +(encoding): PKCS1

    🔗 cpol-mutate-certificates-0.yaml

  2. Apply the policy to the cluster and check that it is ready:

    kubectl apply -f cpol-mutate-certificates-0.yaml
    kubectl get cpol

    When the ClusterPolicy is ready the output should look like this:

    NAME ADMISSION BACKGROUND VALIDATE ACTION READY AGE MESSAGE
    mutate-certificates true true Audit True 0s Ready
  3. Now inspect the "test-revision" Certificate:

    apiVersion: cert-manager.io/v1
    kind: Certificate
    metadata:
    name: test-revision
    namespace: default
    spec:
    dnsNames:
    - example.com
    issuerRef:
    group: cert-manager.io
    kind: ClusterIssuer
    name: not-my-corp-issuer
    secretName: test-revision-cert

    🔗 cert-test-revision.yaml

    You can see that we have set the most minimal configuration currently possible, specifying only a DNS name for the certificate, where to save it (secretName) and the issuer to use to request the certificate (issuerRef).

  4. Use the following command to dry-run apply the certificate and then diff it against the original resource, to see how the defaults from our ClusterPolicy are applied:

    kubectl apply -f cert-test-revision.yaml --dry-run=server -o yaml | diff -uZ cert-test-revision.yaml -

    This command should return some output similar to this example:

    --- cert-test-revision.yaml 2024-01-08 12:14:59.225074232 +0000
    +++ - 2024-01-12 17:37:51.076593214 +0000
    @@ -1,8 +1,14 @@
    apiVersion: cert-manager.io/v1
    kind: Certificate
    metadata:
    + annotations:
    + kubectl.kubernetes.io/last-applied-configuration: |
    + {"apiVersion":"cert-manager.io/v1","kind":"Certificate","metadata":{"annotations":{},"name":"test-revision","namespace":"default"},"spec":{"dnsNames":["example.com"],"issuerRef":{"group":"cert-manager.io","kind":"ClusterIssuer","name":"not-my-corp-issuer"},"secretName":"test-revision-cert"}}
    + creationTimestamp: "2024-01-12T17:37:51Z"
    + generation: 1
    name: test-revision
    namespace: default
    + uid: 9f9a4f0a-4aa7-427d-ae4b-c1716fed8246
    spec:
    dnsNames:
    - example.com
    @@ -10,4 +16,10 @@
    group: cert-manager.io
    kind: ClusterIssuer
    name: not-my-corp-issuer
    + privateKey:
    + algorithm: ECDSA
    + encoding: PKCS1
    + rotationPolicy: Always
    + size: 521
    + revisionHistoryLimit: 2
    secretName: test-revision-cert

    We have successfully defaulted the privateKey and revisionHistoryLimit fields!

  5. Let's override all of these defaulted fields, to validate that we can still set what we want as an end user. To test this, let's use the "test-revision-override" Certificate:

    apiVersion: cert-manager.io/v1
    kind: Certificate
    metadata:
    name: test-revision-override
    namespace: default
    spec:
    dnsNames:
    - example.com
    issuerRef:
    group: cert-manager.io
    kind: ClusterIssuer
    name: not-my-corp-issuer
    privateKey:
    algorithm: RSA
    encoding: PKCS8
    rotationPolicy: Never
    size: 4096
    revisionHistoryLimit: 44
    secretName: test-revision-override-cert

    🔗 cert-test-revision-override.yaml

    As before, dry-run apply and diff the output with the input file:

    kubectl apply -f cert-test-revision-override.yaml --dry-run=server -o yaml | diff -uZ cert-test-revision-override.yaml -

    Here you can see in the output there are no specification changes for the Certificate itself. The Certificate already had all the fields defined that our ClusterPolicy rules would have affected.

    --- cert-test-revision-override.yaml 2024-01-05 14:45:14.972562067 +0000
    +++ - 2024-01-12 17:39:57.217028745 +0000
    @@ -1,8 +1,14 @@
    apiVersion: cert-manager.io/v1
    kind: Certificate
    metadata:
    + annotations:
    + kubectl.kubernetes.io/last-applied-configuration: |
    + {"apiVersion":"cert-manager.io/v1","kind":"Certificate","metadata":{"annotations":{},"name":"test-revision-override","namespace":"default"},"spec":{"dnsNames":["example.com"],"issuerRef":{"group":"cert-manager.io","kind":"ClusterIssuer","name":"not-my-corp-issuer"},"privateKey":{"algorithm":"RSA","encoding":"PKCS8","rotationPolicy":"Never","size":4096},"revisionHistoryLimit":44,"secretName":"test-revision-override-cert"}}
    + creationTimestamp: "2024-01-12T17:39:57Z"
    + generation: 1
    name: test-revision-override
    namespace: default
    + uid: 83a6ddbc-6903-479e-802d-e11149985338
    spec:
    dnsNames:
    - example.com

2 - Defaulting required fields

⚠ī¸ This section requires cert-manager v1.14.x or newer to work properly out of the box. See the Appendix section for details.

Now we can set a Kyverno ClusterPolicy to apply default values to any of the Certificate fields. This includes the required fields. In our example ClusterPolicy we will do two things:

  • Set the relevant issuerRef fields to default to use the "our-corp-issuer" ClusterIssuer.
  • Apply a default secretName that is the name of the Certificate object suffixed with "-cert".

ℹī¸ Note how these rules are tackling the third and fourth uses cases.

  1. Here is the ClusterPolicy resource to set both fields with defaults:

    apiVersion: kyverno.io/v1
    kind: ClusterPolicy
    metadata:
    name: mutate-certificates
    spec:
    failurePolicy: Fail
    rules:
    # Set a sane default for the history field if not already present
    - name: set-revisionHistoryLimit
    match:
    any:
    - resources:
    kinds:
    - Certificate
    mutate:
    patchStrategicMerge:
    spec:
    # +(...) This is the clever syntax for if not already set
    +(revisionHistoryLimit): 2
    # Set rotation to always if not already set
    - name: set-privateKey-rotationPolicy
    match:
    any:
    - resources:
    kinds:
    - Certificate
    mutate:
    patchStrategicMerge:
    spec:
    privateKey:
    +(rotationPolicy): Always
    # Set private key details for algorithm and size
    - name: set-privateKey-details
    match:
    any:
    - resources:
    kinds:
    - Certificate
    mutate:
    patchStrategicMerge:
    spec:
    privateKey:
    +(algorithm): ECDSA
    +(size): 521
    +(encoding): PKCS1
    # Set a secretName when one is not provided
    - name: set-default-secret-name
    match:
    any:
    - resources:
    kinds:
    - Certificate
    mutate:
    patchStrategicMerge:
    spec:
    # You can read more about this syntax in the Kyverno documentation:
    # https://kyverno.io/docs/writing-policies/variables/#variables-from-admission-review-requests
    +(secretName): "{{request.object.metadata.name}}-cert"
    # Set a default for issuerRef fields
    - name: set-default-issuer-ref
    match:
    any:
    - resources:
    kinds:
    - Certificate
    mutate:
    patchStrategicMerge:
    spec:
    +(issuerRef):
    name: our-corp-issuer
    kind: ClusterIssuer
    group: cert-manager.io

    🔗 cpol-mutate-certificates-1.yaml

    This ClusterPolicy is an extension of the policy we applied previously.

  2. Apply this policy:

    kubectl apply -f cpol-mutate-certificates-1.yaml

    You should see that our existing ClusterPolicy has been changed:

    clusterpolicy.kyverno.io/mutate-certificates configured

    Get the ClusterPolicy to validate it is "Ready":

    kubectl get cpol

    This command should return some output similar to this example:

    NAME ADMISSION BACKGROUND VALIDATE ACTION READY AGE MESSAGE
    mutate-certificates true true Audit True 6m21s Ready
  3. Look at the "test-minimal" Certificate designed to validate that all our rules within the policy are operative:

    apiVersion: cert-manager.io/v1
    kind: Certificate
    metadata:
    name: test-minimal
    namespace: default
    spec:
    dnsNames:
    - example.com

    🔗 cert-test-minimal.yaml

  4. Dry-run apply and diff to validate all our defaults have applied to this minimal Certificate:

    kubectl apply -f cert-test-minimal.yaml --dry-run=server -o yaml | diff -uZ cert-test-minimal.yaml -

    This command should return some output similar to this example:

    --- cert-test-minimal.yaml 2024-01-05 14:45:07.140668401 +0000
    +++ - 2024-01-12 17:44:08.110290752 +0000
    @@ -1,8 +1,25 @@
    apiVersion: cert-manager.io/v1
    kind: Certificate
    metadata:
    + annotations:
    + kubectl.kubernetes.io/last-applied-configuration: |
    + {"apiVersion":"cert-manager.io/v1","kind":"Certificate","metadata":{"annotations":{},"name":"test-minimal","namespace":"default"},"spec":{"dnsNames":["example.com"]}}
    + creationTimestamp: "2024-01-12T17:44:08Z"
    + generation: 1
    name: test-minimal
    namespace: default
    + uid: 792d29c7-8cf3-4f3a-9f12-4fba396e0d6e
    spec:
    dnsNames:
    - example.com
    + issuerRef:
    + group: cert-manager.io
    + kind: ClusterIssuer
    + name: our-corp-issuer
    + privateKey:
    + algorithm: ECDSA
    + encoding: PKCS1
    + rotationPolicy: Always
    + size: 521
    + revisionHistoryLimit: 2
    + secretName: test-minimal-cert

    See how we have automatically populated the spec.issuerRef and spec.secretName field values. This indicates the Kyverno ClusterPolicy has been applied to the supplied Certificate resource.

  5. To be absolutely sure we have not enforced any settings, let us explicitly set each property of the Certificate for which we have a default rule. We will use the "test-revision-override" Certificate:

    apiVersion: cert-manager.io/v1
    kind: Certificate
    metadata:
    name: test-revision-override
    namespace: default
    spec:
    dnsNames:
    - example.com
    issuerRef:
    group: cert-manager.io
    kind: ClusterIssuer
    name: not-my-corp-issuer
    privateKey:
    algorithm: RSA
    encoding: PKCS8
    rotationPolicy: Never
    size: 4096
    revisionHistoryLimit: 44
    secretName: test-revision-override-cert

    🔗 cert-test-revision-override.yaml

  6. Dry-run apply and diff this file:

    kubectl apply -f cert-test-revision-override.yaml --dry-run=server -o yaml | diff -uZ cert-test-revision-override.yaml -

    This command should return some output similar to this example:

    --- cert-test-revision-override.yaml 2024-01-05 14:45:14.972562067 +0000
    +++ - 2024-01-12 17:45:48.261997150 +0000
    @@ -1,8 +1,14 @@
    apiVersion: cert-manager.io/v1
    kind: Certificate
    metadata:
    + annotations:
    + kubectl.kubernetes.io/last-applied-configuration: |
    + {"apiVersion":"cert-manager.io/v1","kind":"Certificate","metadata":{"annotations":{},"name":"test-revision-override","namespace":"default"},"spec":{"dnsNames":["example.com"],"issuerRef":{"group":"cert-manager.io","kind":"ClusterIssuer","name":"not-my-corp-issuer"},"privateKey":{"algorithm":"RSA","encoding":"PKCS8","rotationPolicy":"Never","size":4096},"revisionHistoryLimit":44,"secretName":"test-revision-override-cert"}}
    + creationTimestamp: "2024-01-12T17:45:48Z"
    + generation: 1
    name: test-revision-override
    namespace: default
    + uid: d0ad7abe-c703-45f7-acf9-634b3a263cfa
    spec:
    dnsNames:
    - example.com

    From this command you can see that none of the Certificate specification fields have been changed. Only the metadata section has changed which tells us the policies have applied but not set any defaults because values were already provided. This shows that you retain the flexibility to override the cluster defaults when needed.

3 - Defaulting through Ingress Annotations

Many cert-manager users don't create Certificate resources directly and instead use the ingress-shim functionality. cert-manager creates Certificate resources based on the supported annotations and the Ingress specification. Let's see how we can still use ClusterPolicy to apply our defaults in this use case.

  1. This example Ingress resource has a cert-manager.io/cluster-issuer annotation which instructs cert-manager to create a Certificate with an issuerRef field pointing at a ClusterIssuer called our-corp-issuer:

    apiVersion: networking.k8s.io/v1
    kind: Ingress
    metadata:
    annotations:
    cert-manager.io/cluster-issuer: "our-corp-issuer"
    name: defaults-example
    namespace: default
    spec:
    ingressClassName: nginx
    rules:
    - host: app.example.com
    http:
    paths:
    - backend:
    service:
    name: app
    port:
    number: 80
    path: /
    pathType: ImplementationSpecific
    tls:
    - hosts:
    - app.example.com
    secretName: defaults-example-certificate-tls

    🔗 ingress.yaml

  2. This annotation and the relevant ingress.spec.tls configuration are all we need so apply the resource:

    kubectl apply -f ingress.yaml
  3. Now validate that the Certificate resource was automatically generated:

    kubectl get cert defaults-example-certificate-tls -o yaml

    This command should return some output similar to this example:

    apiVersion: cert-manager.io/v1
    kind: Certificate
    metadata:
    creationTimestamp: "2024-01-12T17:47:04Z"
    generation: 1
    name: defaults-example-certificate-tls
    namespace: default
    ownerReferences:
    - apiVersion: networking.k8s.io/v1
    blockOwnerDeletion: true
    controller: true
    kind: Ingress
    name: defaults-example
    uid: bea33a55-a9ed-4664-a56a-a679eb8272c3
    resourceVersion: "584260"
    uid: 43ced989-723b-4eac-bad0-f8bead6976df
    spec:
    dnsNames:
    - app.example.com
    issuerRef:
    group: cert-manager.io
    kind: ClusterIssuer
    name: our-corp-issuer
    privateKey:
    algorithm: ECDSA
    encoding: PKCS1
    rotationPolicy: Always
    size: 521
    revisionHistoryLimit: 2
    secretName: defaults-example-certificate-tls
    usages:
    - digital signature
    - key encipherment
    status:
    conditions:
    - lastTransitionTime: "2024-01-12T17:47:04Z"
    message: Issuing certificate as Secret does not exist
    observedGeneration: 1
    reason: DoesNotExist
    status: "True"
    type: Issuing
    - lastTransitionTime: "2024-01-12T17:47:04Z"
    message: Issuing certificate as Secret does not exist
    observedGeneration: 1
    reason: DoesNotExist
    status: "False"
    type: Ready
    nextPrivateKeySecretName: defaults-example-certificate-tls-nbjws
  4. You can optionally validate that the "mutate-certificates" ClusterPolicy has been applied by viewing the logs of the Kyverno admission controller container.

    kubectl logs -n kyverno-system $(kubectl get pod -n kyverno-system -l app.kubernetes.io/component=admission-controller -o jsonpath='{.items[0].metadata.name}') -c kyverno --tail 3

    This command should return some output similar to this example:

    I0112 17:47:04.425863 1 mutation.go:113] webhooks/resource/mutate "msg"="mutation rules from policy applied successfully" "clusterroles"=["cert-manager-controller-approve:cert-manager-io","cert-manager-controller-certificates","cert-manager-controller-certificatesigningrequests","cert-manager-controller-challenges","cert-manager-controller-clusterissuers","cert-manager-controller-ingress-shim","cert-manager-controller-issuers","cert-manager-controller-orders","system:basic-user","system:discovery","system:public-info-viewer","system:service-account-issuer-discovery"] "gvk"={"group":"cert-manager.io","version":"v1","kind":"Certificate"} "gvr"={"group":"cert-manager.io","version":"v1","resource":"certificates"} "kind"="Certificate" "name"="defaults-example-certificate-tls" "namespace"="default" "operation"="UPDATE" "policy"="mutate-certificates" "resource.gvk"={"Group":"cert-manager.io","Version":"v1","Kind":"Certificate"} "roles"=["kube-system:cert-manager:leaderelection"] "rules"=["set-revisionHistoryLimit","set-privateKey-rotationPolicy","set-privateKey-details"] "uid"="6f93bd8d-29ca-4eab-8e96-065ea82a1bf2" "user"={"username":"system:serviceaccount:cert-manager:cert-manager","uid":"21cbad67-9d2e-44ee-bb02-7fef9aa2e502","groups":["system:serviceaccounts","system:serviceaccounts:cert-manager","system:authenticated"],"extra":{"authentication.kubernetes.io/pod-name":["cert-manager-648cd49b44-z6g8s"],"authentication.kubernetes.io/pod-uid":["4bd741fa-a8ec-48a1-82d5-26c5b7acce5e"]}}
    I0112 17:47:04.458402 1 mutation.go:113] webhooks/resource/mutate "msg"="mutation rules from policy applied successfully" "clusterroles"=["cert-manager-controller-approve:cert-manager-io","cert-manager-controller-certificates","cert-manager-controller-certificatesigningrequests","cert-manager-controller-challenges","cert-manager-controller-clusterissuers","cert-manager-controller-ingress-shim","cert-manager-controller-issuers","cert-manager-controller-orders","system:basic-user","system:discovery","system:public-info-viewer","system:service-account-issuer-discovery"] "gvk"={"group":"cert-manager.io","version":"v1","kind":"Certificate"} "gvr"={"group":"cert-manager.io","version":"v1","resource":"certificates"} "kind"="Certificate" "name"="defaults-example-certificate-tls" "namespace"="default" "operation"="UPDATE" "policy"="mutate-certificates" "resource.gvk"={"Group":"cert-manager.io","Version":"v1","Kind":"Certificate"} "roles"=["kube-system:cert-manager:leaderelection"] "rules"=["set-revisionHistoryLimit","set-privateKey-rotationPolicy","set-privateKey-details"] "uid"="ec61a3c9-df0a-4daf-8bc3-227dc80348a9" "user"={"username":"system:serviceaccount:cert-manager:cert-manager","uid":"21cbad67-9d2e-44ee-bb02-7fef9aa2e502","groups":["system:serviceaccounts","system:serviceaccounts:cert-manager","system:authenticated"],"extra":{"authentication.kubernetes.io/pod-name":["cert-manager-648cd49b44-z6g8s"],"authentication.kubernetes.io/pod-uid":["4bd741fa-a8ec-48a1-82d5-26c5b7acce5e"]}}
    I0112 17:47:09.477776 1 mutation.go:113] webhooks/resource/mutate "msg"="mutation rules from policy applied successfully" "clusterroles"=["cert-manager-controller-approve:cert-manager-io","cert-manager-controller-certificates","cert-manager-controller-certificatesigningrequests","cert-manager-controller-challenges","cert-manager-controller-clusterissuers","cert-manager-controller-ingress-shim","cert-manager-controller-issuers","cert-manager-controller-orders","system:basic-user","system:discovery","system:public-info-viewer","system:service-account-issuer-discovery"] "gvk"={"group":"cert-manager.io","version":"v1","kind":"Certificate"} "gvr"={"group":"cert-manager.io","version":"v1","resource":"certificates"} "kind"="Certificate" "name"="defaults-example-certificate-tls" "namespace"="default" "operation"="UPDATE" "policy"="mutate-certificates" "resource.gvk"={"Group":"cert-manager.io","Version":"v1","Kind":"Certificate"} "roles"=["kube-system:cert-manager:leaderelection"] "rules"=["set-revisionHistoryLimit","set-privateKey-rotationPolicy","set-privateKey-details"] "uid"="c4384662-cb2a-49a0-8e83-e590942ec48d" "user"={"username":"system:serviceaccount:cert-manager:cert-manager","uid":"21cbad67-9d2e-44ee-bb02-7fef9aa2e502","groups":["system:serviceaccounts","system:serviceaccounts:cert-manager","system:authenticated"],"extra":{"authentication.kubernetes.io/pod-name":["cert-manager-648cd49b44-z6g8s"],"authentication.kubernetes.io/pod-uid":["4bd741fa-a8ec-48a1-82d5-26c5b7acce5e"]}}

    Taking the last line as an example you can pull out:

    "kind"="Certificate" "name"="defaults-example-certificate-tls" "namespace"="default" "operation"="UPDATE" "policy"="mutate-certificates" "resource.gvk"={"Group":"cert-manager.io","Version":"v1","Kind":"Certificate"} "roles"=["kube-system:cert-manager:leaderelection"] "rules"=["set-revisionHistoryLimit","set-privateKey-rotationPolicy","set-privateKey-details"]

    See the policy key indicates that our policy has been applied. In the rules section you can identify that three of our five rules have been applied to the generated "defaults-example-certificate-tls" Certificate resource.

When using an Ingress resource, you always need to specify the secretName from which to load the certificate. No defaulting is required in this use case because this is a required part of the Ingress specification.

The only additional YAML that a user is required to specify on the Ingress resource is the annotation:

cert-manager.io/cluster-issuer: "our-corp-issuer"

This annotation serves as both the trigger for cert-manager to act upon this Ingress and also as the configuration value for the Certificate.spec.issuerRef fields. This single line replaces the need for the user to create a Certificate resource entirely. This results in a reduction of the total YAML required to secure the application behind this Ingress.

Summary

This is a fairly simple example of how easy it can be to setup defaults for your cluster Certificate resources. We've shown how a ClusterPolicy doesn't have to "enforce" settings, rather it can be used to set and extend the default options. Certificate users can reduce their YAML, whilst maintaining the flexibility to override any value when needed.

We have shown how a simple ClusterPolicy with only 5 rules can change the user experience creating Certificate resources from:

apiVersion: cert-manager.io/v1
kind: Certificate
metadata:
name: test-revision-override
namespace: default
spec:
dnsNames:
- example.com
issuerRef:
group: cert-manager.io
kind: ClusterIssuer
name: not-my-corp-issuer
privateKey:
algorithm: RSA
encoding: PKCS8
rotationPolicy: Never
size: 4096
revisionHistoryLimit: 44
secretName: test-revision-override-cert

🔗 cert-test-revision-override.yaml

To instead only need to specify the configuration important to them, for example:

apiVersion: cert-manager.io/v1
kind: Certificate
metadata:
name: test-minimal
namespace: default
spec:
dnsNames:
- example.com

🔗 cert-test-minimal.yaml

With this policy we achieved our objective and have enabled users to submit minimal Certifiate resources. This completes our fifth use case, with only a single field contained within the specification, the dnsNames entry. Every other specified field was automatically defaulted using Kyverno with ClusterPolicy which would typically be setup by a platform administrator.

Cleanup

If you created the kind cluster for this tutorial you can simply run:

kind delete cluster --name defaults

Otherwise to remove all resources deployed in this tutorial:

# Assuming you are running from this directly or saved all the files to yamls/
kubectl delete -f ingress.yaml
kubectl delete -f cpol-mutate-certificates-1.yaml
helm uninstall kyverno -n kyverno-system
helm uninstall cert-manager -n cert-manager
helm uninstall ingress-nginx -n ingress-nginx

Appendix

cert-manager version requirement

The behavior of cert-manager's mutating webhook has been changed from v1.14.x onward. For a more complete explanation and details of the change please refer to PR #6311. Instructions for a manual fix can be found in this comment on PR #6311.

Presets Feature Request

For further background reading around setting "defaults" or "presets", you can refer to issue 2239. This tutorial came out of an investigation of that issue.

The cert-manager team reasoned that the requested solution could be achieved with the use of other, more generic open-source policy tools. Kyverno is just one example and similar can be achieved with Gatekeeper as an alternative tool.