Comparison of Jenkins X version 3.x to 2.x

This document outlines the similarities and differences of the 3.x approach for those who are aware of jx boot with helm 2 in 2.x of Jenkins X.

Similarities between 2.x and 3.x

Just like classic boot with the jenkins-x-boot-config git repository, this new helmfile solution supports:

  • you can install and upgrade Jenkins X via GitOps
  • you can reuse helm charts from the internet, local charts or charts built by Jenkins X in any environment
  • a YAML file is used to store all the charts that are applied during install/upgrade

Differences with in 3.x

  • we support any permutation of tools such as: helm 3, helmfile, kustomize and/or kpt to create the kubernetes resources
  • in 3.x the installation/upgrade of Jenkins X is run inside the kubernetes cluster via a Job rather than on a developers laptop which helps with consistency and security.
  • in 3.x we use a single git repository for each cluster; which can manage as many teams/namespaces as you like within the cluster
    • so any local environments like Staging which reside in the same kubernetes cluster are defined in the same git repository in 3.x - whereas in 2.x we used a separate git repository for Dev, Staging and Production when sharing the same cluster.
    • if Dev, Preprod and Production environments are in separate kubernetes clusters then those will have a git repository each.
  • any helm chart can be deployed in any namespace (previously we used a single namespace for all charts in the env/requirements.yaml)
  • instead of using env/requirements.yaml we now use a simple and more powerful helmfile.yaml file which is similar but supports:
    • we can specify a namespace on any chart
    • we can add extra values files to use with the chart to override the helm values.yaml files
  • instead of copying lots of env/$appName/values*.yaml files into the boot config like we do in these folders such as the lighthouse/values.tmpl.yaml we can instead default all of these from the version stream at apps/jenkins-x/lighthouse - which means the boot config git repository is much simpler, we can share more configuration with the version stream and it avoids lots of git merge/rebase issues.
  • adding and removing apps in your GitOps repository causes those resources to be properly installed or uninstalled
    • you can also review exactly what kubernetes resources will change on the Pull Request
  • we no longer use a composite chart for env/Chart.yaml and instead deploy each chart independently
    • this means that each chart has its own unique version number you can see in the helmfile.yaml file
  • we have done away with the complexity of jenkins-x-platform (a composite chart containing logs of dependencies like jenkins + chartmuseum + nexus etc) so that each chart can be added/removed independently or swapped out with a different version/distribution

Removing complexity and magic

Removing complexity out of Jenkins X and reusing other solutions wherever possible. Jenkins X 2.x was tightly coupled to helm 2 for example. There were jx CLI steps that wrapped helm commands when installing applications into the cluster which injected secrets from an internal Vault and ultimately made it very confusing for users and maintainers.

Jenkins X 3.x prefers to avoid wrapping other CLIs unless a consistent higher level UX is being provided say around managing secrets and underlying commands being executed are clearly printed in users terminals.


Created a new jx CLI which includes an extensible plugin model where each main subcommand off the jx base is it’s own releasable git repository. This has significantly improved the Jenkins X codebase which helps with maintainability and contributions.