Environment Variables

You can set environment variables for containers running in a pod. Additionally, Kubernetes automatically exposes certain runtime information via environment variables.

Let’s launch a pod that we pass an environment variable SIMPLE_SERVICE_VERSION with the value 1.0:

$ kubectl apply -f https://github.com/openshift-evangelists/kbe/raw/main/specs/envs/pod.yaml

Now, let’s verify from within the cluster if the application running in the pod has picked up the environment variable:

$ kubectl exec envs -t -- curl -s

The output reflects the value that was set for the environment variable (the default, unless overridden by the variable, is 0.5.0):

{"host": "", "version": "1.0", "from": ""}

You can check what environment variables Kubernetes itself provides automatically using a REST endpoint in the sample application:

$ kubectl exec envs -t -- curl -s

Your results will vary slightly depending on you cluster configuration, but an example output is included below:

  "version": "1.0",
  "env": "{
    'GPG_KEY': 'FBC59DD261FEBA08C40D6991B8E4DFA780EE0021',
    'HOSTNAME': 'envs',
    'HOME': '/root',
    'LANG': 'C.UTF-8',
    'PATH': '/usr/local/bin:/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin',
    'REFRESHED_AT': '2022-01-31T00:01',
    'PYTHON_VERSION': '2.7.13',
    'PYTHON_PIP_VERSION': '9.0.1',
    'KUBERNETES_PORT': 'tcp://',
    'KUBERNETES_PORT_443_TCP': 'tcp://',
    'KUBERNETES_PORT_443_TCP_PORT': '443',

Alternatively, you can also use the exec subcommand to display the environment variables within the pod:

$ kubectl exec envs -- printenv

Remove the sample pod with:

$ kubectl delete pod/envs

In addition to the above examples, you can also use secrets, volumes, or the downward API to inject additional information into your container environments.