Kubectl Patch Explained with Examples

Kubectl Patch Explained with Examples

Kubernetes has become the cornerstone of modern container orchestration, and managing resources within a Kubernetes cluster is a crucial aspect of maintaining a scalable and efficient infrastructure. One powerful tool in the Kubernetes toolkit is kubectl, a command-line interface that facilitates the interaction with Kubernetes clusters. In this article, we will delve into the world of kubectl patch and explore its functionality through various examples. Patching allows us to make precise changes to existing resources, ensuring flexibility and agility in managing our Kubernetes environment.

Patching Basics:

Before diving into examples, let's understand the basics of kubectl patch. The patch command allows users to update specific fields of a resource without replacing the entire resource definition. This can be especially handy when fine-tuning configurations or applying quick fixes to running applications.


  • RESOURCE TYPE: The type of Kubernetes resource you want to patch (e.g., deployment, pod, service).
  • NAME: The name of the specific resource instance you wish to patch.
  • -p PATCH: The patch specification in JSON or YAML format.

Example 1: Patching a Pod's Container Image:

Let's say you have a running pod named my-pod with a container using an outdated image. You can use kubectl patch to update the container image without redeploying the entire pod.


kubectl patch pod my-pod -p '{"spec":{"containers":[{"name":"my-container","image":"new-image:latest"}]}}'

This command instructs Kubernetes to update the specified pod's container image to new-image:latest.

Example 2: Scaling a Deployment:

Scaling a deployment is a common operation, and kubectl patch can be used for this purpose as well. Let's scale a deployment named my-deployment to three replicas.


kubectl patch deployment my-deployment -p '{"spec":{"replicas":3}}'

This command adjusts the replica count of the deployment to three, ensuring the desired number of instances running in the cluster.

Example 3: Modifying Service Type:

Changing the service type of a Kubernetes service is another scenario where kubectl patch comes in handy. Let's convert a service named my-service from ClusterIP to NodePort.


kubectl patch service my-service -p '{"spec":{"type":"NodePort"}}'

This command modifies the service type to NodePort, exposing the service on a port on each node.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Patching:

Now that we've explored some examples, let's break down the steps for using kubectl patch:

  1. Identify the Resource: Determine the type and name of the Kubernetes resource you want to patch (e.g., deployment, pod, service).

  2. Craft the Patch: Create a JSON or YAML patch specifying the changes you want to make to the resource.

  3. Execute the Patch Command: Use the kubectl patch command with the appropriate resource type, name, and the patch you crafted.

More Examples:

For more advanced use cases, you can explore additional features of kubectl patch:

  • Selective Patching: Use field selectors to patch only specific fields of a resource.
  • Patch from a File: Store your patches in files for better organization and readability.
  • Dry Run: Test your patches without applying them to ensure correctness.

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