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Version: v2.0-v2.4

Choosing a Rancher Version

This section describes how to choose a Rancher version.

For a high-availability installation of Rancher, which is recommended for production, the Rancher server is installed using a Helm chart on a Kubernetes cluster. Refer to the Helm version requirements to choose a version of Helm to install Rancher.

For Docker installations of Rancher, which is used for development and testing, you will install Rancher as a Docker image.

When installing, upgrading, or rolling back Rancher Server when it is installed on a Kubernetes cluster, Rancher server is installed using a Helm chart on a Kubernetes cluster. Therefore, as you prepare to install or upgrade a high availability Rancher configuration, you must add a Helm chart repository that contains the charts for installing Rancher.

Refer to the Helm version requirements to choose a version of Helm to install Rancher.

Helm Chart Repositories

Rancher provides several different Helm chart repositories to choose from. We align our latest and stable Helm chart repositories with the Docker tags that are used for a Docker installation. Therefore, the rancher-latest repository will contain charts for all the Rancher versions that have been tagged as rancher/rancher:latest. When a Rancher version has been promoted to the rancher/rancher:stable, it will get added to the rancher-stable repository.

TypeCommand to Add the RepoDescription of the Repo
rancher-latesthelm repo add rancher-latest a repository of Helm charts for the latest versions of Rancher. We recommend using this repo for testing out new Rancher builds.
rancher-stablehelm repo add rancher-stable a repository of Helm charts for older, stable versions of Rancher. We recommend using this repo for production environments.
rancher-alphahelm repo add rancher-alpha a repository of Helm charts for alpha versions of Rancher for previewing upcoming releases. These releases are discouraged in production environments. Upgrades to or from charts in the rancher-alpha repository to any other chart, regardless or repository, aren't supported.

Instructions on when to select these repos are available below in Switching to a Different Helm Chart Repository.

Note: The introduction of the rancher-latest and rancher-stable Helm Chart repositories was introduced after Rancher v2.1.0, so the rancher-stable repository contains some Rancher versions that were never marked as rancher/rancher:stable. The versions of Rancher that were tagged as rancher/rancher:stable before v2.1.0 are v2.0.4, v2.0.6, v2.0.8. Post v2.1.0, all charts in the rancher-stable repository will correspond with any Rancher version tagged as stable.

Helm Chart Versions

Rancher Helm chart versions match the Rancher version (i.e appVersion). Once you've added the repo you can search it to show available versions with the following command:
    helm search repo --versions

If you have several repos you can specify the repo name, ie. helm search repo rancher-stable/rancher --versions
For more information, see

To fetch a specific version of your chosen repo, define the --version parameter like in the following example:
    helm fetch rancher-stable/rancher --version=2.4.8

For the Rancher v2.1.x versions, there were some Helm charts where the version was a build number, i.e.<build-number>. These charts have been replaced with the equivalent Rancher version and are no longer available.

Switching to a Different Helm Chart Repository

After installing Rancher, if you want to change which Helm chart repository to install Rancher from, you will need to follow these steps.

Note: Because the rancher-alpha repository contains only alpha charts, switching between the rancher-alpha repository and the rancher-stable or rancher-latest repository for upgrades is not supported.

  • Latest: Recommended for trying out the newest features
    helm repo add rancher-latest
  • Stable: Recommended for production environments
    helm repo add rancher-stable
  • Alpha: Experimental preview of upcoming releases.
    helm repo add rancher-stable
    Note: Upgrades are not supported to, from, or between Alphas.
  1. List the current Helm chart repositories.

    helm repo list

  2. Remove the existing Helm Chart repository that contains your charts to install Rancher, which will either be rancher-stable or rancher-latest depending on what you had initially added.

    helm repo remove rancher-<CHART_REPO>
  3. Add the Helm chart repository that you want to start installing Rancher from.

    helm repo add rancher-<CHART_REPO><CHART_REPO>
  4. Continue to follow the steps to upgrade Rancher from the new Helm chart repository.