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Let’s talk about kubectl create, apply, edit, replace and patch

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Juggling flaming chainsaws in Kubernetes? Don’t worry, fellow tech adventurer! While managing resources can feel like that sometimes, the kubectl command is your friendly sensei, teaching you ninja moves to tame those beasts. But with so many commands – create, apply, patch, replace, and edit – choosing the right one can be tricky. Fear not, for this blog will guide you through their strengths and weaknesses in simple, casual language!

The Mighty kubectl create

Think of kubectl create as a sculptor: You give it a blueprint (YAML file), and it crafts a brand-new resource from scratch. Perfect for starting fresh, but be careful – it doesn’t play nice with existing ones, potentially overwriting them with fiery consequences!

The Versatile kubectl apply

Now, kubectl apply is a wise warrior: It checks if your desired resource already exists. If not, it creates it like create. But if it’s already there, it gently updates it based on your instructions, like moulding clay without breaking anything. Super safe and flexible!

The Precise kubectl patch

Want to make tiny, targeted changes? kubectl patch is your ninja friend: It pinpoints specific parts of a resource for surgical updates, like changing just one key-value pair. Imagine it as a brushstroke, leaving the rest untouched. Precise and perfect for fine-tuning!

kubectl replace – Replace the configuration

Similar to apply, but a bit more forceful. kubectl replace updates even if conflicts exist like a bulldozer clearing the way. Use with caution, or things might get messy!

Editing with kubectl edit

kubectl edit opens an editor to directly modify a resource’s code. Think of it as a scalpel – powerful for quick fixes, but one wrong move can cause chaos! You can configure your preferred editor for kubectl if needed.

Choosing Your Weapon

So, which command wins the battle? It depends on your needs:

  • Creating something new? create is your go-to hero.
  • Updating existing stuff? apply is your safe and flexible master.
  • Need pinpoint accuracy? patch is your ninja assassin.
  • Forced updates? replace is the bulldozer, but tread carefully!
  • Direct code editing? edit is the scalpel, use it wisely!

Remember: Practice makes perfect! Experiment, explore, and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty (metaphorically, of course). And always back up your resources before making changes – just in case something goes awry.

Bonus Tip: Always back up your resources before making changes, just in case. Preparation is key in the journey to Kubernetes mastery!


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Gineesh Madapparambath is the founder of techbeatly and he is the author of the book - 𝗔𝗻𝘀𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗹-𝗟𝗶𝗳𝗲 𝗔𝘂𝘁𝗼𝗺𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻. He has worked as a Systems Engineer, Automation Specialist, and content author. His primary focus is on Ansible Automation, Containerisation (OpenShift & Kubernetes), and Infrastructure as Code (Terraform). (aka Gini Gangadharan -


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