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Version: v2

odo link

odo link command helps link an odo component to an Operator backed service or another odo component. It does this by using Service Binding Operator. At the time of writing this, odo makes use of the Service Binding library and not the Operator itself to achieve the desired functionality.

In this document we will cover various options to create link between a component & a service, and a component & another component. The steps in this document are going to be based on the odo quickstart project that we covered in Quickstart guide. The outputs mentioned in this document are based on commands executed on minikube cluster.

This document assumes that you know how to create components and services. It also assumes that you have cloned the odo quickstart project. Terminology used in this document:

  • quickstart project: git clone of the odo quickstart project having below directory structure:
    $ tree -L 1
    ├── backend
    ├── frontend
    ├── postgrescluster.yaml
    ├── quickstart.code-workspace

    2 directories, 3 files
  • backend component: backend directory in above tree structure
  • frontend component: frontend directory in above tree structure
  • Postgres service: Operator backed service created from backend component using the odo service create --from-file ../postgrescluster.yaml command.

Various linking options

odo provides various options to link a component with an Operator backed service or another odo component. All these options (or flags) can be used irrespective of whether you are linking a component to a service or another component.

Default behaviour

By default, odo link creates a directory named kubernetes/ in your component directory and stores the information (YAML manifests) about services and links in it. When you do odo push, odo compares these manifests with the state of the things on the Kubernetes cluster and decides whether it needs to create, modify or destroy resources to match what is specified by the user.

The --inlined flag

If you specified --inlined flag to the odo link command, odo will store the link information inline in the devfile.yaml in the component directory instead of creating a file under kubernetes/ directory. The behaviour of --inlined flag is similar in both the odo link and odo service create commands. This flag is helpful if you would like everything to be stored in a single devfile.yaml. You will have to remember to use --inlined flag with each odo link and odo service create commands that you execute for the component.

The --map flag

At times, you might want to add more binding information to the component than what is available by default. For example, if you are linking the component with a service and would like to bind some information from the service's spec (short for specification), you could use the --map flag. Note that odo doesn't do any validation against the spec of the service/component being linked. Using this flag is recommended only if you are comfortable with reading the Kubernetes YAML manifests.

The --bind-as-files flag

For all the linking options discussed so far, odo injects the binding information into the component as environment variables. If you would like to instead mount this information as files, you could use the --bind-as-files flag. This will make odo inject the binding information as files into the /bindings location within your component's Pod. Comparing with the environment variables paradigm, when you use --bind-as-files, the files are named after the keys and the value of these keys is stored as the contents of these files.


We will link the backend component with the Postgres service using default odo link command. For the backend component, make sure that your component and service are pushed to the cluster:

$ odo list
app backend myproject spring Pushed Yes

$ odo service list
PostgresCluster/hippo Yes (backend) Pushed 59m41s

Now, run odo link to link the backend component with the Postgres service:

odo link PostgresCluster/hippo

Example output:

$ odo link PostgresCluster/hippo
✓ Successfully created link between component "backend" and service "PostgresCluster/hippo"

To apply the link, please use `odo push`

And then run odo push for the link to actually get created on the Kubernetes cluster.

Upon successful odo push, you can notice a few things:

  1. When you open the URL for the application deployed by backend component, it shows you a list of todo items in the database. For example, for below odo url list output, we will append the path where todos are listed:

    $ odo url list
    Found the following URLs for component backend
    8080-tcp Pushed 8080 false ingress

    The correct path for such URL would be - Note that exact URL would be different for your setup. Also note that there are no todos in the database unless you add some, so the URL might just show an empty JSON object.

  2. You can see binding information related to Postgres service injected into the backend component. This binding information is injected, by default, as environment variables. You can check it out using the odo describe command from backend component's directory:

    odo describe 

    Example output:

    $ odo describe
    Component Name: backend
    Type: spring
    Environment Variables:
    · PROJECTS_ROOT=/projects
    · PROJECT_SOURCE=/projects
    · DEBUG_PORT=5858
    · m2 of size 3Gi mounted to /home/user/.m2
    · exposed via 8080
    Linked Services:
    · PostgresCluster/hippo
    Environment Variables:
    · pgImage
    · pgVersion

    Few of these variables are used in the backend component's src/main/resources/ file so that the Java Springboot application can connect to the Postgres database service.

  3. Lastly, odo has created a directory called kubernetes/ in your backend component's directory which contains below files.

    $ ls kubernetes 
    odo-service-backend-postgrescluster-hippo.yaml odo-service-hippo.yaml

    This files contains the information (YAML manifests) about two things:

    1. odo-service-hippo.yaml - the Postgres service we created using odo service create --from-file ../postgrescluster.yaml command.
    2. odo-service-backend-postgrescluster-hippo.yaml - the link we created using odo link command.

Using --inlined flag with odo link command does the exact same thing to our application (that is, injects binding information) as an odo link command without the flag does. However, the subtle difference is that in above case we saw two manifest files under kubernetes/ directory — one for the Postgres service and other for the link between the backend component and this service — but when we pass --inlined flag, odo does not create a file under kubernetes/ directory to store the YAML manifest, but stores it inline in the devfile.yaml file.

To see this, let's unlink our component from the Postgres service first:

odo unlink PostgresCluster/hippo

Example output:

$ odo unlink PostgresCluster/hippo
✓ Successfully unlinked component "backend" from service "PostgresCluster/hippo"

To apply the changes, please use `odo push`

To unlink them on the cluster, run odo push. Now if you take a look at the kubernetes/ directory, you'll see only one file in it:

$ ls kubernetes 

Next, let's use the --inlined flag to create a link:

odo link PostgresCluster/hippo --inlined

Example output:

$ odo link PostgresCluster/hippo --inlined
✓ Successfully created link between component "backend" and service "PostgresCluster/hippo"

To apply the link, please use `odo push`

Just like the time without --inlined flag, you need to do odo push for the link to get created on the cluster. But where did odo store the configuration/manifest required to create this link? odo stores this in devfile.yaml. You can see an entry like below in this file:

inlined: |
kind: ServiceBinding
creationTimestamp: null
name: backend-postgrescluster-hippo
group: apps
name: backend-app
resource: deployments
version: v1
bindAsFiles: false
detectBindingResources: true
- group:
id: hippo
kind: PostgresCluster
name: hippo
version: v1beta1
secret: ""
name: backend-postgrescluster-hippo

Now if you were to do odo unlink PostgresCluster/hippo, odo would first remove the link information from the devfile.yaml and then a subsequent odo push would delete the link from the cluster.

Custom bindings

odo link accepts the flag --map which can inject custom binding information into the component. Such binding information will be fetched from the manifest of the resource we are linking to our component. For example, speaking in context of the backend component and Postgres service, we can inject information from the Postgres service's manifest (postgrescluster.yaml file) into the backend component.

Considering the name of your PostgresCluster service is hippo (check the output of odo service list if your PostgresCluster service is named differently), if we wanted to inject the value of postgresVersion from that YAML definition into our backend component:

odo link PostgresCluster/hippo --map pgVersion='{{ .hippo.spec.postgresVersion }}'

Note that, if the name of your Postgres service is different from hippo, you will have to specify that in the above command in place .hippo. For example, if your PostgresCluster service is named as database, you would change the link command to as shown below:

$ odo service list
PostgresCluster/database Yes (backend) Pushed 2h5m43s

$ odo link PostgresCluster/hippo --map pgVersion='{{ .database.spec.postgresVersion }}'

After a link operation, do odo push as usual. Upon successful completion of push operation, you can run below command from your backend component directory to validate if custom mapping got injected properly:

odo exec -- env | grep pgVersion

Example output:

$ odo exec -- env | grep pgVersion

Since a user might want to inject more than just one piece of custom binding information, odo link accepts multiple key-value pairs of mappings. The only constraint being that these should be specified as --map <key>=<value>. For example, if you want to also inject Postgres image information along with the version, you could do:

odo link PostgresCluster/hippo --map pgVersion='{{ .hippo.spec.postgresVersion }}' --map pgImage='{{ .hippo.spec.image }}'

and do odo push. The way to validate if both the mappings got injected correctly would be to do:

odo exec -- env | grep -e "pgVersion\|pgImage"

Example output:

$ odo exec -- env | grep -e "pgVersion\|pgImage"

To inline or not?

You can stick to the default behaviour wherein odo link will generate a manifest file for the link under kubernetes/ directory, or you could use --inlined flag if you prefer to store everything in a single devfile.yaml file. It doesn't matter what you use for this functionality of adding custom mappings.

Binding as files

Another helpful flag that odo link provides is called --bind-as-files. When this flag is passed, the binding information is not injected into the component's Pod as environment variables but is mounted as a filesystem. We will see a few examples that will make things clearer.

Ensure that there are no existing links between the backend component and the Postgres service. You could do this by running odo describe in the backend component's directory and check if you see something like below in the output:

Linked Services:
· PostgresCluster/hippo

Unlink the service from the component using:

odo unlink PostgresCluster/hippo
odo push

--bind-as-files examples

Default behaviour means odo creating the manifest file under kubernetes/ directory to store the link information. Link the backend component and Postgres service using:

odo link PostgresCluster/hippo --bind-as-files
odo push

Example odo describe output:

$ odo describe
Component Name: backend
Type: spring
Environment Variables:
· PROJECTS_ROOT=/projects
· PROJECT_SOURCE=/projects
· m2 of size 3Gi mounted to /home/user/.m2
· exposed via 8080
Linked Services:
· PostgresCluster/hippo
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/pgbackrest_instance.conf
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/user
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/ssh_known_hosts
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/clusterIP
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/password
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/patroni.yaml
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/pgbouncer-frontend.crt
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/pgbouncer-host
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/root.key
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/pgbouncer-frontend.key
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/pgbouncer.ini
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/uri
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/config-hash
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/pgbouncer-empty
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/port
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/dns.crt
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/pgbouncer-uri
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/root.crt
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/ssh_config
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/dns.key
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/host
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/patroni.crt-combined
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/tls.key
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/verifier
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/ca.crt
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/dbname
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/pgbackrest_repo.conf
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/pgbouncer-port
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/pgbouncer-verifier
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/id_ecdsa
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/pgbouncer-password
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/pgbouncer-users.txt
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/sshd_config
· /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/tls.crt

Everything that was an environment variable in the key=value format in the earlier odo describe output is now mounted as file. Let's we cat the contents of few of these files:

$ odo exec -- cat /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/password

$ odo exec -- cat /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/user

$ odo exec -- cat /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/clusterIP

With --inlined

The result of using --bind-as-files and --inlined together is similar to odo link --inlined, in that, the manifest of the link gets stored in the devfile.yaml instead of being stored in a separate file under kubernetes/ directory. Other than that, the odo describe output would like same as saw in the above section.

Custom bindings

When you pass custom bindings while linking the backend component with the Postgres service, these custom bindings are injected not as environment variables but mounted as files. Consider below example:

odo link PostgresCluster/hippo --map pgVersion='{{ .hippo.spec.postgresVersion }}' --map pgImage='{{ .hippo.spec.image }}' --bind-as-files
odo push

These custom bindings got mounted as files instead of being injected as environment variables. The way to validate if that worked would be:

$ odo exec -- cat /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/pgVersion

$ odo exec -- cat /bindings/backend-postgrescluster-hippo/pgImage