Chapter 5. Upgrading Quay using the Quay Operator

The Quay Operator follows a synchronized versioning scheme, which means that each version of the Operator is tied to the version of Quay and its components which it manages. There is no field on the QuayRegistry custom resource which sets the version of Quay to deploy; the Operator only knows how to deploy a single version of all components. This scheme was chosen to ensure that all components work well together and to reduce the complexity of the Operator needing to know how to manage the lifecycles of many different versions of Quay on Kubernetes.

5.1. Operator Lifecycle Manager

The Quay Operator should be installed and upgraded using the Operator Lifecycle Manager (OLM). When creating a Subscription with the default approvalStrategy: Automatic, OLM will automatically upgrade the Quay Operator whenever a new version becomes available.


When the Quay Operator is installed via Operator Lifecycle Manager it may be configured to support automatic or manual upgrades. This option is shown on the Operator Hub page for the Quay Operator during installation. It can also be found in the Quay Operator Subscription object via the approvalStrategy field. Choosing Automatic means that your Quay Operator will automatically be upgraded whenever a new Operator version is released. If this is not desireable, then the Manual approval strategy should be selected.

5.2. Upgrading Quay by upgrading the Quay Operator

The general approach for upgrading installed Operators on OpenShift is documented at Upgrading installed Operators.

5.2.1. Upgrading Quay

From a Red Hat Quay point of view, to update from one minor version to the next, for example, 3.4 → 3.5, you need to actively change the update channel for the Quay Operator.

For z stream upgrades, for example, 3.4.2 → 3.4.3, updates are released in the major-minor channel that the user initially selected during install. The procedure to perform a z stream upgrade depends on the approvalStrategy as outlined above. If the approval strategy is set to Automatic, the Operator will upgrade automatically to the newest z stream, resulting in automatic, rolling Quay updates to newer z streams with little to no downtime. Otherwise, the update must be manually approved before installation can begin.

5.2.2. Changing the update channel for an Operator

The subscription of an installed Operator specifies an update channel, which is used to track and receive updates for the Operator. To upgrade the Quay Operator to start tracking and receiving updates from a newer channel, change the update channel in the Subscription tab for the installed Quay Operator. For subscriptions with an Automatic approval strategy, the upgrade begins automatically and can be monitored on the page that lists the Installed Operators.

5.2.3. Manually approving a pending Operator upgrade

If an installed Operator has the approval strategy in its subscription set to Manual, when new updates are released in its current update channel, the update must be manually approved before installation can begin. If the Quay Operator has a pending upgrade, this status will be displayed in the list of Installed Operators. In the Subscription tab for the Quay Operator, you can preview the install plan and review the resources that are listed as available for upgrade. If satisfied, click Approve and return to the page that lists Installed Operators to monitor the progress of the upgrade.

The following image shows the Subscription tab in the UI, including the update Channel, the Approval strategy, the Upgrade status and the InstallPlan:

Subscription tab including upgrade Channel and Approval strategy

The list of Installed Operators provides a high-level summary of the current Quay installation:

Installed Operators

5.3. Upgrading a QuayRegistry

When the Quay Operator starts up, it immediately looks for any QuayRegistries it can find in the namespace(s) it is configured to watch. When it finds one, the following logic is used:

  • If status.currentVersion is unset, reconcile as normal.
  • If status.currentVersion equals the Operator version, reconcile as normal.
  • If status.currentVersion does not equal the Operator version, check if it can be upgraded. If it can, perform upgrade tasks and set the status.currentVersion to the Operator’s version once complete. If it cannot be upgraded, return an error and leave the QuayRegistry and its deployed Kubernetes objects alone.

5.4. Enabling new features in Quay 3.5

5.4.1. Console monitoring and alerting

The support for monitoring of Quay 3.5 in the OpenShift console requires that the Operator is installed in all namespaces. If you previously installed the Operator in a specific namespace, delete the Operator itself and re-install it for all namespaces, once the upgrade has taken place.

5.4.2. OCI and Helm support

Support for Helm and OCI artifacts is now enabled by default in Red Hat Quay 3.5. If you want to explicitly enable the feature, for example, if you are upgrading from a version where it is not enabled by default, you need to reconfigure your Quay deployment to enable the use of OCI artifacts using the following properties:


5.5. Upgrading a QuayEcosystem

Upgrades are supported from previous versions of the Operator which used the QuayEcosystem API for a limited set of configurations. To ensure that migrations do not happen unexpectedly, a special label needs to be applied to the QuayEcosystem for it to be migrated. A new QuayRegistry will be created for the Operator to manage, but the old QuayEcosystem will remain until manually deleted to ensure that you can roll back and still access Quay in case anything goes wrong. To migrate an existing QuayEcosystem to a new QuayRegistry, follow these steps:

  1. Add "quay-operator/migrate": "true" to the metadata.labels of the QuayEcosystem.

    $ oc edit quayecosystem <quayecosystemname>
        quay-operator/migrate: "true"
  2. Wait for a QuayRegistry to be created with the same as your QuayEcosystem. The QuayEcosystem will be marked with the label "quay-operator/migration-complete": "true".
  3. Once the status.registryEndpoint of the new QuayRegistry is set, access Quay and confirm all data and settings were migrated successfully.
  4. When you are confident everything worked correctly, you may delete the QuayEcosystem and Kubernetes garbage collection will clean up all old resources.

5.5.1. Reverting QuayEcosystem Upgrade

If something goes wrong during the automatic upgrade from QuayEcosystem to QuayRegistry, follow these steps to revert back to using the QuayEcosystem:

  • Delete the QuayRegistry using either the UI or kubectl:

    $ kubectl delete -n <namespace> quayregistry <quayecosystem-name>
  • If external access was provided using a Route, change the Route to point back to the original Service using the UI or kubectl.

If your QuayEcosystem was managing the Postgres database, the upgrade process will migrate your data to a new Postgres database managed by the upgraded Operator. Your old database will not be changed or removed but Quay will no longer use it once the migration is complete. If there are issues during the data migration, the upgrade process will exit and it is recommended that you continue with your database as an unmanaged component.

5.5.2. Supported QuayEcosystem Configurations for Upgrades

The Quay Operator will report errors in its logs and in status.conditions if migrating a QuayEcosystem component fails or is unsupported. All unmanaged components should migrate successfully because no Kubernetes resources need to be adopted and all the necessary values are already provided in Quay’s config.yaml.


Ephemeral database not supported (volumeSize field must be set).


Nothing special needed.

External Access

Only passthrough Route access supported for automatic migration. Manual migration required for other methods.

  • LoadBalancer without custom hostname: After the QuayEcosystem is marked with label "quay-operator/migration-complete": "true", delete the metadata.ownerReferences field from existing Service before deleting the QuayEcosystem to prevent Kubernetes from garbage collecting the Service and removing the load balancer. A new Service will be created with format <QuayEcosystem-name>-quay-app. Edit the spec.selector of the existing Service to match the spec.selector of the new Service so traffic to the old load balancer endpoint will now be directed to the new pods. You are now responsible for the old Service; the Quay Operator will not manage it.
  • LoadBalancer/NodePort/Ingress with custom hostname: A new Service of type LoadBalancer will be created with format <QuayEcosystem-name>-quay-app. Change your DNS settings to point to the status.loadBalancer endpoint provided by the new Service.


Nothing special needed.

Object Storage

QuayEcosystem did not have a managed object storage component, so object storage will always be marked as unmanaged. Local storage is not supported.

Repository Mirroring

Nothing special needed.