With OKD 4, you can update a OKD cluster with a single operation by using the web console or the OpenShift CLI (oc). Platform administrators are automatically notified when an update is available for their cluster.

The OpenShift Update Service (OSUS) builds a graph of update possibilities based on release images in the registry. The graph is based on recommended, tested update paths from a specific version. OKD clusters connect to the Red Hat Hybrid Cloud servers and identify which clusters the user is running, along with the version information. OSUS responds with information about known update targets. Either a cluster administrator or an automatic update controller edits the custom resource (CR) of the Cluster Version Operator (CVO) with the new version to update to. After the CVO receives the update image from the registry, the CVO then applies the changes.

Operators previously installed through Operator Lifecycle Manager (OLM) follow a different process for updates. See Updating installed Operators for more information.

About the OpenShift Update Service

The OpenShift Update Service (OSUS) provides update recommendations to OKD, including Fedora CoreOS (FCOS). It provides a graph, or diagram, that contains the vertices of component Operators and the edges that connect them. The edges in the graph show which versions you can safely update to. The vertices are update payloads that specify the intended state of the managed cluster components.

The Cluster Version Operator (CVO) in your cluster checks with the OpenShift Update Service to see the valid updates and update paths based on current component versions and information in the graph. When you request an update, the CVO uses the release image for that update to update your cluster. The release artifacts are hosted in Quay as container images.

To allow the OpenShift Update Service to provide only compatible updates, a release verification pipeline drives automation. Each release artifact is verified for compatibility with supported cloud platforms and system architectures, as well as other component packages. After the pipeline confirms the suitability of a release, the OpenShift Update Service notifies you that it is available.

The OpenShift Update Service displays all recommended updates for your current cluster. If an update path is not recommended by the OpenShift Update Service, it might be because of a known issue with the update or the target release.

Two controllers run during continuous update mode. The first controller continuously updates the payload manifests, applies the manifests to the cluster, and outputs the controlled rollout status of the Operators to indicate whether they are available, upgrading, or failed. The second controller polls the OpenShift Update Service to determine if updates are available.

Only upgrading to a newer version is supported. Reverting or rolling back your cluster to a previous version is not supported. If your update fails, contact Red Hat support.

During the update process, the Machine Config Operator (MCO) applies the new configuration to your cluster machines. The MCO cordons the number of nodes as specified by the maxUnavailable field on the machine configuration pool and marks them as unavailable. By default, this value is set to 1. The MCO then applies the new configuration and reboots the machine.

If you use Fedora machines as workers, the MCO does not update the kubelet because you must update the OpenShift API on the machines first.

With the specification for the new version applied to the old kubelet, the Fedora machine cannot return to the Ready state. You cannot complete the update until the machines are available. However, the maximum number of unavailable nodes is set to ensure that normal cluster operations can continue with that number of machines out of service.

The OpenShift Update Service is composed of an Operator and one or more application instances.

Common terms

Control plane

The control plane, which is composed of control plane machines, manages the OKD cluster. The control plane machines manage workloads on the compute machines, which are also known as worker machines.

Cluster Version Operator

The Cluster Version Operator (CVO) starts the update process for the cluster. It checks with OSUS based on the current cluster version and retrieves the graph which contains available or possible update paths.

Machine Config Operator

The Machine Config Operator (MCO) is a cluster-level Operator that manages the operating system and machine configurations. Through the MCO, platform administrators can configure and update systemd, CRI-O and Kubelet, the kernel, NetworkManager, and other system features on the worker nodes.

OpenShift Update Service

The OpenShift Update Service (OSUS) provides over-the-air updates to OKD, including to Fedora CoreOS (FCOS). It provides a graph, or diagram, that contains the vertices of component Operators and the edges that connect them.


Channels declare an update strategy tied to minor versions of OKD. The OSUS uses this configured strategy to recommend update edges consistent with that strategy.

Recommended update edge

A recommended update edge is a recommended update between OKD releases. Whether a given update is recommended can depend on the cluster’s configured channel, current version, known bugs, and other information. OSUS communicates the recommended edges to the CVO, which runs in every cluster.

Extended Update Support

All post-4.7 even-numbered minor releases are labeled as Extended Update Support (EUS) releases. These releases introduce a verified update path between EUS releases, permitting customers to streamline updates of worker worker nodes and formulate update strategies of EUS-to-EUS OKD releases that will cause fewer reboots of worker nodes.