Red Hat OpenShift operators automate the creation, configuration and management of instances of Kubernetes-native applications. Operators provide automation at every level of the stack: from managing the parts that make up the platform, all the way to applications that are provided as a managed service.

Red Hat OpenShift uses the power of operators to run the entire platform in an autonomous fashion while exposing configuration natively through Kubernetes objects, allowing for quick installation and frequent, robust updates. In addition to the automation advantages of operators for managing the platform, OpenShift makes it easier to find, install and manage operators running on your clusters.

Included in OpenShift is the OperatorHub, a registry of operators from software vendors and open source projects. Within the embedded OperatorHub, you can browse and install a library of operators that have been verified to work with OpenShift and that have been packaged for easy lifecycle management.

OpenShift’s operator lifecycle manager (OLM) is designed to work with internet access. But, sometimes we have to deal with a disconnected environment that does not have internet access, thus preventing us from installing operators. To make things more difficult, some operators need related images (declared on their CSV) to work properly.

How are these two solutions related? OperatorHub is the marketplace and OLM is the tool that consumes it through a catalog.

Creating a local disconnected registry and uploading operator images to it is not enough to get things up and running.

So, what should you do to solve this?

Custom repository catalog

Before you proceed, it is important to understand a few things. Some Red Hat operators are self-contained and don’t need related images, but some of them do. The process of pruning an index catalog is suitable for operators that don’t need extra images. However, you must know how the operator was built to determine which method is right for you.

Use a command like the one below to get some information about the operator requisites:

# oc get packagemanifests quay-operator -o yaml


What options are available?

The easy approach is to mirror the entire operator OLM catalog. But this will take up to 1.5TB of disk space (at the time of this writing), making this approach nearly impossible to adopt on the vast majority of disconnected OpenShift clusters.

It is entirely possible to work with a complete catalog mirror. But maybe that’s not what you’re looking for.

Mirror operators with related images

Some operators require related Images that aren’t downloaded in the index prune stage. Look at your operator CSV to search if it requires additional images.

For example, an OCS image requires the addition of related images:



If that’s the case, you should upload the related images to your private registry in the same catalog as the operator bundle, otherwise your operator installation will fail.

Now that you understand that some operators need additional content, let’s understand how to solve this issue.

Update catalog with related images

You can do the whole process of creating a new catalog containing all the necessary content manually, but everything becomes more time-consuming and complex.

To make things easier, you can use a Python script developed by the Red Hat Community of Practice to download the operator images from a predefined list, alongside with its related images. You should run it from your bastion host, or from a host that has access to OpenShift.


  • OpenShift version 4.8 (newer versions will also work).
  • Registry: You already have a local private registry up and running
    • If you don’t have a local private registry, I wrote about building a secure one on the Red Hat blog.
  • Local registry URL:
  • Bastion (or the host being used to access OpenShift) has access to the internet.

You can adjust the OpenShift version to reflect your current environment.

External registry access

Install the Python script requisites according to the file. Then do the logins to the required registries:

[root@bastion ocp]# podman login
[root@bastion ocp]# podman login
[root@bastion ocp]# podman login

This will generate the ${XDG_RUNTIME_DIR}/containers/auth.json file. Save it, so you can use it later.

  • /run/user/0 is the user namespace for root user (id 0). If you run as another user the id will be different.  ${XDG_RUNTIME_DIR} is the env variable that references the folder of the auth file by the user id.

Mirror list

Edit the files "offline_operators_list" and "offline_operators_list.yaml" to include the operators you wish to mirror.

In my scenario, I needed Quay and OCS with their related images. These operators also need "local-storage" (not declared in the CSV). It is also important to install "cluster-logging."

I’d recommend always enabling both.

[root@bastion openshift-disconnected-operators-master]# cat offline_operators_list


[root@bastion openshift-disconnected-operators-master]# cat offline_operators_list.yaml

 - name: local-storage-operator
 - name: ocs-operator
 - name: quay-operator
 - name: openshift-marketplace
 - name: ocs-must-gather-rhel8
 - name: odf-operator
 - name: cluster-logging

Now, run the mirror process:

[root@bastion openshift-disconnected-operators-master]# ./ \
--catalog-version v4.8 \
--authfile ~/ocp/localregistry/openshift-disconnected-operators-master/auth.json \
--registry-olm \
--registry-catalog \
--operator-file ~/ocp/localregistry/openshift-disconnected-operators-master/offline_operators_list \
--icsp-scope=namespace \
--ocp-version 4.8 \
--operator-channel 4.8

At the end of the process, you should see messages like this:

Finished mirroring related images.
Creating Image Content Source Policy YAML...
Creating Mapping File...
Creating Image manifest file...
Creating Catalog Source YAML...
Catalogue creation and image mirroring complete
See Publish folder for the image content source policy and catalog source yaml files to apply to your cluster

The mirror process will generate some YAML files in the "publish" directory:

[root@bastion openshift-disconnected-operators-master]# ls publish/

image_manifest.txt  mapping.txt  mirror_log.txt  olm-icsp.yaml  rh-catalog-source.yaml

Custom mirrored catalog

The default catalog assumes that operators will be downloaded from the internet. For a disconnected environment, we will need to disable the default OLM catalog sources:

[root@bastion publish]# oc patch OperatorHub cluster --type json -p '[{"op": "add", "path": "/spec/disableAllDefaultSources", "value": true}]'

Apply the YAML files in the "publish" directory. The "image content source policy" will create a new MCO (machine config operator) render, which will start a rolling reboot of your cluster nodes. Keep this in mind before performing this step. You have to wait until this is complete before attempting to install operators from the catalog.

[root@bastion publish]# oc create -f olm-icsp.yaml created

[root@bastion publish]# oc create -f rh-catalog-source.yaml created

After OLM automatically polls the index image referenced in the catalog source at its regular interval (30 minutes), verify that the new packages are successfully added:

[root@bastion localregistry]# oc get packagemanifests -n openshift-marketplace
NAME                     CATALOG             AGE
quay-operator            Red Hat Operators   42m
ocs-operator             Red Hat Operators   42m
cluster-logging          Red Hat Operators   42m
local-storage-operator   Red Hat Operators   42m

Now go to your OperatorHub and check the available operators.

Disconnected custom catalog

Disconnected custom catalog

The operators added their related images, making them complete in terms of requisites. Install them to check if everything is in place.

You can have as many custom catalogs as you need. Go to OpenShift Global Configuration and search for OperatorHub for the list of available catalogs.

Disconnected operators installed

Disconnected operators installed

I hope this post was useful to you. Have a nice day!

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About the author

Andre Rocha is a Consultant at Red Hat focused on OpenStack, OpenShift, RHEL and other Red Hat products. He has been at Red Hat since 2019, previously working as DevOps and SysAdmin for private companies.

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