kubectl has the feature to select objects by filtering on labels using the
-l flag. Labels are key-value pairs attached to objects as metadata and they don’t have to be unique. I’ve most often seen them used to identify what project or app an individual resource belongs to. Helm uses labels to mark resources with the app, chart and revision they belong to.
But wait, if they’re not unique and there is a way to select multiple values with set operators, how does that work? The database backing Kubernetes by default, etcd is a key-value store. While it can natively select multiple records by prefix matching, it’d be hard to imagine labels working like that. There are many of them and the selectors are complex.
So I dove into Kubernetes’s source code to figure out how it works.