Deploying the Helix Controlplane

Deploying the Helix Controlplane


See Architecture to understand how the control plane fits in.

Deployment on Docker Compose

Requires: x86_64 architecture, docker. On Windows, WSL2

  • Min 256GB disk space (recommended 512GB+) on control plane and runners
  • Min 8GB GPU for small models (Llama3-8B, Phi3-Mini), 24GB for Mixtral/SDXL, 40GB for Llama3-70B
  • Min 24GB GPU for fine-tuning (text or image)
  • Recommend 2x24GB GPUs for e.g. text & image inference in parallel
  • NVIDIA 3090s, A6000s are typically good price/performance

Clone repo and set up env file

git clone
cd helix
cp .env.example-prod .env

Now edit .env with the editor of your choice.

If you just want to test locally, you can set:


If you’re using a real DNS hostname for your deployment, set:


Where <YOUR_CONTROLPLANE_HOSTNAME> is a DNS A record that points to the IP address of your server. Ensure ports 443 and 80 are not firewalled. In this case, we’ll set up easy TLS termination shortly.

Start the stack

Start the stack:

docker compose up -d

The stack might take a minute to boot up. Check docker logs -f helix-api-1 and docker logs -f helix-keycloak-1 for progress. It’s normal for the API to retry connecting to keycloak until keycloak comes up. When the API logs:

2024-05-08T06:26:28Z INF app/api/cmd/helix/serve.go:288 > Helix server listening on

You will be ready to proceed to the next step.

Testing on localhost

If you are using SERVER_URL=http://localhost:8080 and KEYCLOAK_FRONTEND_URL=http://localhost:8080/auth/ in your .env file, you can now load http://localhost:8080 in your browser.

Using a real DNS hostname with TLS termination

If you’re using a non-localhost domain, you’ll need to point a DNS hostname (A record) at the IP address of your server and set up TLS termination.

Set up caddy or another TLS-terminating proxy of your choice. Here is an example Caddyfile:


reverse_proxy :8080
sudo caddy stop ; sudo caddy start

Then load https://<YOUR_CONTROLPLANE_HOSTNAME> in your browser. Caddy will automatically provision TLS certificates.

Locking down the stack

By default, new registrations are enabled to make it easy for you to create an account. Also by default, all accounts are admin accounts.

After creating your own accounts, you can choose to disable new registrations. Go to http(s)://<YOUR_CONTROLPLANE_HOSTNAME>/auth and click “Administration Console”. Log in with admin and KEYCLOAK_ADMIN_PASSWORD from your .env file. Click the “master” dropdown and switch to the helix realm. Under “Realm settings” -> “Login”, you can untick “User registration”. You can also set up OAuth, email validation etc here.

To lock down admin users to a specific set of users, go to Users and find the users you want to be admins. Copy their IDs into .env as a comma-separated list under ADMIN_USER_IDS variable. Run docker compose up -d to update the stack.

You may also wish to review all available configuration options in Environment Variables.


Check configuration:

cd helix
git pull

Open .env.example-prod and compare it to your current .env to check whether there are any new or changed configuration requirements.

Deploy the upgrade:

docker compose pull
docker compose up -d --remove-orphans

You can also git checkout a specific release tag, but beware that the docker-compose.yaml file uses :latest tag - update these tags if you want to run an older or pinned version.

On Kubernetes, and for a deployment with pinned versions, check out the Helm charts on Kubernetes.

Version-specific upgrade notes

Attaching a runner

Requires: x86_64 architecture, Linux and NVIDIA

Ensure you have the NVIDIA docker toolkit installed.

Select which container image you will use. Get <LATEST_TAG> from The tag is in the form X.Y.Z. Then add a -small or -large suffix to the image name to get pre-baked models. You use X.Y.Z-small to use an image with Llama3-8B and Phi3-Mini pre-baked (llama3:instruct,phi3:instruct), or X.Y.Z-large for one with all our supported Ollama models pre-baked.

sudo docker run --privileged --gpus all --shm-size=10g \
    --restart=always -d \
    --name helix-runner --ipc=host --ulimit memlock=-1 \
    --ulimit stack=67108864 \
    -v ${HOME}/.cache/huggingface:/root/.cache/huggingface \
    -e RUNTIME_OLLAMA_WARMUP_MODELS=llama3:instruct,phi3:instruct \<LATEST_TAG> \
    --api-host <http(s)://YOUR_CONTROLPLANE_HOSTNAME> --api-token <RUNNER_TOKEN_FROM_ENV> \
    --runner-id $(hostname) \
    --memory <GPU_MEMORY>GB \


  • You can update RUNTIME_OLLAMA_WARMUP_MODELS to match the specific Ollama models you want to enable for your Helix install, see available values.
  • Helix will download the weights for models specified in RUNTIME_OLLAMA_WARMUP_MODELS at startup if they are not baked into the image. This can be slow, especially if it runs in parallel across many runners, and can easily saturate your network connection. This is why using the images with pre-baked weights (-small and -large variants) is recommended.
  • Warning: the -large image is large (over 100GB), but it saves you re-downloading the weights every time the container restarts! We recommend using X.Y.Z-small and setting the RUNTIME_OLLAMA_WARMUP_MODELS value to llama3:instruct,phi3:instruct to get started, so the download isn’t too big. If you want to use other models in the Helix UI and API, delete this -e RUNTIME_OLLAMA_WARMUP_MODELS line from below, and it will use the defaults (all models). The default models will take a long time to download!
  • Update <GPU_MEMORY> to correspond to how much GPU memory you have, e.g. “80GB” or “24GB”
  • You can add --gpus 1 before the image name to target a specific GPU on the system (starting at 0). If you want to use multiple GPUs on a node, you’ll need to run multiple runner containers (in that case, remember to give them different names)
  • Make sure to run the container with --restart always or equivalent in your container runtime, since the runner will exit if it detects an unrecoverable error and should be restarted automatically
  • If you want to run the runner on the same machine as the controlplane, either: (a) set --network host and set --api-host http://localhost:8080 so that the runner can connect on localhost via the exposed port, or (b) use --api-host so that the runner can connect to the API server via the docker bridge IP. On Windows or Mac, you can use --api-host http://host.docker.internal:8080
  • Helix will currently also download and run SDXL and Mistral-7B weights used for fine-tuning at startup. These weights are not currently pre-baked anywhere. This can be disabled with RUNTIME_AXOLOTL_ENABLED=false if desired. If running in a low-memory environment, this may cause CUDA OOM errors at startup, which can be ignored (at startup) since the scheduler will only fit models into available memory after the startup phase.

Runner upgrades

docker rm -f helix-runner

Then run the command above, updating <LATEST_TAG> accordingly.

Enabling Helix Apps

Helix Apps are a fun new way to define LLM applications as code (LLMGitOps!?). Your users can create helix.yaml configuration files that tell Helix what tools it has access to (e.g. APIs) and what scripts it can run (e.g. GPTScript).

To enable this you need to provide some extra configuration and create a Github App to request access to a user’s repository.

1. Create a Github OAuth App

  1. Browse to your Github Organization’s Settings page then at the bottom left navigation bar click Developer Settings -> OAuth Apps. This is an example URL for the helixml org: If you can’t see the settings page you probably don’t have permission. You can also try creating a personal Oauth App instead.

  2. Create an informative name and set the homepage URL to your domain. Finally set the Authorization callback URL to: https://YOUR_DOMAIN/api/v1/github/callback. This url must be publically accessible from Github’s servers.

    You can test if it is publically accessible with: curl -i. You should see a 401 error. If it produces a DNS error, a time out, or a 404, then your control plane has not been setup correctly.

  3. Now that the app has been created, click on the Create a new client secret button. Make a note of the Client ID and Client secret.

2. Enable Github Apps in Helix Configuration

  1. Browse to your Helix installation directory and edit the .env file.

  2. Add the following lines to your .env file:


3. Restart the Helix Control Plane

Restart helix with docker compose up -d. This will recreate the control plane container.

4. Test Helix Apps

Now go ahead and browse to https://YOUR_DOMAIN/apps and click on NEW APP at the top right. You should be able to connect to and add a repository that you are a maintainer/owner of.

Questions? Bugs?

Come find us on Discord.

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