I'm running a kubernetes test cluster in my home network. It is used to learn kubernetes and try out various things, for example kata containers and kubevirt. Not used much (yet?) for actual development.

After mentioning it here and there some people asked for details, so here we go. I'll go describe my setup, with some kubernetes and container basics sprinkled in.

This is part one of an article series and will cover cluster node installation and basic cluster setup.

The cluster nodes

Most cluster nodes are dual-core virtual machines. The control-plane node (formerly known as master node) has 8G of memory, most worker nodes have 4G of memory. It is a mix of x86_64 and aarch64 nodes. Kubernetes names these architectures amd64 and arm64, which is easily confused, so take care 😎.

The virtual nodes use bridged networking. So no separate network, they simply show up on my home network like the physical machines connected. They get a static IP address assigned by the DHCP server, and I can easily ssh into each node.

All cluster nodes run Fedora 34, Server Edition.

Node configuration

I have a git repository with some config files, to simplify rebuilding a cluster node from scratch. The repository also has some shell scripts with the commands listed later in this blog post.

Lets go over the config files one by one.

$ cat /etc/sysctl.d/kubernetes.conf

This is needed for kubernetes networking.

$ cat /etc/modules-load.d/kubernetes.conf
# networking
# kata

Load some kernel modules needed at boot. Again for kubernetes networking. Also vhost support which is needed by kata containers.

$ cat /etc/yum.repos.d/kubernetes.repo
gpgkey=https://packages.cloud.google.com/yum/doc/yum-key.gpg https://packages.cloud.google.com/yum/doc/rpm-package-key.gpg

The upstream kubernetes rpm repository. Note this is not enabled (enabled=0) because I don't want normal fedora system updates also update the kubernetes packages. For installing/updating kubernetes packages I can enable the repo using dnf --enablerepo=kubernetes ....

Package installation

Given I want play with different container runtimes I've decided to use cri-o, which allows to do just that. Fedora has packages. They are in a module though, so that must be enabled first.

$ sudo dnf module list cri-o
$ sudo dnf module enable cri-o:${version}

The cri-o version should match the kubernetes version you want run. That is not the case in my cluster right now because I've learned that after setting up the cluster, so obviously sky isn't falling in case they don't match. The next time I update the cluster I'll bring them into sync.

Now we can go install the packages from the fedora repos. cri-o, runc (default container runtime), and a handful of useful utilities.

$ sudo dnf install podman skopeo buildah runc cri-o cri-tools \
    containernetworking-plugins bridge-utils telnet jq

Next in line are the kubernetes packages from the google repo. The repo has all versions, not only the most recent, so you can ask for the version you want and you'll get it. As mentioned above the repo must be enabled on the command line.

$ sudo dnf install --enablerepo=kubernetes \

Configure and start services

kubelet needs some configuration, my git repo with the config files has this:

$ cat /etc/sysconfig/kubelet
KUBELET_EXTRA_ARGS=--cgroup-driver=systemd --fail-swap-on=false

Asking kubelet to delegate all cgroups work to systemd is needed to make kubelet work with cgroups v2. With that in place we can reload the configuration and start the services:

$ sudo systemctl daemon-reload
$ sudo systemctl enable --now crio
$ sudo systemctl enable --now kubelet

Kubernetes cluster nodes need a few firewall entries so the nodes can speak to each other. I was to lazy to setup all that and just turned off the firewall. The cluster isn't reachable from the internet anyway, so 🤷.

$ sudo systemctl disable --now firewalld

Initialize the control plane node

All the preparing steps up to this point are the same for all cluster nodes. Now we go initialize the control plane node.

$ sudo kubeadm init \
	--pod-network-cidr= \
	--kubernetes-version=${version} \

Picked the network because that happens to be the default network used by cri-o, see /etc/cni/net.d/100-crio-bridge.conf.

This command will take a while. It will pull kubernetes container images from the internet, start them using the kubelet service, and finally initialize the cluster.

kubeadm will write the config file needed to access the cluster with kubectl to /etc/kubernetes/admin.conf. It'll make you cluster root. Kubernetes names this cluster-admin role in the rbac (role based access control) scheme.

For my devel cluster I simply use that file as-is instead of setting up some more advanced user authentication and access control. I place a copy of the file at $HOME/.kube/config (the default location used by kubectl). Copying the file to other machines works, so I can also run kubectl on my laptop or workstation instead of ssh'ing into the control plane node.

Time to run the first kubectl command to see whenever everything worked:

$ kubectl get nodes
NAME                        STATUS   ROLES                  AGE   VERSION
k8s-node1.home.kraxel.org   Ready    control-plane,master   5m    v1.21.1

Yay! First milestone.

Side note: single node cluster

By default kubeadm init adds a taint to the control plane node so kubernetes wouldn't schedule pods there:

$ kubectl describe node k8s-node1.home.kraxel.org | grep NoSchedule
Taints:             node-role.kubernetes.io/master:NoSchedule

If you want go for a single node cluster all you have to do is remove that taint so kubernetes will schedule and run your pods directly on your new and shiny control plane node. The magic words for that are:

$ kubectl taint nodes --all node-role.kubernetes.io/master-

Done. You can start playing with the cluster now.

If you want add one or more worker nodes to the cluster instead, then watch kubernetes distribute the load, read on ...

Initialize worker nodes

The worker nodes need a bootstrap token to authenticate when they want join the cluster. The kubeadm init command creates a token and will also print the kubeadm join command needed to join. If you don't have that any more, no problem, you can always get the token later using kubeadm token list. In case the token did expire (they are valid for a day or so) you can create a new one using kubeadm token create. Beside the token kubeadm also needs the hostname and port to be used to connect to the control plane node. Default port for the kubernetes API is 6443, so ...

$ sudo kubeadm join "k8s-node1.home.kraxel.org:6443" \
	--token "${token}" \
	--discovery-token-unsafe-skip-ca-verification \

... and check results:

$ kubectl get nodes
NAME                        STATUS   ROLES                  AGE   VERSION
k8s-node1.home.kraxel.org   Ready    control-plane,master   22m   v1.21.1
k8s-node2.home.kraxel.org   Ready    <none>                 2m    v1.21.1

The node may show up in "NotReady" state for a while when it did register already but didn't complete initialization yet.

Now repeat that procedure on every node you want add to the cluster.

Side note: scripting kubernetes with json

Both kubeadm and kubectl can return the data you ask for in various formats. By default they print a nice, human-readable table to the terminal. But you can also ask for yaml, json and others using the -o or --output switch. Specifically json is very useful for scripting, you can pipe the output through the jq utility (you might have noticed this in the list of packages to install at the start of this blog post) to fish out the items you actually need.

For starters two simple examples. You can get the raw bootstrap token this way:

$ kubeadm token list -o json | jq -r .token

Or check out some node details:

$ kubectl get node k8s-node1.home.kraxel.org -o json | jq .status.nodeInfo
  "architecture": "amd64",
  "bootID": "a18dcad0-3427-4a12-a238-7b815fe45ea0",
  "containerRuntimeVersion": "cri-o://1.19.0-dev",
  "kernelVersion": "5.12.9-300.fc34.x86_64",
  "kubeProxyVersion": "v1.21.1",
  "kubeletVersion": "v1.21.1",
  "machineID": "a2b3a7ba9ec54b2d84b66d70156702d2",
  "operatingSystem": "linux",
  "osImage": "Fedora 34 (Thirty Four)",
  "systemUUID": "7f4854c4-2b92-4fea-9bb7-3d28537af675"

There are way more possible use cases. When reading config and patch files kubectl likewise accepts both yaml and json as input.

Pod networking with flannel

There is one more basic thing to setup: Install a network fabric to get the pod network going. This is needed to allow pods running on different cluster nodes to talk to each other. When running a single node cluster this can be skipped.

There are a bunch of different solutions out there, I've settled for flannel in "host-gw" mode. First download kube-flannel.yml from github. Then tweak the configuration: Make sure the network matches the pod network passed to kubeadm init, and change the backend. Here are the changes I've made:

--- kube-flannel.yml	2021-04-26 11:15:09.820696429 +0200
+++ kube-flannel-local.yml	2021-04-26 11:15:18.403551923 +0200
@@ -125,9 +125,9 @@
   net-conf.json: |
-      "Network": "",
+      "Network": "",
       "Backend": {
-        "Type": "vxlan"
+        "Type": "host-gw"

Now apply the yaml file to install flannel:

$ kubectl apply -f kube-flannel-local.yml

The flannel pods are created in the kube-system namespace, you can check the status this way:

$ kubectl get pods -n kube-system
NAME                            READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
[ ... ]
kube-flannel-ds-5l7x6           1/1     Running   0          3m
kube-flannel-ds-7xjtz           1/1     Running   0          3m
[ ... ]

Once all pods are up and running your pod network should be working. One nice thing with "host-gw" mode is that this uses standard network routing of the cluster nodes and you can inspect the state with standard linux tools:

$ ip route list | grep 10.85 dev cni0 proto kernel scope link src via dev enp2s0
[ ... ]

Each cluster node gets a /24 subnet of the pod network assigned. The cni0 device is the subnet of the local node. The other subnets are routed to the other cluster nodes. Pretty straight forward.

Rounding up

So, that's it for part one. The internet has tons of kubernetes tutorials and examples which you can try on the cluster now. One good starting point is Kubernetes by example.

My plan for part two of this article series is installing and configuring some useful cluster services, with one of them being ingress which is needed to access your cluster services with a web browser.