How to get started, and achieve tasks, using Kubernetes

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Running Kubernetes on rkt

This document describes how to run Kubernetes using rkt as a container runtime. We still have a bunch of work to do to make the experience with rkt wonderful, please stay tuned!


Network Setup

rkt uses the Container Network Interface (CNI) to manage container networking. By default, all pods attempt to join a network called, which is currently defined in rkt.go. In order for pods to get correct IP addresses, the CNI config file must be edited to add this network:

Using flannel

In addition to the basic prerequisites above, each node must be running a flannel daemon. This implies that a flannel-supporting etcd service must be available to the cluster as well, apart from the Kubernetes etcd, which will not yet be available at flannel configuration time. Once it’s running, flannel can be set up with a CNI config like:

$ cat <<EOF >/etc/rkt/net.d/k8s_cluster.conf
    "name": "",
    "type": "flannel"

While k8s_cluster.conf is a rather arbitrary name for the config file itself, and can be adjusted to suit local conventions, the keys and values should be exactly as shown above. name must be and type should be flannel. More details about the flannel CNI plugin can be found in the CNI documentation.


Each VM on GCE has an additional 256 IP addresses routed to it, so it is possible to forego flannel in smaller clusters. This makes the necessary CNI config file a bit more verbose:

$ cat <<EOF >/etc/rkt/net.d/k8s_cluster.conf
    "name": "",
    "type": "bridge",
    "bridge": "cbr0",
    "isGateway": true,
    "ipam": {
        "type": "host-local",
        "subnet": "",
        "gateway": ""
    "routes": [
      { "dst": "" }

This example creates a bridge plugin configuration for the CNI network, specifying the bridge name cbr0. It also specifies the CIDR, in the ipam field.

Creating these files for any moderately-sized cluster is at best inconvenient. Work is in progress to [enable Kubernetes to use the CNI by default] ( As that work matures, such manual CNI config munging will become unnecessary for primary use cases. For early adopters, an initial example shows one way to [automatically generate these CNI configurations] ( for rkt.

Local cluster

To use rkt as the container runtime, we need to supply the following flags to kubelet:

If you are using the hack/ script to launch the local cluster, then you can edit the environment variable CONTAINER_RUNTIME, RKT_PATH and RKT_STAGE1_IMAGE to set these flags:


Then we can launch the local cluster using the script:

$ hack/

CoreOS cluster on Google Compute Engine (GCE)

To use rkt as the container runtime for your CoreOS cluster on GCE, you need to specify the OS distribution, project, image:

$ export KUBE_OS_DISTRIBUTION=coreos
$ export KUBE_GCE_NODE_IMAGE=<image_id>
$ export KUBE_GCE_NODE_PROJECT=coreos-cloud

You can optionally choose the version of rkt used by setting KUBE_RKT_VERSION:

$ export KUBE_RKT_VERSION=0.15.0

Then you can launch the cluster by:

$ cluster/

Note that we are still working on making all containerized the master components run smoothly in rkt. Before that we are not able to run the master node with rkt yet.

CoreOS cluster on AWS

To use rkt as the container runtime for your CoreOS cluster on AWS, you need to specify the provider and OS distribution:

$ export KUBE_OS_DISTRIBUTION=coreos

You can optionally choose the version of rkt used by setting KUBE_RKT_VERSION:

$ export KUBE_RKT_VERSION=0.8.0

You can optionally choose the CoreOS channel by setting COREOS_CHANNEL:

$ export COREOS_CHANNEL=stable

Then you can launch the cluster by:


Note: CoreOS is not supported as the master using the automated launch scripts. The master node is always Ubuntu.

Getting started with your cluster

See a simple nginx example to try out your new cluster.

For more complete applications, please look in the examples directory.

Different UX with rkt container runtime

rkt and Docker have very different designs, as well as ACI and Docker image format. Users might experience some different experience when switching from one to the other. More information can be found here.


Here are several tips for you when you run into any issues.

Check logs

By default, the log verbose level is 2. In order to see more logs related to rkt, we can set the verbose level to 4. For local cluster, we can set the environment variable: LOG_LEVEL=4. If the cluster is using salt, we can edit the logging.sls in the saltbase.

Check rkt pod status

To check the pods’ status, we can use rkt command, such as rkt list, rkt status, rkt image list, etc. More information about rkt command line can be found here

Check journal logs

As we use systemd to launch rkt pods(by creating service files which will run rkt run-prepared, we can check the pods’ log using journalctl:

$ sudo journalctl -u $SERVICE_FILE

where $SERVICE_FILE is the name of the service file created for the pod, you can find it in the kubelet logs.

Check the log of the container in the pod:
$ sudo journalctl -M rkt-$UUID -u $CONTAINER_NAME

where $UUID is the rkt pod’s UUID, which you can find via rkt list --full, and $CONTAINER_NAME is the container’s name.

Check Kubernetes events, logs.

Besides above tricks, Kubernetes also provides us handy tools for debugging the pods. More information can be found here