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Rancher Intro

Rancher Introduction#

Everything Rancher does is free and open source

Rancher sells support to enterprises, all of Cloud Native Foundation is covered.

Challenges that Rancher tries to fix:

  • Deploying consistently across different infrastructure
  • Implement and manage access control across clusters and namespaces
  • Integrating with a central authentication system
  • Partitioning clusters to more efficiently use resources
  • Managing multi-tenancy, mulitple dedicated and shared clusters
  • Make clusters highly available
  • Ensure that security policies are enforced
  • Monitoring

Kubernetes wants to maintain flexibiility it cannot do certain things like:

  • tell you how to authenticate with an identity provider
  • tell you how to do backups
  • how to do cluster replication

We want to spend more time using that platform than working on the platform

Abstracted complex stuff away and consolidated things together and included benefits.

Kubernetes is a commodity, I don’t care where the electricity comes from as long as the lights turn on.

It is a complete container management platform.


Ketchup k3s is a light-weight utility to get from zero to KUBECONFIG on any local or remote VM. Need 512MB RAM to run all of kubernetes.

Using k3s:

  1. Create a VM - take note of ip and add ssh key

  2. Using the local k3sup tool to install kubernetes on the remove

    k3sup install –ip –user

  3. Copy the kubeconfig to a safe place and set the env variable

    export KUBECONFIG=/Users/stephen/kubeconfig/kubeconfig

  4. Ensure port 6443 is open and run kubectl commands

    kubectl get node -o wide

  5. Get pods

    $ kubectl get pods -A NAMESPACE NAME READY STATUS RESTARTS AGE kube-system coredns-66f496764-lrzsq 1/1 Running 0 8m8s kube-system helm-install-traefik-hzhmd 0/1 Completed 0 8m7s kube-system svclb-traefik-qgwr9 3/3 Running 0 7m37s kube-system traefik-d869575c8-2xsb7 1/1 Running 0 7m37s

Kubernetes 101#

Building blocks, that can be assembled into an application:

  • pods
  • deployments
  • services
  • config maps
  • ingress

Everything in kubernetes is written in yaml - they are called manifests


  • Smallest unit that can be deployed in kubernetes
  • Consist of one or more containers always scheduled together
  • Each pod has a unique ip address
  • Containers in a host speak to eachother with localhost

Pods often have 1 container in it

A single unit of functionality - pods are the things that scale when you need more power

Basic Pod Spec#
apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
    name: myapp-prod
        app: myapp
    - name: myapp-container
      image: busybox
      command: ['sh', '-c', 'echo Hello Kubernetes! && sleep 10']

The containers part is important - you tell it the name, the image to run and the command to override the default.

Creating with kubectl you can use:

  • kubectl create
  • kubectl apply

    kubectl apply -f pod.yaml

Unless you specifically tell kubernetes that this pod is going to run once then stop (like a bash command), kubernetes expects that it will continue running.

If it stops and kubernetes does not know why it restarts it - kubernetes will then increase to 2s before restarting then 4s and continue doubling until 10 mins. To prevent excess resource usage on the cluster. A CrashLoopBackoff.

Delete the pod:

kubectl delete po/myapp-pod

You’re never going to create pods as there will be something else managing it

Replica Set#

  • Defined the desired scale and state of a group of pods
  • A replica set will ensure there are a certain number of pods running - so if you lose a node with 4 pods on it - another 4 pods will start on other nodes.
  • Kubernetes works with 2 states: actual state and desired state

Everything you do with kubernetes is telling it the desired state


  • You create this
  • Deployment creates Replice Set, Replica set creates pods
  • Deployment is rolling - you can also roll back


apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
  name: nginx
    app: nginx
    replicas: 3
        app: nginx
          app: nginx
        - name: nginx:1.14-alpine
          - containerPort: 80

metadata - Everything in kubernetes has a label, many labels - key-value pairs. They are used with selectors, since pods and versions can change you tell the replicaset and the deployment what it should be managing.

Best practice is to name things that are related with the same name

kubectl create deploy nginx --image=nginx:1.17-alpine

The better way to do things instead of create yaml by hand

You can view the pod running:

$ kubectl get pods
NAME                    READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
nginx-767868858-5728k   1/1     Running   0          103s

Replica sets:

$ kubectl get rs
nginx-767868858   1         1         1       2m55s


$ kubectl get deploy
nginx   1/1     1            1           3m23s

If we delete that pod, kubernetes will restart it:

$ kubectl delete po/nginx-767868858-5728k
pod "nginx-767868858-5728k" deleted

$ kubectl get pods
NAME                    READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
nginx-767868858-gp96g   1/1     Running   0          18s

We can scale our deployments:

$ kubectl scale deploy/nginx --replicas=3
deployment.extensions/nginx scaled

Now we have 3 replicas:

$ kubectl get pods
NAME                    READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
nginx-767868858-gp96g   1/1     Running   0          96s
nginx-767868858-cs9wg   1/1     Running   0          31s
nginx-767868858-c79th   1/1     Running   0          31s

Image Update and Rollback Scenario#

You can also update the image of a deployment:

We are deliberately spelling this image wrong

kubectl set image deploy/nginx nginx=nginx:1.15-alpne --record

--record means remember the previous state if we need to roll back

You can watch the rollout happen with:

kubectl rollout status deploy/nginx

Kubernetes launches new things before stopping old things by default

You cannot view logs for a pod that never launched

When you want to view what kubernetes sees about objects running inside it, use kubectl describe

$ kubectl get pods
NAME                    READY   STATUS             RESTARTS   AGE
nginx-767868858-gp96g   1/1     Running            0          10m
nginx-767868858-cs9wg   1/1     Running            0          9m28s
nginx-767868858-c79th   1/1     Running            0          9m28s
nginx-fd7f5f55c-jzqzj   0/1     ImagePullBackOff   0          89s

kubectl describe po/nginx-fd7f5f55c-jzqzj

Check under Events:

Warning  Failed     42s (x4 over 2m15s)  kubelet, k3sup     Failed to pull image "nginx:1.15-alpne": rpc error: code = Unknown desc = failed to resolve image "": not found

You can undo the deployment with:

$ kubectl rollout undo deploy/nginx
deployment.extensions/nginx rolled back

Let’s change it a different way:

kubectl edit deploy/nginx

Once you change it and save, the changes are automatically applied to the cluster.

Check the rollout:

$ kubectl rollout status deploy/nginx
deployment "nginx" successfully rolled out

Delete the deployment:

$ kubectl delete deploy/nginx
deployment.extensions "nginx" deleted


  • Creates a DNS entry and stable IP address that refers to a group of pods - a layer 4 load balancer
  • Types:
    • clusterIP - for communication not exposed
    • nodePort - used with external load balancers
    • loadbalancer

On prem and you want to use the loadbalancer service type you want to use MetalLB, an in cluster resource that you give a pool of ip’s. It allocates the ip and arping that ip is on that mac. Only works when you can have multiple ip addresses to a single node - not cloud providers

Also does BGP injection.

apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
    app: nginx
  name: nginx
  - port: 80
    protocol: TCP
    targetPort: 80
    app: nginx
  sessionAffinity: None
  type: ClusterIP

It does it does round robin load balancing you can set session affinity.

$ kubectl apply -f deployment.yaml
deployment.apps/nginx created

Expose the service

kubectl expose deploy/nginx --type=NodePort

View services:

$ kubectl get services
NAME         TYPE        CLUSTER-IP    EXTERNAL-IP   PORT(S)        AGE
kubernetes   ClusterIP     <none>        443/TCP        131m
nginx        NodePort   <none>        80:31612/TCP   33s

Now just ensure that port is open on the firewall on the node and go:


you should see an nginx instance

Services are good for non-HTTP protocols as well. MQTT, database etc.

If you are dealing with HTTP exclusively however you might want to look at ingresses…


  • Define how traffic outside the cluster is routed to inside the cluster
  • Used to expose kubernetes services to the world
  • Route traffic to internal services based on route and path
  • Usually implemented by load balancer (Nginx, HAProxy)

You can use Some nodes as Layer 7 load balancer

An Ingress controller is a software based load balancer like Nginx, HAProxy, Kong, GLuu or Istio.

For example you have a microservices architecture and the following go to different places:

  • /products
  • /store
  • /profile

All of that can sit between a single ingress.

The regular clustIP service is listening on port 80:

$ kubectl get service
kubernetes   ClusterIP      <none>        443/TCP   161m
nginx        ClusterIP   <none>        80/TCP    19m

More information on ingress

apiVersion: extensions/v1beta1
kind: Ingress
  name: single-ingress
  annotations: /
  - host:
      - path: /
          serviceName: nginx
          servicePort: 80

Get Ingresses:

kubectl get ingress

Now that host will work as long as dns points to the node and port 80 is open on the host node.

What do we have#

A deployment

$ kubectl get deploy
nginx   3/3     3            3           53m

In front of that, a service called nginx

$ kubectl get service
kubernetes   ClusterIP      <none>        443/TCP   3h1m
nginx        ClusterIP   <none>        80/TCP    39m

In front of that an ingress

NAME             HOSTS               ADDRESS        PORTS   AGE
single-ingress   80      6m20s

Changing the Image#

kubectl set image deploy/nginx nginx=monachus/rancher-demo:pink --record

Check the rollout

$ kubectl rollout status deploy/nginx
deployment "nginx" successfully rolled out

It is still called nginx, the name of it has nothing to do with what it is running.

$ kubectl get pods
NAME                    READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
nginx-86774cd58-bst6h   1/1     Running   0          57s
nginx-86774cd58-7twqf   1/1     Running   0          46s
nginx-86774cd58-jhgn2   1/1     Running   0          44s

However this container listens on port 8080 not 80 so lets edit the service

kubectl edit service/nginx

Change the targetPort to 8080

k3s runs trafaek as its ingress controller by default. The container uses /ping to get its updates. RTrafaek intercepts /ping to return OK.

Switch the image with:

kubectl set image deploy/nginx nginx=monachus/rancher-demo --record

then scale the deployment:

kubectl scale deploy/nginx --replicas=7

That is the basics of kubernetes:

  • deployments that create pods
  • Services and ingresses

Other things sit on the perifery of that:

  • config maps
  • secrets
  • volumes
  • storage

Deployments deal with stateless traffic - like HTTP.

A database is not stateless…they are important…the master is the master.

Things that matter will use a stateful set. There are also daemon sets which will launch 1 copy of the pod on every node on the cluster. For example your ingress controller on every host node.

Then there are jobs and cron jobs.

Rollout History#

You can get the history of deployments with:

1         <none>
2         kubectl set image deploy/nginx nginx=monachus/rancher-demo:pink --record=true
3         kubectl set image deploy/nginx nginx=monachus/rancher-demo --record=true


Check out the Rancher Installation docs.

Remember you can’t go from a single install to high availability.

Rancher installs by default with self signed certificates


You can connect Rancher to some backend identity providers. * Active Directory * Azure AD * Github * Ping (SAML) * Keycloak (SAML) * AD FS (SAML) * Okta (SAML) * FreeIPA (LDAP) * OpenLDAP (LDAP) * Google

Always have an admin user on Rancher incase auth is down

Full management of Kubernetes role based access control

Kubernetes RBAC is very complicated , rancher makes it easier.

Also have pod security policies (psp) which tell pods whether they can run as root, can they use host based networking and can they run in privileged mode


The package manager for kubernetes is called helm. Rather than creating a readme giving steps to deploy an application you can make it available as a chart.

You can add, remove and activate helm repos

You can’t have 2 deployments called the same thing in a particular namespace. You can have a production, staging and development namespace.

You need RBAC per namespace.

Installing Rancher Single-node#

  1. Install docker on the server
  2. Find the latest stable release
  3. Install it:

    docker run -d –restart=unless-stopped -p 80:80 -p 443:443 -v /opt/rancher:/var/lib/rancher rancher/rancher:v2.3.2

Then add a node locally