Self Hosted On-Premise Kubernetes

  1. Motivation for Kubernetes
    1. Available Resources
      1. Security Groups
        1. kube-node
      2. Bridged Traffic in iptables
  2. Container Runtime
  3. Install kubeadm, kubelet, and kubectl
  4. Initialize the Control Plane Node
    1. Install Calico
    2. Add worker nodes
  5. Deploying a Static Site
    1. Creating a Docker Image
    2. Uploading the Image to a Registry
    3. Deploying to Kubernetes
      1. Defining a Pod
  6. Remarks

Motivation for Kubernetes

Kubernetes (K8s) is an open-source system designed to manage, scale, and deploy containerized applications.
The motivation is scale.
When designed appropriately, an application can have its computation load distributed across multiple machines.
The promise of Kubernetes is to have many containerized applications running on various machines, ranging from cloud infrastructure to local computers (or a hybrid of both), with trivial effort required to update and deploy new applications.
It is a universal abstraction layer that can use any Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider, allowing a developer to create applications using infrastructure-as-code concepts through a standardized API.

Most of the available documentation focuses on deploying applications to existing Kubernetes clusters, relying on Minikube (a single-node cluster running a virtual machine) for local development and testing.
Additionally, the popular way to use Kubernetes is through managed solutions like Google Kubernetes Engine or DigitalOcean Kubernetes.
This arrangement poses two primary disadvantages:

  1. Diagnosing errors that occur between Minikube and the managed cloud Kubernetes service is now abstracted away from you. You have no guarantee that the Minikube behavior accurately reflects the production environment.

  2. Minikube is not intended to be production facing, so using it as the self-hosted cluster for a highly available product is not advised.

I aimed to explore how complex it is to build, run, and maintain a Kubernetes cluster for myself.
I will be following the reference documentation for kubeadm.

My aim is to transition my static website, currently hosted on a single server by nginx in a non-containerized fashion, into something managed by Kubernetes.
I will document my checks, configurations, and issues as I go about this process.

Note: Confusion will be indicated with this visual blockquote. This indicates a step that required backtracking/revision from the reference documentation.

All listed tokens are no longer active as of the publishing of this blog post.

Available Resources

I have three virtual machines that I will be using. I have named them helium, lithium, and beryllium.
The control-plane node will be helium, while lithium and beryllium are worker nodes, making this a single control-plane cluster of two worker nodes.

All three of these VMs are running Ubuntu 18.04 and have been configured according to my server quality of life specification.
All swap partitions have been disabled in the /etc/fstab file, verified by checking swapon --show and seeing no results.
The product uuid is found running sudo cat /sys/class/dmi/id/product_uuid.
The IPV4 addresses are private to the local network, while IPV6 addresses are public.

Hostname VCPUs Disk RAM MAC address IPV4 Address IPV6 Address UUID
beryllium 1 5GB 1GB fa:16:3e:97:2e:68 2605:fd00:4:1001:f816:3eff:fe97:2e68 86513ABD-2710-4CDF-9CC2-FDD9F36961F8
lithium 1 5GB 1GB fa:16:3e:4d:7d:54 2605:fd00:4:1001:f816:3eff:fe4d:7d54 7F9479E7-27A6-4062-AD99-2AEC69EB8E97
helium 2 20GB 2GB fa:16:3e:c7:78:13 2605:fd00:4:1001:f816:3eff:fec7:7813 E9B70618-6793-4671-835F-E2378BA8B5CF

All three virtual machines have the following steps applied to them.

Security Groups

The security groups are configured to the required ports documentation.

As a form of sanity checking, verify that the ports work using netcat. For example nc -l 2379 while on another server echo "Testing Port 2379" | nc <ip> 2379


Although the documentation states that the ports for the worker and control plane nodes can be different, I combined them into one group of rules for simplicity.

Direction Ether Type IP Protocol Port Range Remote IP Prefix Remote Security Group
Ingress IPv4 TCP 2379 - 2380 - kube-node
Ingress IPv6 TCP 2379 - 2380 - kube-node
Ingress IPv4 TCP 6443 - kube-node
Ingress IPv6 TCP 6443 - kube-node
Ingress IPv4 TCP 10250 - 10252 - kube-node
Ingress IPv6 TCP 10250 - 10252 - kube-node
Ingress IPv4 TCP 30000 - 32767 - kube-node
Ingress IPv6 TCP 30000 - 32767 - kube-node

Bridged Traffic in iptables

Load the module br_netfilter and ensure that the following sysctl variables are set.
As this module must be loaded, ensure that it is loaded after boot.

lsmod | grep br_netfilter
# if this returns nothing, make this kernel module on boot
cat <<EOF | sudo tee /etc/modules-load.d/br_netfilter.conf

# load this kernel module
sudo modprobe br_netfilter

The lines for ip forwarding were not part of the original documentation, but required.

cat <<EOF | sudo tee /etc/sysctl.d/k8s.conf
net.bridge.bridge-nf-call-ip6tables = 1
net.bridge.bridge-nf-call-iptables = 1
net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1
net.ipv6.conf.all.forwarding = 1

sudo sysctl --system

Container Runtime

The documentation specified three types of container runtimes to choose from.
I have decided to use the runtime, although the containerd or CRI-O runtimes can also be used.
This must be installed on all nodes.

I had a lot of difficulty getting CRI-O to work, running into cri-o issue#3301 in my first attempt at setting up a cluster. My second attempt started from fresh servers using the default docker runtime.

# (Install Docker CE)
## Set up the repository:
### Install packages to allow apt to use a repository over HTTPS
apt-get update && apt-get install -y \
apt-transport-https ca-certificates curl software-properties-common gnupg2

# Add Docker’s official GPG key:
curl -fsSL | apt-key add -

# Add the Docker apt repository:
add-apt-repository \
"deb [arch=amd64] \
$(lsb_release -cs) \

# Install Docker CE
apt-get update && apt-get install -y \ \
docker-ce=5:19.03.8~3-0~ubuntu-$(lsb_release -cs) \
docker-ce-cli=5:19.03.8~3-0~ubuntu-$(lsb_release -cs)

# Set up the Docker daemon
cat > /etc/docker/daemon.json <<EOF
"exec-opts": ["native.cgroupdriver=systemd"],
"log-driver": "json-file",
"log-opts": {
"max-size": "100m"
"storage-driver": "overlay2"

mkdir -p /etc/systemd/system/docker.service.d

# Restart Docker
systemctl daemon-reload
systemctl restart docker

When inspecting the output of systemctl status docker, kernel does not support swap memory limit, cgroup rt period, and cgroup rt runtime warnings appeared:

● docker.service - Docker Application Container Engine
Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/docker.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
Active: active (running) since Tue 2020-06-09 21:40:10 UTC; 10min ago
Main PID: 3950 (dockerd)
Tasks: 10
CGroup: /system.slice/docker.service
└─3950 /usr/bin/dockerd -H fd:// --containerd=/run/containerd/containerd.sock

Jun 09 21:40:10 helium dockerd[3950]: time="2020-06-09T21:40:10.345976523Z" level=warning msg="Your kernel does not support swap memory limit"
Jun 09 21:40:10 helium dockerd[3950]: time="2020-06-09T21:40:10.346027949Z" level=warning msg="Your kernel does not support cgroup rt period"
Jun 09 21:40:10 helium dockerd[3950]: time="2020-06-09T21:40:10.346038318Z" level=warning msg="Your kernel does not support cgroup rt runtime"
Jun 09 21:40:10 helium dockerd[3950]: time="2020-06-09T21:40:10.346945181Z" level=info msg="Loading containers: start."
Jun 09 21:40:10 helium dockerd[3950]: time="2020-06-09T21:40:10.490767608Z" level=info msg="Default bridge (docker0) is assigned with an IP address Daemon option --bip can be used to set a preferred IP address"
Jun 09 21:40:10 helium dockerd[3950]: time="2020-06-09T21:40:10.642315645Z" level=info msg="Loading containers: done."
Jun 09 21:40:10 helium dockerd[3950]: time="2020-06-09T21:40:10.690425595Z" level=info msg="Docker daemon" commit=afacb8b7f0 graphdriver(s)=overlay2 version=19.03.8
Jun 09 21:40:10 helium dockerd[3950]: time="2020-06-09T21:40:10.691112283Z" level=info msg="Daemon has completed initialization"
Jun 09 21:40:10 helium systemd[1]: Started Docker Application Container Engine.
Jun 09 21:40:10 helium dockerd[3950]: time="2020-06-09T21:40:10.721791596Z" level=info msg="API listen on /var/run/docker.sock"

All my virtual machines are currently running Linux 4.15.0-101-generic as the kernel.
I am ignoring these errors for the time being.

Install kubeadm, kubelet, and kubectl

These three packages must be installed on all of the machines.

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -y apt-transport-https curl
curl -s | sudo apt-key add -
cat <<EOF | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/kubernetes.list
deb kubernetes-xenial main

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y kubelet kubeadm kubectl
sudo apt-mark hold kubelet kubeadm kubectl
kubelet --version
# Kubernetes v1.18.3

kubectl version
# Client Version: version.Info{Major:"1", Minor:"18", GitVersion:"v1.18.3", GitCommit:"2e7996e3e2712684bc73f0dec0200d64eec7fe40", GitTreeState:"clean", BuildDate:"2020-05-20T12:52:00Z", GoVersion:"go1.13.9", Compiler:"gc", Platform:"linux/amd64"}

kubeadm version
# kubeadm version: &version.Info{Major:"1", Minor:"18", GitVersion:"v1.18.3", GitCommit:"2e7996e3e2712684bc73f0dec0200d64eec7fe40", GitTreeState:"clean", BuildDate:"2020-05-20T12:49:29Z", GoVersion:"go1.13.9", Compiler:"gc", Platform:"linux/amd64"}

Initialize the Control Plane Node

These commands only need to be done on the control plane node helium.

kubeadm init \
--apiserver-advertise-address=2605:fd00:4:1001:f816:3eff:fec7:7813 \
--pod-network-cidr= \

After a few moments, I was presented with a successful control-plane initialization message.

Your Kubernetes control-plane has initialized successfully!

To start using your cluster, you need to run the following as a regular user:

mkdir -p $HOME/.kube
sudo cp -i /etc/kubernetes/admin.conf $HOME/.kube/config
sudo chown $(id -u):$(id -g) $HOME/.kube/config

You should now deploy a pod network to the cluster.
Run "kubectl apply -f [podnetwork].yaml" with one of the options listed at:

You can now join any number of control-plane nodes by copying certificate authorities
and service account keys on each node and then running the following as root:

kubeadm join --token <private_token> \
--discovery-token-ca-cert-hash sha256:<private_hash> \

Then you can join any number of worker nodes by running the following on each as root:

kubeadm join --token <private_token> \
--discovery-token-ca-cert-hash sha256:<private_hash>

Install Calico

I ran the above steps for my regular user. As a non-sudo user, I installed the Calico pod network.

kubectl apply -f
configmap/calico-config created created created created created created created created created created created created created created created created created created created
daemonset.apps/calico-node created
serviceaccount/calico-node created
deployment.apps/calico-kube-controllers created
serviceaccount/calico-kube-controllers created

Add worker nodes

Afterwards, I logged into my two worker virtual machines and ran the join command (as root).

# On Beryllium and Lithium
kubeadm join --token <private_token> \
--discovery-token-ca-cert-hash sha256:<private_hash>

I have verified that my cluster is operational.

# On Helium
kubectl get nodes
beryllium Ready <none> 51s v1.18.3
helium Ready master 7m14s v1.18.3
lithium Ready <none> 65s v1.18.3

Deploying a Static Site

I will be using my existing site to deploy to my new cluster.

When running hugo, a directory containing the public facing production site is available at public.

Creating a Docker Image

I created a Dockerfile at the root directory.

FROM nginx
COPY public/ /usr/share/nginx/html

Afterwards, run docker build . -t udia/ to create a docker image.
This docker image contains the base nginx web server as well as the compiled public facing website.

Verify that this works by running the image locally.

docker run -p 8080:80 udia/

Visiting localhost:8080 should serve your static site.

Uploading the Image to a Registry

Now that a docker image has been created, we need to upload this image to a registry.
I will be using Dockerhub, but any registry would work.

# within the project root directory
docker push udia/

Visiting, I see that a new image has been uploaded.

Deploying to Kubernetes

Defining a Pod

A Kubernetes pod is a group of one or more containers (e.g. Docker), with shared network, storage, and a specification for how to run the containers.

Create a file named blog-deployment.yml that will be used to create a pod on the cluster.

apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
app: nginx
name: udia-ca-blog
replicas: 3
app: nginx
app: nginx
- env:
image: udia/
imagePullPolicy: Always
name: blog
- containerPort: 80

A deployment can be created by running the following command.

kubectl apply -f blog-deployment.yml

Expose this deployment as a service by running the following command:

kubectl expose deployment udia-ca-blog --type=LoadBalancer --port=80

You now have the a static site hosted using Kubernetes.


It was very involved trying to setup Kubernetes to do such a simple task.
Choosing the incorrect container runtime or pod network addon will cause additional headaches that require specialized knowledge to fix.
Minor deviations from the default installation path are punishingly difficult to resolve.
There is sparse unofficial documentation and outdated blog posts outlining how to setup Kubernetes to use Let’s Encrypt for SSL certificates.
The approach that I have defined needs multiple virtual machines and the docker registry to deploy, making it a more complicated/over-engineered solution for a simple static site.

For the time being, I will remain with a single VM running nginx to handle my static site needs.
If horizontal scaling is required, I will likely use a DNS load balancer to multiple VMs all hosting the same content.
Although I do see value in the promise of Kubernetes, for my use case, it is not a solution I currently feel comfortable depending on.