Adventures with a home Kubernetes cluster

Original author: Marshall Brekka
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Note trans. : The author of the article, Marshall Brekka, is holding the position of director for systems design at, which offers its application for car leasing. In his free time from work, he likes to apply his extensive experience to solve “domestic” tasks that are unlikely to surprise any geek (therefore, the question “Why?” - applied to the actions described later - is a priori omitted). So, in its publication, Marshall shares the results of the recent deployment of Kubernetes on ... ARM boards.

Like many other geeks, over the past years I have accumulated a variety of development boards like Raspberry Pi. And like many geeks, they were gathering dust on the shelves with the idea that they would someday come in handy. And for me, this day has finally come!

During the winter holidays, there were several weeks out of work, within which there was enough time to inventory all accumulated iron and decide what to do with it. Here is what I had:

  • 5-disk RAID enclosure with USB3 connection;
  • Raspberry Pi Model B (OG model);
  • CubbieBoard 1;
  • Banana Pi M1;
  • HP netbook (2012?).

Of the 5 listed iron components, I used perhaps RAID and a netbook as a temporary NAS. However, due to the lack of USB3 support in the netbook, RAID didn’t use all the speed potential.

Life goals

Since working with RAID was not optimal when using a netbook, I set myself the following goals to get the best configuration:

  1. NAS with USB3 and gigabit ethernet;
  2. the best way to manage software on a device;
  3. (bonus) the ability to stream multimedia content from RAID to Fire TV.

Since none of the available devices supported USB3 and gigabit ethernet, unfortunately, I had to make additional purchases. The choice fell on the board ROC-RK3328-CC . She had all the necessary specifications and sufficient support for operating systems.

Having solved my hardware needs (and awaiting the arrival of this solution), I switched to the second goal.

Software management on the device

Part of my past projects related to development boards failed due to insufficient attention to reproducibility and documentation issues. When creating a new configuration for my current needs, I did not bother to write down either the steps taken or the links to the publications on the blogs I followed. And when, after months or years, something went wrong and I tried to fix the problem, I did not have an understanding of how everything was originally arranged.

So I told myself that this time everything will be different!

And he turned to what I know well enough - to Kubernetes.

Although K8s is too hard a solution to a rather simple problem, after almost three years of managing clusters using various tools (own, kops, etc.) in my main job, I am very familiar with this system. In addition, deploying K8s outside the cloud environment, and even on ARM devices, all this seemed to be an interesting task.

I also thought that since the available hardware does not satisfy the necessary requirements for the NAS, I will try to at least assemble a cluster from it and, possibly, some software that is not so demanding of resources will be able to work on older devices.

Kubernetes on ARM

At work, I did not have the opportunity to use the utility kubeadmto deploy clusters, so I decided that now is the time to try it in action.

Raspbian was chosen as the operating system because it is famous for better support of the boards I have.

I found a good article on setting up Kubernetes on Raspberry Pi using HypriotOS. Since I was not sure about the availability of HypriotOS for all of my boards, I adapted these instructions for Debian / Raspbian.

Required components

For a start, the installation of the following tools was required:

  • Docker,
  • kubelet
  • kubeadm
  • kubectl.

The docker should be installed using a special script — the convenience script (as indicated for the Raspbian use case).

curl -fsSL -o
sudo sh

After that, I installed the Kubernetes components according to the instructions from the Hypriot blog, adapting them so that specific dependencies are used for all dependencies:

curl -s | apt-key add -
echo"deb kubernetes-xenial main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/kubernetes.list
apt-get update
apt-get install -y kubelet=1.13.1-00 kubectl=1.13.1-00 kubeadm=1.13.1-00

Raspberry pi b

The first difficulty arose when trying to bootstrap a cluster on a Raspberry Pi B:

$ kubeadm init
Illegal instruction

It turned out that the support for ARMv6 had been removed from Kubernetes . Well, I also have CubbieBoard and Banana Pi.

Banana pi

Initially it seemed that the same sequence of actions for the Banana Pi would be more successful, but the team kubeadm initended with a timeout when trying to wait for the control plane to work:

error execution phase wait-control-plane: couldn't initialize a Kubernetes cluster

Finding out with the help of docker pswhat was happening with the containers, I saw that and kube-controller-manager, and kube-schedulerhad already been working for at least 4-5 minutes, but kube-api-serverhad risen only 1-2 minutes ago:

$ docker ps
CONTAINER ID   COMMAND                  CREATED              STATUS           
de22427ad594   "kube-apiserver --au…"   About a minute ago   Up About a minute
dc2b70dd803e   "kube-scheduler --ad…"   5 minutes ago        Up 5 minutes     
60b6cc418a66   "kube-controller-man…"   5 minutes ago        Up 5 minutes     
1e1362a9787c   "etcd --advertise-cl…"   5 minutes ago        Up 5 minutes

Obviously, he api-serverdied or the strontium process killed and restarted him.

While checking the logs, I saw very standard start-up procedures — there was a record of the start of listening to the safe port and a long pause before the appearance of numerous errors in TLS handshakes:

20:06:48.604881  naming_controller.go:284] Starting NamingConditionController
20:06:48.605031  establishing_controller.go:73] Starting EstablishingController
20:06:50.791098  log.go:172] http: TLS handshake error from EOF
20:06:51.797710  log.go:172] http: TLS handshake error from EOF
20:06:51.971690  log.go:172] http: TLS handshake error from EOF
20:06:51.990556  log.go:172] http: TLS handshake error from EOF
20:06:52.374947  log.go:172] http: TLS handshake error from EOF
20:06:52.612617  log.go:172] http: TLS handshake error from EOF
20:06:52.748668  log.go:172] http: TLS handshake error from EOF

And soon after this, the server is shutting down. Googling has led to this problem , indicating a possible reason for the slow operation of cryptographic algorithms on some ARM devices.

I went ahead and thought that maybe it api-servergets too many repeated requests from schedulerand controller-manager.

Extracting these files from the manifest directory will tell kubelet to stop the execution of the corresponding pods:

mkdir /etc/kubernetes/manifests.bak
mv /etc/kubernetes/manifests/kube-scheduler.yaml /etc/kubernetes/manifests.bak/
mv /etc/kubernetes/manifests/kube-controller-mananger.yaml /etc/kubernetes/manifests.bak/

A review of the latest logs api-servershowed that the process now went on, but still died after about 2 minutes. Then I remembered that the manifesto could contain liveness tests with timeouts that are too low for such a slow device.

Therefore, I checked /etc/kubernetes/manifests/kube-api-server.yaml- and in it, of course ...

  failureThreshold: 8
    path: /healthz
    port: 6443
    scheme: HTTPS
  initialDelaySeconds: 15
  timeoutSeconds: 15

Pod was killed after 135 seconds ( initialDelaySeconds+ timeoutSeconds* failureThreshold). Increase the value initialDelaySecondsto 120 ...

Success! Well, errors in the handshakes still occur (presumably from the kubelet), but the launch still took place:

20:06:54.957236  log.go:172] http: TLS handshake error from EOF
20:06:55.004865  log.go:172] http: TLS handshake error from EOF
20:06:55.118343  log.go:172] http: TLS handshake error from EOF
20:06:55.252586  cache.go:39] Caches are synced for autoregister controller
20:06:55.253907  cache.go:39] Caches are synced for APIServiceRegistrationController controller
20:06:55.545881  controller_utils.go:1034] Caches are synced for crd-autoregister controller
20:06:58.921689  storage_rbac.go:187] created
20:06:59.049373  storage_rbac.go:187] created
20:06:59.214321  storage_rbac.go:187] created

When I api-servergot up, I moved the YAML files for the controller and scheduler back to the manifests directory, after which they also started normally.

Now it's time to make sure that the download will pass successfully if you leave all the files in the source directory: is it enough just to change the allowable delay in initialization livenessProbe?

20:29:33.306983  reflector.go:134] Failed to list *v1.Service: Get dial tcp i/o timeout
20:29:33.434541  reflector.go:134] Failed to list *v1.ReplicationController: Get dial tcp i/o timeout
20:29:33.435799  reflector.go:134] Failed to list *v1.PersistentVolume: Get dial tcp i/o timeout
20:29:33.477405  reflector.go:134] Failed to list *v1beta1.PodDisruptionBudget: Get dial tcp i/o timeout
20:29:33.493660  reflector.go:134] Failed to list *v1.PersistentVolumeClaim: Get dial tcp i/o timeout
20:29:37.974938  controller_utils.go:1027] Waiting for caches to sync for scheduler controller
20:29:38.078558  controller_utils.go:1034] Caches are synced for scheduler controller
20:29:38.078867  leaderelection.go:205] attempting to acquire leader lease  kube-system/kube-scheduler
20:29:38.291875  leaderelection.go:214] successfully acquired lease kube-system/kube-scheduler

Yes, everything works, although such old devices, apparently, were not intended to launch the control plane, since repeated TLS connections cause significant brakes. One way or another - the working installation of K8s on ARM is received! Let's go further ...

RAID mounting

Since SD cards are not suitable for writing in the long term, for the most volatile parts of the file system, I decided to use more reliable storage — in this case, RAID. On it were divided into 4 sections:

  • 50 GB;
  • 2 × 20 GB;
  • 3.9 TB.

I haven’t yet come up with a specific purpose for 20 GB partitions, but I wanted to leave additional possibilities for the future.

In the file /etc/fstabfor a partition with 50 GB, the mount point was specified as /mnt/root, and for 3.9 TB - /mnt/raid. After that, I mounted the directories with etcd and docker to the 50 GB partition:

UUID=655a39e8-9a5d-45f3-ae14-73b4c5ed50c3 /mnt/root ext4 defaults,rw,user,auto,exec 0 0
UUID=0633df91-017c-4b98-9b2e-4a0d27989a5c /mnt/raid ext4 defaults,rw,user,auto 0 0
/mnt/root/var/lib/etcd /var/lib/etcd none defaults,bind 0 0
/mnt/root/var/lib/docker /var/lib/docker none defaults,bind 0 0

Arrival ROC-RK3328-CC

When the new board was delivered, I installed the necessary components for K8s (see the beginning of the article) and launched it kubeadm init. A few minutes of waiting - success and output of the command jointo run on other nodes.

Fine! No fuss with timeouts.

And since RAID will also be used on this board, the mount setting will be required again. To summarize all the steps:

1. Mount disks in / etc / fstab

UUID=655a39e8-9a5d-45f3-ae14-73b4c5ed50c3 /mnt/root ext4 defaults,rw,user,auto,exec 0 0
UUID=0633df91-017c-4b98-9b2e-4a0d27989a5c /mnt/raid ext4 defaults,rw,user,auto 0 0
/mnt/root/var/lib/etcd /var/lib/etcd none defaults,bind 0 0
/mnt/root/var/lib/docker /var/lib/docker none defaults,bind 0 0

2. Installing Docker and K8s binaries

curl -fsSL -o
sudo sh

curl -s | apt-key add -
echo"deb kubernetes-xenial main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/kubernetes.list
apt-get update
apt-get install -y kubelet=1.13.1-00 kubectl=1.13.1-00 kubeadm=1.13.1-00

3. Configure a unique host name (important because many nodes are added)

hostnamectl set-hostname k8s-master-1

4. Initializing Kubernetes

I omit the phase with control plane, because I want to be able to plan normal pods on this node:

kubeadm init --skip-phases mark-control-plane

5. Installing Network Plugin

The information about this in the Hypriot article was a bit outdated, since the Weave network plugin is now also supported on ARM :

export KUBECONFIG=/etc/kubernetes/admin.conf
kubectl apply -f "$(kubectl version | base64 | tr -d '\n')"

6. Adding Node Labels

On this site, I’m going to start the NAS server, so I’ll mark it with labels for future use in the scheduler:

kubectl label nodes k8s-master-1
kubectl label nodes k8s-master-1

Connect other nodes to the cluster

Setting up other devices (Banana Pi, CubbieBoard) was just as easy. For them, you need to repeat the first 3 steps (by changing the settings for mounting disks / flash-media depending on their availability) and execute the command kubeadm joininstead kubeadm init.

Finding Docker Containers for ARM

Building most of the necessary Docker containers normally runs on a Mac, but for ARM everything is somewhat more complicated. Having found many articles on how to use QEMU for this purpose, I still came to the conclusion that most of the applications I need are already assembled, and many of them are available on linuxserver .

Next steps

Still not having received the initial configuration of the devices in such an automated / scripted form, as we would like, I at least compiled a set of basic commands (mount, calls dockerand kubeadm) and documented them in the Git repository. The rest of the applications used also got the YAML configurations for K8s stored in the same repository, so getting the necessary configuration from scratch is now very simple.

In the future, I would like to achieve the following:

  1. make master nodes highly accessible;
  2. add monitoring / notifications to know about failures in any components;
  3. change the DCHP settings of the router to use the DNS server from the cluster in order to simplify the detection of applications (who wants to remember the internal IP addresses?);
  4. Run MetalLB to forward cluster services to a private network (DNS, etc.).

PS from translator

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