Installation using Kops

As of kops 1.9 release, Cilium can be plugged into kops-deployed clusters as the CNI plugin. This guide provides steps to create a Kubernetes cluster on AWS using kops and Cilium as the CNI plugin. Note, the kops deployment will automate several deployment features in AWS by default, including AutoScaling, Volumes, VPCs, etc.

Kops offers several out-of-the-box configurations of Cilium including Kubernetes Without kube-proxy, AWS ENI, and dedicated etcd cluster for Cilium. This guide will just go through a basic setup.


  • aws cli

  • kubectl

  • aws account with permissions: * AmazonEC2FullAccess * AmazonRoute53FullAccess * AmazonS3FullAccess * IAMFullAccess * AmazonVPCFullAccess

Installing kops

curl -LO$(curl -s | grep tag_name | cut -d '"' -f 4)/kops-linux-amd64
chmod +x kops-linux-amd64
sudo mv kops-linux-amd64 /usr/local/bin/kops

Setting up IAM Group and User

Assuming you have all the prerequisites, run the following commands to create the kops user and group:

$ # Create IAM group named kops and grant access
$ aws iam create-group --group-name kops
$ aws iam attach-group-policy --policy-arn arn:aws:iam::aws:policy/AmazonEC2FullAccess --group-name kops
$ aws iam attach-group-policy --policy-arn arn:aws:iam::aws:policy/AmazonRoute53FullAccess --group-name kops
$ aws iam attach-group-policy --policy-arn arn:aws:iam::aws:policy/AmazonS3FullAccess --group-name kops
$ aws iam attach-group-policy --policy-arn arn:aws:iam::aws:policy/IAMFullAccess --group-name kops
$ aws iam attach-group-policy --policy-arn arn:aws:iam::aws:policy/AmazonVPCFullAccess --group-name kops
$ aws iam create-user --user-name kops
$ aws iam add-user-to-group --user-name kops --group-name kops
$ aws iam create-access-key --user-name kops

kops requires the creation of a dedicated S3 bucket in order to store the state and representation of the cluster. You will need to change the bucket name and provide your unique bucket name (for example a reverse of FQDN added with short description of the cluster). Also make sure to use the region where you will be deploying the cluster.

$ aws s3api create-bucket --bucket prefix-example-com-state-store --region us-west-2 --create-bucket-configuration LocationConstraint=us-west-2
$ export KOPS_STATE_STORE=s3://prefix-example-com-state-store

The above steps are sufficient for getting a working cluster installed. Please consult kops aws documentation for more detailed setup instructions.

Cilium Prerequisites

  • Ensure the System Requirements are met, particularly the Linux kernel and key-value store versions.

The default AMI satisfies the minimum kernel version required by Cilium, which is what we will use in this guide.

Creating a Cluster

  • Note that you will need to specify the --master-zones and --zones for creating the master and worker nodes. The number of master zones should be * odd (1, 3, …) for HA. For simplicity, you can just use 1 region.

  • To keep things simple when following this guide, we will use a gossip-based cluster. This means you do not have to create a hosted zone upfront. cluster NAME variable must end with k8s.local to use the gossip protocol. If creating multiple clusters using the same kops user, then make the cluster name unique by adding a prefix such as com-company-emailid-.

$ export NAME=com-company-emailid-cilium.k8s.local
$ kops create cluster --state=${KOPS_STATE_STORE} --node-count 3 --topology private --master-zones us-west-2a,us-west-2b,us-west-2c --zones us-west-2a,us-west-2b,us-west-2c --networking cilium --cloud-labels "Team=Dev,Owner=Admin" ${NAME} --yes

You may be prompted to create a ssh public-private key pair.

$ ssh-keygen

(Please see Deleting a Cluster)

Validate the Installation


Make sure you install cilium-cli v0.15.0 or later. The rest of instructions do not work with older versions of cilium-cli. To confirm the cilium-cli version that’s installed in your system, run:

cilium version --client

See Cilium CLI upgrade notes for more details.

Install the latest version of the Cilium CLI. The Cilium CLI can be used to install Cilium, inspect the state of a Cilium installation, and enable/disable various features (e.g. clustermesh, Hubble).

if [ "$(uname -m)" = "aarch64" ]; then CLI_ARCH=arm64; fi
curl -L --fail --remote-name-all${CILIUM_CLI_VERSION}/cilium-linux-${CLI_ARCH}.tar.gz{,.sha256sum}
sha256sum --check cilium-linux-${CLI_ARCH}.tar.gz.sha256sum
sudo tar xzvfC cilium-linux-${CLI_ARCH}.tar.gz /usr/local/bin
rm cilium-linux-${CLI_ARCH}.tar.gz{,.sha256sum}

Clone the Cilium GitHub repository so that the Cilium CLI can access the latest unreleased Helm chart from the main branch:

git clone
cd cilium

To validate that Cilium has been properly installed, you can run

$ cilium status --wait
/¯¯\__/¯¯\    Cilium:         OK
\__/¯¯\__/    Operator:       OK
/¯¯\__/¯¯\    Hubble:         disabled
\__/¯¯\__/    ClusterMesh:    disabled

DaemonSet         cilium             Desired: 2, Ready: 2/2, Available: 2/2
Deployment        cilium-operator    Desired: 2, Ready: 2/2, Available: 2/2
Containers:       cilium-operator    Running: 2
                  cilium             Running: 2
Image versions    cilium    2
                  cilium-operator 2

Run the following command to validate that your cluster has proper network connectivity:

$ cilium connectivity test
ℹ️  Monitor aggregation detected, will skip some flow validation steps
✨ [k8s-cluster] Creating namespace for connectivity check...
📋 Test Report
✅ 69/69 tests successful (0 warnings)


The connectivity test may fail to deploy due to too many open files in one or more of the pods. If you notice this error, you can increase the inotify resource limits on your host machine (see Pod errors due to “too many open files”).

Congratulations! You have a fully functional Kubernetes cluster with Cilium. 🎉

Deleting a Cluster

To undo the dependencies and other deployment features in AWS from the kops cluster creation, use kops to destroy a cluster immediately with the parameter --yes:

$ kops delete cluster ${NAME} --yes

Further reading on using Cilium with Kops

Appendix: Details of kops flags used in cluster creation

The following section explains all the flags used in create cluster command.

  • --state=${KOPS_STATE_STORE} : KOPS uses an S3 bucket to store the state of your cluster and representation of your cluster

  • --node-count 3 : No. of worker nodes in the kubernetes cluster.

  • --topology private : Cluster will be created with private topology, what that means is all masters/nodes will be launched in a private subnet in the VPC

  • --master-zones eu-west-1a,eu-west-1b,eu-west-1c : The 3 zones ensure the HA of master nodes, each belonging in a different Availability zones.

  • --zones eu-west-1a,eu-west-1b,eu-west-1c : Zones where the worker nodes will be deployed

  • --networking cilium : Networking CNI plugin to be used - cilium. You can also use cilium-etcd, which will use a dedicated etcd cluster as key/value store instead of CRDs.

  • --cloud-labels "Team=Dev,Owner=Admin" : Labels for your cluster that will be applied to your instances

  • ${NAME} : Name of the cluster. Make sure the name ends with k8s.local for a gossip based cluster