Getting Started Using K3s

This guide walks you through installation of Cilium on K3s, a highly available, certified Kubernetes distribution designed for production workloads in unattended, resource-constrained, remote locations or inside IoT appliances.

This guide assumes installation on amd64 architecture. Cilium is presently supported on amd64 architecture with ARM support planned for a future release.

Install a Master Node

The first step is to install a K3s master node making sure to disable support for the default CNI plugin:

curl -sfL | INSTALL_K3S_EXEC='--flannel-backend=none --no-flannel' sh -

Install Agent Nodes (Optional)

K3s can run in standalone mode or as a cluster making it a great choice for local testing with multi-node data paths. Agent nodes are joined to the master node using a node-token which can be found on the master node at /var/lib/rancher/k3s/server/node-token.

Install K3s on agent nodes and join them to the master node making sure to replace the variables with values from your environment:

curl -sfL | INSTALL_K3S_EXEC='--no-flannel' K3S_URL='https://${MASTER_IP}:6443' K3S_TOKEN=${NODE_TOKEN} sh -

Should you encounter any issues during the installation, please refer to the Troubleshooting section and / or seek help on the Slack channel.

Please consult the Kubernetes Requirements for information on how you need to configure your Kubernetes cluster to operate with Cilium.

Mount the BPF Filesystem

On each node, run the following to mount the BPF Filesystem:

sudo mount bpffs -t bpf /sys/fs/bpf

Install Cilium

Install Cilium as DaemonSet into your new Kubernetes cluster. The DaemonSet will automatically install itself as Kubernetes CNI plugin.


quick-install.yaml is a pre-rendered Cilium chart template. The template is generated using helm template command with default configuration parameters without any customization.

In case of installing Cilium with CRIO, please see CRIO instructions.

kubectl create -f


experimental-install.yaml is a pre-rendered Cilium chart template with experimental features enabled. These features may include unreleased or beta features that are not considered production-ready. While it provides a convenient way to try out experimental features, It should only be used in testing environments.

kubectl create -f

Restart unmanaged Pods

If you did not use the nodeinit.restartPods=true in the Helm options when deploying Cilium, then unmanaged pods need to be restarted manually. Restart all already running pods which are not running in host-networking mode to ensure that Cilium starts managing them. This is required to ensure that all pods which have been running before Cilium was deployed have network connectivity provided by Cilium and NetworkPolicy applies to them:

kubectl get pods --all-namespaces -o custom-columns=NAMESPACE:.metadata.namespace,,HOSTNETWORK:.spec.hostNetwork --no-headers=true | grep '<none>' | awk '{print "-n "$1" "$2}' | xargs -L 1 -r kubectl delete pod
pod "event-exporter-v0.2.3-f9c896d75-cbvcz" deleted
pod "fluentd-gcp-scaler-69d79984cb-nfwwk" deleted
pod "heapster-v1.6.0-beta.1-56d5d5d87f-qw8pv" deleted
pod "kube-dns-5f8689dbc9-2nzft" deleted
pod "kube-dns-5f8689dbc9-j7x5f" deleted
pod "kube-dns-autoscaler-76fcd5f658-22r72" deleted
pod "kube-state-metrics-7d9774bbd5-n6m5k" deleted
pod "l7-default-backend-6f8697844f-d2rq2" deleted
pod "metrics-server-v0.3.1-54699c9cc8-7l5w2" deleted

Validate the Installation

You can monitor as Cilium and all required components are being installed:

kubectl -n kube-system get pods --watch
NAME                                    READY   STATUS              RESTARTS   AGE
cilium-operator-cb4578bc5-q52qk         0/1     Pending             0          8s
cilium-s8w5m                            0/1     PodInitializing     0          7s
coredns-86c58d9df4-4g7dd                0/1     ContainerCreating   0          8m57s
coredns-86c58d9df4-4l6b2                0/1     ContainerCreating   0          8m57s

It may take a couple of minutes for all components to come up:

cilium-operator-cb4578bc5-q52qk         1/1     Running   0          4m13s
cilium-s8w5m                            1/1     Running   0          4m12s
coredns-86c58d9df4-4g7dd                1/1     Running   0          13m
coredns-86c58d9df4-4l6b2                1/1     Running   0          13m

Deploy the connectivity test

You can deploy the “connectivity-check” to test connectivity between pods.

kubectl apply -f

It will deploy a series of deployments which will use various connectivity paths to connect to each other. Connectivity paths include with and without service load-balancing and various network policy combinations. The pod name indicates the connectivity variant and the readiness and liveness gate indicates success or failure of the test:

$ kubectl get pods -n cilium-test
NAME                                                    READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
echo-a-6788c799fd-42qxx                                 1/1     Running   0          69s
echo-b-59757679d4-pjtdl                                 1/1     Running   0          69s
echo-b-host-f86bd784d-wnh4v                             1/1     Running   0          68s
host-to-b-multi-node-clusterip-585db65b4d-x74nz         1/1     Running   0          68s
host-to-b-multi-node-headless-77c64bc7d8-kgf8p          1/1     Running   0          67s
pod-to-a-allowed-cnp-87b5895c8-bfw4x                    1/1     Running   0          68s
pod-to-a-b76ddb6b4-2v4kb                                1/1     Running   0          68s
pod-to-a-denied-cnp-677d9f567b-kkjp4                    1/1     Running   0          68s
pod-to-b-intra-node-nodeport-8484fb6d89-bwj8q           1/1     Running   0          68s
pod-to-b-multi-node-clusterip-f7655dbc8-h5bwk           1/1     Running   0          68s
pod-to-b-multi-node-headless-5fd98b9648-5bjj8           1/1     Running   0          68s
pod-to-b-multi-node-nodeport-74bd8d7bd5-kmfmm           1/1     Running   0          68s
pod-to-external-1111-7489c7c46d-jhtkr                   1/1     Running   0          68s
pod-to-external-fqdn-allow-google-cnp-b7b6bcdcb-97p75   1/1     Running   0          68s


If you deploy the connectivity check to a single node cluster, pods that check multi-node functionalities will remain in the Pending state. This is expected since these pods need at least 2 nodes to be scheduled successfully.

Now that you have a Kubernetes cluster with Cilium up and running, you can take a couple of next steps to explore various capabilities: