Installation using Rancher Kubernetes Engine

This guide walks you through installation of Cilium on Rancher Kubernetes Engine, a CNCF-certified Kubernetes distribution that runs entirely within Docker containers. RKE solves the common frustration of installation complexity with Kubernetes by removing most host dependencies and presenting a stable path for deployment, upgrades, and rollbacks.

Install a Cluster Using RKE

The first step is to install a cluster based on the RKE Installation Guide. When creating the cluster, make sure to change the default network plugin in the config.yaml file.


    flannel_backend_type: "vxlan"
  plugin: "canal"


  plugin: none

Deploy Cilium

Install Cilium via helm install:

helm repo add cilium
helm repo update
helm install cilium cilium/cilium --version 1.12.2 \
   --namespace $CILIUM_NAMESPACE

Restart unmanaged Pods

If you did not create a cluster with the nodes tainted with the taint, 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


This may error out on macOS due to -r being unsupported by xargs. In this case you can safely run this command without -r with the symptom that this will hang if there are no pods to restart. You can stop this with ctrl-c.

Validate the Installation

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}

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)

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

Next Steps