How to get started, and achieve tasks, using Kubernetes

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VMware Photon Controller

The example below creates a Kubernetes cluster using VMware’s Photon Controller. The cluster will have one Kubernetes master and three Kubernetes nodes.


  1. You need administrator access to a VMware Photon Controller deployment. (Administrator access is only required for the initial setup: the actual creation of the cluster can be done by anyone.)

  2. The Photon Controller CLI needs to be installed on the machine on which you’ll be running kube-up. If you have go installed, this can be easily installed with:

go get
  1. mkisofs needs to be installed. The installation process creates a CD-ROM ISO image to bootstrap the VMs with cloud-init. If you are on a Mac, you can install this with brew:
brew install cdrtools
  1. Several common tools need to be installed: ssh, scp, openssl

  2. You should have an ssh public key installed. This will be used to give you access to the VM’s user account, kube.

  3. Get or build a binary release

Download VM Image

Download a prebuilt Debian 8.2 VMDK that we’ll use as a base image:

curl --remote-name-all

This is a base Debian 8.2 image with the addition of:

Configure Photon Controller:

In order to deploy Kubernetes, you need to configure Photon Controller with:

When you do this, you’ll need to configure the cluster/photon-controller/ file with the names of the tenant, project, flavors, and image.

If you prefer, you can use the provided cluster/photon-controller/ script to create these. Assuming the IP address of your Photon Controller is (change as appropriate) and the downloaded image is kube.vmdk, you can run:

photon target set
photon target login ...credentials...
cluster/photon-controller/ kube.vmdk

The script will create the tenant, project, flavors, and image based on the same configuration file used by kube-up: cluster/photon-controller/ Note that it will create a resource ticket which limits how many VMs a tenant can create. You will want to change the resource ticket configuration in based on your actual Photon Controller deployment.

Configure kube-up

There are two files used to configure kube-up’s interaction with Photon Controller:

  1. cluster/photon-controller/ has the most common parameters, including the names of the tenant, project, and image.

  2. cluster/photon-controller/ has more advanced parameters including the IP subnets to use, the number of nodes to create and which Kubernetes components to configure.

Both files have documentation to explain the different parameters.

Creating your Kubernetes cluster

To create your Kubernetes cluster we will run the standard kube-up command. As described above, the parameters that control kube-up’s interaction with Photon Controller are specified in files, not on the command-line.

The time to deploy varies based on the number of nodes you create as well as the specifications of your Photon Controller hosts and network. Times vary from 10 - 30 minutes for a ten node cluster.

KUBERNETES_PROVIDER=photon-controller cluster/

Once you have successfully reached this point, your Kubernetes cluster works just like any other.

Note that kube-up created a Kubernetes configuration file for you in ~/.kube/config. This file will allow you to use the kubectl command. It contains the IP address of the Kubernetes master as well as the password for the admin user. If you wish to use the Kubernetes web-based user interface you will need this password. In the config file you’ll see a section that look like the following: you use the password there. (Note that the output has been trimmed: the certificate data is much lengthier)

- name: photon-kubernetes
    client-certificate-data: Q2Vyd...
    client-key-data: LS0tL...
    password: PASSWORD-HERE
    username: admin

Removing your Kubernetes cluster

The recommended way to remove your Kubernetes cluster is with the kube-down command:

KUBERNETES_PROVIDER=photon-controller cluster/

Your Kubernetes cluster is just a set of VMs: you can manually remove them if you need to.

Making services publicly accessible

There are multiple ways to make services publicly accessible in Kubernetes. Currently, the photon-controller support does not yet include built-in support for the LoadBalancer option.

Option 1: NodePort

One option is to use the NodePort option with a manually deployed balancer. Specifically:

Configure your service with the NodePort option. For example, this service uses the NodePort option. All Kubernetes nodes will listen on a port and forward network traffic to any pods in the service. In this case, Kubernets will choose a random port, but it will be the same port on all nodes.

apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
  name: nginx-demo-service
    app: nginx-demo
  type: NodePort
  - port: 80
    protocol: TCP
    name: http
    app: nginx-demo

Next, create a new standalone VM (or VMs, for high availability) to act as a load balancer. For example, if you use haproxy, you could make a configuration similar to the one below. Note that this example assumes there are three Kubernetes nodes: you would adjust the configuration to reflect the actual nodes you have. Also note that port 30144 should be replaced with whatever NodePort was assigned by Kubernetes.

frontend nginx-demo
    bind *:30144
    mode http
    default_backend nodes
backend nodes
    mode http
    balance roundrobin
    option forwardfor
    http-request set-header X-Forwarded-Port %[dst_port]
    http-request add-header X-Forwarded-Proto https if { ssl_fc }
    option httpchk HEAD / HTTP/1.1\r\nHost:localhost
    server web0 check
    server web1 check
    server web2 check

Option 2: Ingress Controller

Using an ingress controller may also be an appropriate solution. Note that it in a production environment it will also require an external load balancer. However, it may be simpler to manage because it will not require you to manually update the load balancer configuration, as above.


Logging into VMs

When the VMs are created, a kube user is created (using cloud-init). The password for the kube user is the same as the administrator password for your Kubernetes master and can be found in your Kubernetes configuration file: see above to find it. The kube user will also authorize your ssh public key to log in. This is used during installation to avoid the need for passwords.

The VMs do have a root user, but ssh to the root user is disabled.


The Kubernetes cluster uses kube-proxy to configure the overlay network with iptables. Currently we do not support other overlay networks such as Weave or Calico.

Support Level

IaaS Provider Config. Mgmt OS Networking Docs Conforms Support Level
Vmware Photon Saltstack Debian OVS docs   Community (@alainroy)


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