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KubeInvaders - Gamified Chaos Engineering Tool for Kubernetes

Authors Eugenio Marzo, Sourcesense

Some months ago, I released my latest project called KubeInvaders. The first time I shared it with the community was during an Openshift Commons Briefing session. Kubenvaders is a Gamified Chaos Engineering tool for Kubernetes and Openshift and helps test how resilient your Kubernetes cluster is, in a fun way.

It is like Space Invaders, but the aliens are pods.

During my presentation at Codemotion Milan 2019, I started saying "of course you can do it with few lines of Bash, but it is boring."

Using the code above you can kill random pods across a Kubernetes cluster, but I think it is much more fun with the spaceship of KubeInvaders.

I published the code at and there is a little community that is growing gradually. Some people love to use it for demo sessions killing pods on a big screen.

How to install KubeInvaders

I defined multiples modes to install it:

  1. Helm Chart

  2. Manual Installation for Openshift using a template

  3. Manual Installation for Kubernetes

The preferred way, of course, is with a Helm chart:

# Please set target_namespace to set your target namespace!
helm install --set-string target_namespace="namespace1,namespace2" \
--name kubeinvaders --namespace kubeinvaders ./helm-charts/kubeinvaders

How to use KubeInvaders

Once it is installed on your cluster you can use the following functionalities:

  • Key 'a' — Switch to automatic pilot
  • Key 'm' — Switch to manual pilot
  • Key 'i' — Show pod's name. Move the ship towards an alien
  • Key 'h' — Print help
  • Key 'n' — Jump between different namespaces (my favorite feature!)

Tuning KubeInvaders

At Codemotion Milan 2019, my colleagues and I organized a desk with a game station for playing KubeInvaders. People had to fight with Kubernetes to win a t-shirt.

If you have pods that require a few seconds to start, you may lose. It is possible to set the complexity of the game with these parameters as environmment variables in the Kubernetes deployment:

  • ALIENPROXIMITY — Reduce this value to increase the distance between aliens;
  • HITSLIMIT — Seconds of CPU time to wait before shooting;
  • UPDATETIME — Seconds to wait before updating pod status (you can set also 0.x Es: 0.5);

The result is a harder game experience against the machine.

Use cases

Adopting chaos engineering strategies for your production environment is really useful, because it is the only way to test if a system supports unexpected destructive events.

KubeInvaders is a game — so please do not take it too seriously! — but it demonstrates some important use cases:

  • Test how resilient Kubernetes clusters are on unexpected pod deletion
  • Collect metrics like pod restart time
  • Tune readiness probes

Next steps

I want to continue to add some cool features and integrate it into a Kubernetes dashboard because I am planning to transform it into a "Gamified Chaos Engineering and Development Tool for Kubernetes", to help developer to interact with deployments in a Kubernetes environment. For example:

  • Point to the aliens to get pod logs
  • Deploy Helm charts by shooting some particular objects
  • Read messages stored in a specific label present in a deployment

Please feel free to contribute to and stay updated following #kubeinvaders news on Twitter.