Concepts

Detailed explanations of Kubernetes system concepts and abstractions.

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Assigning Pods to Nodes

You can constrain a pod to only be able to run on particular nodes or to prefer to run on particular nodes. There are several ways to do this, and they all use label selectors to make the selection. Generally such constraints are unnecessary, as the scheduler will automatically do a reasonable placement (e.g. spread your pods across nodes, not place the pod on a node with insufficient free resources, etc.) but there are some circumstances where you may want more control on a node where a pod lands, e.g. to ensure that a pod ends up on a machine with an SSD attached to it, or to co-locate pods from two different services that communicate a lot into the same availability zone.

You can find all the files for these examples in our docs repo here.

nodeSelector

nodeSelector is the simplest form of constraint. nodeSelector is a field of PodSpec. It specifies a map of key-value pairs. For the pod to be eligible to run on a node, the node must have each of the indicated key-value pairs as labels (it can have additional labels as well). The most common usage is one key-value pair.

Let’s walk through an example of how to use nodeSelector.

Step Zero: Prerequisites

This example assumes that you have a basic understanding of Kubernetes pods and that you have turned up a Kubernetes cluster.

Step One: Attach label to the node

Run kubectl get nodes to get the names of your cluster’s nodes. Pick out the one that you want to add a label to, and then run kubectl label nodes <node-name> <label-key>=<label-value> to add a label to the node you’ve chosen. For example, if my node name is ‘kubernetes-foo-node-1.c.a-robinson.internal’ and my desired label is ‘disktype=ssd’, then I can run kubectl label nodes kubernetes-foo-node-1.c.a-robinson.internal disktype=ssd.

If this fails with an “invalid command” error, you’re likely using an older version of kubectl that doesn’t have the label command. In that case, see the previous version of this guide for instructions on how to manually set labels on a node.

Also, note that label keys must be in the form of DNS labels (as described in the identifiers doc), meaning that they are not allowed to contain any upper-case letters.

You can verify that it worked by re-running kubectl get nodes --show-labels and checking that the node now has a label.

Step Two: Add a nodeSelector field to your pod configuration

Take whatever pod config file you want to run, and add a nodeSelector section to it, like this. For example, if this is my pod config:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  name: nginx
  labels:
    env: test
spec:
  containers:
  - name: nginx
    image: nginx

Then add a nodeSelector like so:

pod.yaml
apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  name: nginx
  labels:
    env: test
spec:
  containers:
  - name: nginx
    image: nginx
    imagePullPolicy: IfNotPresent
  nodeSelector:
    disktype: ssd

When you then run kubectl create -f pod.yaml, the pod will get scheduled on the node that you attached the label to! You can verify that it worked by running kubectl get pods -o wide and looking at the “NODE” that the pod was assigned to.

Interlude: built-in node labels

In addition to labels you attach yourself, nodes come pre-populated with a standard set of labels. As of Kubernetes v1.4 these labels are

Affinity and anti-affinity

nodeSelector provides a very simple way to constrain pods to nodes with particular labels. The affinity/anti-affinity feature, currently in beta, greatly expands the types of constraints you can express. The key enhancements are

  1. the language is more expressive (not just “AND of exact match”)
  2. you can indicate that the rule is “soft”/”preference” rather than a hard requirement, so if the scheduler can’t satisfy it, the pod will still be scheduled
  3. you can constrain against labels on other pods running on the node (or other topological domain), rather than against labels on the node itself, which allows rules about which pods can and cannot be co-located

The affinity feature consists of two types of affinity, “node affinity” and “inter-pod affinity/anti-affinity.” Node affinity is like the existing nodeSelector (but with the first two benefits listed above), while inter-pod affinity/anti-affinity constrains against pod labels rather than node labels, as described in the third item listed above, in addition to having the first and second properties listed above.

nodeSelector continues to work as usual, but will eventually be deprecated, as node affinity can express everything that nodeSelector can express.

Node affinity (beta feature)

Node affinity was introduced as alpha in Kubernetes 1.2. Node affinity is conceptually similar to nodeSelector – it allows you to constrain which nodes your pod is eligible to schedule on, based on labels on the node.

There are currently two types of node affinity, called requiredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution and preferredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution. You can think of them as “hard” and “soft” respectively, in the sense that the former specifies rules that must be met for a pod to schedule onto a node (just like nodeSelector but using a more expressive syntax), while the latter specifies preferences that the scheduler will try to enforce but will not guarantee. The “IgnoredDuringExecution” part of the names means that, similar to how nodeSelector works, if labels on a node change at runtime such that the affinity rules on a pod are no longer met, the pod will still continue to run on the node. In the future we plan to offer requiredDuringSchedulingRequiredDuringExecution which will be just like requiredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution except that it will evict pods from nodes that cease to satisfy the pods’ node affinity requirements.

Thus an example of requiredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution would be “only run the pod on nodes with Intel CPUs” and an example preferredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution would be “try to run this set of pods in availability zone XYZ, but if it’s not possible, then allow some to run elsewhere”.

Node affinity is specified as field nodeAffinity of field affinity in the PodSpec.

Here’s an example of a pod that uses node affinity:

pod-with-node-affinity.yaml
apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  name: with-node-affinity
spec:
  affinity:
    nodeAffinity:
      requiredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution:
        nodeSelectorTerms:
        - matchExpressions:
          - key: kubernetes.io/e2e-az-name
            operator: In
            values:
            - e2e-az1
            - e2e-az2
      preferredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution:
      - weight: 1
        preference:
          matchExpressions:
          - key: another-node-label-key
            operator: In
            values:
            - another-node-label-value
  containers:
  - name: with-node-affinity
    image: gcr.io/google_containers/pause:2.0

This node affinity rule says the pod can only be placed on a node with a label whose key is kubernetes.io/e2e-az-name and whose value is either e2e-az1 or e2e-az2. In addition, among nodes that meet that criteria, nodes with a label whose key is another-node-label-key and whose value is another-node-label-value should be preferred.

You can see the operator In being used in the example. The new node affinity syntax supports the following operators: In, NotIn, Exists, DoesNotExist, Gt, Lt. There is no explicit “node anti-affinity” concept, but NotIn and DoesNotExist give that behavior.

If you specify both nodeSelector and nodeAffinity, both must be satisfied for the pod to be scheduled onto a candidate node.

For more information on node affinity, see the design doc here.

Inter-pod affinity and anti-affinity (beta feature)

Inter-pod affinity and anti-affinity were introduced in Kubernetes 1.4. Inter-pod affinity and anti-affinity allow you to constrain which nodes your pod is eligible to schedule on based on labels on pods that are already running on the node rather than based on labels on nodes. The rules are of the form “this pod should (or, in the case of anti-affinity, should not) run in an X if that X is already running one or more pods that meet rule Y.” Y is expressed as a LabelSelector with an associated list of namespaces (or “all” namespaces); unlike nodes, because pods are namespaced (and therefore the labels on pods are implicitly namespaced), a label selector over pod labels must specify which namespaces the selector should apply to. Conceptually X is a topology domain like node, rack, cloud provider zone, cloud provider region, etc. You express it using a topologyKey which is the key for the node label that the system uses to denote such a topology domain, e.g. see the label keys listed above in the section Interlude: built-in node labels.

As with node affinity, there are currently two types of pod affinity and anti-affinity, called requiredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution and preferredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution which denote “hard” vs. “soft” requirements. See the description in the node affinity section earlier. An example of requiredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution affinity would be “co-locate the pods of service A and service B in the same zone, since they communicate a lot with each other” and an example preferredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution anti-affinity would be “spread the pods from this service across zones” (a hard requirement wouldn’t make sense, since you probably have more pods than zones).

Inter-pod affinity is specified as field podAffinity of field affinity in the PodSpec. And inter-pod anti-affinity is specified as field podAntiAffinity of field affinity in the PodSpec.

Here’s an example of a pod that uses pod affinity:

pod-with-pod-affinity.yaml
apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  name: with-pod-affinity
spec:
  affinity:
    podAffinity:
      requiredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution:
      - labelSelector:
          matchExpressions:
          - key: security
            operator: In
            values:
            - S1
        topologyKey: failure-domain.beta.kubernetes.io/zone
    podAntiAffinity:
      requiredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution:
      - labelSelector:
          matchExpressions:
          - key: security
            operator: In
            values:
            - S2
        topologyKey: kubernetes.io/hostname
  containers:
  - name: with-pod-affinity
    image: gcr.io/google_containers/pause:2.0

The affinity on this pod defines one pod affinity rule and one pod anti-affinity rule. Both must be satisfied for the pod to schedule onto a node. The pod affinity rule says that the pod can schedule onto a node only if that node is in the same zone as at least one already-running pod that has a label with key “security” and value “S1”. (More precisely, the pod is eligible to run on node N if node N has a label with key failure-domain.beta.kubernetes.io/zone and some value V such that there is at least one node in the cluster with key failure-domain.beta.kubernetes.io/zone and value V that is running a pod that has a label with key “security” and value “S1”.) The pod anti-affinity rule says that the pod cannot schedule onto a node if that node is already running a pod with label having key “security” and value “S2”. (If the topologyKey were failure-domain.beta.kubernetes.io/zone then it would mean that the pod cannot schedule onto a node if that node is in the same zone as a pod with label having key “security” and value “S2”.) See the design doc. for many more examples of pod affinity and anti-affinity, both the requiredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution flavor and the preferredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution flavor.

As with node affinity, the legal operators for pod affinity and anti-affinity are In, NotIn, Exists, DoesNotExist, Gt, Lt.

In principle, the topologyKey can be any legal label value. However, for performance reasons, only a limited set of topology keys are allowed. By default the allowed topology keys are:

In addition to labelSelector and topologyKey, you can optionally specify a list namespaces of namespaces which the labelSelector should match against (this goes at the same level of the definition as labelSelector and topologyKey). If omitted, it defaults to the namespace of the pod where the affinity/anti-affinity definition appears. If defined but empty, it means “all namespaces.”

All matchExpressions associated with requiredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution affinity and anti-affinity must be satisfied for the pod to schedule onto a node.

For more information on inter-pod affinity/anti-affinity, see the design doc here.

Taints and tolerations (beta feature)

Node affinity, described earlier, is a property of pods that attracts them to a set of nodes (either as a preference or a hard requirement). Taints are the opposite – they allow a node to repel a set of pods.

Taints and tolerations work together to ensure that pods are not scheduled onto inappropriate nodes. One or more taints are applied to a node; this marks that the node should not accept any pods that do not tolerate the taints. Tolerations are applied to pods, and allow (but do not require) the pods to schedule onto nodes with matching taints.

You add a taint to a node using kubectl taint. For example,

kubectl taint nodes node1 key=value:NoSchedule

places a taint on node node1. The taint has key key, value value, and taint effect NoSchedule. This means that no pod will be able to schedule onto node1 unless it has a matching toleration. You specify a toleration for a pod in the PodSpec. Both of the following tolerations “match” the taint created by the kubectl taint line above, and thus a pod with either toleration would be able to schedule onto node1:

tolerations: 
- key: "key"
  operator: "Equal"
  value: "value"
  effect: "NoSchedule"
tolerations: 
- key: "key"
  operator: "Exists"
  effect: "NoSchedule"

A toleration “matches” a taint if the keys are the same and the effects are the same, and:

(Operator defaults to Equal if not specified.) As a special case, an empty key with operator Exists matches all keys and all values. Also as a special case, empty effect matches all effects.

The above example used effect of NoSchedule. Alternatively, you can use effect of PreferNoSchedule. This is a “preference” or “soft” version of NoSchedule – the system will try to avoid placing a pod that does not tolerate the taint on the node, but it is not required. The third kind of effect is NoExecute, described later.

You can put multiple taints on the same node and multiple tolerations on the same pod. The way Kubernetes processes multiple taints and tolerations is like a filter: start with all of a node’s taints, then ignore the ones for which the pod has a matching toleration; the remaining un-ignored taints have the indicated effects on the pod. In particular,

For example, imagine you taint a node like this

kubectl taint nodes node1 key1=value1:NoSchedule
kubectl taint nodes node1 key1=value1:NoExecute
kubectl taint nodes node1 key2=value2:NoSchedule

And a pod has two tolerations:

tolerations: 
- key: "key1"
  operator: "Equal"
  value: "value1"
  effect: "NoSchedule"
- key: "key1"
  operator: "Equal"
  value: "value1"
  effect: "NoExecute"

In this case, the pod will not be able to schedule onto the node, because there is no toleration matching the third taint. But it will be able to continue running if it is already running on the node when the taint is added, because the third taint is the only one of the three that is not tolerated by the pod.

Normally, if a taint with effect NoExecute is added to a node, then any pods that do not tolerate the taint will be evicted immediately, and any pods that do tolerate the taint will never be evicted. However, a toleration with NoExecute effect can specify an optional tolerationSeconds field that dictates how long the pod will stay bound to the node after the taint is added. For example,

tolerations: 
- key: "key1"
  operator: "Equal"
  value: "value1"
  effect: "NoExecute"
  tolerationSeconds: 3600

means that if this pod is running and a matching taint is added to the node, then the pod will stay bound to the node for 3600 seconds, and then be evicted. If the taint is removed before that time, the pod will not be evicted.

Example use cases

Taints and tolerations are a flexible way to steer pods away from nodes or evict pods that shouldn’t be running. A few of the use cases are

Per-pod-configurable eviction behavior when there are node problems (alpha feature)

Earlier we mentioned the NoExecute taint effect, which affects pods that are already running on the node as follows

The above behavior is a beta feature. In addition, Kubernetes 1.6 has alpha support for representing node problems (currently only “node unreachable” and “node not ready”, corresponding to the NodeCondition “Ready” being “Unknown” or “False” respectively) as taints. When the TaintBasedEvictions alpha feature is enabled (you can do this by including TaintBasedEvictions=true in --feature-gates, such as --feature-gates=FooBar=true,TaintBasedEvictions=true), the taints are automatically added by the NodeController and the normal logic for evicting pods from nodes based on the Ready NodeCondition is disabled. (Note: To maintain the existing rate limiting) behavior of pod evictions due to node problems, the system actually adds the taints in a rate-limited way. This prevents massive pod evictions in scenarios such as the master becoming partitioned from the nodes.) This alpha feature, in combination with tolerationSeconds, allows a pod to specify how long it should stay bound to a node that has one or both of these problems.

For example, an application with a lot of local state might want to stay bound to node for a long time in the event of network partition, in the hope that the partition will recover and thus the pod eviction can be avoided. The toleration the pod would use in that case would look like

tolerations: 
- key: "node.alpha.kubernetes.io/unreachable"
  operator: "Exists"
  effect: "NoExecute"
  tolerationSeconds: 6000

(For the node not ready case, change the key to node.alpha.kubernetes.io/notReady.)

Note that Kubernetes automatically adds a toleration for node.alpha.kubernetes.io/notReady with tolerationSeconds=300 unless the pod configuration provided by the user already has a toleration for node.alpha.kubernetes.io/notReady. Likewise it adds a toleration for node.alpha.kubernetes.io/unreachable with tolerationSeconds=300 unless the pod configuration provided by the user already has a toleration for node.alpha.kubernetes.io/unreachable.

These automatically-added tolerations ensure that the default pod behavior of remaining bound for 5 minutes after one of these problems is detected is maintained. The two default tolerations are added by the DefaultTolerationSeconds admission controller.

DaemonSet pods are created with NoExecute tolerations for node.alpha.kubernetes.io/unreachable and node.alpha.kubernetes.io/notReady with no tolerationSeconds. This ensures that DaemonSet pods are never evicted due to these problems, which matches the behavior when this feature is disabled.

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