Runtime Class

FEATURE STATE: Kubernetes v1.20 [stable]

This page describes the RuntimeClass resource and runtime selection mechanism.

RuntimeClass is a feature for selecting the container runtime configuration. The container runtime configuration is used to run a Pod's containers.


You can set a different RuntimeClass between different Pods to provide a balance of performance versus security. For example, if part of your workload deserves a high level of information security assurance, you might choose to schedule those Pods so that they run in a container runtime that uses hardware virtualization. You'd then benefit from the extra isolation of the alternative runtime, at the expense of some additional overhead.

You can also use RuntimeClass to run different Pods with the same container runtime but with different settings.


  1. Configure the CRI implementation on nodes (runtime dependent)
  2. Create the corresponding RuntimeClass resources

1. Configure the CRI implementation on nodes

The configurations available through RuntimeClass are Container Runtime Interface (CRI) implementation dependent. See the corresponding documentation (below) for your CRI implementation for how to configure.

The configurations have a corresponding handler name, referenced by the RuntimeClass. The handler must be a valid DNS label name.

2. Create the corresponding RuntimeClass resources

The configurations setup in step 1 should each have an associated handler name, which identifies the configuration. For each handler, create a corresponding RuntimeClass object.

The RuntimeClass resource currently only has 2 significant fields: the RuntimeClass name ( and the handler (handler). The object definition looks like this:

# RuntimeClass is defined in the API group
kind: RuntimeClass
  # The name the RuntimeClass will be referenced by.
  # RuntimeClass is a non-namespaced resource.
  name: myclass 
# The name of the corresponding CRI configuration
handler: myconfiguration 

The name of a RuntimeClass object must be a valid DNS subdomain name.


Once RuntimeClasses are configured for the cluster, you can specify a runtimeClassName in the Pod spec to use it. For example:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
  name: mypod
  runtimeClassName: myclass
  # ...

This will instruct the kubelet to use the named RuntimeClass to run this pod. If the named RuntimeClass does not exist, or the CRI cannot run the corresponding handler, the pod will enter the Failed terminal phase. Look for a corresponding event for an error message.

If no runtimeClassName is specified, the default RuntimeHandler will be used, which is equivalent to the behavior when the RuntimeClass feature is disabled.

CRI Configuration

For more details on setting up CRI runtimes, see CRI installation.


Runtime handlers are configured through containerd's configuration at /etc/containerd/config.toml. Valid handlers are configured under the runtimes section:


See containerd's config documentation for more details:


Runtime handlers are configured through CRI-O's configuration at /etc/crio/crio.conf. Valid handlers are configured under the crio.runtime table:

  runtime_path = "${PATH_TO_BINARY}"

See CRI-O's config documentation for more details.


FEATURE STATE: Kubernetes v1.16 [beta]

By specifying the scheduling field for a RuntimeClass, you can set constraints to ensure that Pods running with this RuntimeClass are scheduled to nodes that support it. If scheduling is not set, this RuntimeClass is assumed to be supported by all nodes.

To ensure pods land on nodes supporting a specific RuntimeClass, that set of nodes should have a common label which is then selected by the runtimeclass.scheduling.nodeSelector field. The RuntimeClass's nodeSelector is merged with the pod's nodeSelector in admission, effectively taking the intersection of the set of nodes selected by each. If there is a conflict, the pod will be rejected.

If the supported nodes are tainted to prevent other RuntimeClass pods from running on the node, you can add tolerations to the RuntimeClass. As with the nodeSelector, the tolerations are merged with the pod's tolerations in admission, effectively taking the union of the set of nodes tolerated by each.

To learn more about configuring the node selector and tolerations, see Assigning Pods to Nodes.

Pod Overhead

FEATURE STATE: Kubernetes v1.24 [stable]

You can specify overhead resources that are associated with running a Pod. Declaring overhead allows the cluster (including the scheduler) to account for it when making decisions about Pods and resources.

Pod overhead is defined in RuntimeClass through the overhead field. Through the use of this field, you can specify the overhead of running pods utilizing this RuntimeClass and ensure these overheads are accounted for in Kubernetes.

What's next

Last modified October 29, 2022 at 6:14 PM PST: Redo index for Containers concept (ddfcad4fe8)