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Kubernetes Contributor Guide




Hello! This is the starting point for our brand new contributor guide, currently underway as per issue#6102 and in need of help. Please be patient, or fix a section below that needs improvement, and submit a pull request!

Many of the links below should lead to relevant documents scattered across the community repository. Often, the linked instructions need to be updated or cleaned up.

Please find Improvements needed sections below and help us out.

For example:

Improvements needed


Welcome to Kubernetes! This document is the single source of truth for how to contribute to the code base. Please leave comments / suggestions if you find something is missing or incorrect.

Before you get started

Sign the CLA

Before you can contribute, you will need to sign the Contributor License Agreement.

Setting up your development environment

If you haven’t set up your environment, please find resources here. These resources are not well organized currently; please have patience as we are working on it.

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Community Expectations

Kubernetes is a community project. Consequently, it is wholly dependent on its community to provide a productive, friendly and collaborative environment.

The first and foremost goal of the Kubernetes community to develop orchestration technology that radically simplifies the process of creating reliable distributed systems. However a second, equally important goal is the creation of a community that fosters easy, agile development of such orchestration systems.

We therefore describe the expectations for members of the Kubernetes community. This document is intended to be a living one that evolves as the community evolves via the same pull request and code review process that shapes the rest of the project. It currently covers the expectations of conduct that govern all members of the community as well as the expectations around code review that govern all active contributors to Kubernetes.

Code of Conduct

Please make sure to read and observe our Code of Conduct


Many thanks in advance to everyone who contributes their time and effort to making Kubernetes both a successful system as well as a successful community. The strength of our software shines in the strengths of each individual community member. Thanks!

Your First Contribution

Have you ever wanted to contribute to the coolest cloud technology? We will help you understand the organization of the Kubernetes project and direct you to the best places to get started. You’ll be able to pick up issues, write code to fix them, and get your work reviewed and merged.

Please be aware that due to the large number of issues our triage team deals with, we cannot offer technical support in GitHub issues. If you have questions about the development process, feel free to jump into our Slack Channel or join our mailing list. You can also ask questions on ServerFault or Stack Overflow. The Kubernetes team scans Stack Overflow on a regular basis, and will try to ensure your questions don’t go unanswered.

Find something to work on

Help is always welcome! For example, documentation (like the text you are reading now) can always use improvement. There’s always code that can be clarified and variables or functions that can be renamed or commented. There’s always a need for more test coverage. You get the idea - if you ever see something you think should be fixed, you should own it. Here is how you get started.

Find a good first topic

There are multiple repositories within the Kubernetes community and a full list of repositories can be found here. Each repository in the Kubernetes organization has beginner-friendly issues that provide a good first issue. For example, kubernetes/kubernetes has help wanted issues that should not need deep knowledge of the system. Another good strategy is to find a documentation improvement, such as a missing/broken link, which will give you exposure to the code submission/review process without the added complication of technical depth. Please see Contributing below for the workflow.

Learn about SIGs

Sig structure

You may have noticed that some repositories in the Kubernetes Organization are owned by Special Interest Groups, or SIGs. We organize the Kubernetes community into SIGs in order to improve our workflow and more easily manage what is a very large community project. The developers within each SIG have autonomy and ownership over that SIG’s part of Kubernetes. SIGs also have their own files, which may contain extra information or guidelines in addition to these general ones. These are located in the SIG specific community documentation directories, for example: sig-docs’ is in the kubernetes/community repo’s /sig-docs/ file and similarly for other SIGs.

Like everything else in Kubernetes, a SIG is an open, community, effort. Anybody is welcome to jump into a SIG and begin fixing issues, critiquing design proposals and reviewing code. SIGs have regular video meetings which everyone is welcome to. Each SIG has a kubernetes slack channel that you can join as well.

There is an entire SIG (sig-contributor-experience) devoted to improving your experience as a contributor. Contributing to Kubernetes should be easy. If you find a rough edge, let us know! Better yet, help us fix it by joining the SIG; just show up to one of the bi-weekly meetings.

Finding the appropriate SIG for your contribution will help you ask questions in the correct place and give your contribution higher visibility and a faster community response.

For Pull Requests, the automatically assigned reviewer will add a SIG label if you haven’t done so. See Open A Pull Request below.

For Issues we are still working on a more automated workflow. Since SIGs do not directly map onto Kubernetes subrepositories, it may be difficult to find which SIG your contribution belongs in. Here is the list of SIGs. Determine which is most likely related to your contribution.

Example: if you are filing a cni issue, you should choose SIG-networking.

Follow the link in the SIG name column to reach each SIGs README. Most SIGs will have a set of GitHub Teams with tags that can be mentioned in a comment on issues and pull requests for higher visibility. If you are not sure about the correct SIG for an issue, you can try SIG-contributor-experience here, or ask in Slack.

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File an Issue

Not ready to contribute code, but see something that needs work? While the community encourages everyone to contribute code, it is also appreciated when someone reports an issue (aka problem). Issues should be filed under the appropriate Kubernetes subrepository.

Example: a documentation issue should be opened to kubernetes/website.

Make sure to adhere to the prompted submission guidelines while opening an issue.



Kubernetes is open source, but many of the people working on it do so as their day job. In order to avoid forcing people to be “at work” effectively 24/7, we want to establish some semi-formal protocols around development. Hopefully these rules make things go more smoothly. If you find that this is not the case, please complain loudly.

As a potential contributor, your changes and ideas are welcome at any hour of the day or night, weekdays, weekends, and holidays. Please do not ever hesitate to ask a question or send a pull request.

Our community guiding principles on how to create great code as a big group are found here. Beginner focused information can be found below in Open a Pull Request and Code Review.


It is best to contact your SIG for issues related to the SIG’s topic. Your SIG will be able to help you much more quickly than a general question would.

For questions and troubleshooting, please feel free to use any of the methods of communication listed here. The kubernetes website also lists this information.

GitHub workflow

To check out code to work on, please refer to this guide.

Open a Pull Request

Pull requests are often called simply “PR”. Kubernetes generally follows the standard github pull request process, but there is a layer of additional kubernetes specific (and sometimes SIG specific) differences.

The first difference you’ll see is that a bot will begin applying structured labels to your PR.

The bot may also make some helpful suggestions for commands to run in your PR to facilitate review. These /command options can be entered in comments to trigger auto-labeling and notifications. The command reference is here.

Common new contributor PR issues are:

The pull request workflow is described in detail here.

Code Review

For a brief description of the importance of code review, please read On Code Review. There are two aspects of code review: giving and receiving.

To make it easier for your PR to receive reviews, consider the reviewers will need you to:

Reviewers, the people giving review, are highly encouraged to revisit the Code of Conduct and must go above and beyond to promote a collaborative, respectful Kubernetes community. When reviewing PRs from others The Gentle Art of Patch Review suggests an iterative series of focuses which is designed to lead new contributors to positive collaboration without inundating them initially with nuances:


Testing is the responsibility of all contributors and is in part owned by all sigs, but is also coordinated by sig-testing.

The main testing overview document is here.

There are three types of test in kubernetes. The location of the test code varies with type, as does the specifics of the environment needed to successfully run the test:

Continuous integration will run these tests either as pre-submits on PRs, post-submits against master/release branches, or both. The results appear on testgrid.

sig-testing is responsible for that official infrastructure and CI. The associated automation is tracked in the test-infra repo. If you’re looking to run e2e tests on your own infrastructure, kubetest is the mechanism.


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Issues Management or Triage

Have you ever noticed the total number of open issues? This number at any given time is typically high. Helping to manage or triage these open issues can be a great contribution to the Kubernetes project. This is also a great opportunity to learn about the various areas of the project. Refer to the Kubernetes Issue Triage Guidelines for more information.


If you haven’t noticed by now, we have a large, lively, and friendly open-source community. We depend on new people becoming members and regular code contributors, so we would like you to come join us. To find out more about our community structure, different levels of membership and code contributors, please explore here.

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Kubernetes is the main focus of CloudNativeCon/KubeCon, held twice per year in EMEA and in North America. Information about these and other community events is available on the CNCF events pages.


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