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Intro to Windows support in Kubernetes

Windows applications constitute a large portion of the services and applications that run in many organizations. Windows containers provide a modern way to encapsulate processes and package dependencies, making it easier to use DevOps practices and follow cloud native patterns for Windows applications. Kubernetes has become the defacto standard container orchestrator, and the release of Kubernetes 1.14 includes production support for scheduling Windows containers on Windows nodes in a Kubernetes cluster, enabling a vast ecosystem of Windows applications to leverage the power of Kubernetes. Organizations with investments in Windows-based applications and Linux-based applications don’t have to look for separate orchestrators to manage their workloads, leading to increased operational efficiencies across their deployments, regardless of operating system.

Windows containers in Kubernetes

To enable the orchestration of Windows containers in Kubernetes, simply include Windows nodes in your existing Linux cluster. Scheduling Windows containers in Pods on Kubernetes is as simple and easy as scheduling Linux-based containers.

In order to run Windows containers, your Kubernetes cluster must include multiple operating systems, with control plane nodes running Linux and workers running either Windows or Linux depending on your workload needs. Windows Server 2019 is the only Windows operating system supported, enabling Kubernetes Node on Windows (including kubelet, container runtime, and kube-proxy). For a detailed explanation of Windows distribution channels see the Microsoft documentation.

Note: The Kubernetes control plane, including the master components, continues to run on Linux. There are no plans to have a Windows-only Kubernetes cluster.
Note: In this document, when we talk about Windows containers we mean Windows containers with process isolation. Windows containers with Hyper-V isolation is planned for a future release.

Supported Functionality and Limitations

Supported Functionality

Compute

From an API and kubectl perspective, Windows containers behave in much the same way as Linux-based containers. However, there are some notable differences in key functionality which are outlined in the limitation section.

Let’s start with the operating system version. Refer to the following table for Windows operating system support in Kubernetes. A single heterogeneous Kubernetes cluster can have both Windows and Linux worker nodes. Windows containers have to be scheduled on Windows nodes and Linux containers on Linux nodes.

Kubernetes versionHost OS version (Kubernetes Node)
Windows Server 1709Windows Server 1803Windows Server 1809/Windows Server 2019
Kubernetes v1.14Not SupportedNot SupportedSupported for Windows Server containers Builds 17763.* with Docker EE-basic 18.09
Note: We don’t expect all Windows customers to update the operating system for their apps frequently. Upgrading your applications is what dictates and necessitates upgrading or introducing new nodes to the cluster. For the customers that chose to upgrade their operating system for containers running on Kubernetes, we will offer guidance and step-by-step instructions when we add support for a new operating system version. This guidance will include recommended upgrade procedures for upgrading user applications together with cluster nodes. Windows nodes adhere to Kubernetes version-skew policy (node to control plane versioning) the same way as Linux nodes do today.
Note: The Windows Server Host Operating System is subject to the Windows Server licensing. The Windows Container images are subject to the Supplemental License Terms for Windows containers.
Note: Windows containers with process isolation have strict compatibility rules, where the host OS version must match the container base image OS version. Once we support Windows containers with Hyper-V isolation in Kubernetes, the limitation and compatibility rules will change.

Key Kubernetes elements work the same way in Windows as they do in Linux. In this section, we talk about some of the key workload enablers and how they map to Windows.

  • Pods

    A Pod is the basic building block of Kubernetes–the smallest and simplest unit in the Kubernetes object model that you create or deploy. You may not deploy Windows and Linux containers in the same Pod. All containers in a Pod are scheduled onto a single Node where each Node represents a specific platform and architecture. The following Pod capabilities, properties and events are supported with Windows containers:

    • Single or multiple containers per Pod with process isolation and volume sharing
    • Pod status fields
    • Readiness and Liveness probes
    • postStart & preStop container lifecycle events
    • ConfigMap, Secrets: as environment variables or volumes
    • EmptyDir
    • Named pipe host mounts
    • Resource limits
  • Controllers

    Kubernetes controllers handle the desired state of Pods. The following workload controllers are supported with Windows containers:

    • ReplicaSet
    • ReplicationController
    • Deployments
    • StatefulSets
    • DaemonSet
    • Job
    • CronJob
  • Services

    A Kubernetes Service is an abstraction which defines a logical set of Pods and a policy by which to access them - sometimes called a micro-service. You can use services for cross-operating system connectivity. In Windows, services can utilize the following types, properties and capabilities:

    • Service Environment variables
    • NodePort
    • ClusterIP
    • LoadBalancer
    • ExternalName
    • Headless services

Pods, Controllers and Services are critical elements to managing Windows workloads on Kubernetes. However, on their own they are not enough to enable the proper lifecycle management of Windows workloads in a dynamic cloud native environment. We added support for the following features:

  • Pod and container metrics
  • Horizontal Pod Autoscaler support
  • kubectl Exec
  • Resource Quotas
  • Scheduler preemption

Container Runtime

Docker EE-basic 18.09 is required on Windows Server 2019 / 1809 nodes for Kubernetes. This works with the dockershim code included in the kubelet. Additional runtimes such as CRI-ContainerD may be supported in later Kubernetes versions.

Persistent Storage

Kubernetes volumes enable complex applications, with data persistence and Pod volume sharing requirements, to be deployed on Kubernetes. Management of persistent volumes associated with a specific storage back-end or protocol includes actions such as: provisioning/de-provisioning/resizing of volumes, attaching/detaching a volume to/from a Kubernetes node and mounting/dismounting a volume to/from individual containers in a pod that needs to persist data. The code implementing these volume management actions for a specific storage back-end or protocol is shipped in the form of a Kubernetes volume plugin. The following broad classes of Kubernetes volume plugins are supported on Windows:

In-tree Volume Plugins

Code associated with in-tree volume plugins ship as part of the core Kubernetes code base. Deployment of in-tree volume plugins do not require installation of additional scripts or deployment of separate containerized plugin components. These plugins can handle: provisioning/de-provisioning and resizing of volumes in the storage backend, attaching/detaching of volumes to/from a Kubernetes node and mounting/dismounting a volume to/from individual containers in a pod. The following in-tree plugins support Windows nodes:

FlexVolume Plugins

Code associated with FlexVolume plugins ship as out-of-tree scripts or binaries that need to be deployed directly on the host. FlexVolume plugins handle attaching/detaching of volumes to/from a Kubernetes node and mounting/dismounting a volume to/from individual containers in a pod. Provisioning/De-provisioning of persistent volumes associated with FlexVolume plugins may be handled through an external provisioner that is typically separate from the FlexVolume plugins. The following FlexVolume plugins, deployed as powershell scripts on the host, support Windows nodes:

CSI Plugins
FEATURE STATE: Kubernetes v1.16 alpha
This feature is currently in a alpha state, meaning:

  • The version names contain alpha (e.g. v1alpha1).
  • Might be buggy. Enabling the feature may expose bugs. Disabled by default.
  • Support for feature may be dropped at any time without notice.
  • The API may change in incompatible ways in a later software release without notice.
  • Recommended for use only in short-lived testing clusters, due to increased risk of bugs and lack of long-term support.

Code associated with CSIThe Container Storage Interface (CSI) defines a standard interface to expose storage systems to containers. plugins ship as out-of-tree scripts and binaries that are typically distributed as container images and deployed using standard Kubernetes constructs like DaemonSets and StatefulSets. CSI plugins handle a wide range of volume management actions in Kubernetes: provisioning/de-provisioning/resizing of volumes, attaching/detaching of volumes to/from a Kubernetes node and mounting/dismounting a volume to/from individual containers in a pod, backup/restore of persistent data using snapshots and cloning. CSI plugins typically consist of node plugins (that run on each node as a DaemonSet) and controller plugins.

CSI node plugins (especially those associated with persistent volumes exposed as either block devices or over a shared file-system) need to perform various privileged operations like scanning of disk devices, mounting of file systems, etc. These operations differ for each host operating system. For Linux worker nodes, containerized CSI node plugins are typically deployed as privileged containers. For Windows worker nodes, privileged operations for containerized CSI node plugins is supported using csi-proxy, a community-managed, stand-alone binary that needs to be pre-installed on each Windows node. Please refer to the deployment guide of the CSI plugin you wish to deploy for further details.

Networking

Networking for Windows containers is exposed through CNI plugins. Windows containers function similarly to virtual machines in regards to networking. Each container has a virtual network adapter (vNIC) which is connected to a Hyper-V virtual switch (vSwitch). The Host Networking Service (HNS) and the Host Compute Service (HCS) work together to create containers and attach container vNICs to networks. HCS is responsible for the management of containers whereas HNS is responsible for the management of networking resources such as:

  • Virtual networks (including creation of vSwitches)
  • Endpoints / vNICs
  • Namespaces
  • Policies (Packet encapsulations, Load-balancing rules, ACLs, NAT’ing rules, etc.)

The following service spec types are supported:

  • NodePort
  • ClusterIP
  • LoadBalancer
  • ExternalName

Windows supports five different networking drivers/modes: L2bridge, L2tunnel, Overlay, Transparent, and NAT. In a heterogeneous cluster with Windows and Linux worker nodes, you need to select a networking solution that is compatible on both Windows and Linux. The following out-of-tree plugins are supported on Windows, with recommendations on when to use each CNI:

Network DriverDescriptionContainer Packet ModificationsNetwork PluginsNetwork Plugin Characteristics
L2bridgeContainers are attached to an external vSwitch. Containers are attached to the underlay network, although the physical network doesn’t need to learn the container MACs because they are rewritten on ingress/egress. Inter-container traffic is bridged inside the container host.MAC is rewritten to host MAC, IP remains the same.win-bridge, Azure-CNI, Flannel host-gateway uses win-bridgewin-bridge uses L2bridge network mode, connects containers to the underlay of hosts, offering best performance. Requires user-defined routes (UDR) for inter-node connectivity.
L2TunnelThis is a special case of l2bridge, but only used on Azure. All packets are sent to the virtualization host where SDN policy is applied.MAC rewritten, IP visible on the underlay networkAzure-CNIAzure-CNI allows integration of containers with Azure vNET, and allows them to leverage the set of capabilities that Azure Virtual Network provides. For example, securely connect to Azure services or use Azure NSGs. See azure-cni for some examples
Overlay (Overlay networking for Windows in Kubernetes is in alpha stage)Containers are given a vNIC connected to an external vSwitch. Each overlay network gets its own IP subnet, defined by a custom IP prefix.The overlay network driver uses VXLAN encapsulation.Encapsulated with an outer header.Win-overlay, Flannel VXLAN (uses win-overlay)win-overlay should be used when virtual container networks are desired to be isolated from underlay of hosts (e.g. for security reasons). Allows for IPs to be re-used for different overlay networks (which have different VNID tags) if you are restricted on IPs in your datacenter. This option requires KB4489899 on Windows Server 2019.
Transparent (special use case for ovn-kubernetes)Requires an external vSwitch. Containers are attached to an external vSwitch which enables intra-pod communication via logical networks (logical switches and routers).Packet is encapsulated either via GENEVE or STT tunneling to reach pods which are not on the same host.
Packets are forwarded or dropped via the tunnel metadata information supplied by the ovn network controller.
NAT is done for north-south communication.
ovn-kubernetesDeploy via ansible. Distributed ACLs can be applied via Kubernetes policies. IPAM support. Load-balancing can be achieved without kube-proxy. NATing is done without using iptables/netsh.
NAT (not used in Kubernetes)Containers are given a vNIC connected to an internal vSwitch. DNS/DHCP is provided using an internal component called WinNATMAC and IP is rewritten to host MAC/IP.natIncluded here for completeness

As outlined above, the Flannel CNI meta plugin is also supported on Windows via the VXLAN network backend (alpha support ; delegates to win-overlay) and host-gateway network backend (stable support; delegates to win-bridge). This plugin supports delegating to one of the reference CNI plugins (win-overlay, win-bridge), to work in conjunction with Flannel daemon on Windows (Flanneld) for automatic node subnet lease assignment and HNS network creation. This plugin reads in its own configuration file (cni.conf), and aggregates it with the environment variables from the FlannelD generated subnet.env file. It then delegates to one of the reference CNI plugins for network plumbing, and sends the correct configuration containing the node-assigned subnet to the IPAM plugin (e.g. host-local).

For the node, pod, and service objects, the following network flows are supported for TCP/UDP traffic:

  • Pod -> Pod (IP)
  • Pod -> Pod (Name)
  • Pod -> Service (Cluster IP)
  • Pod -> Service (PQDN, but only if there are no “.”)
  • Pod -> Service (FQDN)
  • Pod -> External (IP)
  • Pod -> External (DNS)
  • Node -> Pod
  • Pod -> Node

The following IPAM options are supported on Windows:

Limitations

Control Plane

Windows is only supported as a worker node in the Kubernetes architecture and component matrix. This means that a Kubernetes cluster must always include Linux master nodes, zero or more Linux worker nodes, and zero or more Windows worker nodes.

Compute

Resource management and process isolation

Linux cgroups are used as a pod boundary for resource controls in Linux. Containers are created within that boundary for network, process and file system isolation. The cgroups APIs can be used to gather cpu/io/memory stats. In contrast, Windows uses a Job object per container with a system namespace filter to contain all processes in a container and provide logical isolation from the host. There is no way to run a Windows container without the namespace filtering in place. This means that system privileges cannot be asserted in the context of the host, and thus privileged containers are not available on Windows. Containers cannot assume an identity from the host because the Security Account Manager (SAM) is separate.

Operating System Restrictions

Windows has strict compatibility rules, where the host OS version must match the container base image OS version. Only Windows containers with a container operating system of Windows Server 2019 are supported. Hyper-V isolation of containers, enabling some backward compatibility of Windows container image versions, is planned for a future release.

Feature Restrictions
  • TerminationGracePeriod: not implemented
  • Single file mapping: to be implemented with CRI-ContainerD
  • Termination message: to be implemented with CRI-ContainerD
  • Privileged Containers: not currently supported in Windows containers
  • HugePages: not currently supported in Windows containers
  • The existing node problem detector is Linux-only and requires privileged containers. In general, we don’t expect this to be used on Windows because privileged containers are not supported
  • Not all features of shared namespaces are supported (see API section for more details)
Memory Reservations and Handling

Windows does not have an out-of-memory process killer as Linux does. Windows always treats all user-mode memory allocations as virtual, and pagefiles are mandatory. The net effect is that Windows won’t reach out of memory conditions the same way Linux does, and processes page to disk instead of being subject to out of memory (OOM) termination. If memory is over-provisioned and all physical memory is exhausted, then paging can slow down performance.

Keeping memory usage within reasonable bounds is possible with a two-step process. First, use the kubelet parameters --kubelet-reserve and/or --system-reserve to account for memory usage on the node (outside of containers). This reduces NodeAllocatable). As you deploy workloads, use resource limits (must set only limits or limits must equal requests) on containers. This also subtracts from NodeAllocatable and prevents the scheduler from adding more pods once a node is full.

A best practice to avoid over-provisioning is to configure the kubelet with a system reserved memory of at least 2GB to account for Windows, Docker, and Kubernetes processes.

The behavior of the flags behave differently as described below:

  • --kubelet-reserve, --system-reserve , and --eviction-hard flags update Node Allocatable
  • Eviction by using --enforce-node-allocable is not implemented
  • Eviction by using --eviction-hard and --eviction-soft are not implemented
  • MemoryPressure Condition is not implemented
  • There are no OOM eviction actions taken by the kubelet
  • Kubelet running on the windows node does not have memory restrictions. --kubelet-reserve and --system-reserve do not set limits on kubelet or processes running on the host. This means kubelet or a process on the host could cause memory resource starvation outside the node-allocatable and scheduler

Storage

Windows has a layered filesystem driver to mount container layers and create a copy filesystem based on NTFS. All file paths in the container are resolved only within the context of that container.

  • Volume mounts can only target a directory in the container, and not an individual file
  • Volume mounts cannot project files or directories back to the host filesystem
  • Read-only filesystems are not supported because write access is always required for the Windows registry and SAM database. However, read-only volumes are supported
  • Volume user-masks and permissions are not available. Because the SAM is not shared between the host & container, there’s no mapping between them. All permissions are resolved within the context of the container

As a result, the following storage functionality is not supported on Windows nodes

  • Volume subpath mounts. Only the entire volume can be mounted in a Windows container.
  • Subpath volume mounting for Secrets
  • Host mount projection
  • DefaultMode (due to UID/GID dependency)
  • Read-only root filesystem. Mapped volumes still support readOnly
  • Block device mapping
  • Memory as the storage medium
  • File system features like uui/guid, per-user Linux filesystem permissions
  • NFS based storage/volume support
  • Expanding the mounted volume (resizefs)

Networking

Windows Container Networking differs in some important ways from Linux networking. The Microsoft documentation for Windows Container Networking contains additional details and background.

The Windows host networking networking service and virtual switch implement namespacing and can create virtual NICs as needed for a pod or container. However, many configurations such as DNS, routes, and metrics are stored in the Windows registry database rather than /etc/… files as they are on Linux. The Windows registry for the container is separate from that of the host, so concepts like mapping /etc/resolv.conf from the host into a container don’t have the same effect they would on Linux. These must be configured using Windows APIs run in the context of that container. Therefore CNI implementations need to call the HNS instead of relying on file mappings to pass network details into the pod or container.

The following networking functionality is not supported on Windows nodes

  • Host networking mode is not available for Windows pods
  • Local NodePort access from the node itself fails (works for other nodes or external clients)
  • Accessing service VIPs from nodes will be available with a future release of Windows Server
  • Overlay networking support in kube-proxy is an alpha release. In addition, it requires KB4482887 to be installed on Windows Server 2019
  • Local Traffic Policy and DSR mode
  • Windows containers connected to l2bridge, l2tunnel, or overlay networks do not support communicating over the IPv6 stack. There is outstanding Windows platform work required to enable these network drivers to consume IPv6 addresses and subsequent Kubernetes work in kubelet, kube-proxy, and CNI plugins.
  • Outbound communication using the ICMP protocol via the win-overlay, win-bridge, and Azure-CNI plugin. Specifically, the Windows data plane (VFP) doesn’t support ICMP packet transpositions. This means:
    • ICMP packets directed to destinations within the same network (e.g. pod to pod communication via ping) work as expected and without any limitations
    • TCP/UDP packets work as expected and without any limitations
    • ICMP packets directed to pass through a remote network (e.g. pod to external internet communication via ping) cannot be transposed and thus will not be routed back to their source
    • Since TCP/UDP packets can still be transposed, one can substitute ping <destination> with curl <destination> to be able to debug connectivity to the outside world.

These features were added in Kubernetes v1.15:

  • kubectl port-forward
CNI Plugins
  • Windows reference network plugins win-bridge and win-overlay do not currently implement CNI spec v0.4.0 due to missing “CHECK” implementation.
  • The Flannel VXLAN CNI has the following limitations on Windows:
  1. Node-pod connectivity isn’t possible by design. It’s only possible for local pods with Flannel PR 1096
  2. We are restricted to using VNI 4096 and UDP port 4789. The VNI limitation is being worked on and will be overcome in a future release (open-source flannel changes). See the official Flannel VXLAN backend docs for more details on these parameters.
DNS
  • ClusterFirstWithHostNet is not supported for DNS. Windows treats all names with a ‘.’ as a FQDN and skips PQDN resolution
  • On Linux, you have a DNS suffix list, which is used when trying to resolve PQDNs. On Windows, we only have 1 DNS suffix, which is the DNS suffix associated with that pod’s namespace (mydns.svc.cluster.local for example). Windows can resolve FQDNs and services or names resolvable with just that suffix. For example, a pod spawned in the default namespace, will have the DNS suffix default.svc.cluster.local. On a Windows pod, you can resolve both kubernetes.default.svc.cluster.local and kubernetes, but not the in-betweens, like kubernetes.default or kubernetes.default.svc.
  • On Windows, there are multiple DNS resolvers that can be used. As these come with slightly different behaviors, using the Resolve-DNSName utility for name query resolutions is recommended.
Security

Secrets are written in clear text on the node’s volume (as compared to tmpfs/in-memory on linux). This means customers have to do two things

  1. Use file ACLs to secure the secrets file location
  2. Use volume-level encryption using BitLocker

RunAsUser is not currently supported on Windows. The workaround is to create local accounts before packaging the container. The RunAsUsername capability may be added in a future release.

Linux specific pod security context privileges such as SELinux, AppArmor, Seccomp, Capabilities (POSIX Capabilities), and others are not supported.

In addition, as mentioned already, privileged containers are not supported on Windows.

API

There are no differences in how most of the Kubernetes APIs work for Windows. The subtleties around what’s different come down to differences in the OS and container runtime. In certain situations, some properties on workload APIs such as Pod or Container were designed with an assumption that they are implemented on Linux, failing to run on Windows.

At a high level, these OS concepts are different:

  • Identity - Linux uses userID (UID) and groupID (GID) which are represented as integer types. User and group names are not canonical - they are just an alias in /etc/groups or /etc/passwd back to UID+GID. Windows uses a larger binary security identifier (SID) which is stored in the Windows Security Access Manager (SAM) database. This database is not shared between the host and containers, or between containers.
  • File permissions - Windows uses an access control list based on SIDs, rather than a bitmask of permissions and UID+GID
  • File paths - convention on Windows is to use \ instead of /. The Go IO libraries typically accept both and just make it work, but when you’re setting a path or command line that’s interpreted inside a container, \ may be needed.
  • Signals - Windows interactive apps handle termination differently, and can implement one or more of these:
    • A UI thread handles well-defined messages including WM_CLOSE
    • Console apps handle ctrl-c or ctrl-break using a Control Handler
    • Services register a Service Control Handler function that can accept SERVICE_CONTROL_STOP control codes

Exit Codes follow the same convention where 0 is success, nonzero is failure. The specific error codes may differ across Windows and Linux. However, exit codes passed from the Kubernetes components (kubelet, kube-proxy) are unchanged.

V1.Container
  • V1.Container.ResourceRequirements.limits.cpu and V1.Container.ResourceRequirements.limits.memory - Windows doesn’t use hard limits for CPU allocations. Instead, a share system is used. The existing fields based on millicores are scaled into relative shares that are followed by the Windows scheduler. see: kuberuntime/helpers_windows.go, see: resource controls in Microsoft docs
    • Huge pages are not implemented in the Windows container runtime, and are not available. They require asserting a user privilege that’s not configurable for containers.
  • V1.Container.ResourceRequirements.requests.cpu and V1.Container.ResourceRequirements.requests.memory - Requests are subtracted from node available resources, so they can be used to avoid overprovisioning a node. However, they cannot be used to guarantee resources in an overprovisioned node. They should be applied to all containers as a best practice if the operator wants to avoid overprovisioning entirely.
  • V1.Container.SecurityContext.allowPrivilegeEscalation - not possible on Windows, none of the capabilities are hooked up
  • V1.Container.SecurityContext.Capabilities - POSIX capabilities are not implemented on Windows
  • V1.Container.SecurityContext.privileged - Windows doesn’t support privileged containers
  • V1.Container.SecurityContext.procMount - Windows doesn’t have a /proc filesystem
  • V1.Container.SecurityContext.readOnlyRootFilesystem - not possible on Windows, write access is required for registry & system processes to run inside the container
  • V1.Container.SecurityContext.runAsGroup - not possible on Windows, no GID support
  • V1.Container.SecurityContext.runAsNonRoot - Windows does not have a root user. The closest equivalent is ContainerAdministrator which is an identity that doesn’t exist on the node.
  • V1.Container.SecurityContext.runAsUser - not possible on Windows, no UID support as int.
  • V1.Container.SecurityContext.seLinuxOptions - not possible on Windows, no SELinux
  • V1.Container.terminationMessagePath - this has some limitations in that Windows doesn’t support mapping single files. The default value is /dev/termination-log, which does work because it does not exist on Windows by default.
V1.Pod
  • V1.Pod.hostIPC, v1.pod.hostpid - host namespace sharing is not possible on Windows
  • V1.Pod.hostNetwork - There is no Windows OS support to share the host network
  • V1.Pod.dnsPolicy - ClusterFirstWithHostNet - is not supported because Host Networking is not supported on Windows.
  • V1.Pod.podSecurityContext - see V1.PodSecurityContext below
  • V1.Pod.shareProcessNamespace - this is a beta feature, and depends on Linux namespaces which are not implemented on Windows. Windows cannot share process namespaces or the container’s root filesystem. Only the network can be shared.
  • V1.Pod.terminationGracePeriodSeconds - this is not fully implemented in Docker on Windows, see: reference. The behavior today is that the ENTRYPOINT process is sent CTRL_SHUTDOWN_EVENT, then Windows waits 5 seconds by default, and finally shuts down all processes using the normal Windows shutdown behavior. The 5 second default is actually in the Windows registry inside the container, so it can be overridden when the container is built.
  • V1.Pod.volumeDevices - this is a beta feature, and is not implemented on Windows. Windows cannot attach raw block devices to pods.
  • V1.Pod.volumes - EmptyDir, Secret, ConfigMap, HostPath - all work and have tests in TestGrid
    • V1.emptyDirVolumeSource - the Node default medium is disk on Windows. Memory is not supported, as Windows does not have a built-in RAM disk.
  • V1.VolumeMount.mountPropagation - mount propagation is not supported on Windows.
V1.PodSecurityContext

None of the PodSecurityContext fields work on Windows. They’re listed here for reference.

  • V1.PodSecurityContext.SELinuxOptions - SELinux is not available on Windows
  • V1.PodSecurityContext.RunAsUser - provides a UID, not available on Windows
  • V1.PodSecurityContext.RunAsGroup - provides a GID, not available on Windows
  • V1.PodSecurityContext.RunAsNonRoot - Windows does not have a root user. The closest equivalent is ContainerAdministrator which is an identity that doesn’t exist on the node.
  • V1.PodSecurityContext.SupplementalGroups - provides GID, not available on Windows
  • V1.PodSecurityContext.Sysctls - these are part of the Linux sysctl interface. There’s no equivalent on Windows.

Getting Help and Troubleshooting

Your main source of help for troubleshooting your Kubernetes cluster should start with this section. Some additional, Windows-specific troubleshooting help is included in this section. Logs are an important element of troubleshooting issues in Kubernetes. Make sure to include them any time you seek troubleshooting assistance from other contributors. Follow the instructions in the SIG-Windows contributing guide on gathering logs.

  1. How do I know start.ps1 completed successfully?

    You should see kubelet, kube-proxy, and (if you chose Flannel as your networking solution) flanneld host-agent processes running on your node, with running logs being displayed in separate PowerShell windows. In addition to this, your Windows node should be listed as “Ready” in your Kubernetes cluster.

  2. Can I configure the Kubernetes node processes to run in the background as services?

    Kubelet and kube-proxy are already configured to run as native Windows Services, offering resiliency by re-starting the services automatically in the event of failure (for example a process crash). You have two options for configuring these node components as services.

    1. As native Windows Services

      Kubelet & kube-proxy can be run as native Windows Services using sc.exe.

      # Create the services for kubelet and kube-proxy in two separate commands
      sc.exe create <component_name> binPath= "<path_to_binary> --service <other_args>"
      
      # Please note that if the arguments contain spaces, they must be escaped.
      sc.exe create kubelet binPath= "C:\kubelet.exe --service --hostname-override 'minion' <other_args>"
      
      # Start the services
      Start-Service kubelet
      Start-Service kube-proxy
      
      # Stop the service
      Stop-Service kubelet (-Force)
      Stop-Service kube-proxy (-Force)
      
      # Query the service status
      Get-Service kubelet
      Get-Service kube-proxy
    2. Using nssm.exe

      You can also always use alternative service managers like nssm.exe to run these processes (flanneld, kubelet & kube-proxy) in the background for you. You can use this sample script, leveraging nssm.exe to register kubelet, kube-proxy, and flanneld.exe to run as Windows services in the background.

      register-svc.ps1 -NetworkMode <Network mode> -ManagementIP <Windows Node IP> -ClusterCIDR <Cluster subnet> -KubeDnsServiceIP <Kube-dns Service IP> -LogDir <Directory to place logs>
      
      # NetworkMode      = The network mode l2bridge (flannel host-gw, also the default value) or overlay (flannel vxlan) chosen as a network solution
      # ManagementIP     = The IP address assigned to the Windows node. You can use ipconfig to find this
      # ClusterCIDR      = The cluster subnet range. (Default value 10.244.0.0/16)
      # KubeDnsServiceIP = The Kubernetes DNS service IP (Default value 10.96.0.10)
      # LogDir           = The directory where kubelet and kube-proxy logs are redirected into their respective output files (Default value C:\k)

      If the above referenced script is not suitable, you can manually configure nssm.exe using the following examples.

      # Register flanneld.exe
      nssm install flanneld C:\flannel\flanneld.exe
      nssm set flanneld AppParameters --kubeconfig-file=c:\k\config --iface=<ManagementIP> --ip-masq=1 --kube-subnet-mgr=1
      nssm set flanneld AppEnvironmentExtra NODE_NAME=<hostname>
      nssm set flanneld AppDirectory C:\flannel
      nssm start flanneld
      
      # Register kubelet.exe
      # Microsoft releases the pause infrastructure container at mcr.microsoft.com/k8s/core/pause:1.2.0
      # For more info search for "pause" in the "Guide for adding Windows Nodes in Kubernetes"
      nssm install kubelet C:\k\kubelet.exe
      nssm set kubelet AppParameters --hostname-override=<hostname> --v=6 --pod-infra-container-image=mcr.microsoft.com/k8s/core/pause:1.2.0 --resolv-conf="" --allow-privileged=true --enable-debugging-handlers --cluster-dns=<DNS-service-IP> --cluster-domain=cluster.local --kubeconfig=c:\k\config --hairpin-mode=promiscuous-bridge --image-pull-progress-deadline=20m --cgroups-per-qos=false  --log-dir=<log directory> --logtostderr=false --enforce-node-allocatable="" --network-plugin=cni --cni-bin-dir=c:\k\cni --cni-conf-dir=c:\k\cni\config
      nssm set kubelet AppDirectory C:\k
      nssm start kubelet
      
      # Register kube-proxy.exe (l2bridge / host-gw)
      nssm install kube-proxy C:\k\kube-proxy.exe
      nssm set kube-proxy AppDirectory c:\k
      nssm set kube-proxy AppParameters --v=4 --proxy-mode=kernelspace --hostname-override=<hostname>--kubeconfig=c:\k\config --enable-dsr=false --log-dir=<log directory> --logtostderr=false
      nssm.exe set kube-proxy AppEnvironmentExtra KUBE_NETWORK=cbr0
      nssm set kube-proxy DependOnService kubelet
      nssm start kube-proxy
      
      # Register kube-proxy.exe (overlay / vxlan)
      nssm install kube-proxy C:\k\kube-proxy.exe
      nssm set kube-proxy AppDirectory c:\k
      nssm set kube-proxy AppParameters --v=4 --proxy-mode=kernelspace --feature-gates="WinOverlay=true" --hostname-override=<hostname> --kubeconfig=c:\k\config --network-name=vxlan0 --source-vip=<source-vip> --enable-dsr=false --log-dir=<log directory> --logtostderr=false
      nssm set kube-proxy DependOnService kubelet
      nssm start kube-proxy

      For initial troubleshooting, you can use the following flags in nssm.exe to redirect stdout and stderr to a output file:

      nssm set <Service Name> AppStdout C:\k\mysvc.log
      nssm set <Service Name> AppStderr C:\k\mysvc.log

      For additional details, see official nssm usage docs.

  3. My Windows Pods do not have network connectivity

    If you are using virtual machines, ensure that MAC spoofing is enabled on all the VM network adapter(s).

  4. My Windows Pods cannot ping external resources

    Windows Pods do not have outbound rules programmed for the ICMP protocol today. However, TCP/UDP is supported. When trying to demonstrate connectivity to resources outside of the cluster, please substitute ping <IP> with corresponding curl <IP> commands.

    If you are still facing problems, most likely your network configuration in cni.conf deserves some extra attention. You can always edit this static file. The configuration update will apply to any newly created Kubernetes resources.

    One of the Kubernetes networking requirements (see Kubernetes model) is for cluster communication to occur without NAT internally. To honor this requirement, there is an ExceptionList for all the communication where we do not want outbound NAT to occur. However, this also means that you need to exclude the external IP you are trying to query from the ExceptionList. Only then will the traffic originating from your Windows pods be SNAT’ed correctly to receive a response from the outside world. In this regard, your ExceptionList in cni.conf should look as follows:

    "ExceptionList": [
                    "10.244.0.0/16",  # Cluster subnet
                    "10.96.0.0/12",   # Service subnet
                    "10.127.130.0/24" # Management (host) subnet
                ]
  5. My Windows node cannot access NodePort service

    Local NodePort access from the node itself fails. This is a known limitation. NodePort access works from other nodes or external clients.

  6. vNICs and HNS endpoints of containers are being deleted

    This issue can be caused when the hostname-override parameter is not passed to kube-proxy. To resolve it, users need to pass the hostname to kube-proxy as follows:

    C:\k\kube-proxy.exe --hostname-override=$(hostname)
  7. With flannel my nodes are having issues after rejoining a cluster

    Whenever a previously deleted node is being re-joined to the cluster, flannelD tries to assign a new pod subnet to the node. Users should remove the old pod subnet configuration files in the following paths:

    Remove-Item C:\k\SourceVip.json
    Remove-Item C:\k\SourceVipRequest.json
  8. After launching start.ps1, flanneld is stuck in “Waiting for the Network to be created”

    There are numerous reports of this issue which are being investigated; most likely it is a timing issue for when the management IP of the flannel network is set. A workaround is to simply relaunch start.ps1 or relaunch it manually as follows:

    PS C:> [Environment]::SetEnvironmentVariable("NODE_NAME", "<Windows_Worker_Hostname>")
    PS C:> C:\flannel\flanneld.exe --kubeconfig-file=c:\k\config --iface=<Windows_Worker_Node_IP> --ip-masq=1 --kube-subnet-mgr=1
  9. My Windows Pods cannot launch because of missing /run/flannel/subnet.env

    This indicates that Flannel didn’t launch correctly. You can either try to restart flanneld.exe or you can copy the files over manually from /run/flannel/subnet.env on the Kubernetes master toC:\run\flannel\subnet.env on the Windows worker node and modify the FLANNEL_SUBNET row to a different number. For example, if node subnet 10.244.4.1/24 is desired:

    FLANNEL_NETWORK=10.244.0.0/16
    FLANNEL_SUBNET=10.244.4.1/24
    FLANNEL_MTU=1500
    FLANNEL_IPMASQ=true
  10. My Windows node cannot access my services using the service IP

    This is a known limitation of the current networking stack on Windows. Windows Pods are able to access the service IP however.

  11. No network adapter is found when starting kubelet

    The Windows networking stack needs a virtual adapter for Kubernetes networking to work. If the following commands return no results (in an admin shell), virtual network creation — a necessary prerequisite for Kubelet to work — has failed:

    Get-HnsNetwork | ? Name -ieq "cbr0"
    Get-NetAdapter | ? Name -Like "vEthernet (Ethernet*"

    Often it is worthwhile to modify the InterfaceName parameter of the start.ps1 script, in cases where the host’s network adapter isn’t “Ethernet”. Otherwise, consult the output of the start-kubelet.ps1 script to see if there are errors during virtual network creation.

  12. My Pods are stuck at “Container Creating” or restarting over and over

    Check that your pause image is compatible with your OS version. The instructions assume that both the OS and the containers are version 1803. If you have a later version of Windows, such as an Insider build, you need to adjust the images accordingly. Please refer to the Microsoft’s Docker repository for images. Regardless, both the pause image Dockerfile and the sample service expect the image to be tagged as :latest.

    Starting with Kubernetes v1.14, Microsoft releases the pause infrastructure container at mcr.microsoft.com/k8s/core/pause:1.2.0. For more information search for “pause” in the Guide for adding Windows Nodes in Kubernetes.

  13. DNS resolution is not properly working

    Check the DNS limitations for Windows in this section.

  14. kubectl port-forward fails with “unable to do port forwarding: wincat not found”

    This was implemented in Kubernetes 1.15, and the pause infrastructure container mcr.microsoft.com/k8s/core/pause:1.2.0. Be sure to use these versions or newer ones. If you would like to build your own pause infrastructure container, be sure to include wincat

  15. My Kubernetes installation is failing because my Windows Server node is behind a proxy

    If you are behind a proxy, the following PowerShell environment variables must be defined:

    [Environment]::SetEnvironmentVariable("HTTP_PROXY", "http://proxy.example.com:80/", [EnvironmentVariableTarget]::Machine)
    [Environment]::SetEnvironmentVariable("HTTPS_PROXY", "http://proxy.example.com:443/", [EnvironmentVariableTarget]::Machine)
  16. What is a pause container?

    In a Kubernetes Pod, an infrastructure or “pause” container is first created to host the container endpoint. Containers that belong to the same pod, including infrastructure and worker containers, share a common network namespace and endpoint (same IP and port space). Pause containers are needed to accomodate worker containers crashing or restarting without losing any of the networking configuration.

    The “pause” (infrastructure) image is hosted on Microsoft Container Registry (MCR). You can access it using docker pull mcr.microsoft.com/k8s/core/pause:1.2.0. For more details, see the DOCKERFILE.

Further investigation

If these steps don’t resolve your problem, you can get help running Windows containers on Windows nodes in Kubernetes through:

Reporting Issues and Feature Requests

If you have what looks like a bug, or you would like to make a feature request, please use the GitHub issue tracking system. You can open issues on GitHub and assign them to SIG-Windows. You should first search the list of issues in case it was reported previously and comment with your experience on the issue and add additional logs. SIG-Windows Slack is also a great avenue to get some initial support and troubleshooting ideas prior to creating a ticket.

If filing a bug, please include detailed information about how to reproduce the problem, such as:

  • Kubernetes version: kubectl version
  • Environment details: Cloud provider, OS distro, networking choice and configuration, and Docker version
  • Detailed steps to reproduce the problem
  • Relevant logs
  • Tag the issue sig/windows by commenting on the issue with /sig windows to bring it to a SIG-Windows member’s attention

What's next

We have a lot of features in our roadmap. An abbreviated high level list is included below, but we encourage you to view our roadmap project and help us make Windows support better by contributing.

CRI-ContainerD

containerdA container runtime with an emphasis on simplicity, robustness and portability is another OCI-compliant runtime that recently graduated as a CNCFCloud Native Computing Foundation project. It’s currently tested on Linux, but 1.3 will bring support for Windows and Hyper-V. [reference]

The CRI-ContainerD interface will be able to manage sandboxes based on Hyper-V. This provides a foundation where RuntimeClass could be implemented for new use cases including:

  • Hypervisor-based isolation between pods for additional security
  • Backwards compatibility allowing a node to run a newer Windows Server version without requiring containers to be rebuilt
  • Specific CPU/NUMA settings for a pod
  • Memory isolation and reservations

Hyper-V isolation

The existing Hyper-V isolation support, an experimental feature as of v1.10, will be deprecated in the future in favor of the CRI-ContainerD and RuntimeClass features mentioned above. To use the current features and create a Hyper-V isolated container, the kubelet should be started with feature gates HyperVContainer=true and the Pod should include the annotation experimental.windows.kubernetes.io/isolation-type=hyperv. In the experiemental release, this feature is limited to 1 container per Pod.

apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
metadata:
  name: iis
spec:
  selector:
    matchLabels:
      app: iis
  replicas: 3
  template:
    metadata:
      labels:
        app: iis
      annotations:
        experimental.windows.kubernetes.io/isolation-type: hyperv
    spec:
      containers:
      - name: iis
        image: microsoft/iis
        ports:
        - containerPort: 80

Deployment with kubeadm and cluster API

Kubeadm is becoming the de facto standard for users to deploy a Kubernetes cluster. Windows node support in kubeadm will come in a future release. We are also making investments in cluster API to ensure Windows nodes are properly provisioned.

A few other key features

  • Beta support for Group Managed Service Accounts
  • More CNIs
  • More Storage Plugins

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