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Learn how to get started with Kubernetes including how to monitor and manage your clusters, view your Kubernetes logs, and how to improve your Kubernetes security

Getting Started with Kubernetes: Installation and Setup

The approach you take to getting started with Kubernetes will depend on which type of deployment you are setting up: a local Kubernetes environment for learning purposes or a large-scale, distributed Kubernetes cluster for production deployment.

Setting up a Kubernetes Learning Environment

If your goal is to run Kubernetes locally for learning purposes, the most seamless approach is to use a Kubernetes distribution designed specifically for this purpose. MicroK8s, Minikube, and K38s are popular options. Installation methods vary depending on which distribution you choose and which Linux-based operating system is hosting your installation, but the process is typically quite simple.

For instance, you can install MicroK8s on Ubuntu with a single short command:

sudo snap install microk8s --classic

After that, you can start interacting with your Kubernetes environment using the microk8s.kubectl CLI tool. There are additional packages you may wish to install to add more functionality to your local Kubernetes environment, but if you're just getting started with Kubernetes, this is all you have to do to get the bare essentials up and running on a local, single-host Kubernetes machine.

Setting up a Production Kubernetes Cluster

Not surprisingly, things are a bit more complicated if you are setting up a Kubernetes cluster that runs on multiple servers and needs production-grade reliability and functionality.

To set up a production Kubernetes cluster, you follow these steps:

  • Acquire and provision host infrastructure: You need hardware to host your Kubernetes cluster. The hardware could be on-premise physical servers or virtual servers, or it could be a cloud-based environment. Either way, you'll need to set up the servers and install Linux-based operating systems on them as the first step toward getting started with Kubernetes. (As noted above, you can also use Windows for machines that you intend to operate as worker nodes.)
  • Install a container runtime: In addition to installing an operating system, you also need to provision your host infrastructure with a container runtime such as Docker or containerd.
  • Install Kubernetes: Once your host infrastructure is ready, you can begin installing Kubernetes. Since Kubernetes (as noted above) is composed of multiple components, you'll need to install each part individually. Start by installing all of the components you'll need on your master node (such as etcd, kube-scheduler, and kube-apiserver). Then, you can install kubelet and kube-proxy on your worker nodes. The way you go about installing these various tools will vary depending on which Kubernetes distribution you use; in general, however, each can be installed in your Linux distribution's package manager by downloading and opening the requisite package for each tool.
  • Install Kubectl: In order to interact with your cluster, you'll need to install Kubectl on whichever machines you plan to use to manage the cluster.
  • Configure Kubernetes: With all of the Kubernetes components installed on your hardware, you need to configure your installation so that the tools and nodes can talk to each other. A full discussion of configuring Kubernetes is beyond the scope of this page, but in a nutshell, you'll be editing various configuration files that are stored (in most Kubernetes distributions) under the /etc directory of your Linux file system. The configuration files will need to be modified with the IP addresses of your various nodes. You will also likely want to change various other configuration options from their defaults.

The Kubernetes setup process described above represents everything you have to do if you set up Kubernetes manually. Fortunately, Kubernetes distributions provide interactive installation tools (such as Canonical's Charmed Kubernetes tool for Ubuntu and the atomic-openshift-installer tool for OpenShift) that will walk you through the process of installing and configuring the various Kubernetes components. Or, if you use a fully managed Kubernetes service in the cloud, you don’t need to set anything up at all, as it’s already done for you.