A Night with Kubernetes

Mar 21, 2018 23:13 · 1312 words · 7 minute read devops cloud

Kubernetes logo

Kubernetes Logo.

What is Kubernetes?

Dealing with lot of applications that are containerized (ie. via docker) and installed across regions can cause headache; from restarting containers, deploying to multiple nodes, scaling, etc. Kubernetes is a tool to help us deal with such situation by putting those containers in a cluster.

Kubernetes Cluster, Nodes, Deployments, and Pods

Knowing these four terms will help us understand how Kubernetes work. Cluster is basically a pool of machines, which at least one of it acts as a cluster master, and the other machines act as worker machines (slaves). As you may’ve guessed, master machine will manage the operation of its slaves. Node is a term used to address a worker machine in a cluster. Deployments refer to the applications we want to deploy or have deployed. Pod, the smallest unit in Kubernetes, is a group of one or more containers that makes up an application or service. You can think of pod as your logical host, or virtual machine. The overall logical view of a Kubernetes cluster would look like this:

▾ Kubernetes Cluster
  ▾ Master #1
    ▾ Deployment "app1"
      ▾ Node #1
        ▾ Pod "app1-2035384211"
        Pod ...
    ▾ Deployment "app2"
      ▾ Node #1
        Pod "app2-2035384224"
        Pod ...
    ▾ Deployment "app3"
      ▾ Node #1
        Pod "app3-2035384277"
      ▾ Node #2
        Pod "app3-2035384122"
    ▾ Deployment "app-xyz"
  ▾ Master #N

Figure 1: Logical view of typical Kubernetes cluster

As shown in above structure, it’s a a Kubernetes cluster with single master. However, we still can add more master (master N). Our master #1 currently contains 3 deployments; app1, app2, and app3. In practice, you’d see those three apps as web server, cache, or your custom application.

The app1 has been deployed to one node, Node #1. Each deployment will have a unique suffix in its pod name, just like app1-2035384211. Digging deeper into pod app1-2035384211, we know that it runs two containers; nginx and redis. For every pod we have in our Kubernetes cluster, we can execute command (bash, etc) in it using kubectl. Below command will run bash in nginx container of pod app1-2035384211:

kubectl exec -it app1-2035384211 --container nginx -- /bin/bash

Going to deployment app2, it shows that pod app2-2035384224 has been deployed to Node #1, which means that at this point, our Node #1 contains 2 deployments; app1 and app2. Deployment app3 is a bit different than the previous two deployments because it has been deployed to two nodes (Node #1 and Node #2). In other words, our app3 has been scaled into two instances, which spread into two nodes. Together with app3, our Node #1 now contains 3 deployments; app1, app2, and app3. Our Node #2 however, only contains single pod so far, which is app3-2035384122.

Creating Kubernetes Cluster

To simulate the structure in figure 1, we’ll create a Kubernetes Cluster of three machines. One machine for cluster master, and other two as nodes. Let’s name these machines as vm1, vm2, and vm3 for this demonstration. Next, creating the cluster is quite straightforward:

1. Install kubernetes dependencies

# taken from 
# https://zihao.me/post/creating-a-kubernetes-cluster-from-scratch-with-kubeadm/

# 1. prepare new repos
apt-get -y install apt-transport-https ca-certificates software-properties-common curl

# 2. add docker repo
curl -fsSL https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu/gpg | apt-key add -
add-apt-repository \
       "deb [arch=amd64] https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu \
       $(lsb_release -cs) \

# 3. add kubernetes repo
curl -fsSL https://packages.cloud.google.com/apt/doc/apt-key.gpg | apt-key  add -
add-apt-repository \
      "deb https://apt.kubernetes.io/ \
      kubernetes-$(lsb_release -cs) \

# install dependencies
apt-get update && apt-get install -y docker-ce kubelet kubeadm kubernetes-cni

If everything went well, the docker, kubectl, and kubeadm commands should be available in your machines.

2. Initialize vm1 as master

  • ssh to vm1
  • run kubeadm init

The kubeadm init command will output something like this:

kubeadm join --token token.abc.def {server_ip}:6443 --discovery-token-ca-cert-hash sha256:blabla

3. Make the other machines join the cluster

  • ssh to vm2
  • run the kubeadm join command from step 2
  • install container network interface (CNI1)

    # using weave CNI for now, but you can try other choices
    kubectl apply -f https://git.io/weave-kube-1.6
  • repeat for vm3


The two important parts to create Kubernetes cluster from above steps is that we did kubeadm init in vm1 to make it as cluster master, and then kubeadm join ... from other machines to join the cluster.

Now that we’ve a cluster master and joined the other two machines to our cluster master, we can verify if it’s reflected in our list nodes by executing this command in cluster master: kubectl get nodes

kubernetes nodes

Figure 2: Displaying Kubernetes nodes

If you forgot to install CNI in step 3, your node status will likely yield Pending instead of Ready

In figure 2, you must have noticed that before we run kubectl get nodes, we set an environment variable KUBECONFIG. This variable refers to the config file used by kubectl, which defaults to ~/.kube/config. However, we changed it since the we want the kubectl to interact with our cluster master, whose config is stored /etc/kubernetes/admin.conf (generated when we run kubeadm init command). Another approach if we don’t want to change the KUBECONFIG is to pass a config file to kubectl’s --kubeconfig arg, as follow:

kubectl get nodes --kubeconfig=/etc/kubernetes/admin.conf

Creating Deployment

You can create Kubernetes deployment using file or directly passing container’s image url. For this demonstration, we’ll create a deployment named app1 which simply is a hello-world-nginx app pulled from public docker hub at kitematic/hello-world-nginx. To do so, we just need to execute this command:

kubectl run app1 --image=kitematic/hello-world-nginx --port=80

Above command will create one deployment named app1 and one pod which name prefix is app1. The --port=80 argument indicates that we want to expose port 80 of the image. To verify if the deployment and pod exist, run this command:

kubectl get deployments
kubectl get pods

kubernetes deployments

Figure 3: Listing Kubernetes deployments and pods

As shown in above image, we’ve successfully deployed our app1 and the pods is running in one of our node. To get more detailed info of our app1-ff7b44c5d-q8rxd pod (the node where the pod has been deployed, state, IP, restart count, etc.), run this command:

kubectl describe pods app1-ff7b44c5d-q8rxd

Exposing Deployments

Creating deployments will only create pods and assign it to internal IP of the cluster, which doesn’t make the app accessible from outside vm; we can’t access app1 from {ip-of-vm}:{port-of-app1}. To make the app publicly accessible, we’ll need to expose our deployment. For this demonstration, we’ll use the NodePort type which will bind our deployment port to vm’s port:

kubectl expose deployment app1 --type=NodePort --port 80

Once app1 is exposed, we can verify by checking the list of ports have been bound to our vm (the Kubernetes Services2), using kubectl get service:

kubernetes services

Figure 4: List of Kubernetes Services

We can see that port 80 of our app1 is bound to port 30485 (of our vm1), which means that the app1 is now publicly accessible from {ip-of-vm1}:30485. If the IP of your vm1 is, then you can access app1 from


That’s it! We’ve explored quite a lot of Kubernetes; the structure, nodes, deployments, and all the way down to make the app accessible from internet. Of course, accessing your app from instead of is not intuitive, which is why, in practice, we’d put another layer to handle it (ie. proxy, load balancer, or ingress3).

The next thing that you may want to explore is Kubernetes Dashboard, which enables us to control all Kubernetes things visually; deploying nodes, executing command in pods, deleting deployments, adjusting number of replicas, etc.

Lastly, while this post is not meant to be an in-depth notes of Kubernetes, hopefully it gives you a better idea of what Kubernetes is and what is it capable of. Also, they’ve a very complete documentation, which is awesome! See it here: https://kubernetes.io/docs/home/

“It turns out to be a long night of exploring Kubernetes” 😆

Till next. See ya!

 View on Github Last updated Jun 29, 2019 (4:14am) 
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