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Create and manage Kubernetes clusters on AWS using Terraform.

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kaws is a tool for creating and managing Kubernetes clusters on AWS using Terraform. It ties together several other tools to make Kubernetes deployment easy, repeatable, and secure.

kaws is not intended to support every possible deployment scenario for Kubernetes clusters. It follows a specific approach used by InQuicker, involving specific software, services, and conventions. Specifically, kaws creates Kubernetes clusters in AWS using CoreOS servers, all managed by declarative configuration files with Terraform.


kaws has not yet reached version 1.0, and is not recommended for production usage until it has. In accordance with Semantic Versioning, while kaws is < 1.0, backwards incompatible changes may occur. See the issues for details.

The CoreOS and Kubernetes teams have plans for Kubernetes to be "self-hosting" in the future. If and when this vision is complete, there won't need to be such tight coupling between infrastructure provisioning and Kubernetes tooling. At that point, kaws (and likely kube-aws, see the next section) may be retired. See Self-Hosted Kubernetes and bootkube for more information.

kaws has not been reviewed by security professionals. For information about the threat model of kaws, see the security document.

Similar tools

When kaws was originally created, none of the following tools existed, which is why we chose to develop it. Since then, these tools have been released publicly. They are each developed by larger teams and with broader use cases in mind. kaws is still used by InQuicker because it works the best with our particular configuration. However, you should consider these other tools instead, if they fit your needs:

  • kube-aws from CoreOS. This is the most similar to kaws, but does not use Terraform.
  • kops from Kubernetes. Supports exporting configuration to Terraform format, but is not built around a Terraform-based infrastructure. Does not default to CoreOS servers. Unclear what the relationship is with kubeadm, since both projects are under the Kubernetes organization.
  • kubeadm from Kubernetes. An alpha-status tool included with the Kubernetes distribution itself. Does not handle the infrastructure Kubernetes is running on.



FLAGS: -h, --help Prints help information -V, --version Prints version information

SUBCOMMANDS: admin Commands for managing cluster administrators cluster Commands for managing a cluster's infrastructure help Prints this message or the help message of the given subcommand(s) init Initializes a new repository for managing Kubernetes clusters

Start by creating a new repository with the



  • Define infrastructure as code for predictability and repeatability
  • Produce secure, highly available Kubernetes clusters
  • Generate and distribute Kubernetes API access credentials securely
  • Avoid shell scripting as much as possible

Supported platforms

At this time, kaws has only been developed for and tested on macOS.

Installing dependencies

kaws requires the following other programs to be available on your system:

  • Terraform, version 0.8 or greater
  • cfssl Important: cfssl must be built with Go 1.8+. If you have Go 1.8+ installed, you can install cfssl with
    go get -u
    . Make sure
    is in your PATH. See
  • kubectl, version 1.7 or greater


All the dependencies can be installed with Homebrew:

brew install terraform cfssl kubernetes-cli

Installing kaws

Once all the required dependencies are installed on your system, you can install kaws.

Precompiled binaries

Signed precompiled binaries for tagged version numbers are available for download on the releases page.

Building from source

  1. Install the appropriate version of Rust for your system.
  2. Run
    git clone [email protected]:InQuicker/kaws.git
  3. Inside the freshly cloned repository, run
    cargo build --release
  4. Copy the binary from
    to a directory in your PATH, such as


Detailed documentation is available in the docs directory. A good place to start is the overview.


To package the current release for distribution, update

in the Makefile and then run
. Release artifacts will be written to the
directory. Your GPG secret key will be required to sign

Docker images for

will be created, but you must push them manually.
cargo publish
must be run manually to release to


kaws is released under the MIT license. See

for details.

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