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rancher /k3s

Lightweight Kubernetes

13.6K Stars 1.1K Forks Last release: 20 days ago (v1.16.13+k3s1) Apache License 2.0 1.4K Commits 172 Releases

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k3s - Lightweight Kubernetes

Lightweight Kubernetes. Easy to install, half the memory, all in a binary less than 100 MB.

Great for:

  • Edge
  • IoT
  • CI
  • Development
  • ARM
  • Embedding k8s
  • Situations where a PhD in k8s clusterology is infeasible

What is this?

k3s is a fully compliant Kubernetes distribution with the following changes:

  1. Packaged as a single binary.
  2. Lightweight storage backend based on sqlite3 as the default storage mechanism. etcd3, MySQL, Postgres also still available.
  3. Wrapped in simple launcher that handles a lot of the complexity of TLS and options.
  4. Secure by default with reasonable defaults for lightweight environments.
  5. Minimal to no OS dependencies (just a sane kernel and cgroup mounts needed). k3s packages required dependencies
    • containerd
    • Flannel
    • CoreDNS
    • CNI
    • Host utilities (iptables, socat, etc)
    • Ingress controller (traefik)
    • Embedded service loadbalancer
    • Embedded network policy controller

What's with the name?

We wanted an installation of Kubernetes that was half the size in terms of memory footprint. Kubernetes is a 10 letter word stylized as k8s. So something half as big as Kubernetes would be a 5 letter word stylized as k3s. There is no long form of k3s and no official pronunciation.


Please see the official docs site for complete documentation on k3s.

Quick-Start - Install Script

The k3s

script provides a convenient way for installing to systemd or openrc, to install k3s as a service just run:

curl -sfL | sh -

A kubeconfig file is written to


and the service is automatically started or restarted. The install script will install k3s and additional utilities, such as





, and

, for example:

sudo kubectl get nodes

is created at


on your server. To install on worker nodes we should pass


along with




environment variables, for example:

curl -sfL | K3S\_URL=https://myserver:6443 K3S\_TOKEN=XXX sh -

Manual Download

  1. Download
    from latest release, x86_64, armhf, and arm64 are supported.
  2. Run server.
sudo k3s server & # Kubeconfig is written to /etc/rancher/k3s/k3s.yaml sudo k3s kubectl get nodes # On a different node run the below. NODE\_TOKEN comes from # /var/lib/rancher/k3s/server/node-token on your server sudo k3s agent --server https://myserver:6443 --token ${NODE\_TOKEN}


Please check out our contributing guide if you're interesting in contributing to k3s.

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