DevOps - k3s


K3s is a lightweight, easy-to-install Kubernetes distribution designed for resource-constrained environments, making it an excellent choice for edge computing, IoT devices, and development clusters. This guide will explore various aspects of k3s, including installation, example use cases, security considerations, advanced features, and optimization tips.



Before installing k3s, ensure your server meets the following requirements:

  • Ubuntu/Debian-based system
  • Minimum 1GB RAM
  • Minimum 1 CPU
  • Docker installed (if not included in your distribution)

Install k3s

Run the following commands to install k3s:

curl -sfL | sh -

After installation, k3s will start automatically, and the Kubernetes cluster will be up and running.

Example Use Cases

1. Edge Computing

K3s is designed for edge computing scenarios where resources are limited. It allows you to deploy lightweight Kubernetes clusters on edge devices, enabling orchestration in environments with constrained resources.

2. IoT Deployments

For Internet of Things (IoT) applications, k3s provides an efficient way to manage and scale containerized workloads on edge devices. It simplifies deployment and maintenance in IoT ecosystems.

3. Development and Testing

K3s is an excellent choice for development and testing environments. Its lightweight nature allows developers to quickly spin up local clusters for testing Kubernetes configurations and applications.

Security Considerations

1. Securing the Cluster

K3s is designed with security in mind, but there are additional steps you can take to enhance security:

  • Regularly update k3s to benefit from the latest security patches.
  • Secure etcd data by enabling encryption. Modify the k3s server startup command to include --disable-agent.

2. Authentication and Authorization

Implement RBAC (Role-Based Access Control) to control access to the Kubernetes cluster. Define roles and role bindings to restrict permissions based on user roles.

3. Network Policies

Use Kubernetes Network Policies to define how pods can communicate with each other. This adds an extra layer of security by controlling traffic between pods.

Advanced Features

1. Helm Integration

K3s seamlessly integrates with Helm, the Kubernetes package manager. Use Helm to define, install, and upgrade even the most complex Kubernetes applications.

2. Built-in Traefik Ingress Controller

K3s comes with a built-in Traefik ingress controller, simplifying the process of exposing services to the internet. Customize Traefik settings in the traefik.toml configuration file.

3. External Database Integration

Consider using an external database (e.g., MySQL) for production scenarios and configure k3s to connect to it. This provides better data durability and separation of concerns.

Optimization Tips

1. Resource Allocation

Adjust resource allocation according to your cluster’s needs. Modify the k3s server startup command to set resource limits for CPU and memory.

2. Container Runtime Options

K3s supports multiple container runtimes, including containerd and Docker. Choose the runtime that best fits your requirements.

3. Monitoring and Logging

Implement monitoring and logging solutions to gain insights into cluster performance and detect potential issues. Tools like Prometheus and Grafana can be integrated for this purpose.


K3s is a powerful yet lightweight Kubernetes distribution suitable for various use cases. By following best practices for security, exploring advanced features, and optimizing resource usage, you can leverage k3s to manage containerized workloads in diverse environments efficiently.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.