Rancher Labs Intros Lightweight
Operating System for k3s
April 25, 2019
is a new operating system purpose-built for its popular k3s Kubernetes
distribution. Announced in February, k3s is a lightweight Kubernetes
distribution designed for developers and operators looking to run
Kubernetes in resource-constrained environments. With k3OS, Kubernetes
cluster configuration and the underlying OS configuration are defined
using the same declarative syntax as other Kubernetes resources. This
enables developers and operators to install and upgrade k3s and the
underlying operating system at the same time. It also allows them to
benefit from modeling infrastructure-as-code for reliable, repeatable
cluster deployments. This approach simplifies the administrator
experience and makes k3s clusters even more secure when running in
low-touch computing environments.
“While Kubernetes can be installed on any Linux distribution, separately
patching and upgrading it along with the underlying operating system can
be complex. A misconfiguration or security hole in system services can
compromise the entire Kubernetes cluster. With k3OS, users never have to
worry about unscheduled operating system upgrades, and security patches
will be applied for the entire software stack in just one step,” said
Sheng Liang, CEO and co-founder of Rancher Labs. “As a combined Linux
and Kubernetes distro, k3s running on k3OS will have the smallest attack
surface and the simplest upgrade process of any Kubernetes
An Ideal OS for Low-Touch Kubernetes Operations
Although k3OS works in public clouds and virtualization clusters, it is
particularly useful in low-touch environments like edge computing.
“As the second largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world, we've
been working with Rancher over the last year to develop the new
Kubernetes distro k3s,” says Wei Zhang, VP of technology at Goldwind
Smart Energy. “k3OS is the next step of technology evolution that helps
bring our vision of fully automated and highly secure Kubernetes
clusters on thousands of edge locations world-wide.”
Key features of k3OS include:
• Fast install: k3OS boots in
10 seconds, with k3s immediately available.
• Easy configuration:
Cloud-init enables automatic configuration of k3s during the boot
sequence, turning it from a generic image into a configured k3s instance
quickly and easily.
• Simplified patches and
upgrades: Administrators can manage the Kubernetes distro and Linux
distro from a common set of YAML files, and leverage Kubernetes to
orchestrate the rollout of operating system upgrades.
• Purpose-built for k3s:
Essential system services such as ssh, udev, bash and iptables are built
into the distribution image. No package manager is required.
• Ubuntu kernel: Rancher
leverages the excellent track record of Canonical’s Ubuntu server kernel
team to ensure timely security updates for k3OS and comprehensive device
• Multi-architecture support:
x86_64 support available now & Arm support available soon.
provides a complete solution for the entire DevOps lifecycle. By working
with k3OS and k3s, GitLab continues its investment in cloud native
technologies, providing users the ability to control the deployment and
configuration of Kubernetes and Linux with a single operational
process,” said Brandon Jung, VP of Alliances at GitLab. “GitLab looks
forward to working with customers implementing k3OS and k3s.”
Rancher Labs plans to ship a production-ready GA release later this
year. In the meantime, developers who are interested in downloading,
installing and playing with this new purpose-built operating system
should follow the project on k3OS.io.