New Ubuntu Quirks

So, I install Ubuntu 17 clean on my laptop after the issues I had with drivers and immediately found out that gksu was not installed.

Installed that and tried to

gksudo nautilus

That failed and found out that Wayland had replaced the default of Xorg. Found an old Xauthority file from my backups and copied that back, which allowed me to get the popup window back for my gksu, but I couldn’t click it to enter the password :(

Then I found this article:

Which tells me I need to use the admin:/// file prefix instead to open something up as admin. Guess I’ll give it a go later.

Upgrading Ubuntu (fun! ¬_¬)

Spent several hours trying to upgrade my Ubuntu installation from 15 up to the latest 17. The upgrade didn’t fail, but I did see a few error messages, and now I have applications failing to start for various reasons, including the settings applet; and when I install or use my nvidia drivers, ubuntu doesn’t start up properly until I do

apt-get purge nvidia*

But removing all the nvidia stuff causes it to fallback to nouveau which for the most part works, but not exactly good for any linux gaming.

Looks like it’s going to be a full-reinstall job to make sure everything is clean :(

Tunnelling to Kubernetes Nodes & Pods via a Bastion

A quick note to remind myself (and other people) how to tunnel to a node (or pod) in Kubernetes via the bastion server

rm ~/.ssh/known_hosts #Needed if you keep scaling the bastion up/down


ssh -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no -o ProxyCommand='ssh -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no -W %h:%p admin@bastion.{cluster-domain}' admin@$DEST

Run like this:

bash ./ NODE_IP


bash ./ #Assuming is the node you want to connect to.

You can extend this by using this to ssh into a pod, assuming the pod has an SSH server on it.

BASTION=bastion.${cluster domain name}

ssh -o ProxyCommand="ssh -W %h:%p admin@$BASTION" admin@$NODE ssh -tto StrictHostKeyChecking=no $PODUSER@localhost -p $NODEPORT

So if you have service listening on port 32000 on node that expects a login user of "poduser", you would do this:

bash ./ 32000 poduser

If you have to pass a password you can install sshpass on the node, then use that (be aware of security risk though – this is not an ideal solution)

ssh -o ProxyCommand="ssh -W %h:%p admin@$BASTION" admin@$NODE sshpass -p ${password} ssh -tto StrictHostKeyChecking=no $PODUSER@localhost -p $NODEPORT

Caveat though — you will have to make sure that your node security group allows your bastion security group to talk to the nodes on the additional ports. By default, the only port that the bastions are able to talk to the node security groups on is SSH (22) only.

How to using S3 as a RWM/NFS-like store in Kubernetes

Let’s assume you have an application that runs happily on its own and is stateless. No problem. You deploy it onto Kubernetes and it works fine. You kill the pod and it respins, happily continuing where it left off.

Let’s add three replicas to the group. That also is fine, since its stateless.

Let’s now change that so that the application is now stateful and requires storage of where it is in between runs. So you pre-provision a disk using EBS and hook that up into the pods, and convert the deployment to a stateful set. Great, it still works fine. All three will pick up where they left off.

Now, what if we wanted to share the same state between the replicas?

For example, what if these three replicas were frontend boxes to a website? Having three different disks is a bad idea unless you can guarantee they will all have the same content. Even if you can, there’s guaranteed to be a case where one or more of the boxes will be either behind or ahead of the other boxes, and consequently have a case where one or more of the boxes will serve the wrong version of content.

There are several options for shared storage, NFS is the most logical but requires you to pre-provision a disk that will be used and also to either have an NFS server outside the cluster or create an NFS pod within the cluster. Also, you will likely over-provision your disk here (100GB when you only need 20GB for example)

Another alternative is EFS, which is Amazon’s NFS storage, where you mount an NFS and only pay for the amount of storage you use. However, even when creating a filesystem in a public subnet, you get a private IP which is useless if you are not DirectConnected into the VPC.

Another option is S3, but how do you use that short of using “s3 sync” repeatedly?

One answer is through the use of s3fs and sshfs

We use s3fs to mount the bucket into a pod (or pods), then we can use those mounts via sshfs as an NFS-like configuration.

The downside to this setup is the fact it will be slower than locally mounted disks.

So here’s the yaml for the s3fs pods (change values within {…} where applicable) — details at Docker Hub here:

(and yes, I could convert the environment variables into secrets and reference those, and I might do a follow up article for that)

kind: Deployment
apiVersion: extensions/v1beta1
  name: s3fs
  namespace: default
    k8s-app: s3fs
  annotations: {}
  replicas: 1
      k8s-app: s3fs
      name: s3fs
        k8s-app: s3fs
      - name: s3fs
        image: blenderfox/s3fs
        - name: S3_BUCKET
          value: {...}
        - name: S3_REGION
          value: {...}
        - name: AWSACCESSKEYID
          value: {...}
          value: {...}
        - name: REMOTEKEY
          value: {...}
          value: {...}
        resources: {}
        imagePullPolicy: Always
          privileged: true
      restartPolicy: Always
      terminationGracePeriodSeconds: 30
      dnsPolicy: ClusterFirst
      securityContext: {}
      schedulerName: default-scheduler
    type: RollingUpdate
      maxUnavailable: 25%
      maxSurge: 25%
  revisionHistoryLimit: 10
  progressDeadlineSeconds: 600
kind: Service
apiVersion: v1
  name: s3-service
  annotations: {hostnamehere} "3600"
    name: s3-service
  - protocol: TCP
    name: ssh
    port: 22
    targetPort: 22
    k8s-app: s3fs
  type: LoadBalancer
  sessionAffinity: None
  externalTrafficPolicy: Cluster

This will create a service and a pod

If you have external DNS enabled, the hostname will be added to Route 53.

SSH into the service and verify you can access the bucket mount

ssh bucketuser@dns-name ls -l /mnt/bucket/

(This should give you the listing of the bucket and also should have user:group set on the directory as “bucketuser”)

You should also be able to rsync into the bucket using this

rsync -rvhP /source/path bucketuser@dns-name:/mnt/bucket/

Or sshfs using a similar method

sshfs bucketuser@dns-name:/mnt/bucket/ /path/to/local/mountpoint

Edit the connection timeout annotation if needed

Now, if you set up a pod that has three replicas and all three sshfs to the same service, you essentially have an NFS-like storage.


Guide to creating a Kubernetes Cluster in existing subnets & VPC on AWS with kops

This article is a guide on how to setup a Kubernetes cluster in AWS using kops and plugging it into your own subnets and VPC. We attempt to minimise the external IPs used in this method.

Export your AWS API keys into environment variables

export CLUSTER_NAME="my-cluster-name"
export VPC="vpc-xxxxxx"
export K8SSTATE="s3-k8sstate"</pre>

Create the cluster (you can change some of these switches to match your requirements. I would suggest only using one worker node and one master node to begin with and then increase them once you have confirmed the config is good. The more workers and master nodes you have, the longer it will take to run a rolling-update.

kops create cluster --cloud aws --name $CLUSTER_NAME --state s3://$K8SSTATE --node-count 1 --zones eu-west-1a,eu-west-1b,eu-west-1c --node-size t2.micro --master-size t2.micro --master-zoneseu-west-1a,eu-west-1b,eu-west-1c --ssh-public-key ~/.ssh/ --topology=private --networking=weave --associate-public-ip=false --vpc $VPC

Important note: There must be an ODD number of master zones. If you tell kops to use an even number zones for master, it will complain.

If you want to use additional security groups, don’t add them yet — add them after you have confirmed the cluster is working.

Internal IPs: You must have a VPN connection into your VPC or you will not be able to ssh into the instances. The alternative is to use the bastion functionality using the --bastion flag with the create command. Then doing this:

ssh -i ~/.ssh/id_rsa -o ProxyCommand='ssh -W %h:%p admin@bastion.$CLUSTER_NAME' admin@INTERNAL_MASTER_IP

However, if you do this method, you MUST then use public IP addressing on the api load balancer, as you will not be able to do kops validate otherwise.

Edit the cluster

kops edit cluster $CLUSTER_NAME --state=s3://$K8SSTATE

Make the following changes:

If you have a VPN connection into the VPC, change spec.api.loadBalancer.type to “Internal“, otherwise, leave it as “Public
Change spec.subnets to match your private subnets. To use existing private subnets, they should also include the id of the subnet and match the CIDR range, e.g.:

- cidr:
  id: subnet-xxxxxxx
  name: eu-west-1a
  type: Private
  zone: eu-west-1a</pre>

The utility subnet is where the Bastion hosts will be placed, and these should be in a public subnet, since they will be the inbound route into the cluster from the internet.

If you need to change or add specific IAM permissions, add them under spec.additionalPolicies like this to add additional policies to the node IAM policy (apologies about the formatting. WordPress is doing something weird to it.)

  node: | 
        "Effect": "Allow", 
        "Action": ["dynamodb:*"],
        "Resource": ["*"] 
        "Effect": "Allow",  
        "Action": ["es:*"],     
        "Resource": ["*"]     

Edit the bastion, nodes, and master configs (MASTER_REGION is the zone where you placed the master. If you are running a multi-region master config, you’ll have to do this for each region)

kops edit ig master-{MASTER_REGION} --name=$CLUSTER_NAME --state s3://$K8SSTATE

kops edit ig nodes --name=$CLUSTER_NAME --state s3://$K8SSTATE
kops edit ig bastions --name=$CLUSTER_NAME --state s3://$K8SSTATE

Check and make any updates.

If you want a mixture of instance types (e.g. t2.mediums and r3.larges), you’ll need to separate these using new instance groups ($SUBNETS is the subnets where you want the nodes to appear — for example, you can provide a list “eu-west-2a,eu-west-2b)

kops create ig anothernodegroup --state s3://$K8SSTATE --subnets $SUBNETS

You can later delete this with

kops delete ig anothernodegroup --state s3://$K8SSTATE

If you want to use spot prices, add this under the spec section (x.xx is the price you want to bid):

maxPrice: "x.xx"

Check the instance size and count if you want to change them (I would recommend not changing the node count just yet)

If you want to add tags to the instances (for example for billing), add something like this to the spec section:

  Billing: product-team</pre>

If you want to run some script(s) at node startup (cloud-init), add them to spec.additionalUserData:

  - name:
    type: text/x-shellscript
    content: |
      echo "Hello World.  The time is now $(date -R)!" | tee /root/output.txt

Apply the update:

kops update cluster $CLUSTER_NAME --state s3://$K8SSTATE --yes

Wait for DNS to propagate and then validate

kops validate cluster --state s3://$K8SSTATE

Once the cluster returns ready, apply the Kubernetes dashboard

kubectl apply -f

Access the dashboard via


also try:


If the first doesn’t work

(ignore the cert error)

Username is “admin” and the password is found from your local ~/.kube/config

Add the External DNS update to allow you to give friendly names to your externally-exposed services rather than the horrible elb names.

See here:

(You can apply the yaml directly onto the cluster via the dashboard. Make sure you change the filter to match your domain or subdomain. )

Note that if you use this, you’ll need to change the node IAM policy on the cluster config as the default IAM policy won’t allow the External DNS container to modify Route 53 entries, and also annotate (use kubectl annotate $service_name key:value) your service with text such as: $SERVICE_NAME.$CLUSTERNAME

And also you might need this annotation, to make the ELB internal rather than public – otherwise Kubernetes will complain “Error creating load balancer (will retry): Failed to ensure load balancer for service namespace/service: could not find any suitable subnets for creating the ELB”

(Optional) Add the Cockpit pod to your cluster as described here

It will allow you to visually see a topology of your cluster at a cluster and also provides some management features too. For example, here’s my cluster. It contains 5 nodes (1 master, 4 workers and is running 4 services (Kubernetes, external-dns, cockpit, and dashboard). Cockpit creates a replication controller so it knows about the changes.


Add any additional security groups by adding this under the spec section of the node/master/bastions config, then do a rolling-update (you might need to use the --force switch), do this as soon as you can after creating and verifying the cluster updates work.

- sg-xxxxxxxx
- sg-xxxxxxxx

If the cluster breaks after this (i.e. the nodes haven’t shown up on the master), reboot the server (don’t terminate, use the reboot option from the AWS console), and see if that helps. If it still doesn’t show up, there’s something wrong with the security groups attached — i.e. they’re conflicting somehow with the Kubernetes access. Remove those groups and then do another rolling-update but use both the --force and --cloudonly switches to force a “dirty” respin.

If the cluster comes up good, then you can change the node counts on the configs and apply the update.

Note that if you change the node count and then apply the update, the cluster attempts to make the update without rolling-update. For example, if you change the node count from 1 to 3, the cluster attempts to bring up the 2 additional nodes.

Other things you can look at:

Kompose – which converts a docker-compose configuration into Kubernetes resources

Finally, have fun!

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