Alpine k3s based single node Kubernetes cluster.

February 7, 2021

Setting up a Kubernetes cluster can be pretty straightforward, in this guide we are going to set up a Single Node Kubernetes cluster using Alpine and k3s. If you've worked with containers previously you should have some experience with Alpine and if not this is a great way to familiarize yourself.

I originally was using k3os (an operating system specifically for running k3s) but its terseness becomes slightly difficult to work around at a certain point.

The breaking point for k3os for me was utilizing 9p filesystem passthrough when running my cluster from inside a VM running on my KVM based baremetal Hypervisor, which I was not able to configure using k3os.

The beauty here is you don't need to concern yourself with the esoteric idiosyncrasy of various cloud providers. Instead, you can install Alpine in what ever environment most suites you.

This means your free to install Alpine on bare-metal, in a VM, or even on a cloud provider.

Alpine Install

I'm not going to cover how to install Alpine here in-depth.

You'll need to download the extended edition of Alpine, then flash to a USB or boot in a VM.

You'll find yourself at the login prompt and the username is root if you read the notes post login you'll see it mentions running a script to install Alpine.


Follow the directions and reboot. If you're running inside a VM for initial testing now is a good time to take a snapshot.

Alpine OS configurations

We need to set up SSH access. Feel free to enable root password SSH key access, although a more modern approach would be to download your Public Keys from Github.

apk add curl
mkdir ~/.ssh
touch ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
curl >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

Now you should be able to login!


K3s Install

Installing K3s is quite easy.

curl -sfL | INSTALL_K3S_EXEC="--write-kubeconfig-mode 644" sh -

At this point, we have a fully functional (single node) Kubernetes cluster!

kubectl get pods --all-namespaces

This will output the following.

NAMESPACE     NAME                                      READY   STATUS      RESTARTS   AGE
kube-system   local-path-provisioner-7c458769fb-mqcqm   1/1     Running     0          18m
kube-system   metrics-server-86cbb8457f-nwwb9           1/1     Running     0          18m
kube-system   coredns-854c77959c-4jcx8                  1/1     Running     0          18m
kube-system   helm-install-traefik-qgxr2                0/1     Completed   0          18m
kube-system   svclb-traefik-kgb8n                       2/2     Running     0          18m
kube-system   traefik-6f9cbd9bd4-5kk9d                  1/1     Running     0          18m

Remote Kubectl Access

Now to set up remote access and control of our Kubernetes cluster we can download the Kube config locally.

scp root@ALPINE_IP_ADDRESS:/etc/rancher/k3s/k3s.yaml ./

Once you have the file locally we need to edit the cluster IP address

apiVersion: v1
  - cluster:

At this point, we can move this to the default kube config location

mv k3s.yaml ~/.kube/config