Stars demo with the Mesos Docker Containerizer

This demo uses the stars network visualizer to simulate a frontend and backend service, as well as a client service and UI, all running on Mesos. It then configures network policy on each service.

The goal of this demo is to provide a meaningful visualization of how Calico manages security between services in a Mesos cluster.

For a deeper look at how to configure Calico with the Docker containerizer, check out Calico’s Docker Containerizer guide.


This demo requires a Mesos cluster with Calico-libnetwork running, along with a few additional components.

To simplify the setup, we have created a Vagrant file to quickly deploy a master and two agents. Follow the Vagrant Mesos Guide to get started.

Your cluster should contain the following components.

  • Mesos Master Instance -
    • Etcd -
    • Marathon -
    • Marathon Load Balancer -
    • calico/node and calico/node-libnetwork running in Docker 1.9+
  • Two Mesos Agent Instances -,
    • Calicoctl
    • calico/node and calico/node-libnetwork running in Docker 1.9+


We will launch the following four dummy tasks across the cluster using the Docker containerizer:

  • Backend
  • Frontend
  • Client
  • Management-UI

Client, Backend, and Frontend will each be run as a star-probe, which will attempt to communicate with each other probe, and report their status on a self-hosted my-calico-net.

Management-UI runs star-collect, which collects the status from each of the probes and generates a viewable web page illustrating the current state of the network. We will use the Marathon load balancer to access the Stars UI using port mapping from the host to the Management UI container.

Getting Started


On each agent, pull the Docker image calico/star:v0.5.0 to speed up the Marathon install once the tasks start.

docker pull calico/star:v0.5.0

On your master, download the stars.json from this directory.

1. Create a Docker network

With Calico, a Docker network represents a logical set of rules that define the allowed traffic in and out of containers assigned to that network. The rules are encapsulated in a Calico “profile”. Each Docker network is assigned its own Calico profile.

For this demo, we will create a network for each service so that we can specify a unique set of rules for each. Run the following commands on any agent to create the networks:

docker network create --driver calico --ipam-driver calico --subnet= management-ui
docker network create --driver calico --ipam-driver calico client
docker network create --driver calico --ipam-driver calico frontend
docker network create --driver calico --ipam-driver calico backend

The subnet is passed in here to ensure that the IP address of the management-ui can be statically configured.

Check that our networks were created by running the following command on any agent:

$ docker network ls

NETWORK ID          NAME                DRIVER
5b20a79c129e        bridge              bridge
60290468013e        none                null
726dcd49f16c        host                host
58346b0b626a        management-ui       calico
9c419a7a6474        backend             calico
9cbe2b294d34        client              calico
ff613162c710        frontend            calico

2. Launch the demo

With your networks created, it is trivial to launch a Docker container through Mesos using the standard Marathon UI and API.

Using Marathon’s REST API to Launch Calico Tasks

You can launch a new task by passing a JSON blob to the Marathon REST API.

Example JSON

Here’s a sample blob of what the Management UI task looks like as JSON.

  "apps": [
        "id": "management-ui",
        "cmd": "star-probe --urls=http://frontend.calico-stars.marathon.mesos:9000/status,http://backend.calico-stars.marathon.mesos:9000/status",
        "cpus": 0.1,
        "mem": 64.0,
        "ipAddress": {
          "discovery": {
            "ports": [{ "number": 9001, "name": "http", "protocol": "tcp" }]
        "container": {
          "type": "DOCKER"
          "docker": {
            "image": "mesosphere/star:v0.3.0",
            "parameters": [
              { "key": "net", "management-ui" },
              { "key": "ip", "value": "" }
          "HAPROXY_GROUP": "external",
          "HAPROXY_0_VHOST": ""

There are a few things of note here:

  • The discovery field, which opens port 9001 over tcp to be discovered by the Marathon load-balancer.
  • The parameters field, which specifies:
    • The Docker network to join
    • A specific IP address from the Calico Pool to set as the Management UI IP
  • The labels field, which passes the virtual hostname label to the load-balancer to map this name to the management-ui webpage,
    • Now, if you to set a hostname mapping of to point at the load-balancer host’s IP address, you will be able to access the management-ui by visiting that hostname.
Start a Task

To speed things up, we’ll use the prefilled stars.json file that you downloaded earlier on your agent. This file contains four tasks to create containers for the management-ui, client, frontend, and backend services.

First you’ll need to set the MARATHON_IP to be the IP address of the machine that is running Marathon:


Then, using the Mesos agent that contains the stars.json file, launch a new Marathon task with the following curl command (make sure that you are using the correct path to the stars.json file):

curl -X PUT -H "Content-Type: application/json" http://$MARATHON_IP:8080/v2/groups/calico-stars  -d @stars.json

You can run this curl command from any of the machines in the cluster.

You can view the Marathon dashboard by visiting http://<MARATHON_IP>:8080 in your browser.

3. View the Management UI

Now that we have configured our Marathon tasks, let’s view the Stars UI.

View the Stars UI from a Browser

As mentioned above, the Stars Management UI container JSON passes a port mapping to the Marathon load balancer when creating the container. Since the load balancer is running on Mesos Master, you can access the UI’s port 9001 from your machine by adding an entry to your host table called, which points to the Mesos Master IP (the marathon-lb host).

On Linux and OSX machines, you would do this by editing /etc/hosts and adding:

Before we configure Calico policy for the UI, let’s try to access the webpage on Master from a machine that can reach the Master IP:

Our connection is refused since the default behavior of a Calico profile is to only allow inbound traffic from nodes with the same profile (or from nodes in the same network, in this case).

Allow Traffic to management-ui Network

Let’s view the rules for the management-ui network’s profile by running the calicoctl profile <profile> rule show command:

$ calicoctl profile management-ui rule show

Inbound rules:
   1 allow from tag management-ui
Outbound rules:
   1 allow

As you can see, the default rules allow all outbound traffic, but only accept inbound traffic from endpoints also attached to the management-ui network.

Lets re-configure the profile to allow connections to port 9001 from anywhere, so we can access it in the browser:

calicoctl profile management-ui rule remove inbound allow from tag management-ui
calicoctl profile management-ui rule add inbound allow tcp to ports 9001

At this point, the web page is viewable, but there is no data or information about the cluster connections. This is because the client, frontend, and backend networks are also blocking incoming traffic!

Allow Traffic to client, frontend, and backend Networks

Let’s add a rule to each network to allow the management-ui network to probe port 9000 of the three other networks:

calicoctl profile client rule add inbound allow tcp from tag management-ui to ports 9000
calicoctl profile backend rule add inbound allow tcp from tag management-ui to ports 9000
calicoctl profile frontend rule add inbound allow tcp from tag management-ui to ports 9000

Lets try the webpage again:

The nodes are viewable! However, there are no connections between the nodes since we have not yet configured policy for this. Let’s configure sensible network policy between the services in our cluster so that certain networks can talk to others.

Configure Additional Policy

Lets add some policy to make the following statements true:

The frontend services should respond to requests from clients:

calicoctl profile frontend rule add inbound allow tcp from tag client to ports 9001

The backend services should respond to requests from the frontend:

calicoctl profile backend rule add inbound allow tcp from tag frontend to ports 9001

Lets see what our cluster looks like now:

Hooray! You’ve configured policy with Calico to allow specific networks to accept traffic from other networks in your cluster!