Calico Kubernetes Hosted Install

Calico can be installed on a Kubernetes cluster with a single command.

kubectl apply -f calico.yaml

We maintain several manifests. Which one you use depends on the specific requirements of your Calico installation:

Standard Hosted Install

This manifest installs Calico for use with an existing etcd cluster. This is the recommended hosted approach for deploying Calico in production.

Kubeadm Hosted Install

This manifest installs Calico as well as a single node etcd cluster. This is the recommended hosted approach for getting started quickly with Calico in conjunction with tools like kubeadm.

Etcdless Hosted Install

This manifest installs Calico in a mode where it does not require its own etcd cluster. This is an experimental mode in which the Kubernetes API is used by Calico as its datastore.

How it works

Each manifest contains all the necessary resources for installing Calico on each node in your Kubernetes cluster.

It installs the following Kubernetes resources:

  • The calico-config ConfigMap, which contains parameters for configuring the install.
  • Installs the calico/node container on each host using a DaemonSet.
  • Installs the Calico CNI binaries and network config on each host using a DaemonSet.
  • Runs the calico/kube-policy-controller in a Deployment.
  • The calico-etcd-secrets Secret, which optionally allows for providing etcd TLS assets.

Configuration options

The ConfigMap in calico.yaml provides a way to configure a Calico self-hosted installation. It exposes the following configuration parameters:

Configuring the Pod IP range

Calico IPAM assigns IP addresses from IP pools. The standard and kubeadm manifests include an ippool.yaml file which configures the default IP pool used by Calico.

To change the default IP range used for pods, modify the cidr section of the IP pool.


The etcdless Calico manifest does not include an IP pool configuration, as IP allocation is done based on the Kubernetes node.PodCIDR field, not Calico IP pools.


The kubeadm Calico manifest also configures ipip encapsulation on the pool by default.

Etcd Configuration

By default, these manifests do not configure secure access to etcd and assume an etcd proxy is running on each host. The following configuration options let you specify custom etcd cluster endpoints as well as TLS.

The following table outlines the supported ConfigMap options for etcd:

Option Description Default
etcd_endpoints A comma separated list of etcd nodes.
etcd_ca The location of the CA mounted in the pods deployed by the DaemonSet. None
etcd_key The location of the client cert mounted in the pods deployed by the DaemonSet. None
etcd_cert The location of the client key mounted in the pods deployed by the DaemonSet. None

To use these manifests with a TLS enabled etcd cluster you must do the following:

  • Populate the calico-etcd-secrets Secret with the contents of the following files:
    • etcd-ca
    • etcd-key
    • etcd-cert
  • Populate the following options in the ConfigMap which will trigger the various services to expect the provided TLS assets:
    • etcd_ca: /calico-secrets/etcd-ca
    • etcd_key: /calico-secrets/etcd-key
    • etcd_cert: /calico-secrets/etcd-cert

Other Configuration Options

The following table outlines the remaining supported ConfigMap options:

Option Description Default
calico_backend The backend to use. bird
cni_network_config The CNI Network config to install on each node. Supports templating as described below.  

CNI Network Config Template Support

The cni_network_config configuration option supports the following template fields, which will be filled in automatically by the calico/cni container:

Field Substituted with
__KUBERNETES_SERVICE_HOST__ The Kubernetes Service ClusterIP. e.g
__KUBERNETES_SERVICE_PORT__ The Kubernetes Service port. e.g 443
__SERVICEACCOUNT_TOKEN__ The serviceaccount token for the namespace, if one exists.
__ETCD_ENDPOINTS__ The etcd endpoints specified in etcd_endpoints.
__KUBECONFIG_FILEPATH__ The path to the automatically generated kubeconfig file in the same directory as the CNI network config file.
__ETCD_KEY_FILE__ The path to the etcd key file installed to the host, empty if no key present.
__ETCD_CERT_FILE__ The path to the etcd cert file installed to the host, empty if no cert present.
__ETCD_CA_CERT_FILE__ The path to the etcd CA file installed to the host, empty if no CA present.

Using calicoctl with a self-hosted installation


The following information applies to the etcdv2 backend only. See the etcdless hosted install for how to run calicoctl in an etcdless installation.

Using calicoctl is no different on a self-hosted installation. However, the manifests above do not install calicoctl.

You can install calicoctl by downloading the appropriate release to any machine with access to your etcd cluster by setting ETCD_ENDPOINTS. For example:

ETCD_ENDPOINTS=http://etcd:2379 calicoctl get profile

You can also run calicoctl as a Kubernetes Pod directly using the following command:

kubectl apply -f -<<EOF
apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
  name: calicoctl 
  namespace: kube-system
  hostNetwork: true
  - name: calicoctl
    image: calico/ctl:v1.0.1
    command: ["/bin/sh", "-c", "while true; do sleep 3600; done"]
    - name: ETCD_ENDPOINTS
          name: calico-config
          key: etcd_endpoints

You can then run calicoctl commands through the Pod with kubectl:

$ kubectl exec -ti -n kube-system calicoctl -- /calicoctl get profiles -o wide
NAME                 TAGS
k8s_ns.default       k8s_ns.default
k8s_ns.kube-system   k8s_ns.kube-system


When calicoctl is run as a Pod, the calicoctl node suite of commands is not available.

See the calicoctl reference guide for more information.