Etcdless Hosted Install

This document describes installing Calico on Kubernetes in a mode that does not require access to an etcd cluster. Note that this feature is still experimental and currently comes with a number of limitations, namely:

  • Calico without etcd performs policy enforcement only and does not yet support Calico BGP networking.
  • Calico without etcd does not yet support Calico IPAM. It is recommended to use host-local IPAM in conjunction with Kubernetes pod CIDR assignments.
  • Calico without etcd does not yet support the full set of calicoctl commands.


The provided manifest configures Calico to use host-local IPAM in conjunction with the Kubernetes assigned pod CIDRs for each node.

You must have a cluster which meets the following requirements:

  • You have a Kubernetes cluster configured to use CNI network plugins (i.e. by passing --network-plugin=cni to the kubelet)
  • Your Kubernetes controller manager is configured to allocate pod CIDRs (i.e. by passing --allocate-node-cidrs=true to the controller manager)
  • Your Kubernetes controller manager has been provided a cluster-cidr (i.e. by passing --cluster-cidr=, which the manifest expects by default).
  • You have configured your network to route pod traffic based on pod CIDR allocations, either through static routes, a Kubernetes cloud-provider integration, or flannel.


Using single YAML file

To install Calico, ensure you have a cluster which meets the above requirements and run the following command:

kubectl apply -f

Once installed, you can try out NetworkPolicy by following the simple policy guide.

Below are a few examples for how to get started.

Using Kubernetes’ addon-manager

Kubernetes’ addon-manager can be used for deploying Calico alongside with other cluster addons. It takes YAML manifests from the /etc/kubernetes/addons directory and ensures they exist in the cluster. The following lines need to be run on the master of Kubernetes cluster with addon-manager installed:

curl -sL -o /etc/kubernetes/addons/calico-configmap.yaml
curl -sL -o /etc/kubernetes/addons/calico-daemonset.yaml

Example: kubeadm + flannel

This example explains how to install Calico on kubeadm with flannel for routing.

Follow the official kubeadm guide. For steps that require it, follow the instructions for installing flannel as the pod network.

To initialize the master run

kubeadm init --pod-network-cidr=

Then run the following command to install Calico.

kubectl apply -f

Then continue following the guide, following the instructions for installing flannel as the pod network.

Example: kube-up on GCE

This example explains how to install Calico for NetworkPolicy on GCE using kube-up.

See the GCE documentation for a list of requirements before starting.

1) Start a Kubernetes cluster

Run the following commands to start a Kubernetes cluster on GCE configured to use CNI network plugins.

curl -sS | bash
2) Install Calico using the etcdless manifest

Once the cluster is running, install Calico:

kubectl apply -f

You should see all pods enter “Running” state.

Configuration details

The following environment variable configuration options are supported by the various Calico components when running without etcd.

Option Description Examples
DATASTORE_TYPE Indicates the datastore to use kubernetes, etcdv2
KUBECONFIG When using the kubernetes datastore, the location of a kubeconfig file to use. /path/to/kube/config
K8S_API_ENDPOINT Location of the Kubernetes API. Not required if using kubeconfig. https://kubernetes-api:443
K8S_CERT_FILE Location of a client certificate for accessing the Kubernetes API. /path/to/cert
K8S_KEY_FILE Location of a client key for accessing the Kubernetes API. /path/to/key
K8S_CA_FILE Location of a CA for accessing the Kubernetes API. /path/to/ca
K8S_TOKEN Token to be used for accessing the Kubernetes API.  

An example using calicoctl:

$ export DATASTORE_TYPE=kubernetes
$ export KUBECONFIG=~/.kube/config
$ calicoctl get workloadendpoints

HOSTNAME                       ORCHESTRATOR   WORKLOAD                                                         NAME
kubernetes-minion-group-tbmi   k8s            kube-system.kube-dns-v20-jhk10                                   eth0
kubernetes-minion-group-x7ce   k8s            kube-system.kubernetes-dashboard-v1.4.0-wtrtm                    eth0

How it works

Calico typically uses etcd to store information about Kubernetes Pods, Namespaces, and NetworkPolicies. This information is populated to etcd by the Calico CNI plugin and policy controller, and is interpreted by Felix and BIRD to program the dataplane on each host in the cluster.

The above manifest deploys Calico such that Felix uses the Kubernetes API directly to learn the required information to enforce policy, removing Calico’s dependency on etcd and the need for the Calico kubernetes policy controller.

The Calico CNI plugin is still required to configure each pod’s virtual ethernet device and network namespace.