1 - What is Talos?

A quick introduction in to what Talos is and why it should be used.

Talos is a container optimized Linux distro; a reimagining of Linux for distributed systems such as Kubernetes. Designed to be as minimal as possible while still maintaining practicality. For these reasons, Talos has a number of features unique to it:

  • it is immutable
  • it is atomic
  • it is ephemeral
  • it is minimal
  • it is secure by default
  • it is managed via a single declarative configuration file and gRPC API

Talos can be deployed on container, cloud, virtualized, and bare metal platforms.

Why Talos

In having less, Talos offers more. Security. Efficiency. Resiliency. Consistency.

All of these areas are improved simply by having less.

2 - Quickstart

A short guide on setting up a simple Talos Linux cluster locally with Docker.

There are two easy ways to try out Talos Linux. Instructions for each are detailed below.

Katacoda Sandbox

First, you can explore a sandbox environment hosted on Katacoda. This approach has the benefit of having no prerequisites and being a bit more guided, so you can quickly learn how to interact with a cluster.

Please visit Katacoda here to try it out.

Local Docker Cluster

Another easy way to try Talos is by using the CLI (talosctl) to create a cluster on a machine with docker installed.

Prerequisites

talosctl

Download talosctl:

amd64
curl -Lo /usr/local/bin/talosctl https://github.com/siderolabs/talos/releases/download/v1.1.0/talosctl-$(uname -s | tr "[:upper:]" "[:lower:]")-amd64
chmod +x /usr/local/bin/talosctl
arm64

For linux and darwin operating systems talosctl is also available for the arm64 processor architecture.

curl -Lo /usr/local/bin/talosctl https://github.com/siderolabs/talos/releases/download/v1.1.0/talosctl-$(uname -s | tr "[:upper:]" "[:lower:]")-arm64
chmod +x /usr/local/bin/talosctl

kubectl

Download kubectl via one of methods outlined in the documentation.

Create the Cluster

Now run the following:

talosctl cluster create

Verify that you can reach Kubernetes:

$ kubectl get nodes -o wide
NAME                     STATUS   ROLES    AGE    VERSION   INTERNAL-IP   EXTERNAL-IP   OS-IMAGE         KERNEL-VERSION   CONTAINER-RUNTIME
talos-default-master-1   Ready    master   115s   v1.24.2   10.5.0.2      <none>        Talos (v1.1.0)   <host kernel>    containerd://1.5.5
talos-default-worker-1   Ready    <none>   115s   v1.24.2   10.5.0.3      <none>        Talos (v1.1.0)   <host kernel>    containerd://1.5.5

Destroy the Cluster

When you are all done, remove the cluster:

talosctl cluster destroy

3 - Getting Started

A guide to setting up a Talos Linux cluster on multiple machines.

This document will walk you through installing a full Talos Cluster. You may wish to try the Quickstart first, to quickly create a local virtual cluster on your workstation.

Regardless of where you run Talos, there is a pattern to deploying it. In general you need to:

  • acquire the installation image
  • decide on the endpoint for Kubernetes
    • optionally create a load balancer
  • configure Talos
  • configure talosctl
  • bootstrap Kubernetes

Prerequisites

talosctl

talosctl is a CLI tool which interfaces with the Talos API in an easy manner. It also includes a number of useful options for creating and managing clusters.

You should install talosctl before continuing:

amd64

curl -Lo /usr/local/bin/talosctl https://github.com/siderolabs/talos/releases/download/v1.1.0/talosctl-$(uname -s | tr "[:upper:]" "[:lower:]")-amd64
chmod +x /usr/local/bin/talosctl

arm64

For linux and darwin operating systems talosctl is also available for the arm64 processor architecture.

curl -Lo /usr/local/bin/talosctl https://github.com/siderolabs/talos/releases/download/v1.1.0/talosctl-$(uname -s | tr "[:upper:]" "[:lower:]")-arm64
chmod +x /usr/local/bin/talosctl

Acquire the installation image

The easiest way to install Talos is to use the ISO image.

The latest ISO image can be found on the Github Releases page:

When booted from the ISO, Talos will run in RAM, and it will not install itself until it is provided a configuration. Thus, it is safe to boot the ISO onto any machine.

Alternative Booting

For network booting and self-built media, you can use the published kernel and initramfs images:

Note that to use alternate booting, there are a number of required kernel parameters. Please see the kernel docs for more information.

Decide the Kubernetes Endpoint

In order to configure Kubernetes and bootstrap the cluster, Talos needs to know what the endpoint (DNS name or IP address) of the Kubernetes API Server will be.

The endpoint should be the fully-qualified HTTP(S) URL for the Kubernetes API Server, which (by default) runs on port 6443 using HTTPS.

Thus, the format of the endpoint may be something like:

  • https://192.168.0.10:6443
  • https://kube.mycluster.mydomain.com:6443
  • https://[2001:db8:1234::80]:6443

Because the Kubernetes controlplane is meant to be highly available, we must also choose how to bind the API server endpoint to the servers themselves. There are three common ways to do this:

Dedicated Load-balancer

If you are using a cloud provider or have your own load-balancer available (such as HAProxy, nginx reverse proxy, or an F5 load-balancer), using a dedicated load balancer is a natural choice. Create an appropriate frontend matching the endpoint, and point the backends at each of the addresses of the Talos controlplane nodes.

Layer 2 Shared IP

Talos has integrated support for serving Kubernetes from a shared (sometimes called “virtual”) IP address. This method relies on OSI Layer 2 connectivity between controlplane Talos nodes.

In this case, we choose an IP address on the same subnet as the Talos controlplane nodes which is not otherwise assigned to any machine. For instance, if your controlplane node IPs are:

  • 192.168.0.10
  • 192.168.0.11
  • 192.168.0.12

you could choose the ip 192.168.0.15 as your shared IP address. Just make sure that 192.168.0.15 is not used by any other machine and that your DHCP will not serve it to any other machine.

Once chosen, form the full HTTPS URL from this IP:

https://192.168.0.15:6443

You are free to set a DNS record to this IP address to identify the Kubernetes API endpoint, but you will need to use the IP address itself, not the DNS name, to configure the shared IP (machine.network.interfaces[].vip.ip) in the Talos configuration.

For more information about using a shared IP, see the related Guide

DNS records

If neither of the other methods work for you, you can use DNS records to provide a measure of redundancy. In this case, you would add multiple A or AAAA records (one for each controlpane node) to a DNS name.

For instance, you could add:

kube.cluster1.mydomain.com  IN  A  192.168.0.10
kube.cluster1.mydomain.com  IN  A  192.168.0.11
kube.cluster1.mydomain.com  IN  A  192.168.0.12

Then, your endpoint would be:

https://kube.cluster1.mydomain.com:6443

Decide how to access the Talos API

Since Talos is entirely API-driven, Talos comes with a number of mechanisms to make accessing the API easier.

Controlplane nodes can proxy requests for worker nodes. This means that you only need access to the controlplane nodes in order to access the rest of the network. This is useful for security (your worker nodes do not need to have public IPs or be otherwise connected to the Internet), and it also makes working with highly-variable clusters easier, since you only need to know the controlplane nodes in advance.

Even better, the talosctl tool will automatically load balance requests and fail over between all of your controlplane nodes, so long as it is informed of the controlplane node IPs.

This means you need to tell your client (talosctl) how to communicate with the controlplane nodes, which is done by defining the endpoints. In general, it is recommended that these point to the set of control plane nodes, either directly or through a reverse proxy or load balancer, similarly to accessing the Kubernetes API. The difference is that the Talos API listens on port 50000/tcp.

Whichever way you wish to access the Talos API, be sure to note the IP(s) or hostname(s) so that you can configure your talosctl tool’s endpoints below.

NOTE: The Virtual IP method is not recommended when accessing the Talos API as it requires etcd to be bootstrapped and functional. This can make debugging any issues via the Talos API more difficult as issues with Talos configuration may result in etcd not achieving quorum, and therefore the Virtual IP not being available. In this case setting the endpoints to the IP or hostnames of the control plane nodes themselves is preferred.

Configure Talos

When Talos boots without a configuration, such as when using the Talos ISO, it enters a limited maintenance mode and waits for a configuration to be provided.

Alternatively, the Talos installer can be booted with the talos.config kernel commandline argument set to an HTTP(s) URL from which it should receive its configuration. In cases where a PXE server can be available, this is much more efficient than manually configuring each node. If you do use this method, just note that Talos does require a number of other kernel commandline parameters. See the required kernel parameters for more information.

In either case, we need to generate the configuration which is to be provided. Luckily, the talosctl tool comes with a configuration generator for exactly this purpose.

  talosctl gen config "cluster-name" "cluster-endpoint"

Here, cluster-name is an arbitrary name for the cluster which will be used in your local client configuration as a label. It does not affect anything in the cluster itself, but it should be unique in the configuration on your local workstation.

The cluster-endpoint is where you insert the Kubernetes Endpoint you selected from above. This is the Kubernetes API URL, and it should be a complete URL, with https:// and port. (The default port is 6443.)

When you run this command, you will receive a number of files in your current directory:

  • controlplane.yaml
  • worker.yaml
  • talosconfig

The .yaml files are what we call Machine Configs. They are installed onto the Talos servers, and they provide their complete configuration, describing everything from what disk Talos should be installed to, to what sysctls to set, to what network settings it should have. In the case of the controlplane.yaml, it even describes how Talos should form its Kubernetes cluster.

The talosconfig file (which is also YAML) is your local client configuration file.

Controlplane and Worker

The two types of Machine Configs correspond to the two roles of Talos nodes.

The Controlplane Machine Config describes the configuration of a Talos server on which the Kubernetes Controlplane should run. The Worker Machine Config describes everything else: workload servers.

The main difference between Controlplane Machine Config files and Worker Machine Config files is that the former contains information about how to form the Kubernetes cluster.

Templates

The generated files can be thought of as templates. Individual machines may need specific settings (for instance, each may have a different static IP address). When different files are needed for machines of the same type, simply copy the source template (controlplane.yaml or worker.yaml) and make whatever modifications need to be done.

For instance, if you had three controlplane nodes and three worker nodes, you may do something like this:

  for i in $(seq 0 2); do
    cp controlplane.yaml cp$i.yaml
  end
  for i in $(seq 0 2); do
    cp worker.yaml w$i.yaml
  end

In cases where there is no special configuration needed, you may use the same file for each machine of the same type.

Apply Configuration

After you have generated each machine’s Machine Config, you need to load them into the machines themselves. For that, you need to know their IP addresses.

If you have access to the console or console logs of the machines, you can read them to find the IP address(es). Talos will print them out during the boot process:

[    4.605369] [talos] task loadConfig (1/1): this machine is reachable at:
[    4.607358] [talos] task loadConfig (1/1):   192.168.0.2
[    4.608766] [talos] task loadConfig (1/1): server certificate fingerprint:
[    4.611106] [talos] task loadConfig (1/1):   xA9a1t2dMxB0NJ0qH1pDzilWbA3+DK/DjVbFaJBYheE=
[    4.613822] [talos] task loadConfig (1/1):
[    4.614985] [talos] task loadConfig (1/1): upload configuration using talosctl:
[    4.616978] [talos] task loadConfig (1/1):   talosctl apply-config --insecure --nodes 192.168.0.2 --file <config.yaml>
[    4.620168] [talos] task loadConfig (1/1): or apply configuration using talosctl interactive installer:
[    4.623046] [talos] task loadConfig (1/1):   talosctl apply-config --insecure --nodes 192.168.0.2 --mode=interactive
[    4.626365] [talos] task loadConfig (1/1): optionally with node fingerprint check:
[    4.628692] [talos] task loadConfig (1/1):   talosctl apply-config --insecure --nodes 192.168.0.2 --cert-fingerprint 'xA9a1t2dMxB0NJ0qH1pDzilWbA3+DK/DjVbFaJBYheE=' --file <config.yaml>

If you do not have console access, the IP address may also be discoverable from your DHCP server.

Once you have the IP address, you can then apply the correct configuration.

  talosctl apply-config --insecure \
    --nodes 192.168.0.2 \
    --file cp0.yaml

The insecure flag is necessary at this point because the PKI infrastructure has not yet been made available to the node. Note that the connection will be encrypted, it is just unauthenticated.

If you have console access, though, you can extract the server certificate fingerprint and use it for an additional layer of validation:

  talosctl apply-config --insecure \
    --nodes 192.168.0.2 \
    --cert-fingerprint xA9a1t2dMxB0NJ0qH1pDzilWbA3+DK/DjVbFaJBYheE= \
    --file cp0.yaml

Using the fingerprint allows you to be sure you are sending the configuration to the right machine, but it is completely optional.

After the configuration is applied to a node, it will reboot.

You may repeat this process for each of the nodes in your cluster.

Configure your talosctl client

Now that the nodes are running Talos with its full PKI security suite, you need to use that PKI to talk to the machines. That means configuring your client, and that is what that talosconfig file is for.

Endpoints

Endpoints are the communication endpoints to which the client directly talks. These can be load balancers, DNS hostnames, a list of IPs, etc. In general, it is recommended that these point to the set of control plane nodes, either directly or through a reverse proxy or load balancer.

Each endpoint will automatically proxy requests destined to another node through it, so it is not necessary to change the endpoint configuration just because you wish to talk to a different node within the cluster.

Endpoints do, however, need to be members of the same Talos cluster as the target node, because these proxied connections reply on certificate-based authentication.

We need to set the endpoints in your talosconfig. talosctl will automatically load balance and fail over among the endpoints, so no external load balancer or DNS abstraction is required (though you are free to use them).

As an example, if the IP addresses of our controlplane nodes are:

  • 192.168.0.2
  • 192.168.0.3
  • 192.168.0.4

We would set those in the talosconfig with:

  talosctl --talosconfig=./talosconfig \
    config endpoint 192.168.0.2 192.168.0.3 192.168.0.4

Nodes

The node is the target node on which you wish to perform the API call.

Keep in mind, when specifying nodes, their IPs and/or hostnames are as seen by the endpoint servers, not as from the client. This is because all connections are proxied through the endpoints.

Some people also like to set a default set of nodes in the talosconfig. This can be done in the same manner, replacing endpoint with node. If you do this, however, know that you could easily reboot the wrong machine by forgetting to declare the right one explicitly. Worse, if you set several nodes as defaults, you could, with one talosctl upgrade command upgrade your whole cluster all at the same time. It’s a powerful tool, and with that comes great responsibility.

The author of this document generally sets a single controlplane node to be the default node, which provides the most flexible default operation while limiting the scope of the disaster should a command be entered erroneously:

  talosctl --talosconfig=./talosconfig \
    config node 192.168.0.2

You may simply provide -n or --nodes to any talosctl command to supply the node or (comma-delimited) nodes on which you wish to perform the operation. Supplying the commandline parameter will override any default nodes in the configuration file.

To verify default node(s) you’re currently configured to use, you can run:

$ talosctl version
Client:
        ...
Server:
        NODE:        <node>
        ...

For a more in-depth discussion of Endpoints and Nodes, please see talosctl.

Default configuration file

You can reference which configuration file to use directly with the --talosconfig parameter:

  talosctl --talosconfig=./talosconfig \
    --nodes 192.168.0.2 version

However, talosctl comes with tooling to help you integrate and merge this configuration into the default talosctl configuration file. This is done with the merge option.

  talosctl config merge ./talosconfig

This will merge your new talosconfig into the default configuration file ($XDG_CONFIG_HOME/talos/config.yaml), creating it if necessary. Like Kubernetes, the talosconfig configuration files has multiple “contexts” which correspond to multiple clusters. The <cluster-name> you chose above will be used as the context name.

Kubernetes Bootstrap

All of your machines are configured, and your talosctl client is set up. Now, you are ready to bootstrap your Kubernetes cluster. If that sounds daunting, you haven’t used Talos before.

Bootstrapping your Kubernetes cluster with Talos is as simple as:

  talosctl bootstrap --nodes 192.168.0.2

IMPORTANT: the bootstrap operation should only be called ONCE and only on a SINGLE controlplane node!

The IP can be any of your controlplanes (or the loadbalancer, if you have one). It should only be issued once.

At this point, Talos will form an etcd cluster, generate all of the core Kubernetes assets, and start the Kubernetes controlplane components.

After a few moments, you will be able to download your Kubernetes client configuration and get started:

  talosctl kubeconfig

Running this command will add (merge) you new cluster into you local Kubernetes configuration in the same way as talosctl config merge merged the Talos client configuration into your local Talos client configuration file.

If you would prefer for the configuration to not be merged into your default Kubernetes configuration file, simple tell it a filename:

  talosctl kubeconfig alternative-kubeconfig

If all goes well, you should now be able to connect to Kubernetes and see your nodes:

  kubectl get nodes

4 - System Requirements

Hardware requirements for running Talos Linux.

Minimum Requirements

RoleMemoryCores
Init/Control Plane2GB2
Worker1GB1
RoleMemoryCores
Init/Control Plane4GB4
Worker2GB2

These requirements are similar to that of kubernetes.

5 - What's New in Talos 1.1

List of new and shiny features in Talos Linux.

Kubernetes

Pod Security Admission

Pod Security Admission controller is enabled by default with the following policy:

apiVersion: apiserver.config.k8s.io/v1
kind: AdmissionConfiguration
plugins:
- configuration:
    apiVersion: pod-security.admission.config.k8s.io/v1alpha1
    defaults:
      audit: restricted
      audit-version: latest
      enforce: baseline
      enforce-version: latest
      warn: restricted
      warn-version: latest
    exemptions:
      namespaces:
      - kube-system
      runtimeClasses: []
      usernames: []
    kind: PodSecurityConfiguration
  name: PodSecurity
  path: ""

The policy is part of the Talos machine configuration, and it can be modified to suite your needs.

Kubernetes API Server Anonymous Auth

Anonymous authentication is now disabled by default for the kube-apiserver (CIS compliance).

To enable anonymous authentication, update the machine config with:

cluster:
    apiServer:
        extraArgs:
            anonymous-auth: true

Machine Configuration

Apply Config --dry-run

The commands talosctl apply-config, talosctl patch mc and talosctl edit mc now support --dry-run flag. If enabled it just prints out the selected config application mode and the configuration diff.

Apply Config --mode=try

The commands talosctl apply-config, talosctl patch mc and talosctl edit mc now support the new mode called try. In this mode the config change is applied for a period of time and then reverted back to the state it was before the change. --timeout parameter can be used to customize the config rollback timeout. This new mode can be used only with the parts of the config that can be changed without a reboot and can help to check that the new configuration doesn’t break the node.

Can be especially useful to check network interfaces changes that may lead to the loss of connectivity to the node.

Networking

Network Device Selector

Talos machine configuration supports specifying network interfaces by selectors instead of interface name. See documentation for more details.

SBCs

RockPi 4 variants A and B

Talos now supports RockPi variants A and B in addition to RockPi 4C

Raspberry Pi PoE Hat Fan

Talos now enables the Raspberry Pi PoE fan control by pulling in the poe overlay that works with upstream kernel

Miscellaneous

IPv6 in Docker-based Talos Clusters

The command talosctl cluster create now enables IPv6 by default for the Docker containers created for Talos nodes. This allows to use IPv6 addresses in Kubernetes networking.

If talosctl cluster create fails to work on Linux due to the lack of IPv6 support, please use the flag --disable-docker-ipv6 to revert the change.

eudev Default Rules

Drops some default eudev rules that doesn’t make sense in the context of Talos OS. Especially the ones around sound devices, cd-roms and renaming the network interfaces to be predictable.

6 - Support Matrix

Table of supported Talos Linux versions and respective platforms.
Talos Version1.11.0
Release Date2022-06-222022-03-29 (1.0.0)
End of Community Support1.2.0 release (2022-09-01, TBD)1.1.0 release (2022-06-22)
Enterprise Supportoffered by Sidero Labs Inc.offered by Sidero Labs Inc.
Kubernetes1.24, 1.23, 1.221.23, 1.22, 1.21
Architectureamd64, arm64amd64, arm64
Platforms
- cloudAWS, GCP, Azure, Digital Ocean, Hetzner, OpenStack, Oracle Cloud, Scaleway, Vultr, UpcloudAWS, GCP, Azure, Digital Ocean, Hetzner, OpenStack, Oracle Cloud, Scaleway, Vultr, Upcloud
- bare metalx86: BIOS, UEFI; arm64: UEFI; boot: ISO, PXE, disk imagex86: BIOS, UEFI; arm64: UEFI; boot: ISO, PXE, disk image
- virtualizedVMware, Hyper-V, KVM, Proxmox, XenVMware, Hyper-V, KVM, Proxmox, Xen
- SBCsBanana Pi M64, Jetson Nano, Libre Computer Board ALL-H3-CC, Pine64, Pine64 Rock64, Radxa ROCK Pi 4c, Raspberry Pi 4BBanana Pi M64, Jetson Nano, Libre Computer Board ALL-H3-CC, Pine64, Pine64 Rock64, Radxa ROCK Pi 4c, Raspberry Pi 4B
- localDocker, QEMUDocker, QEMU
Cluster API
CAPI Bootstrap Provider Talos>= 0.5.4>= 0.5.3
CAPI Control Plane Provider Talos>= 0.4.6>= 0.4.5
Sidero>= 0.5.1>= 0.5.0
UI
Theila

Platform Tiers

  • Tier 1: Automated tests, high-priority fixes.
  • Tier 2: Tested from time to time, medium-priority bugfixes.
  • Tier 3: Not tested by core Talos team, community tested.

Tier 1

  • Metal
  • AWS
  • GCP

Tier 2

  • Azure
  • Digital Ocean
  • OpenStack
  • VMWare

Tier 3

  • Hetzner
  • nocloud
  • Oracle Cloud
  • Scaleway
  • Vultr
  • Upcloud