How to setup a kubernetes cluster in under 15 mins using k3s? — Home Lab Part 4

I have been working lately on building my home-lab using old hardware on which I can run containers. Initially I had setup a cluster using microk8s which didn’t work out so well and I have shared my insights for the same here:

“Once Bitten, twice shy” — I took extreme caution while choosing next cluster setup tool. The options in front of me were k3s and kubeadm. Kubeadm is too complex to deal with, k3s is as simple as microk8s and very lightweight, only downside being that it can create single master cluster only which as of now isn’t a problem for me but might be in future. I will write a detailed review of k3s later in which I’ll cover more nuances.

What does my setup look like?

  1. 2 laptops and 1 desktop at my home

More details of my overall infra available here:

What will my cluster look like?

  1. Cluster will contain all the 3 nodes at home with master running on one and the other 2 nodes as workers.

Let’s build the cluster

Here are the nodes I have at my home with their internal IP. I am going to run the control-plane/master on “vikas-laptop-1” and the remaining nodes will be workers. Master nodes will also be able to run workloads just like other worker nodes.

vikas-laptop-1 ->
vikas-laptop-2 ->
home-pc ->

Setup control-plane/master/server

On vikas-laptop-1 run the command below. I have to explicitly pass --node-ip because I do not want k3s to bind my server to any other interface — especially the VPN interface to avoid unnecessary latency.

curl -sfL | INSTALL_K3S_EXEC="server --node-ip=" sh -

I didn’t require more configuration during installation, if you need more you can refer to documentation

The above command will bootstrap everything required to bring up your master node. And that’s about it, your control-plane is ready.

vikas@vikas-laptop-1:~$ sudo k3s kubectl get nodes
vikas-laptop-1 Ready control-plane,master 1m v1.21.1+k3s1

Explore control-plane more

  1. The installation script creates a systemd service k3s You can manage it using your usual systemctl commands.

Add worker node /agent

Now that we are done setting up the master and understanding the internals a bit, let’s quickly go ahead and attach a worker node to master. First of all get the token required for initiating the connection. You can get the token from file/var/lib/rancher/k3s/server/node-token in master node, in my case “vikas-laptop-1”.

MASTER_NODE_IP= -sfL | K3S_URL=https://$MASTER_NODE_IP:6443 K3S_TOKEN=token_obtained_above sh -

Now, wait for the script to run completely — it will take a maximum of 1 minute.

sudo k3s kubectl get nodes -o wide
vikas-laptop-1 Ready control-plane,master 10m v1.21.1+k3s1
home-pc Ready <none> 1m v1.21.1+k3s1

That’s it your cluster is ready with 1 master and 2 worker nodes.


  1. I have been using this for over 1 week now. The cluster has performed flawlessly.

Upcoming Blogs in this series

The cluster is up though we need to still do a lot of things to make this cluster more useful for us:

  1. Setup ingress to route http/https traffic inside our cluster

I have set these up already on my cluster and will write separate blog about these. You can also read more about my home-lab plans here

SRE at Linkedin