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Microsoft Azure Container Service Engine

The Azure Container Service Engine (acs-engine) generates ARM (Azure Resource Manager) templates for Docker enabled clusters on Microsoft Azure with your choice of DCOS, Kubernetes, or Swarm orchestrators. The input to acs-engine is a cluster definition file which describes the desired cluster, including orchestrator, features, and agents. The structure of the input files is very similar to the public API for Azure Container Service.


Binary downloads for the latest version of acs-engine for are available here. Download acs-engine for your operating system. Extract the binary and copy it to your $PATH.

You can also choose to install acs-engine using gofish, to do so execute the command gofish install acs-engine . You can install gofish following the instructions for your OS.

If you would prefer to build acs-engine from source or you are interested in contributing to acs-engine see building from source below.


acs-engine supports bash completion. To enable this, add the following to your .bashrc or ~/.profile

source <(acs-engine completion)


acs-engine reads a JSON cluster definition and generates a number of files that may be submitted to Azure Resource Manager (ARM). The generated files include:

  1. apimodel.json: is an expanded version of the cluster definition provided to the generate command. All default or computed values will be expanded during the generate phase.
  2. azuredeploy.json: represents a complete description of all Azure resources required to fulfill the cluster definition from apimodel.json.
  3. azuredeploy.parameters.json: the parameters file holds a series of custom variables which are used in various locations throughout azuredeploy.json.
  4. certificate and access config files: orchestrators like Kubernetes require certificates and additional configuration files (e.g. Kubernetes apiserver certificates and kubeconfig).

Generate Templates

ACS Engine consumes a cluster definition which outlines the desired shape, size, and configuration of Kubernetes. There are a number of features that can be enabled through the cluster definition.

See ACS Engine The Long Way for an example on generating templates by hand.

Deploy Templates

Generated templates can be deployed using the Azure CLI 2.0 or Powershell.

Deploying with Azure CLI 2.0

Azure CLI 2.0 is the latest CLI maintained and supported by Microsoft. For installation instructions see the Azure CLI GitHub repository for the latest release.

$ az login

$ az account set --subscription "<SUBSCRIPTION NAME OR ID>"

$ az group create \
    --name "<RESOURCE_GROUP_NAME>" \
    --location "<LOCATION>"

$ az group deployment create \
    --name "<DEPLOYMENT NAME>" \
    --resource-group "<RESOURCE_GROUP_NAME>" \
    --template-file "./_output/<INSTANCE>/azuredeploy.json" \
    --parameters "./_output/<INSTANCE>/azuredeploy.parameters.json"

Deploying with Powershell


Select-AzureRmSubscription -SubscriptionID <SUBSCRIPTION_ID>

New-AzureRmResourceGroup `
    -Location <LOCATION>

New-AzureRmResourceGroupDeployment `
    -ResourceGroupName <RESOURCE_GROUP_NAME> `
    -TemplateFile _output\<INSTANCE>\azuredeploy.json `
    -TemplateParameterFile _output\<INSTANCE>\azuredeploy.parameters.json

Build ACS Engine from Source

Docker Development Environment

The easiest way to start hacking on acs-engine is to use a Docker-based environment. If you already have Docker installed then you can get started with a few commands.

  • Windows (PowerShell): .\scripts\devenv.ps1
  • Linux/OSX (bash): ./scripts/

This script mounts the acs-engine source directory as a volume into the Docker container, which means you can edit your source code in your favorite editor on your machine, while still being able to compile and test inside of the Docker container. This environment mirrors the environment used in the acs-engine continuous integration (CI) system.

When the script devenv.ps1 or completes, you will be left at a command prompt.

Run the following commands to pull the latest dependencies and build the acs-engine tool.

# install and download build dependencies
make bootstrap
# build the `acs-engine` binary
make build

The build process leaves the compiled acs-engine binary in the bin directory. Make sure everything completed successfully by running bin/acs-engine without any arguments:

# ./bin/acs-engine
ACS-Engine deploys and manages Kubernetes, OpenShift, Swarm Mode, and DC/OS clusters in Azure

  acs-engine [command]

Available Commands:
  deploy        Deploy an Azure Resource Manager template
  generate      Generate an Azure Resource Manager template
  help          Help about any command
  orchestrators Display info about supported orchestrators
  scale         Scale an existing Kubernetes cluster
  upgrade       Upgrade an existing Kubernetes cluster
  version       Print the version of ACS-Engine

      --debug   enable verbose debug logs
  -h, --help    help for acs-engine

Use "acs-engine [command] --help" for more information about a command.

Here is a reference to the information on Kubernetes cluster upgrade.

Here's a quick demo video showing the dev/build/test cycle with this setup.

Building on Windows, OSX, and Linux

Building ACS Engine from source has a few requirements for each of the platforms. Download and install the pre-reqs for your platform, Windows, Linux, or Mac:


  1. Go version 1.8 installation instructions
  2. Git Version Control installation instructions


Setup steps:

  1. Setup your go workspace. This guide assumes you are using c:\gopath as your Go workspace:
  2. Type Windows key-R to open the run prompt
  3. Type rundll32 sysdm.cpl,EditEnvironmentVariables to open the system variables
  4. Add c:\go\bin and c:\gopath\bin to your PATH variables
  5. Click "new" and add new environment variable named GOPATH and set the value to c:\gopath

Build acs-engine:

  1. Type Windows key-R to open the run prompt
  2. Type cmd to open a command prompt
  3. Type mkdir %GOPATH% to create your gopath
  4. Type cd %GOPATH%
  5. Type go get -d to download acs-engine from GitHub
  6. Type go get all to get the supporting components
  7. Type go get -u
  8. Type cd %GOPATH%\src\\Azure\acs-engine\pkg\acsengine
  9. Type go generate
  10. Type cd %GOPATH%\src\\Azure\acs-engine\pkg\i18n
  11. Type go generate
  12. Type cd %GOPATH%\src\\Azure\acs-engine
  13. Type go build to build the project
  14. Type go install to install the project
  15. Run acs-engine.exe to see the command line parameters

OS X and Linux

Setup steps:

  1. Open a command prompt to setup your gopath:
  2. mkdir $HOME/go
  3. edit $HOME/.bash_profile and add the following lines to setup your go path
export GOPATH=$HOME/go
export PATH=$PATH:/usr/local/go/bin:$GOPATH/bin
  1. source $HOME/.bash_profile

Build acs-engine:

  1. Type go get to get the acs-engine Github project
  2. Type cd $GOPATH/src/ to change to the source directory
  3. Type make bootstrap to install supporting components
  4. Type make build to build the project
  5. Type ./bin/acs-engine to see the command line parameters