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Minikube as a Service (mkaas)

mkaas provides a declarative way to create Kubernetes clusters using minikube within 1-2 minutes each.

  • Create your named Minikube YAML file (custom resource) using details below
  • The mkaas operator will do its thing and run minikube start for you on a given node using KVM
  • Download the .kube/config from the designated node
  • Set an environmental proxy setting to the node to reach the cluster on its private subnet
  • Profit with kubectl, NodePorts, etc
  • Tear down with kubectl delete minikube/cluster_name when you're done or add additional clusters


This is a Proof-of-Concept Kubernetes Operator providing Minikube-as-a-Service or mkaas through the use of CRDs and the Operator Framework from CoreOS.

This project was put together as a private repo and last tested e2e Sep 2018 with additional testing and ASCII cinema coming soon. A small PR or change to instructions may be required for any subsequent changes in dependencies.

See the new version of this project over at minikube-operator.

How does it work?

This combines a custom resource for defining minikube clusters and an Operator for Kubernetes to schedule Pods that create your minikube clusters.

Example cluster:

apiVersion: ""
kind: "Minikube"
  name: "alex"
  namespace: clusters
  clusterName: "alex"
  cpuCount: 2
  memoryMB: 2048

ASCII Cinema

Coming soon (previous link expired)


  • Install Kubernetes with kubeadm

Use one of my guides:

Your instant Kubernetes cluster

After running kubeadm init don't forget to deploy a network driver (included in guide) and to taint the master if you're using a single node.

kubectl taint nodes --all
  • Install KVM and libvirtd
sudo apt update \
  && sudo apt-get install -qy \
    git qemu-kvm libvirt-bin virtinst bridge-utils cpu-checker --no-install-recommends \
  && sudo kvm-ok \
  && sudo usermod root -aG libvirtd
  • Install ufw firewall

If using public cloud you can install the ufw firewall to block access to the squid proxy which will be deployed on each node on port 3129.

sudo apt install ufw -qy

sudo -i

ufw default deny incoming
ufw default allow outgoing
ufw allow ssh
ufw allow 443
ufw allow 8443
ufw enable
ufw status verbose

This has now blocked any access incoming to your server apart from when using ssh on TCP port 22.

  • (Optional) Install operator-sdk

  • Make a global settings folder:

sudo mkdir -p /var/mkaas

Create the following directories, or create a cluster using minikube start and delete it after which will do the same thing.

sudo mkdir -p /var/mkaas/.minikube
sudo mkdir -p /var/mkaas/.kube
  • Clone this repo into the $GOPATH
mkdir -p /go/src/
cd /go/src/
git clone
cd operator-sdk
git clone minikube
cd minikube
  • (Optional) Build/push (optional to rebuild)
operator-sdk build alexellis2/mko:v0.0.6 \
  && docker push alexellis2/mko:v0.0.6
  • Deploy on a host:

Setup the Operator, RBAC and CRD:

kubectl create ns clusters
cd deploy
kubectl apply -f crd.yaml,operator.yaml,rbac.yaml

Now create the first cluster:

kubectl apply -f cr.yaml

This will create your first cluster and place a helper Pod into the clusters namespace.

Check the logs:

kubectl logs -n clusters pod/alex-minikube -f
Starting local Kubernetes v1.10.0 cluster...
Starting VM...
Getting VM IP address...
Moving files into cluster...
Setting up certs...
Connecting to cluster...
Setting up kubeconfig...
Starting cluster components...

Wait until you see the bundle created.

Now you can access the cluster from the host using kubectl by retrieving the IP of the cluster and the IP of the node.

Squid will now be run on the host node as part of a daemonset exposing port 3129. It requires host networking to be able to reach the minikube network.


Get your Minikube IP either when we copy the .kube/config file down later on, or on the host with this command:

sudo -i MINIKUBE_HOME=/var/mkaas/.minikube/ minikube ip --profile alex

Note down your minikube IP, for example:

Run these commands on your remote client/laptop:

For HTTP access on local network:

export http_proxy=http://node_ip:3129
faas-cli list --gateway $MINIKUBE_IP

If using a remote host with ufw enabled then open an SSH tunnel to give you access to the remote squid proxy instance:

ssh -L 3129:3129 -N node_ip

With the SSH tunnel the config for the http_proxy environmental variable would become as follows:

export http_proxy=
faas-cli list --gateway $MINIKUBE_IP

For access via kubectl:

Copy the bundle to your client/laptop and untar using (sftp/scp):

mkdir -p mkaas
cd mkaas

scp node:/var/mkaas/alex-bundle.tgz .
tar -xvf alex-bundle.tgz

If your home directory is /home/alex/ then do the following:

sed -ie 's#/root/#/home/alex/mkaas/#g' .kube/config

This changes the absolute paths used for the root user to match the point you copied to.


export http_proxy=http://node_ip:3129
export KUBECONFIG=.kube/config

kubectl get node
minikube   Ready     master    1m        v1.10.0
  • Deploy a test workload and access over the proxy

Add the CLI if not present:

curl -sLSf | sudo sh

Deploy OpenFaaS:

git clone
kubectl apply -f ./faas-netes/namespaces.yml,./faas-netes/yaml
rm -rf faas-netes

export minikube_ip=

curl $minikube_ip:31112/system/info; echo
{"provider":{"provider":"faas-netes","version":{"sha":"5539cf43c15a28e9af998cdc25b5da06252b62e1","release":"0.6.0"},"orchestration":"kubernetes"},"version":{"commit_message":"Attach X-Call-Id to asynchronous calls","sha":"c86de503c7a20a46645239b9b081e029b15bf69b","release":"0.8.11"}}

export OPENFAAS_URL=$minikube_ip:31112

faas-cli store deploy figlet

echo "Sleeping for 5 seconds while figlet is downloaded"
sleep 5
echo "MKAAS!" | faas-cli invoke figlet

Development / troubleshooting

Run these commands on your host node.

Operator logs:

kubectl logs -n clusters deploy/minikube -f


kubectl get events --sort-by='{.firstTimestamp}' -n clusters


kubectl get all -n clusters


  • What do I need?

On your host you'll need virtualization support with KVM.

  • KVM packages on your Linux distro
  • libvirtd
  • Kubernetes installed via kubeadm or similar tool. A tainted master will work.

Add the KVM packages for your distro (tested with Ubuntu)

Follow these steps on Ubuntu 16.04 up until you get to "Create a cluster with kubeadm".

You could use kubeadm for this. For cloud hosts turn on nested-virt with GCP or use for a bare metal host.

Note: if you use a public host, then I recommend you setup a firewall rule with ufw to block access to port 3129 on the host. You can still make use of the proxy using an SSH tunnel. The bundled squid proxy is set up to allow open access. ssh -L 3129:3129 -N remote-host then replace the HTTP proxy with

  • How does it work?

It uses a privileged Pod found in ./agent/. The container inside the Pod has privileged access to the host and host networking which is required for the use of minikube. The VMs are created using minikube start.

VMs are stored in /var/mkaas/.minikube/ and this folder is mounted by the controller.

  • How are machines deleted?

If you delete the custom resource i.e. kubectl -n clusters delete minikube/alex then the Pod will be reclaimed. It has a script listening for sigterm / sigint and will call minikube destroy.

  • Are restarts supported.


  • Is this production-ready?

Due to the privileges required to execute minikube commands this should not be run in a production environment or on clusters containing confidential data. In the future this may be able to be restricted to just a libvirtd socket.

The proxy container runs on the host network which means using this proxy you can reach any hosts reachable from the host node. In the future some limitations on the subnet could be applied - i.e. to only allow outgoing via the minikube subnet.

  • Are multiple hosts supported?

Yes and if you use an NFS mount it may even allow for "motion" between hosts.

  • Can nested virt be used?

Untested, but perhaps?

  • Has anyone had this idea before?

The kube-virt project has an open issue suggesting this is in the works for them.

  • What else could this do?

It could be used to create docker-machine VMs instead of minikube clusters for temporary environments to perform isolated Docker builds.


MIT License

Copyright Alex Ellis 2018

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