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RKE2, also known as RKE Government, is Rancher's next-generation Kubernetes distribution.

It is a fully conformant Kubernetes distribution that focuses on security and compliance within the U.S. Federal Government sector.

To meet these goals, RKE2 does the following:

For more information and detailed installation and operation instructions, please visit our docs.

Quick Start

Here's the extremely quick start:

curl -sfL | sh -
systemctl enable rke2-server.service
systemctl start rke2-server.service
# Wait a bit
export KUBECONFIG=/etc/rancher/rke2/rke2.yaml PATH=$PATH:/var/lib/rancher/rke2/bin
kubectl get nodes

For a bit more, check out our full quick start guide.


A full breakdown of installation methods and information can be found here.

Configuration File

The primary way to configure RKE2 is through its config file. Command line arguments and environment variables are also available, but RKE2 is installed as a systemd service and thus these are not as easy to leverage.

By default, RKE2 will launch with the values present in the YAML file located at /etc/rancher/rke2/config.yaml.

An example of a basic server config file is below:

# /etc/rancher/rke2/config.yaml
write-kubeconfig-mode: "0644"
  - "foo.local"
  - "foo=bar"
  - "something=amazing"

In general, cli arguments map to their respective yaml key, with repeatable cli args being represented as yaml lists. So, an identical configuration using solely cli arguments is shown below to demonstrate this:

rke2 server \
  --write-kubeconfig-mode "0644"    \
  --tls-san "foo.local"             \
  --node-label "foo=bar"            \
  --node-label "something=amazing"

It is also possible to use both a configuration file and cli arguments. In these situations, values will be loaded from both sources, but cli arguments will take precedence. For repeatable arguments such as --node-label, the cli arguments will overwrite all values in the list.

Finally, the location of the config file can be changed either through the cli argument --config FILE, -c FILE, or the environment variable $RKE2_CONFIG_FILE.



Security issues in RKE2 can be reported by sending an email to Please do not open security issues here.