Install CNI plugin


Kubernetes uses the Container Network Interface (CNI) to interact with networking providers like Calico. The Calico binary that presents this API to Kubernetes is called the CNI plugin and must be installed on every node in the Kubernetes cluster.

To understand how the Container Network Interface (CNI) works with Kubernetes, and how it enhances Kubernetes networking, read our Kubernetes CNI guide.

Provision Kubernetes user account for the plugin

The CNI plugin interacts with the Kubernetes API server while creating pods, both to obtain additional information and to update the datastore with information about the pod.

On the Kubernetes master node, create a key for the CNI plugin to authenticate with and certificate signing request.

openssl req -newkey rsa:4096 \
           -keyout cni.key \
           -nodes \
           -out cni.csr \
           -subj "/CN=calico-cni"

We will sign this certificate using the main Kubernetes CA.

sudo openssl x509 -req -in cni.csr \
                  -CA /etc/kubernetes/pki/ca.crt \
                  -CAkey /etc/kubernetes/pki/ca.key \
                  -CAcreateserial \
                  -out cni.crt \
                  -days 365
sudo chown $(id -u):$(id -g) cni.crt

Next, we create a kubeconfig file for the CNI plugin to use to access Kubernetes. Copy this cni.kubeconfig file to every node in the cluster.

APISERVER=$(kubectl config view -o jsonpath='{.clusters[0].cluster.server}')
kubectl config set-cluster kubernetes \
    --certificate-authority=/etc/kubernetes/pki/ca.crt \
    --embed-certs=true \
    --server=$APISERVER \

kubectl config set-credentials calico-cni \
    --client-certificate=cni.crt \
    --client-key=cni.key \
    --embed-certs=true \

kubectl config set-context default \
    --cluster=kubernetes \
    --user=calico-cni \

kubectl config use-context default --kubeconfig=cni.kubeconfig

Provision RBAC

Define a cluster role the CNI plugin will use to access Kubernetes.

kubectl apply -f - <<EOF
kind: ClusterRole
  name: calico-cni
  # The CNI plugin needs to get pods, nodes, and namespaces.
  - apiGroups: [""]
      - pods
      - nodes
      - namespaces
      - get
  # The CNI plugin patches pods/status.
  - apiGroups: [""]
      - pods/status
      - patch
 # These permissions are required for Calico CNI to perform IPAM allocations.
  - apiGroups: [""]
      - blockaffinities
      - ipamblocks
      - ipamhandles
      - get
      - list
      - create
      - update
      - delete
  - apiGroups: [""]
      - ipamconfigs
      - clusterinformations
      - ippools
      - get
      - list

Bind the cluster role to the calico-cni account.

kubectl create clusterrolebinding calico-cni --clusterrole=calico-cni --user=calico-cni

Install the plugin

Do these steps on each node in your cluster.

Run these commands as root.

sudo su

Install the CNI plugin Binaries

curl -L -o /opt/cni/bin/calico
chmod 755 /opt/cni/bin/calico
curl -L -o /opt/cni/bin/calico-ipam
chmod 755 /opt/cni/bin/calico-ipam

Create the config directory

mkdir -p /etc/cni/net.d/

Copy the kubeconfig from the previous section

cp cni.kubeconfig /etc/cni/net.d/calico-kubeconfig
chmod 600 /etc/cni/net.d/calico-kubeconfig

Write the CNI configuration

cat > /etc/cni/net.d/10-calico.conflist <<EOF
  "name": "k8s-pod-network",
  "cniVersion": "0.3.1",
  "plugins": [
      "type": "calico",
      "log_level": "info",
      "datastore_type": "kubernetes",
      "mtu": 1500,
      "ipam": {
          "type": "calico-ipam"
      "policy": {
          "type": "k8s"
      "kubernetes": {
          "kubeconfig": "/etc/cni/net.d/calico-kubeconfig"
      "type": "portmap",
      "snat": true,
      "capabilities": {"portMappings": true}

Exit from su and go back to the logged in user.


At this point Kubernetes nodes will become Ready because Kubernetes has a networking provider and configuration installed.

kubectl get nodes


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