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K3s is a simplified version of Kubernetes. It bundles all components for a kubernetes cluster into a few of small binaries.

Single node setup

  # This is required so that pod can reach the API server (running on port 6443 by default)
  networking.firewall.allowedTCPPorts = [ 6443 ];
  services.k3s.enable = true;
  services.k3s.role = "server";
  services.k3s.extraFlags = toString [
    # "--kubelet-arg=v=4" # Optionally add additional args to k3s
  environment.systemPackages = [ pkgs.k3s ];

After enabling, you can access your cluster through sudo k3s kubectl i.e. sudo k3s kubectl cluster-info, or by using the generated kubeconfig file in /etc/rancher/k3s/k3s.yaml

Multi-node setup

See this real world example. You might want to ignore some parts of it i.e. the monitoring as this is specific to our setup. The K3s server needs to import modules/k3s/server.nix and an agent modules/k3s/agent.nix. Tipp: You might run into issues with coredns not being reachable from agent nodes. Right now we disable the NixOS firewall all together until we find a better solution.

ZFS support

K3s's builtin containerd does not support the zfs snapshotter. However it is possible to configure it to use an external containerd:

  virtualisation.containerd = {
    enable = true;
    settings =
        fullCNIPlugins = pkgs.buildEnv {
          name = "full-cni";
          paths = with pkgs;[
      in {
        plugins."io.containerd.grpc.v1.cri".cni = {
          bin_dir = "${fullCNIPlugins}/bin";
          conf_dir = "/var/lib/rancher/k3s/agent/etc/cni/net.d/";
  # TODO describe how to enable zfs snapshotter in containerd
  services.k3s.extraFlags = toString [
    "--container-runtime-endpoint unix:///run/containerd/containerd.sock"

Network policies

The current k3s derivation doesn't include ipset package which is required by the network policy controller.

k3s logs

level=warning msg="Skipping network policy controller start, ipset unavailable: ipset utility not found"

There is an open pull request to fix it https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/pull/176520#pullrequestreview-1304593562. Until then the package can be added to k3s's path as follow

  systemd.services.k3s.path = [ pkgs.ipset ];


Raspberry Pi not working

If the k3s.service/k3s server does not start and gives you th error FATA[0000] failed to find memory cgroup (v2) Here's the github issue: https://github.com/k3s-io/k3s/issues/2067 .

To fix the problem you can add these things to your configuration.nix.

  boot.kernelParams = [
    "cgroup_enable=cpuset" "cgroup_memory=1" "cgroup_enable=memory"