Virtual Thoughts

Virtualisation, Storage and various other ramblings.

Evaluating Harvester in vSphere

Disclaimer – The use of nested virtualisation is not a supported topology

Harvester is an open-source HCI solution aimed at managing Virtual Machines, similar to vSphere and Nutanix, with key differences including (but not limited to):

  • Fully Open Source
  • Leveraging Kubernetes-native technologies
  • Integration with Rancher

Testing/evaluating any hyperconverged solution can be difficult – It usually requires having dedicated hardware as these solutions are designed to work directly on bare metal. However, we can circumvent this by leveraging nested virtualisation – something which may be familiar with a lot of homelabbers (myself included) – which involves using an existing virtualisation solution provision workloads that also leverage virtualisation technology.

Step 1 – Planning

To mimic what a production-like system may look like, two NICs will be leveraged – one that facilitates management traffic, and the other for Virtual Machine traffic, as depicted below

MGMT network and VM Network will manifest as VDS Port groups.

Also, download and make available the latest ISO for harvester

Step 2 – Create vDS Port Groups

It is highly recommended to create new Distributed Port groups for this exercise, mainly because of the configuration we will be applying in the next step.

Create a new vDS Port Group:

Give the port group a name, such as harvester-mgmt

Adjust any configuration (ie VLAN ID) to match your environment (if required). Or accept the defaults:

Repeat this process to create the harvester-vm Port group. We should now have two port groups:

  • harvester-mgmt
  • harvester-vm

Step 3 – Enable MAC learning on Port groups [Critical]

William Lam has an excellent post on how to accomplish this. This is required for Harvester (or any hypervisor) to function correctly when operating in a nested environment.

Set-MacLearn -DVPortgroupName @("harvester-mgmt") -EnableMacLearn $true -EnablePromiscuous $false -EnableForgedTransmit $true -EnableMacChange $false

Set-MacLearn -DVPortgroupName @("harvester-vm") -EnableMacLearn $true -EnablePromiscuous $false -EnableForgedTransmit $true -EnableMacChange $false

Step 4 – Creating a Harvester VM

Our Harvester VM will operate like any other VM, with some important differences. In vSphere, go through the standard VM creation wizard to specify the Host/Datastore options. When presented with the OS type, select Other Linux (64 bit).

When customising the hardware, select Expose hardware assisted virtualization to the guest OS – This is crucial, as without this selected Harvester will not install.

Add an additional network card so that our VM leverages both previously created port groups:

And finally, mount the Harvester ISO image.

Step 4 – Install Harvester

Power on the VM and providing the ISO is mounted and connected, you should be presented with the install screen. As this is the first node, select create a new Harvester Cluster

Select the Install target and optional MBR partitioning

Configure the hostname, management nic and IP assignment options.

Configure the DNS config:

Configure the Harvester VIP. This is what we will use to access the Web UI. This can also be obtained via DHCP if desired.

Configure the cluster token, this is required if you want to add more nodes later on.

Configure the local Password:

Configure the NTP server Address:

If desired, the subsequent options facilitate importing SSH keys, reading a remote config, etc which are optional. A summary will be presented before the install begins:

Proceed with the install.

Note : After a reboot, it may take a few minutes before harvester reports as being in a ready state – Once it does, navigate to the reported management URL.

At which point you will be prompted to reset the admin password

Step 5 – Configure VM Network

Once logged in to Harvester navigate to Hosts > Edit Config

Configure the secondary NIC to the VLAN network (our VM network)

Navigate to Settings > VLAN > Edit

Click “Enable” and select the default interface to the secondary interface. This will be the default for any new nodes that join the cluster.

To create a network for our VM’s to reside in, select Network > Create:

Give this network a name and a VLAN ID. Note – you can supply VLAN ID 1 if you’re using the native/default VLAN.

Step 6 – Test VM Network

Firstly, create a new image:

For this example, we can use an ISO image. After supplying the URL Harvester will download and store the image:

After downloading, we can create a VM from it:

Specify the VM specs (CPU and Mem)

Under Volumes, add an additional volume to act as the installation target for the OS (Or leave if purely wanting to use a live ISO):

Under Networks, change the selection to the VM network that was previously created and click “Create”:

Once the VM is in running state, we can take a VNC console to it:

At which point we can interact with it as we would expect with any HCI solution:

Taking a Modular Approach to my Homelab with Pulumi

Architecture

After reviewing the key components of my lab environment, I translated these into the Pulumi stacks as illustrated in the diagram below. Pulumi has a blog post about the benefits of adopting multiple stacks and I found organising my homelab this way enables greater flexibility and organisation. I can also use stacks as a “template” to further build out my lab environment, for example, repeating the “Tools-Cluster” stack to add additional clusters.

The main objectives are:

  • Create a 3 node, K3s cluster utilising vSphere VM’s
  • Install Metallb, Rancher and Cert-Manager into this cluster
  • Using Rancher, create an RKE2 cluster to accommodate shared tooling services, ie:
    • Rancher Monitoring Stack (Prometheus, Grafana, Alertmanager, etc)
    • Hashicorp Vault
    • etc

Building

Each stack contains the main Pulumi code, a YAML file to hold various variables to influence parameters such as VM names, Networking config, etc.

├── rancher-application
│   ├── Assets
│   │   └── metallb
│   │       └── metallb-values.yaml
│   ├── go.mod
│   ├── go.sum
│   ├── main.go
│   ├── Pulumi.dev.yaml
│   └── Pulumi.yaml
├── rancher-management-cluster
│   ├── Assets
│   │   ├── metadata.yaml
│   │   └── userdata.yaml
│   ├── go.mod
│   ├── go.sum
│   ├── main.go
│   ├── Pulumi.dev.yaml
│   └── Pulumi.yaml
└── rancher-tools-cluster
    ├── Assets
    │   └── userdata.yaml
    ├── go.mod
    ├── go.sum
    ├── main.go
    ├── Pulumi.dev.yaml
    └── Pulumi.yaml

Each stack has a corresponding assets directory which contains supporting content for a number of components:

  • Rancher Application – Values.yaml to influence the metallb L2 VIP addresses
  • Rancher Management Cluster – Userdata and Metadata to send to the created VM’s, including bootstrapping K3s
  • Rancher Tools Cluster – Userdata to configure the local registry mirror

Rancher Management Cluster Stack

This is the first stack that needs to be created and is relatively simple in terms of its purpose. The metadata.yaml contains a template for defining cloud-init metadata for the nodes:

network:
  version: 2
  ethernets:
    ens192:
      dhcp4: false
      addresses:
        - $node_ip
      gateway4: $node_gateway
      nameservers:
        addresses:
          - $node_dns
local-hostname: $node_hostname
instance-id: $node_instance

userdata.yaml contains k3s-specific configuration pertaining to my local registry mirror as well a placeholder for the K3S bootstrapping process, $runcmd.

#cloud-config
write_files:
  - path: /etc/rancher/k3s/registries.yaml
    content: |
      mirrors:
        docker.io:
          endpoint:
            - "http://172.16.10.208:5050"
runcmd:
  - $runcmd

Creating the VM’s leverages the existing vSphere Pulumi provider, seeding the nodes with cloud-init user/metadata which also instantiates K3s.

userDataEncoded := base64.StdEncoding.EncodeToString([]byte(strings.Replace(string(userData), "$runcmd", k3sRunCmdBootstrapNode, -1)))

				vm, err := vsphere.NewVirtualMachine(ctx, vmPrefixName+strconv.Itoa(i+1), &vsphere.VirtualMachineArgs{
					Memory:         pulumi.Int(6144),
					NumCpus:        pulumi.Int(4),
					DatastoreId:    pulumi.String(datastore.Id),
					Name:           pulumi.String(vmPrefixName + strconv.Itoa(i+1)),
					ResourcePoolId: pulumi.String(resourcePool.Id),
					GuestId:        pulumi.String(template.GuestId),
					Clone: vsphere.VirtualMachineCloneArgs{
						TemplateUuid: pulumi.String(template.Id),
					},
					Disks: vsphere.VirtualMachineDiskArray{vsphere.VirtualMachineDiskArgs{
						Label: pulumi.String("Disk0"),
						Size:  pulumi.Int(50),
					}},
					NetworkInterfaces: vsphere.VirtualMachineNetworkInterfaceArray{vsphere.VirtualMachineNetworkInterfaceArgs{
						NetworkId: pulumi.String(network.Id),
					},
					},
					ExtraConfig: pulumi.StringMap{
						"guestinfo.metadata.encoding": pulumi.String("base64"),
						"guestinfo.metadata":          pulumi.String(metaDataEncoded),
						"guestinfo.userdata.encoding": pulumi.String("base64"),
						"guestinfo.userdata":          pulumi.String(userDataEncoded),
					},
				},
				)
				if err != nil {
					return err
				}

The first node initiates the K3s cluster creation process. Subsequent nodes have their $rucmd manipulated by identifying the first node’s IP address and using that to join the cluster:

userDataEncoded := vms[0].DefaultIpAddress.ApplyT(func(ipaddress string) string {

					runcmd := fmt.Sprintf(k3sRunCmdSubsequentNodes, ipaddress)
					return base64.StdEncoding.EncodeToString([]byte(strings.Replace(string(userData), "$runcmd", runcmd, -1)))
				}).(pulumi.StringOutput)

				vm, err := vsphere.NewVirtualMachine(ctx, vmPrefixName+strconv.Itoa(i+1), &vsphere.VirtualMachineArgs{
					Memory:         pulumi.Int(6144),

Rancher Application Stack

This stack makes extensive use of the (currently experimental) Helm Release Resource as well as the cert-manager package from the Pulumi Registry

For example, creating the Metallb config map based on the aforementioned asset file:

		metallbConfigmap, err := corev1.NewConfigMap(ctx, "metallb-config", &corev1.ConfigMapArgs{
			Metadata: &metav1.ObjectMetaArgs{
				Namespace: metallbNamespace.Metadata.Name(),
			},
			Data: pulumi.StringMap{
				"config": pulumi.String(metallbConfig),
			},
		})

And the Helm release:

		_, err = helm.NewRelease(ctx, "metallb", &helm.ReleaseArgs{
			Chart:     pulumi.String("metallb"),
			Name:      pulumi.String("metallb"),
			Namespace: metallbNamespace.Metadata.Name(),
			RepositoryOpts: helm.RepositoryOptsArgs{
				Repo: pulumi.String("https://charts.bitnami.com/bitnami"),
			},
			Values: pulumi.Map{"existingConfigMap": metallbConfigmap.Metadata.Name()},
		})

And for Rancher:

		_, err = helm.NewRelease(ctx, "rancher", &helm.ReleaseArgs{
			Chart:     pulumi.String("rancher"),
			Name:      pulumi.String("rancher"),
			Namespace: rancherNamespace.Metadata.Name(),
			RepositoryOpts: helm.RepositoryOptsArgs{
				Repo: pulumi.String("https://releases.rancher.com/server-charts/latest"),
			},
			Values: pulumi.Map{
				"hostname":           pulumi.String(rancherUrl),
				"ingress.tls.source": pulumi.String("secret"),
			},
			Version: pulumi.String(rancherVersion),
		}, pulumi.DependsOn([]pulumi.Resource{certmanagerChart, rancherCertificate}))

As I used an existing secret for my TLS certificate I had to create a cert-manager cert object, for which there are a number of options that I experimented with:

1. Read a file

Similarly to the metallb config, A file could be read that contained the YAML to create the Custom Resource type, although this was a feasible approach, I wanted something that was less error-prone.

2. Use the API extension type

The Pulumi Kubernetes provider enables the provisioning of the type NewCustomResource. For my requirements, this is an improvement over simply reading a YAML file, however, anything beyond the resources metadata isn’t strongly typed

rancherCertificate, err := apiextensions.NewCustomResource(ctx, "rancher-cert", &apiextensions.CustomResourceArgs{
			ApiVersion: pulumi.String("cert-manager.io/v1"),
			Kind:       pulumi.String("Certificate"),
			Metadata: &metav1.ObjectMetaArgs{
				Name:      pulumi.String("tls-rancher-ingress"),
				Namespace: pulumi.String(rancherNamespaceName),
			},
			OtherFields: kubernetes.UntypedArgs{
				"spec": map[string]interface{}{
					"secretName": "tls-rancher-ingress",
					"commonName": "rancher.virtualthoughts.co.uk",
					"dnsNames":   []string{"rancher.virtualthoughts.co.uk"},
					"issuerRef": map[string]string{
						"name": "letsencrypt-staging",
						"kind": "ClusterIssuer",
					},
				},
			},
		}, pulumi.DependsOn([]pulumi.Resource{certmanagerChart, certmanagerIssuers}))

3. Use crd2pulumi

crd2pulumi is used to generate typed CustomResources based on Kubernetes CustomResourceDefinitions, I took the cert-manager CRD’s and ran it through this tool, uploaded to a repo and repeated the above process:

import (
	certmanagerresource "github.com/david-vtuk/cert-manager-crd-types/types/certmanager/certmanager/v1"
        ...
        ...
)
	rancherCertificate, err := certmanagerresource.NewCertificate(ctx, "tls-rancher-ingress", &certmanagerresource.CertificateArgs{
			ApiVersion: pulumi.String("cert-manager.io/v1"),
			Kind:       pulumi.String("Certificate"),
			Metadata: &metav1.ObjectMetaArgs{
				Name:      pulumi.String("tls-rancher-ingress"),
				Namespace: pulumi.String(rancherNamespaceName),
			},
			Spec: &certmanagerresource.CertificateSpecArgs{
				CommonName: pulumi.String(rancherUrl),
				DnsNames:   pulumi.StringArray{pulumi.String(rancherUrl)},
				IssuerRef: certmanagerresource.CertificateSpecIssuerRefArgs{
					Kind: leProductionIssuer.Kind,
					Name: leProductionIssuer.Metadata.Name().Elem(),
				},
				SecretName: pulumi.String("tls-rancher-ingress"),
			},
		})

Much better!

Tools Cluster Stack

Comparatively, this is the simplest of all the Stacks. Using the Rancher2 Pulumi Package makes it pretty trivial to build out new clusters and install apps:

_, err = rancher2.NewClusterV2(ctx, "tools-cluster", &rancher2.ClusterV2Args{
			CloudCredentialSecretName: cloudcredential.ID(),
			KubernetesVersion:         pulumi.String("v1.21.6+rke2r1"),
			Name:                      pulumi.String("tools-cluster"),
			//DefaultClusterRoleForProjectMembers: pulumi.String("user"),
			RkeConfig: &rancher2.ClusterV2RkeConfigArgs{

.........
}

				monitoring, err := rancher2.NewAppV2(ctx, "monitoring", &rancher2.AppV2Args{
					ChartName: pulumi.String("rancher-monitoring"),
					ClusterId: cluster.ClusterV1Id,
					Namespace: pulumi.String("cattle-monitoring-system"),
					RepoName:  pulumi.String("rancher-charts"),
				}, pulumi.DependsOn([]pulumi.Resource{clusterSync}))

Creating Kubernetes Clusters with Rancher and Pulumi

tldr; Here is the code repo

Intro

My Job at Suse (via Rancher) involves hosting a lot of demos, product walk-throughs and various other activities that necessitate spinning up tailored environments on-demand. To facilitate this, I previously leaned towards Terraform, and have since curated a list of individual scripts I have to manage on an individual basis as they address a specific use case.

This approach reached a point where it became difficult to manage. Ideally, I wanted an IaC environment that catered for:

  • Easy, in-code looping (ie for and range)
  • “Proper” condition handling, ie if monitoring == true, install monitoring vs the slightly awkward HCL equivalent of repurposing count as a sudo-replacement for condition handling.
  • Influence what’s installed by config options/vars.
  • Complete end-to end creation of cluster objects, in my example, create:
    • AWS EC2 VPC
    • AWS Subnets
    • AWS AZ’s
    • AWS IGW
    • AWS Security Group
    • 1x Rancher provisioned EC2 cluster
    • 3x single node K3S clusters used for Fleet
Architectural Overview

Pulumi addresses these requirements pretty comprehensively. Additionally, I can re-use existing logic from my Terraform code as the Rancher2 Pulumi provider is based on the Terraform implementation, but I can leverage Go tools/features to build my environment.

Code Tour – Core

The core objects are created directly, using types from the Pulumi packages:

VPC:

// Create AWS VPC
vpc, err := ec2.NewVpc(ctx, "david-pulumi-vpc", &ec2.VpcArgs{
	CidrBlock:          pulumi.String("10.0.0.0/16"),
	Tags:               pulumi.StringMap{"Name": pulumi.String("david-pulumi-vpc")},
	EnableDnsHostnames: pulumi.Bool(true),
	EnableDnsSupport:   pulumi.Bool(true),
})

You will notice some interesting types in the above – such as pulumi.Bool and pulumi.String. The reason for this is, we need to treat cloud deployments as asynchronous operations. Some values we will know at runtime (expose port 80), some will only be known at runtime (the ID of a VPC, as below). These Pulumi types are a facilitator of this asynchronous paradigm.

IGW

// Create IGW
igw, err := ec2.NewInternetGateway(ctx, "david-pulumi-gw", &ec2.InternetGatewayArgs{
	VpcId: vpc.ID(),
})

Moving to something slightly more complex, such as looping around regions and assigning a subnet to each:

// Get the list of AZ's for the defined region
azState := "available"
zoneList, err := aws.GetAvailabilityZones(ctx, &aws.GetAvailabilityZonesArgs{
	State: &azState,
})

if err != nil {
	return err
}

//How many AZ's to spread nodes across. Default to 3.
zoneNumber := 3
zones := []string{"a", "b", "c"}

var subnets []*ec2.Subnet

// Iterate through the AZ's for the VPC and create a subnet in each
for i := 0; i < zoneNumber; i++ {
	subnet, err := ec2.NewSubnet(ctx, "david-pulumi-subnet-"+strconv.Itoa(i), &ec2.SubnetArgs{
		AvailabilityZone:    pulumi.String(zoneList.Names[i]),
		Tags:                pulumi.StringMap{"Name": pulumi.String("david-pulumi-subnet-" + strconv.Itoa(i))},
		VpcId:               vpc.ID(),
		CidrBlock:           pulumi.String("10.0." + strconv.Itoa(i) + ".0/24"),
		MapPublicIpOnLaunch: pulumi.Bool(true),
	})

This is repeated for each type

Code Tour – Config

The config file allows us to store information required by providers (unless using env variables or something externally) and values that we can use to influence the resources that are created. In particular, I added the following boolean values:

config:
  Rancher-Demo-Env:installCIS: false
  Rancher-Demo-Env:installIstio: false
  Rancher-Demo-Env:installLogging: false
  Rancher-Demo-Env:installLonghorn: false
  Rancher-Demo-Env:installMonitoring: false
  Rancher-Demo-Env:installOPA: false
  Rancher-Demo-Env:installFleetClusters: false

This directly influence what will be created in my main demo cluster, as well as individual “Fleet” clusters. Within the main Pulumi code, these values are extracted:

conf := config.New(ctx, "")
InstallIstio := conf.GetBool("installIstio")
installOPA := conf.GetBool("installOPA")
installCIS := conf.GetBool("installCIS")
installLogging := conf.GetBool("installLogging")
installLonghorn := conf.GetBool("installLonghorn")
installMonitoring := conf.GetBool("installMonitoring")
installFleetClusters := conf.GetBool("installFleetClusters")

Because of this, native condition handling can be leveraged to influence what’s created:

if installIstio {
	_, err := rancher2.NewAppV2(ctx, "istio", &rancher2.AppV2Args{
		ChartName:    pulumi.String("rancher-istio"),
		ClusterId:    cluster.ID(),
		Namespace:    pulumi.String("istio-system"),
		RepoName:     pulumi.String("rancher-charts"),
		ChartVersion: pulumi.String("1.8.300"),
	}, pulumi.DependsOn([]pulumi.Resource{clusterSync}))

	if err != nil {
		return err
	}
}

As there’s a much more dynamic nature to this project, I have a single template which I can tailor to address a number of use-cases with a huge amount of customisation. One could argue the same could be done in Terraform with using count, but I find this method cleaner. In addition, my next step is to implement some testing using go’s native features to further enhance this project.

Bootstrapping K3s

One challenge I encountered was being able to create and import K3s clusters. Currently, only RKE clusters can be directly created from Rancher. To address this, I created the cluster object in Rancher, extract the join command, and passed it together with the K3s install script so after K3s has stood up, it will run the join command:

if installFleetClusters {
	// create some EC2 instances to install K3s on:
	for i := 0; i < 3; i++ {
		cluster, _ := rancher2.NewCluster(ctx, "david-pulumi-fleet-"+strconv.Itoa(i), &rancher2.ClusterArgs{
			Name: pulumi.String("david-pulumi-fleet-" + strconv.Itoa(i)),
		})

		joincommand := cluster.ClusterRegistrationToken.Command().ApplyString(func(command *string) string {
			getPublicIP := "IP=$(curl -H \"X-aws-ec2-metadata-token: $TOKEN\" -v http://169.254.169.254/latest/meta-data/public-ipv4)"
			installK3s := "curl -sfL https://get.k3s.io | INSTALL_K3S_VERSION=v1.19.5+k3s2 INSTALL_K3S_EXEC=\"--node-external-ip $IP\" sh -"
			nodecommand := fmt.Sprintf("#!/bin/bash\n%s\n%s\n%s", getPublicIP, installK3s, *command)
			return nodecommand
		})

		_, err = ec2.NewInstance(ctx, "david-pulumi-fleet-node-"+strconv.Itoa(i), &ec2.InstanceArgs{
			Ami:                 pulumi.String("ami-0ff4c8fb495a5a50d"),
			InstanceType:        pulumi.String("t2.medium"),
			KeyName:             pulumi.String("davidh-keypair"),
			VpcSecurityGroupIds: pulumi.StringArray{sg.ID()},
			UserData:            joincommand,
			SubnetId:            subnets[i].ID(),
		})

		if err != nil {
			return err
		}
	}

}

End result:

     Type                               Name                                  Status       
 +   pulumi:pulumi:Stack                Rancher-Demo-Env-dev                  creating...  
 +   pulumi:pulumi:Stack                Rancher-Demo-Env-dev                  creating..   
 +   pulumi:pulumi:Stack                Rancher-Demo-Env-dev                  creating..   
 +   ├─ rancher2:index:Cluster          david-pulumi-fleet-1                  created      
 +   ├─ rancher2:index:Cluster          david-pulumi-fleet-2                  created      
 +   ├─ rancher2:index:CloudCredential  david-pulumi-cloudcredential          created      
 +   ├─ aws:ec2:Subnet                  david-pulumi-subnet-1                 created      
 +   ├─ aws:ec2:Subnet                  david-pulumi-subnet-0                 created      
 +   ├─ aws:ec2:InternetGateway         david-pulumi-gw                       created     
 +   ├─ aws:ec2:Subnet                  david-pulumi-subnet-2                 created     
 +   ├─ aws:ec2:SecurityGroup           david-pulumi-sg                       created     
 +   ├─ aws:ec2:DefaultRouteTable       david-pulumi-routetable               created     
 +   ├─ rancher2:index:NodeTemplate     david-pulumi-nodetemplate-eu-west-2b  created     
 +   ├─ rancher2:index:NodeTemplate     david-pulumi-nodetemplate-eu-west-2a  created     
 +   ├─ rancher2:index:NodeTemplate     david-pulumi-nodetemplate-eu-west-2c  created     
 +   ├─ aws:ec2:Instance                david-pulumi-fleet-node-0             created     
 +   ├─ aws:ec2:Instance                david-pulumi-fleet-node-2             created     
 +   ├─ aws:ec2:Instance                david-pulumi-fleet-node-1             created     
 +   ├─ rancher2:index:Cluster          david-pulumi-cluster                  created     
 +   ├─ rancher2:index:NodePool         david-pulumi-nodepool-2               created     
 +   ├─ rancher2:index:NodePool         david-pulumi-nodepool-1               created     
 +   ├─ rancher2:index:NodePool         david-pulumi-nodepool-0               created     
 +   ├─ rancher2:index:ClusterSync      david-clustersync                     created     
 +   ├─ rancher2:index:AppV2            opa                                   created     
 +   ├─ rancher2:index:AppV2            monitoring                            created     
 +   ├─ rancher2:index:AppV2            istio                                 created     
 +   ├─ rancher2:index:AppV2            cis                                   created     
 +   ├─ rancher2:index:AppV2            logging                               created     
 +   └─ rancher2:index:AppV2            longhorn                              created     
 
Resources:
    + 29 created

Duration: 19m18s

20mins for a to create all of these resources fully automated is pretty handy. This example also includes all the addons – opa, monitoring, istio, cis, logging and longhorn.

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