Feb 21, 2024: Announcing Linkerd 2.15 with support for VM workloads, native sidecars, and SPIFFE! Read more »

This is not the latest version of Linkerd!
This documentation is for Linkerd 1.x, an older version with some significant differences. You may want to see the Linkerd 2.x (current) documentation instead.

Running in Kubernetes

If you have a Kubernetes cluster or even just run Minikube, deploying Linkerd as a service mesh is the fastest way to get started. Not only is it incredibly simple to deploy, it is also suitable for most production use- cases, providing service discovery, instrumentation, intelligent client-side load balancing, circuit breakers, and dynamic routing out-of-the-box.

The Linkerd service mesh is deployed as a Kubernetes DaemonSet, running one Linkerd pod on each node of the cluster. Applications running in Kubernetes can then take advantage of the service mesh by sending all of their network traffic through the Linkerd running on their node.

Deploy the Linkerd service mesh

Deploy the Linkerd service mesh with these commands:

kubectl create ns linkerd
kubectl apply -f https://raw.githubusercontent.com/linkerd/linkerd-examples/master/k8s-daemonset/k8s/servicemesh.yml

You can verify that Linkerd was deployed successfully by running

kubectl -n linkerd port-forward $(kubectl -n linkerd get pod -l app=l5d -o jsonpath='{.items[0].metadata.name}') 9990 &

And then viewing the Linkerd admin dashboard by visiting http://localhost:9990 in your browser.

Note that if your cluster uses CNI, you will need to make a few small changes to the Linkerd config to enable CNI compatibility. These are indicated as comments in the config file itself. You can learn more about CNI compatibility on our Flavors of Kubernetes page.

Configure your Application

To configure your applications to use Linkerd for HTTP traffic you can set the http_proxy environment variable to $(NODE_NAME):4140 where NODE_NAME is the name of node on which the application instance is running. The NODE_NAME environment variable can be set in the instance’s pod spec by using the Kubernetes downward API:

        - name: NODE_NAME
              fieldPath: spec.nodeName
        - name: http_proxy
          value: $(NODE_NAME):4140

See our hello world Kubernetes config for a complete example of this.

Note that spec.nodeName does not work in certain environments such as Minikube. See our Flavors of Kubernetes page for workarounds.

If your application does not support the http_proxy environment variable or if you want to configure your application to use Linkerd for HTTP/2 or gRPC traffic, you must configure your application to send traffic directly to Linkerd:

  • $(NODE_NAME):4140 for HTTP
  • $(NODE_NAME):4240 for HTTP/2
  • $(NODE_NAME):4340 for gRPC

If you are sending HTTP or HTTP/2 traffic directly to Linkerd, you must set the Host/Authority header to <service> or <service>.<namespace> where <service> and <namespace> are the names of the service and namespace that you want to proxy to. If unspecified, <namespace> defaults to default.

If your application receives HTTP, HTTP/2, and/or gRPC traffic it must have a Kubernetes Service object with ports named http, h2, and/or grpc respectively.


The Linkerd service mesh is also also configured to act as an Ingress Controller. Simply create an Ingress resource defining the routes that you want and then send requests to port 80 (or port 8080 for HTTP/2) of the ingress address for the cluster. In cloud environments with external load balancers, the ingress address is the address of the external load balancer. Otherwise, the address of any node may be used as the ingress address.

See our Ingress blog post for more details.

Next Steps

This config is a great starting point that will work for a wide range of use-cases. Please check out our Service Mesh for Kubernetes blog series for information on how to enable more advanced Linkerd features such as service-to-service encryption, continuous deployment, and per-request routing.