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 locally

This guide will walk you through the steps necessary to download and run Linkerd locally.

In order to run Linkerd locally, you must have Java 8 installed. You can check your Java version by running:

$ java -version
java version "1.8.0_66"

Linkerd works with both Oracle and OpenJDK. If you need to install Java 8, you can download either one.

Download Oracle Java 8 or Download OpenJDK 8

Downloading & installing

First, download the latest binary release of Linkerd.

Download Linkerd

Once you’ve downloaded the release, extract it:

tar -xzf linkerd-
cd linkerd-

The release will contain these files:

  • config/linkerd.yaml — config file defining routers, servers, protocols, and ports
  • disco/ — file-based service discovery config
  • docs/ — documentation
  • linkerd- 1.7.5-exec — Linkerd executable
  • logs/ — default location where Linkerd logs are written


Once you have extracted the release, you can start and stop Linkerd by using linkerd- 1.7.5-exec.

To start Linkerd, run:

1.7.5-exec config/linkerd.yaml

Making sure it works

You can validate that Linkerd works by sending some HTTP traffic through it. Out of the box, Linkerd is configured to listen on port 4140, and to route any HTTP calls with a Host header set to “web” to a service listening on port 9999.

You can test this by running a simple service on port 9999:

echo 'It works!' > index.html
python -m SimpleHTTPServer 9999

This will be our destination server, and will respond to any HTTP request with a friendly response. We can send traffic to this destination by connecting to Linkerd and specifying the appropriate host header:

$ curl -H "Host: web" http://localhost:4140/
It works!

Because we’ve asked Linkerd to proxy the “web” host, our request is routed to the server on port 9999, and the response is proxied to the client. It works!

Note that if you don’t provide a Host header that matches the name of one of the routable services, Linkerd will fail the request:

$ curl -I -H "Host: foo" http://localhost:4140/
HTTP/1.1 502 Bad Gateway

Of course, there’s a lot more to naming services than this! In the next section, we’ll see where the service information used above is specified.

File-based service discovery

Under the configuration shipped with Linkerd, the first place it looks when it needs to resolve a service endpoints is the disco/ directory. (See the configuration guide for more on how this simple file-based service discovery system works.) With this configuration, Linkerd looks for files with names corresponding to the concrete name of a destination, and it expects these files to contain a newline-delimited list of addresses in host port form.

The default configuration looks like this:

$ head disco/*
==> disco/thrift-buffered <== 9997

==> disco/thrift-framed <== 9998

==> disco/web <== 9999

As you can see, there is a destination called “web” that is backed by a single address, 9999, as well as a thrift framed destination that is backed by 9998, and a thrift buffered destination that is backed by 9997. Note that, just as it does with all service discovery endpoints, Linkerd monitors this directory for changes, so feel free to add, remove, and edit files at any point—no restarting required.

The routing configuration that is shipped with Linkerd is very simple, and routes directly to the concrete names specified in this directory. In other words, asking Linkerd for the “web” service, as we did above, will result in it connecting to one of the endpoints in the disco/web file.

This routing configuration is good for demonstrating basic functionality, but Linkerd is capable of a lot more, including multiple service discovery endpoints, per-request routing rules, debug proxy injection, service failover, and more. See the Routing page for details on Linkerd’s routing capabilities.