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 an older version of Linkerd. You may want the Linkerd 2.15 (current) documentation instead.

CNI Plugin

Linkerd installs can be configured to run a CNI plugin that rewrites each pod’s iptables rules automatically. Rewriting iptables is required for routing network traffic through the pod’s linkerd-proxy container. When the CNI plugin is enabled, individual pods no longer need to include an init container that requires the NET_ADMIN capability to perform rewriting. This can be useful in clusters where that capability is restricted by cluster administrators.


Usage of the Linkerd CNI plugin requires that the linkerd-cni DaemonSet be successfully installed on your cluster first, before installing the Linkerd control plane.

Using the CLI

To install the linkerd-cni DaemonSet, run:

linkerd install-cni | kubectl apply -f -

Once the DaemonSet is up and running, all subsequent installs that include a linkerd-proxy container (including the Linkerd control plane), no longer need to include the linkerd-init container. Omission of the init container is controlled by the --linkerd-cni-enabled flag at control plane install time.

Install the Linkerd control plane, with:

linkerd install --linkerd-cni-enabled | kubectl apply -f -

This will set a cniEnabled flag in the linkerd-config ConfigMap. All subsequent proxy injections will read this field and omit init containers.

Using Helm

First ensure that your Helm local cache is updated:

helm repo update

helm search linkerd2-cni
linkerd-edge/linkerd2-cni   20.1.1       edge-20.1.1    A helm chart containing the resources needed by the Linke...
linkerd-stable/linkerd2-cni  2.7.0       stable-2.7.0   A helm chart containing the resources needed by the Linke...

Run the following commands to install the CNI DaemonSet:

# install the CNI plugin first
helm install linkerd2-cni linkerd2/linkerd2-cni

# ensure the plugin is installed and ready
linkerd check --pre --linkerd-cni-enabled

At that point you are ready to install Linkerd with CNI enabled. You can follow Installing Linkerd with Helm to do so.

Additional configuration

The linkerd install-cni command includes additional flags that you can use to customize the installation. See linkerd install-cni --help for more information. Note that many of the flags are similar to the flags that can be used to configure the proxy when running linkerd inject. If you change a default when running linkerd install-cni, you will want to ensure that you make a corresponding change when running linkerd inject.

The most important flags are:

  1. --dest-cni-net-dir: This is the directory on the node where the CNI Configuration resides. It defaults to: /etc/cni/net.d.
  2. --dest-cni-bin-dir: This is the directory on the node where the CNI Plugin binaries reside. It defaults to: /opt/cni/bin.
  3. --cni-log-level: Setting this to debug will allow more verbose logging. In order to view the CNI Plugin logs, you must be able to see the kubelet logs. One way to do this is to log onto the node and use journalctl -t kubelet. The string linkerd-cni: can be used as a search to find the plugin log output.

Upgrading the CNI plugin

Since the CNI plugin is basically stateless, there is no need for a separate upgrade command. If you are using the CLI to upgrade the CNI plugin you can just do:

linkerd install-cni   | kubectl apply --prune -l  linkerd.io/cni-resource=true -f -

Keep in mind that if you are upgrading the plugin from an experimental version, you need to uninstall and install it again.