Adding Your Services to Linkerd

Adding Linkerd’s control plane to your cluster doesn’t change anything about your application. In order for your services to take advantage of Linkerd, they need to be meshed, by injecting Linkerd’s data plane proxy into their pods.

For most applications, meshing a service is as simple as adding a Kubernetes annotation. However, services that make network calls immediately on startup may need to handle startup race conditions, and services that use MySQL, SMTP, Memcache, and similar protocols may need to handle server-speaks-first protocols.

Read on for more!

Meshing a service with annotations

Meshing a Kubernetes resource is typically done by annotating the resource, or its namespace, with the enabled Kubernetes annotation. This annotation triggers automatic proxy injection when the resources are created or updated. (See the proxy injection page for more on how this works.)

For convenience, Linkerd provides a linkerd inject text transform command will add this annotation to a given Kubernetes manifest. Of course, these annotations can be set by any other mechanism.


To add Linkerd’s data plane proxies to a service defined in a Kubernetes manifest, you can use linkerd inject to add the annotations before applying the manifest to Kubernetes:

cat deployment.yml | linkerd inject - | kubectl apply -f -

This example transforms the deployment.yml file to add injection annotations in the correct places, then applies it to the cluster.

Verifying the data plane pods have been injected

To verify that your services have been added to the mesh, you can query Kubernetes for the list of containers in the pods and ensure that the proxy is listed:

kubectl -n MYNAMESPACE get po -o jsonpath='{.items[0].spec.containers[*].name}'

If everything was successful, you’ll see linkerd-proxy in the output, e.g.:

MYCONTAINER linkerd-proxy

A note on startup race conditions

While the proxy starts very quickly, Kubernetes doesn’t provide any guarantees about container startup ordering, so the application container may start before the proxy is ready. This means that any connections made immediately at app startup time may fail until the proxy is active.

In many cases, this can be ignored: the application will ideally retry the connection, or Kubernetes will restart the container after it fails, and eventually the proxy will be ready. Alternatively, you can use linkerd-await to delay the application container until the proxy is ready, or set a skip-outbound-ports annotation to bypass the proxy for these connections.

A note on server-speaks-first protocols

Linkerd’s protocol detection works by looking at the first few bytes of client data to determine the protocol of the connection. Some protocols such as MySQL, SMTP, and other server-speaks-first protocols don’t send these bytes. In some cases, this may require additional configuration to avoid a 10-second delay in establishing the first connection. See Configuring protocol detection for details.

More reading

For more information on how the inject command works and all of the parameters that can be set, see the linkerd inject reference page.

For details on how autoinjection works, see the the proxy injection page.