In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to perform zero-downtime upgrades for Linkerd.
Read through this guide carefully. Additionally, before starting a specific upgrade, please read through the version-specific upgrade notices below, which may contain important information about your version.
- Upgrade notice: stable-2.12.0
- Upgrade notice: stable-2.11.0
- Upgrade notice: stable-2.10.0
- Upgrade notice: stable-2.9.4
- Upgrade notice: stable-2.9.3
- Upgrade notice: stable-2.9.0
For stable releases, Linkerd follows a version numbering scheme of the form
2.<major>.<minor>. In other words, “2” is a static prefix, followed by the
major version, then the minor.
Changes in minor versions are intended to be backwards compatible with the previous version. Changes in major version may introduce breaking changes, although we try to avoid that whenever possible.
The following upgrade paths are generally safe. However, before starting a deploy, it is important to check the upgrade notes before proceeding—occasionally, specific minor releases may have additional restrictions.
Within the same major version. It is usually safe to upgrade to the latest minor version within the same major version. In other words, if you are currently running version 2.x.y, upgrading to 2.x.z, where z is the latest minor version for major version x, is safe. This is true even if you would skip intermediate intermediate minor versions, i.e. it is still safe even if z > y + 1.
To the next major version. It is usually safe to upgrade to the latest minor version of the next major version. In other words, if you are currently running version 2.x.y, upgrading to 2.x + 1.w will be safe, where w is the latest minor version available for major version x + 1.
To later major versions. Upgrades that skip one or more major versions are not supported. Instead, you should upgrade major versions incrementally.
Again, please check the upgrade notes for the specific version you are upgrading to for any version-specific caveats.
Data plane vs control plane version skew
It is usually safe to run Linkerd’s control plane with the data plane from one major version earlier. (This skew is a natural consequence of upgrading.) This is independent of minor version, i.e. a 2.x.y data plane and a 2.x + 1.z control plane will work regardless of y and z.
Please check the version-specific upgrade notes before proceeding.
Note that new features introduced by the release may not be available for workloads with older data planes.
Overall upgrade process
There are four components that need to be upgraded:
These steps should be performed in sequence.
Before you commence an upgrade, you should ensure that the current state
of Linkerd is healthy, e.g. by using
linkerd check. For major version
upgrades, you should also ensure that your data plane is up-to-date, e.g.
linkerd check --proxy, to avoid unintentional version skew.
Upgrading the CLI
The CLI can be used to validate whether Linkerd was installed correctly.
To upgrade the CLI, run:
curl --proto '=https' --tlsv1.2 -sSfL https://run.linkerd.io/install | sh
Alternatively, you can download the CLI directly via the Linkerd releases page.
Verify the CLI is installed and running the expected version with:
linkerd version --client
Upgrading the control plane
With the Linkerd CLI
For users who have installed Linkerd via the CLI, the
linkerd upgrade command
will upgrade the control plane. This command ensures that all of the control
plane’s existing configuration and TLS secrets are retained. Notice that we use
--prune flag to remove any Linkerd resources from the previous version
which no longer exist in the new version.
linkerd upgrade | kubectl apply --prune -l linkerd.io/control-plane-ns=linkerd -f -
Next, run this command again with some
--prune-whitelist flags added. This is
necessary to make sure that certain cluster-scoped resources are correctly
linkerd upgrade | kubectl apply --prune -l linkerd.io/control-plane-ns=linkerd \ --prune-whitelist=rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1/clusterrole \ --prune-whitelist=rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1/clusterrolebinding \ --prune-whitelist=apiregistration.k8s.io/v1/apiservice -f -
For Helm control plane installations, please follow the instructions at Helm upgrade procedure.
Verifying the control plane upgrade
Once the upgrade process completes, check to make sure everything is healthy by running:
This will run through a set of checks against your control plane and make sure that it is operating correctly.
To verify the Linkerd control plane version, run:
Which should display the latest versions for both client and server.
Linkerd’s extensions provide additional functionality to Linkerd in a modular way. Generally speaking, extensions are versioned separately from Linkerd releases and follow their own schedule; however, some extensions are updated alongside Linkerd releases and you may wish to update them as part of the same process.
Each extension can be upgraded independently. If using Helm, the procedure is
similar to the control plane upgrade, using the respective charts. For the CLI,
the extension CLI commands don’t provide
upgrade subcommands, but using
install again is fine. For example:
linkerd viz install | kubectl apply -f - linkerd multicluster install | kubectl apply -f - linkerd jaeger install | kubectl apply -f -
Upgrading the multicluster extension
Upgrading the multicluster extension doesn’t cause downtime in the traffic going
through the mirrored services, unless otherwise noted in the version-specific
notes below. Note however that for the service mirror deployments (which
control the creation of the mirrored services) to be updated, you need to
re-link your clusters through
linkerd multicluster link.
Upgrading the data plane
Upgrading the data plane requires updating the proxy added to each meshed workload. Since pods are immutable in Kubernetes, Linkerd is unable to simply update the proxies in place. Thus, the standard option is to restart each workload, allowing the proxy injector to inject the latest version of the proxy as they come up.
For example, you can use the
kubectl rollout restart command to restart a
kubectl -n <namespace> rollout restart deploy
As described earlier, a skew of one major version between data plane and control plane is always supported. Thus, for some systems it is possible to do this data plane upgrade “lazily”, and simply allow workloads to pick up the newest proxy as they are restarted for other reasons (e.g. for new code rollouts). However, newer features may only be available on workloads with the latest proxy.
A skew of more than one major version between data plane and control plane is not supported.
Verify the data plane upgrade
Check to make sure everything is healthy by running:
linkerd check --proxy
This will run through a set of checks to verify that the data plane is operating correctly, and will list any pods that are still running older versions of the proxy.
Congratulation! You have successfully upgraded your Linkerd to the newer version.
Upgrade notice: stable-2.12.0
Please be sure to read the Linkerd 2.12.0 release notes.
There are a couple important changes that affect the upgrade process for 2.12.0:
- The minimum Kubernetes version supported is
- The TrafficSplit CRD has been moved to the Linkerd SMI extension.
- Support for Helm v2 has been removed.
- The viz extension no longer installs Grafana due to licensing concerns.
- The linkerd2 Helm chart has been split into two charts: linkerd-crds and linkerd-control-plane.
- The viz, multicluster, jaeger, and linkerd2-cni Helm charts now rely on a post-install hook required metadata into their namespaces.
Read on for how to handle these changes as part of the upgrade process.
Upgrading to 2.12.0 using the CLI
If you installed Linkerd
2.11.x with the CLI and are using the
TrafficSplit CRD, you need to take an extra stop to avoid losing your
TrafficSplit CRs. (If you’re not using
TrafficSplit then you can
perform the usual CLI upgrade as described above.)
TrafficSplit CRD has been moved to the SMI extension. But before
installing that extension, you need to add the following annotations and label
to the CRD so that the
linkerd-smi chart can adopt it:
kubectl annotate --overwrite crd/trafficsplits.split.smi-spec.io \ meta.helm.sh/release-name=linkerd-smi \ meta.helm.sh/release-namespace=linkerd-smi kubectl label crd/trafficsplits.split.smi-spec.io \ app.kubernetes.io/managed-by=Helm
Now you can install the SMI extension. E.g. via Helm:
helm repo add l5d-smi https://linkerd.github.io/linkerd-smi helm install linkerd-smi -n linkerd-smi --create-namespace l5d-smi/linkerd-smi
And finally you can proceed with the usual CLI upgrade
instructions, but avoid using the
--prune flag when
applying the output of
linkerd upgrade --crds to avoid removing the
Upgrading to 2.12.0 using Helm
Note that support for Helm v2 has been dropped in the Linkerd 2.12.0 release.
This section provides instructions on how to perform a migration from Linkerd
2.12.0 without control plane downtime, when your existing Linkerd
instance was installed via Helm. There were several changes to the Linkerd Helm
charts as part of this release, so this upgrade process is a little more
involved than usual.
Retrieving existing customization and PKI setup
linkerd2 chart has been replaced by two charts:
linkerd-control-plane (and optionally
linkerd-smi if you’re using
TrafficSplit). To migrate to this new setup, we need to ensure your
customization values, including TLS certificates and keys, are migrated
to the new charts.
Find the release name you used for the
linkerd2 chart, and the namespace where
this release stored its config:
$ helm ls -A NAME NAMESPACE REVISION UPDATED STATUS CHART APP VERSION linkerd default 1 2021-11-22 17:14:50.751436374 -0500 -05 deployed linkerd2-2.11.1 stable-2.11.1
(The example output above matches the default case.) Note that even if Linkerd is
installed in the
linkerd namespace, the Helm config should have been installed
default namespace, unless you specified something different in the
namespace value when you installed. Take note of this release name (linkerd)
and namespace (default) to use in the commands that follow.
Next, retrieve all your chart values customizations, especially your trust
root and issuer keys (
identity.issuer.tls.keyPEM). These values will need to be fed again into
helm install command below for the
linkerd-control-plane chart. These
values can be retrieved with the following command:
helm get -n default values linkerd
Migrate resources to the new charts
Next, we need to prepare these values for use with the new charts. Note that the examples below use the yq utility.
The following snippets will change the
meta.helm.sh/release-namespace annotations for each resource in the
release (use your own name as explained above), so that they can be adopted by
# First migrate the CRDs $ helm -n default get manifest linkerd | \ yq 'select(.kind == "CustomResourceDefinition") | .metadata.name' | \ grep -v '\-\-\-' | \ xargs -n1 sh -c \ 'kubectl annotate --overwrite crd/$0 meta.helm.sh/release-name=linkerd-crds meta.helm.sh/release-namespace=linkerd' # Special case for TrafficSplit (only use if you have TrafficSplit CRs) $ kubectl annotate --overwrite crd/trafficsplits.split.smi-spec.io \ meta.helm.sh/release-name=linkerd-smi meta.helm.sh/release-namespace=linkerd-smi # Now migrate all the other resources $ helm -n default get manifest linkerd | \ yq 'select(.kind != "CustomResourceDefinition")' | \ yq '.kind, .metadata.name, .metadata.namespace' | \ grep -v '\-\-\-' | xargs -n3 sh -c 'kubectl annotate --overwrite -n $2 $0/$1 meta.helm.sh/release-name=linkerd-control-plane meta.helm.sh/release-namespace=linkerd'
Installing the new charts
Next, we need to install the new charts using our customization values prepared above.
# First make sure you update the helm repo $ helm repo up # Install the linkerd-crds chart $ helm install linkerd-crds -n linkerd --create-namespace linkerd/linkerd-crds # Install the linkerd-control-plane chart # (remember to add any customizations you retrieved above) $ helm install linkerd-control-plane \ -n linkerd \ --set-file identityTrustAnchorsPEM=ca.crt \ --set-file identity.issuer.tls.crtPEM=issuer.crt \ --set-file identity.issuer.tls.keyPEM=issuer.key \ linkerd/linkerd-control-plane # Optional: if using TrafficSplit CRs $ helm repo add l5d-smi https://linkerd.github.io/linkerd-smi $ helm install linkerd-smi -n linkerd-smi --create-namespace l5d-smi/linkerd-smi
Cleaning up the old linkerd2 Helm release
After installing the new charts, we need to clean up the old Helm chart. The
helm delete command would delete all the linkerd resources, so instead we just
remove the Helm release config for the old
linkerd2 chart (assuming you used
the “Secret” storage backend, which is the default):
$ kubectl -n default delete secret \ --field-selector type=helm.sh/release.v1 \ -l name=linkerd,owner=helm
Upgrading extension Helm charts
Finally, we need to upgrade our extensions. In Linkerd 2.12.0 the viz,
multicluster, jaeger, and linkerd2-cni extensions no longer install their
namespaces, instead leaving that to the
helm command (or to a previous step in
your CD pipeline) and relying on an post-install hook to add the required
metadata into that namespace. Therefore the Helm upgrade path for these
extensions is to delete and reinstall them.
For example, for the viz extension:
# update the helm repo helm repo up # delete your current instance # (assuming you didn't use the -n flag when installing) helm delete linkerd-viz # install the new chart version helm install linkerd-viz -n linkerd-viz --create-namespace linkerd/linkerd-viz
Upgrading the multicluster extension with Helm
Note that reinstalling the multicluster extension via Helm as explained above
will result in the recreation of the
linkerd-multicluster namespace, thus
deleting all the
Link resources that associate the source cluster with any
target clusters. The mirrored services, which live on their respective
namespaces, won’t be deleted so there won’t be any downtime. So after finishing
the upgrade, make sure you re-link your clusters again with
multicluster link. This will also bring the latest versions of the service
The viz extension no longer installs a Grafana instance due to licensing concerns. Instead we recommend you install it directly from the Grafana official Helm chart or the Grafana Operator. Linkerd’s Grafana dashboards have been published in https://grafana.com/orgs/linkerd/dashboards, and the new Grafana docs provide detailed instructions on how to load them.
Upgrade notice: stable-2.11.0
The minimum Kubernetes version supported is now
There are two breaking changes in the 2.11.0 release: pods in
longer support non-HTTP traffic to meshed workloads; and the proxy no longer
forwards traffic to ports that are bound only to localhost.
Users of the multi-cluster extension will need to re-link their cluster after upgrading.
The Linkerd proxy container is now the first container in the pod. This may affect tooling that assumed the application was the first container in the pod.
Control plane changes
controller pod has been removed from the control plane. All configuration
options that previously applied to it are no longer valid (e.g
publicAPIResources and all of its nested fields). Additionally, the
destination pod has a new
policy container that runs the policy controller.
Data plane changes
In order to fix a class of startup race conditions, the container ordering within meshed pods has changed so that the Linkerd proxy container is now the first container in the pod, the application container now waits to start until the proxy is ready. This may affect tooling that assumed the application container was the first container in the pod.
Using linkerd-await to enforce
container startup ordering is thus longer necessary. (However, using
linkerd-await -S to ensure proxy shutdown in Jobs and Cronjobs is still
Routing breaking changes
There are two breaking changes to be aware of when it comes to how traffic is routed.
First, when the proxy runs in ingress mode (
ingress), non-HTTP traffic to meshed pods is no longer supported. To get
around this, you will need to use the
annotation on your ingress controller pod. In many cases, ingress mode is no
longer necessary. Before upgrading, it may be worth revisiting how to use
ingress with Linkerd.
Second, the proxy will no longer forward traffic to ports only bound on
localhost, such as
127.0.0.1:8080. Services that want to receive traffic from
other pods should now be bound to a public interface (e.g
change prevents ports from being accidentally exposed outside of the pod.
The gateway component has been changed to use a
pause container instead of
nginx. This change should reduce the footprint of the extension; the proxy
routes traffic internally and does not need to rely on
nginx to receive or
forward traffic. While this will not cause any downtime when upgrading
multicluster, it does affect probing.
linkerd multicluster gateways will
falsely advertise the target cluster gateway as being down until the clusters
Multicluster now supports
NodePort type services for the gateway. To support
this change, the configuration options in the Helm values file are now grouped
gateway field. If you have installed the extension with other
options than the provided defaults, you will need to update your
file to reflect this change in field grouping.
Besides the breaking changes described above, there are other minor changes to
be aware of when upgrading from
PodSecurityPolicy(PSP) resources are no longer installed by default as a result of their deprecation in Kubernetes v1.21 and above. The control plane and core extensions will now be shipped without PSPs; they can be enabled through a new install option
tcp_connection_duration_msmetric has been removed.
- Opaque ports changes:
443is no longer included in the default opaque ports list. Ports
9300corresponding to Galera, Redis and ElasticSearch respectively (all server speak first protocols) have been added to the default opaque ports list. The default ignore inbound ports list has also been changed to include ports
Upgrade notice: stable-2.10.0
If you are currently running Linkerd 2.9.0, 2.9.1, 2.9.2, or 2.9.3 (but not
2.9.4), and you upgraded to that release using the
--prune flag (as opposed
to installing it fresh), you will need to use the
linkerd repair command as
outlined in the Linkerd 2.9.3 upgrade notes
before you can upgrade to Linkerd 2.10.
Additionally, there are two changes in the 2.10.0 release that may affect you. First, the handling of certain ports and protocols has changed. Please read through our ports and protocols in 2.10 upgrade guide for the repercussions.
Second, we’ve introduced extensions and moved the default visualization components into a Linkerd-Viz extension. Read on for what this means for you.
Visualization components moved to Linkerd-Viz extension
With the introduction of extensions, all of the
Linkerd control plane components related to visibility (including Prometheus,
Grafana, Web, and Tap) have been removed from the main Linkerd control plane
and moved into the Linkerd-Viz extension. This means that when you upgrade to
stable-2.10.0, these components will be removed from your cluster and you will
not be able to run commands such as
linkerd stat or
linkerd dashboard. To restore this functionality, you must install the
Linkerd-Viz extension by running
linkerd viz install | kubectl apply -f -
and then invoke those commands through
linkerd viz stat,
linkerd viz dashboard, etc.
# Upgrade the control plane (this will remove viz components). linkerd upgrade | kubectl apply --prune -l linkerd.io/control-plane-ns=linkerd -f - # Prune cluster-scoped resources linkerd upgrade | kubectl apply --prune -l linkerd.io/control-plane-ns=linkerd \ --prune-whitelist=rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1/clusterrole \ --prune-whitelist=rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1/clusterrolebinding \ --prune-whitelist=apiregistration.k8s.io/v1/apiservice -f - # Install the Linkerd-Viz extension to restore viz functionality. linkerd viz install | kubectl apply -f -
Helm users should note that configuration values related to these visibility components have moved to the Linkerd-Viz chart. Please update any values overrides you have and use these updated overrides when upgrading the Linkerd chart or installing the Linkerd-Viz chart. See below for a complete list of values which have moved.
helm repo update # Upgrade the control plane (this will remove viz components). helm upgrade linkerd2 linkerd/linkerd2 --reset-values -f values.yaml --atomic # Install the Linkerd-Viz extension to restore viz functionality. helm install linkerd2-viz linkerd/linkerd2-viz -f viz-values.yaml
The following values were removed from the Linkerd2 chart. Most of the removed values have been moved to the Linkerd-Viz chart or the Linkerd-Jaeger chart.
dashboard.replicasmoved to Linkerd-Viz as
tapmoved to Linkerd-Viz as
tapResourcesmoved to Linkerd-Viz as
tapProxyResourcesmoved to Linkerd-Viz as
webImagemoved to Linkerd-Viz as
webResourcesmoved to Linkerd-Viz as
webProxyResourcesmoved to Linkerd-Viz as
grafanamoved to Linkerd-Viz as
grafana.proxymoved to Linkerd-Viz as
prometheusmoved to Linkerd-Viz as
prometheus.proxymoved to Linkerd-Viz as
global.proxy.trace.collectorSvcAddrmoved to Linkerd-Jaeger as
global.proxy.trace.collectorSvcAccountmoved to Linkerd-Jaeger as
tracing.collectormoved to Linkerd-Jaeger as
tracing.jaegermoved to Linkerd-Jaeger as
Also please note the global scope from the Linkerd2 chart values has been
dropped, moving the config values underneath it into the root scope. Any values
you had customized there will need to be migrated; in particular
identityTrustAnchorsPEM in order to conserve the value you set during
Upgrade notice: stable-2.9.4
See upgrade notes for 2.9.3 below.
Upgrade notice: stable-2.9.3
Due to a known issue in versions stable-2.9.0, stable-2.9.1, and stable-2.9.2,
users who upgraded to one of those versions with the –prune flag (as described
above) will have deleted the
secret/linkerd-config-overrides resource which is
necessary for performing any subsequent upgrades. Linkerd stable-2.9.3 includes
linkerd repair command which restores this deleted resource. If you see
unexpected error messages during upgrade such as “failed to read CA: not
PEM-encoded”, please upgrade your CLI to stable-2.9.3 and run:
linkerd repair | kubectl apply -f -
This will restore the
secret/linkerd-config-overrides resource and allow you
to proceed with upgrading your control plane.
Upgrade notice: stable-2.9.0
Images are now hosted on ghcr.io
As of this version images are now hosted under
ghcr.io instead of
you’re pulling images into a private repo please make the necessary changes.
Upgrading multicluster environments
Linkerd 2.9 changes the way that some of the multicluster components work and are installed compared to Linkerd 2.8.x. Users installing the multicluster components for the first time with Linkerd 2.9 can ignore these instructions and instead refer directly to the installing multicluster instructions.
Users who installed the multicluster component in Linkerd 2.8.x and wish to upgrade to Linkerd 2.9 should follow the upgrade multicluster instructions.
Ingress behavior changes
In previous versions when you injected your ingress controller (Nginx, Traefik, Ambassador, etc), then the ingress’ balancing/routing choices would be overridden with Linkerd’s (using service profiles, traffic splits, etc.).
As of 2.9 the ingress’s choices are honored instead, which allows preserving things like session-stickiness. Note however that this means per-route metrics are not collected, traffic splits will not be honored and retries/timeouts are not applied.
If you want to revert to the previous behavior, inject the proxy into the
ingress controller using the annotation
linkerd.io/inject: ingress, as
explained in using ingress
Breaking changes in Helm charts
Some entries like
controllerLogLevel and all the Prometheus config have
changed their position in the settings hierarchy. To get a precise view of what
has changed you can compare the
In order to better support cert-manager, the secrets
have been replaced by the secrets
linkerd-tap-k8s-tls respectively. If you
upgraded through the CLI, please delete the old ones (if you upgraded through
Helm the cleanup was automated).