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This documentation is for an older version of Linkerd. In Linkerd 2.15 (current), this document no longer exists.

Graceful Pod Shutdown

When Kubernetes begins to terminate a pod, it starts by sending all containers in that pod a TERM signal. When the Linkerd proxy sidecar receives this signal, it will immediately begin a graceful shutdown where it refuses all new requests and allows existing requests to complete before shutting down.

This means that if the pod’s main container attempts to make any new network calls after the proxy has received the TERM signal, those network calls will fail. This also has implications for clients of the terminating pod and for job resources.

Graceful shutdown in Kubernetes

Pods are ephemeral in nature, and may be killed due to a number of different reasons, such as:

  • Being scheduled on a node that fails (in which case the pod will be deleted).
  • A lack of resources on the node where the pod is scheduled (in which case the pod is evicted).
  • Manual deletion, e.g through kubectl delete.

Since pods fundamentally represent processes running on nodes in a cluster, it is important to ensure that when killed, they have enough time to clean-up and terminate gracefully. When a pod is deleted, the container runtime will send a TERM signal to each container running in the pod.

By default, Kubernetes will wait 30 seconds to allow processes to handle the TERM signal. This is known as the grace period within which a process may shut itself down gracefully. If the grace period time runs out, and the process hasn’t gracefully exited, the container runtime will send a KILL signal, abruptly stopping the process. Grace periods may be overridden at a workload level. This is useful when a process needs additional time to clean-up (e.g making network calls, writing to disk, etc.)

Kubernetes also allows operators of services to define lifecycle hooks for their containers. Important in the context of graceful shutdown is the preStop hook, that will be called when a container is terminated due to:

  • An API request.
  • Liveness/Readiness probe failure.
  • Resource contention.

If a pod has a preStop hook for a container, and the pod receives a TERM signal from the container runtime, the preStop hook will be executed, and it must finish before the TERM signal can be propagated to the container itself. It is worth noting in this case that the grace period will start when the preStop hook is executed, not when the container first starts processing the TERM signal.

Configuration options for graceful shutdown

Linkerd offers a few options to configure pods and containers to gracefully shutdown.

  • --wait-before-seconds: can be used as an install value (either through the CLI or through Helm), or alternatively, through a configuration annotation. This will add a preStop hook to the proxy container to delay its handling of the TERM signal. This will only work when the conditions described above are satisfied (i.e container runtime sends the TERM signal)
  • config.linkerd.io/shutdown-grace-period: is an annotation that can be used on workloads to configure the graceful shutdown time for the proxy. If the period elapses before the proxy has had a chance to gracefully shut itself down, it will forcefully shut itself down thereby closing all currently open connections. By default, the shutdown grace period is 120 seconds. This grace period will be respected regardless of where the TERM signal comes from; the proxy may receive a shutdown signal from the container runtime, a different process (e.g a script that sends TERM), or from a networked request to its shutdown endpoint (only possible on the loopback interface). The proxy will delay its handling of the TERM signal until all of its open connections have completed. This option is particularly useful to close long-running connections that would otherwise prevent the proxy from shutting down gracefully.
  • linkerd-await: is a binary that wraps (and spawns) another process, and it is commonly used to wait for proxy readiness. The await binary can be used with a --shutdown option, in which case, after the process it has wrapped finished, it will send a shutdown request to the proxy. When used for graceful shutdown, typically the entrypoint for containers need to be changed to linkerd-await.

Depending on the usecase, one option (or utility) might be preferred over the other. To aid with some common cases, suggestions are given below on what to do when confronted with slow updating clients and with job resources that will not complete.

Slow Updating Clients

Before Kubernetes terminates a pod, it first removes that pod from the endpoints resource of any services that pod is a member of. This means that clients of that service should stop sending traffic to the pod before it is terminated. However, certain clients can be slow to receive the endpoints update and may attempt to send requests to the terminating pod after that pod’s proxy has already received the TERM signal and begun graceful shutdown. Those requests will fail.

To mitigate this, use the --wait-before-exit-seconds flag with linkerd inject to delay the Linkerd proxy’s handling of the TERM signal for a given number of seconds using a preStop hook. This delay gives slow clients additional time to receive the endpoints update before beginning graceful shutdown. To achieve max benefit from the option, the main container should have its own preStop hook with the sleep command inside which has a smaller period than is set for the proxy sidecar. And none of them must be bigger than terminationGracePeriodSeconds configured for the entire pod.

For example,

       # application container
                - /bin/bash
                - -c
                - sleep 20

    # for entire pod
    terminationGracePeriodSeconds: 160

Graceful shutdown of Job and Cronjob Resources

Pods which are part of Job or Cronjob resources will run until all of the containers in the pod complete. However, the Linkerd proxy container runs continuously until it receives a TERM signal. Since Kubernetes does not give the proxy a means to know when the Cronjob has completed, by default, Job and Cronjob pods which have been meshed will continue to run even once the main container has completed.

To address this, you can issue a POST to the /shutdown endpoint on the proxy once the application completes (e.g. via curl -X POST http://localhost:4191/shutdown). This will terminate the proxy gracefully and allow the Job or Cronjob to complete. These shutdown requests must come on the loopback interface, i.e. from within the same Kubernetes pod.

One convenient way to call this endpoint is to wrap your application with the linkerd-await utility. An application that is called this way (e.g. via linkerd-await -S $MYAPP) will automatically call the proxy’s /shutdown endpoint when it completes.

In the future, Kubernetes will hopefully support more container lifecycle hooks that will allow Linkerd to handle these situations automatically.