Experimental: 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.

This feature is currently experimental, as it has not been tested on most major cloud providers. Follow this issue for status updates.


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.

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.

Install the Linkerd control plane, with:

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

After the control plane is ready, inject the Linkerd data plane into additional deployments, with:

linkerd inject --linkerd-cni-enabled deployment.yaml | kubectl apply -f -

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.