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Version: 1.2

Elemental the visual way

This quickstart will show you how to deploy the Elemental plugin into an existing Rancher Manager instance.

Once installed, you'll be able to provision a new Elemental cluster based on RKE2 or K3s.

Prerequisites

  • A Rancher server (v2.7.0 or later) configured (server-url set)
    • To configure the Rancher server-url please check the Rancher docs
  • A machine (bare metal or virtualized) with TPM 2.0
    • Hint 1: Libvirt allows setting virtual TPMs for virtual machines example here
    • Hint 2: You can enable TPM emulation on bare metal machines missing the TPM 2.0 module example here
    • Hint 3: Make sure you're using UEFI (not BIOS) on x86-64, or the ISO won't boot
    • Hint 4: A minimum volume size of 25 GB is recommended. See the Elemental Teal partition table for more details
    • Hint 5: CPU and RAM requirements depend on the Kubernetes version installed, for example K3s or RKE2
  • Helm Package Manager (https://helm.sh/)
  • For ARM (aarch64) - One SD-card (32 GB or more, must be fast - 40MB/s write speed is acceptable) and a USB-stick for installation

Install Elemental Operator

elemental-operator is the management endpoint, running the management cluster and taking care of creating inventories, registrations for machines and much more.

We will use the Helm package manager to install the elemental-operator chart into our cluster.

helm upgrade --create-namespace -n cattle-elemental-system --install elemental-operator-crds oci://registry.suse.com/rancher/elemental-operator-crds-chart
helm upgrade --create-namespace -n cattle-elemental-system --install elemental-operator oci://registry.suse.com/rancher/elemental-operator-chart

Now after a few seconds you should see the operator pod appear on the cattle-elemental-system namespace:

kubectl get pods -n cattle-elemental-system
NAME READY STATUS RESTARTS AGE
elemental-operator-64f88fc695-b8qhn 1/1 Running 0 16s
Helm v3.8.0+ required

The Elemental Operator chart is distributed via an OCI registry: Helm correctly supports OCI based registries starting from the v3.8.0 release.

Swap charts installation order when upgrading from elemental-operator release < 1.2.4

When upgrading from an elemental-operator release embedding the Elemental CRDs (version < 1.2.4) the elemental-operator-crds chart installation will fail. You will need to upgrade the elemental-operator chart first, and only then install the elemental-operator-crds chart.

Non-stable installations

Besides the Helm charts listed above, there are two other non-stable versions available.

  • Staging: refers to the latest tagged release from Github. This is documented in the Next pages.

  • Development: refers to the 'tip of HEAD' from Github. This is the ongoing development version and changes constantly.

helm upgrade --create-namespace -n cattle-elemental-system --install elemental-operator-crds oci://registry.opensuse.org/isv/rancher/elemental/staging/charts/rancher/elemental-operator-crds-chart
helm upgrade --create-namespace -n cattle-elemental-system --install elemental-operator oci://registry.opensuse.org/isv/rancher/elemental/staging/charts/rancher/elemental-operator-chart

Installation options

There are a few options that can be set in the chart install but that is out of scope for this document. You can see all the values on the chart values.yaml.

Enable the Rancher Manager Extensions Support

In order to enable the Rancher Manager Extensions Support, you'll need to follow the steps below:

  • Open a web browser, connect and login to your Rancher Manager instance
  • Click on the top left menu a and click on Extensions

Rancher Manager menu

  • Click on Enable button to install the Extension Operator

Enable Rancher Manager Extensions Operator

  • A popup will appear, click on the OK button to continue and install the Rancher Manager Extensions repository

Add Rancher Manager Extensions repository

Install the elemental plugin

After the Rancher Manager Extensions Support is enabled, you can install the elemental plugin as follow:

  • Under the Available tab you will see elemental plugin available

Rancher Manager Available plugins

note

If the Available tab shows no entries, refresh the page. The elemental plugin will then appear.

  • Click on the Install button, a popup will appear and click on Install again to continue.

Elemental plugin install

  • On the Installed tab, the elemental plugin is now listed.
note

If the elemental plugin is listed and the status stays at Installing..., refresh the page. The elemental plugin will display correctly.

Once the elemental plugin installed, you can see the OS Manamagent option in the Rancher Manager menu.

Rancher Manager OS Management menu

Add a Machine Registration Endpoint

In the OS Management dashboard, click the Create Registration Endpoint button.

OS Management registration endpoints

Now here either you can enter each detail in its respective places or you can edit this as YAML and create the endpoint in one go. Here we'll edit every fields.

Create a Registration Endpoint with UI

main options

name: elemental-cluster1: change this as per your need

device: /dev/sda: make sure your target device is "sda". Otherwise find out how the disk device is named and change it here. For example, in Raspberry Pi it could be "mmblk"

emulate-tpm: true: use this only if your target device doesn't have a TPM device and you have a way of emulating TPM like in VMware or KVM

emulated-tpm-seed: 1: increase this by 1 for every new machine. If this value is not set, each machine will receive the same TPM hash and it won't show up under the machine inventory.

attention

Emulated TPM is only for non-production usage like for testing as it beats the purpose of security. So in production usage use the code above without the emulate-tpm and emulate-tpm-seed

Once you create the machine registration end point it should show up as active.

Machine registered in Registration Endpoints

Preparing the installation (seed) image

Now this is the last step, you need to prepare an Elemental Teal seed image that includes the initial registration config, so it can be auto registered, installed and fully deployed as part of your cluster. The contents of the file are nothing more than the registration URL that the node needs to register and the proper server certificate, so it can connect securely.

This seed image can then be used to provision an infinite number of machines.

The seed image is created as a Kubernetes resource above and can be built using the Build ISO button:

Build ISO in Registration Endpoints

Once the build is done, ISO can be downloaded using the Download ISO button:

Download ISO in Registration Endpoints

You can now boot your nodes with this image and they will:

  • Register with the registrationURL given and create a per-machine MachineInventory
  • Install Elemental Teal to the given device
  • Reboot

Machine Inventory

When nodes are booting up for the first time, they connect to Rancher Manager and a Machine Inventory is created for each node.

Machine Inventory menu

Custom columns are based on Machine Inventory Labels which you can add when you create your Machine Registration Endpoint:

Machine Registration Endpoint Hardware Labels

On the following screenshot, Hardware Labels are used as custom columns:

You can also add custom columns by clicking on the three dots menu.

Machine Inventory custom columns

Finally, you can also filter your Machine Inventory using those labels.

For instance if you only want to see your AMD machines, you can filter on CPUModel like below:

Machine Inventory filtering

Create your first Elemental Cluster

Now let's use those Machine Inventory to create a cluster by clicking on Create Elemental Cluster :

Create Elemental Cluster button

For your Elemental cluster, you can either choose K3s or RKE2 for Kubernetes.

Elemental Cluster Creation Screen

Most of the options are coming from Rancher, that's why we will not detail all the possibilities. Feel free to check the Rancher Manager documentation if you want to know more.

However, it is important to highlight the Inventory of Machines Selector Template section.

It lets you choose which Machine Inventory you want to use to create your Elemental cluster using the previously defined Machine Inventory Labels :

Use Machine Inventory Selector Template

As our three Machine Inventories contain the label CPUVendor with the key AuthenticAMD, the three machines will be used to create the Elemental cluster.