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Version: 1.5

Elemental the visual way


The following instructions need Rancher 2.8.x at least.

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

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

However, if you want to install staging or dev operator, you can only do it in CLI mode.

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 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


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.

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 Management option in the Rancher Manager menu, refresh the page if you do not see it.

Rancher Manager OS Management menu

Install the elemental operator


The following guide will show you how to install the operator through the Elemental UI. But you can also install it directly from the Marketplace.

Click on the OS Management button in the navigation menu.

If the operator is not already installed, the elemental ui will let you deploy it by clicking on the Install Elemental Operator button: Button to deploy elemental operator

It will redirect you to the Rancher Marketplace to install the operator.

Click on the Next button: Install Elemental operator screenshot 1

In this screen, you can customize or use the default values, click on Install to continue: Install Elemental operator screenshot 2

You should see elemental-operator-crdsand elemental-operator deployed in the cattle-elemental-system namespace: Install Elemental operator screenshot 3


If you do not see them, make sure to select the correct namespace at the top of the page.

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.


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 a 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 SLE Micro for Rancher 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.