Going hybrid - Microk8s with arm64 + x86_64

A project log for Project Dandelion

Easy 64bit Ubuntu 20.04 microk8s on Raspberry Pi 4

CarbonCycleCarbonCycle 11/26/2020 at 02:150 Comments

To create meaningful application stacks - there will be many containers involved.  arm64 containers are more the exception than the rule for what is immediately available for certain high-quality components.  This means that the first problem to solve in a hybrid cluster is providing hints to the scheduler to select the correct node ( x86_64 or ARM64 ) for a container to properly run when a pod deploys. 

This problem was described well in this excellent blog on building Microk8s clusters

The author mentions many of my motivations for building a home k8 lab and introduces the first major issue to be resolved. The use of nodeSelector is described well in that blog, so I won't repeat that here.  The important take-away is this code fragment:

      nodeSelector: amd64

The optimal approach is to modify the deployment files before they are applied.  Adding this simple code fragment will have the pod deployment schedule on a x86_64 node.  

Unfortunately it can be time consuming to convert an existing deployment package to include this fragment - for the pod deployments that end up pulling containers that are not otherwise labeled amd64.  Unless you study all containers pulled for a pod to carefully select arm64 replacements - the assumption should be there will be ephemeral containers that will only run on x86_64.

The approach I have been taking is to edit the deployments, after they have been applied to provide a hint to the scheduler and then kill the pods that had been scheduled on arm64 nodes.  When the pod get rescheduled - the hint gets the pod over to the x86_64 nodes for execution.

The first complex effort I've attempted is to deploy postgresql in a HA configuration.  I may eventually find a way to get the workload moved over to arm64, but not today.  I recently deployed the PostgreSQL Operator for a client and was stunned at how easy it made deploying HA postgresql.

To obtain the x86_64 nodes I pulled a Dell OptiPlex960 from the garage ( 2 cores and 4G mem ) and a 17" MacBookPro running parallels ( 3 cores / 6G mem ) and installed Ubuntu 20.04.1 server.  This provides adequate resources to run a performant HA deployment with local hostpath provisioning.  Persistent storage becomes another wrinkle, as we soon find out.

I deployed the 4.4.1 version and then patched the deployments to schedule on the two new nodes - Wendy (OptiPlex960) and Clyde (MacBookPro).

Hybrid cluster storage

The Operator uses hostpath-provisioner to obtain Persistent Volumes (PV) to satisfy required Persistent Volume Claims (PVC).  By default this container is pulled:

And of course - that is a x86_64 only container - and isn't written to accomodate hybrid cluster resources.  Hostpath-provisioner needs two variant deployments to work properly in the hybrid cluster.

Reviewing the cdkbot repository - we find there are CHOICES.

But it pays to check the tags CAREFULLY.  Note this repository has a LATEST tag that is two years old, while the 1.0.0 tag is only a year oldSetting the tag to LATEST by default is a good way to end up with a drinking problem.

And same issue for the amd64 variant of that container.

This provides a path for creating ARCH-aware hostpath deployments so hostpath-provisioner doesn't end up putting the PVC on the wrong storage.

There is more nuance to setting up for the storage behavior needed.  In my case for the PostgreSQL Operator,  I need to modify the deployment to not use hostpath-provisioner. Instead, I have large partitions already created on Wendy and Clyde that I can deploy as generic PV set and then patch them (kubectl edit pv) to be claimed by a specific pod so I get the placement I desire.

I'm still working on getting this deploy finished.  I'll cover more nuances of k8 storage in my next log.