Adventures in Freebernetes Tutorial: Build Your Own Bare-VM Kubernetes Cluster the Hard Way

Step-by-step tutorial for manually deploying a Kubernetes cluster on FreeBSD bhyve VMs

See all posts in the FreeBSD Virtualization Series


This tutorial will take you step-by-step through setting up a fully-functional Kubernetes cluster installed on bhyve virtual machines (VMs) on a single FreeBSD host/hypervisor. We’ll be following Kelsey Hightower’s Kubernetes the Hard Way tutorial based on Kubernetes version 1.18.6, adapting it for the FreeBSD environment. While the VM guests that make up the Kubernetes cluster run Ubuntu Linux, we will use native FreeBSD functionality and tools as much as possible for the virtual infrastructure underneath, such as the virtualization platform, but also the cluster’s virtual network and support services.

Topics covered:

  • Setting up bhyve virtualization
  • Creating a custom CBSD configuration for creating our cluster’s VMs
  • Configuring the FreeBSD firewall, DNS, and routing for cluster networking

You can find custom files and examples in my freebernetes repo.

This tutorial is based on a series of meandering posts I wrote about my original experiments working through the tutorial on top of FreeBSD. You can read them starting here.


Note that Kubernetes the Hard Way is one of the most manual ways to create a Kubernetes cluster, so while it’s great for understanding what all the piece are in a cluster and how they fit together, it’s not the most practical method for most users.

This tutorial covers installing the cluster on a single FreeBSD host. You will end up with a fully-functional cluster, suitable for learning how to use Kubernetes, testing applications, running your containers, etc. However, it’s not suitable for most production uses, because of a lack of redundancy and security hardening.

This tutorial is not a Kubernetes user tutorial. It won’t spend time defining terms or providing deep explanations of concepts. For that, you should start with the official Kubernetes documentation.

Intended Audience

For this tutorial, you don’t need to know anything about Kubernetes. You do need to have a host with FreeBSD installed; an understanding of basic FreeBSD system administration tasks, such as installing software from FreeBSD ports or packages, and loading kernel modules; and familiarity with csh or sh. Experience with FreeBSD bhyve virtual machines and the CBSD interface is useful but not required.

Host (FreeBSD Hypervisor) Requirements

  • Hardware, physical or virtual
    • CPU
      • The guest VMs have a shared total of 12 “CPUs” between them, but these do not have to map to actual host CPUs. My system has a total of 8 cores, for example
    • RAM: at least 18Gb; 30Gb+ preferred
    • Free disk space: at least 100Gb
  • Operating system
    • FreeBSD: 13.0-CURRENT. It may work with 12.0-RELEASE, but it haas not been tested
    • File system: ZFS. It could work with UFS with user modifications

Test System

  • Hardware
    • CPUs: Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-6260U: 4 CPUs, 2 cores each
    • RAM: 32Gb
  • Operating system
    • FreeBSD 13.0-HEAD-f659bf1d31c

Page 1: Prerequisites

You can skip this section in Kubernetes the Hard Way.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

3 thoughts on “Adventures in Freebernetes Tutorial: Build Your Own Bare-VM Kubernetes Cluster the Hard Way

Add yours

  1. What a fantastic and interesting job you’ve done! I will definitely try!
    Question – as far as I understand, you are not using any K8S CNI ( calico, flannel, … ). How your cluster works with multiple nodes ( ip address for pod, connectivity ? )


    1. It is actually using a CNI plugin ( although it just creates a basic bridge for the container network. Most CNI plugins should work fine on this cluster, which does actually have three worker nodes, and I’ve tested pod connectivity between nodes. A simple test for full CNI functionality would be to install Calico and test a NetworkPolicy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: