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Rancher AWS Quick Start Guide

The following steps will quickly deploy a Rancher server on AWS in a single-node K3s Kubernetes cluster, with a single-node downstream Kubernetes cluster attached.


The intent of these guides is to quickly launch a sandbox that you can use to evaluate Rancher. These guides are not intended for production environments. For comprehensive setup instructions, see Installation.



Deploying to Amazon AWS will incur charges.

  • Amazon AWS Account: An Amazon AWS Account is required to create resources for deploying Rancher and Kubernetes.
  • Amazon AWS Access Key: Use this link to follow a tutorial to create an Amazon AWS Access Key if you don't have one yet.
  • IAM Policy created: Defines the permissions an account attached with this policy has.
  • Install Terraform: Used to provision the server and cluster in Amazon AWS.

Example IAM Policy

The AWS module just creates an EC2 KeyPair, an EC2 SecurityGroup and an EC2 instance. A simple policy would be:

"Version": "2012-10-17",
"Statement": [
"Effect": "Allow",
"Action": "ec2:*",
"Resource": "*"

Getting Started

  1. Clone Rancher Quickstart to a folder using git clone

  2. Go into the AWS folder containing the Terraform files by executing cd quickstart/rancher/aws.

  3. Rename the terraform.tfvars.example file to terraform.tfvars.

  4. Edit terraform.tfvars and customize the following variables:

    • aws_access_key - Amazon AWS Access Key
    • aws_secret_key - Amazon AWS Secret Key
    • rancher_server_admin_password - Admin password for created Rancher server. See Setting up the Bootstrap Password for password requirments.
  5. Optional: Modify optional variables within terraform.tfvars. See the Quickstart Readme and the AWS Quickstart Readme for more information. Suggestions include:

    • aws_region - Amazon AWS region, choose the closest instead of the default (us-east-1)
    • prefix - Prefix for all created resources
    • instance_type - EC2 instance size used, minimum is t3a.medium but t3a.large or t3a.xlarge could be used if within budget
    • add_windows_node - If true, an additional Windows worker node is added to the workload cluster
  6. Run terraform init.

  7. To initiate the creation of the environment, run terraform apply --auto-approve. Then wait for output similar to the following:

    Apply complete! Resources: 16 added, 0 changed, 0 destroyed.


    rancher_node_ip = xx.xx.xx.xx
    rancher_server_url =
    workload_node_ip = yy.yy.yy.yy
  8. Paste the rancher_server_url from the output above into the browser. Log in when prompted (default username is admin, use the password set in rancher_server_admin_password).

  9. ssh to the Rancher Server using the id_rsa key generated in quickstart/rancher/aws.


Two Kubernetes clusters are deployed into your AWS account, one running Rancher Server and the other ready for experimentation deployments. Please note that while this setup is a great way to explore Rancher functionality, a production setup should follow our high availability setup guidelines. SSH keys for the VMs are auto-generated and stored in the module directory.

What's Next?

Use Rancher to create a deployment. For more information, see Creating Deployments.

Destroying the Environment

  1. From the quickstart/rancher/aws folder, execute terraform destroy --auto-approve.

  2. Wait for confirmation that all resources have been destroyed.