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Version: v2.5

3. Install Rancher

Now that you have a running RKE cluster, you can install Rancher in it. For security reasons all traffic to Rancher must be encrypted with TLS. For this tutorial you are going to automatically issue a self-signed certificate through cert-manager. In a real-world use-case you will likely use Let's Encrypt or provide your own certificate.

Note: These installation instructions assume you are using Helm 3.

Install cert-manager

Add the cert-manager Helm repository:

helm repo add jetstack

Create a namespace for cert-manager:

kubectl create namespace cert-manager

Install the CustomResourceDefinitions of cert-manager:

kubectl apply --validate=false -f

And install it with Helm. Note that cert-manager also needs your proxy configured in case it needs to communicate with Let's Encrypt or other external certificate issuers:

helm upgrade --install cert-manager jetstack/cert-manager \
--namespace cert-manager --version v1.5.1 \
--set http_proxy=http://${proxy_host} \
--set https_proxy=http://${proxy_host} \
--set noProxy=\\,\\,cattle-system.svc\\,\\,\\,.svc\\,.cluster.local

Now you should wait until cert-manager is finished starting up:

kubectl rollout status deployment -n cert-manager cert-manager
kubectl rollout status deployment -n cert-manager cert-manager-webhook

Install Rancher

Next you can install Rancher itself. First, add the Helm repository:

helm repo add rancher-latest

Create a namespace:

kubectl create namespace cattle-system

And install Rancher with Helm. Rancher also needs a proxy configuration so that it can communicate with external application catalogs or retrieve Kubernetes version update metadata.

Note that rancher.cattle-system must be added to the noProxy list (as shown below) so that Fleet can communicate directly to Rancher with Kubernetes service DNS using service discovery.

helm upgrade --install rancher rancher-latest/rancher \
--namespace cattle-system \
--set \
--set proxy=http://${proxy_host}
--set noProxy=\\,\\,cattle-system.svc\\,\\,\\,.svc\\,.cluster.local,rancher.cattle-system

After waiting for the deployment to finish:

kubectl rollout status deployment -n cattle-system rancher

You can now navigate to and start using Rancher.

Note: If you don't intend to send telemetry data, opt out telemetry during the initial login. Leaving this active in an air-gapped environment can cause issues if the sockets cannot be opened successfully.

Additional Resources

These resources could be helpful when installing Rancher: