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Version: v2.5

Rancher DigitalOcean Quick Start Guide

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

Note: 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.


Note Deploying to DigitalOcean will incur charges.

  • DigitalOcean Account: You will require an account on DigitalOcean as this is where the server and cluster will run.
  • DigitalOcean Access Key: Use this link to create a DigitalOcean Access Key if you don't have one.
  • Terraform: Used to provision the server and cluster to DigitalOcean.

Getting Started

  1. Clone Rancher Quickstart to a folder using git clone

  2. Go into the DigitalOcean folder containing the Terraform files by executing cd quickstart/rancher/do.

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

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

    • do_token - DigitalOcean access key
    • rancher_server_admin_password - Admin password for created Rancher server
  5. Optional: Modify optional variables within terraform.tfvars. See the Quickstart Readme and the DO Quickstart Readme for more information. Suggestions include:

    - `do_region` - DigitalOcean region, choose the closest instead of the default (`nyc1`)
    - `prefix` - Prefix for all created resources
    - `droplet_size` - Droplet size used, minimum is `s-2vcpu-4gb` but `s-4vcpu-8gb` could be used if within budget
  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: 15 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/do.


Two Kubernetes clusters are deployed into your DigitalOcean 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/do folder, execute terraform destroy --auto-approve.

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