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Version: v2.6

Contributing to Rancher

Learn about the repositories used for Rancher and Rancher docs, how to build Rancher repositories, and what information to include when you file an issue.

For more detailed information on how to contribute to the development of Rancher projects, refer to the Rancher Developer Wiki. The wiki has resources on many topics, including the following:

  • How to set up the Rancher development environment and run tests
  • The typical flow of an issue through the development lifecycle
  • Coding guidelines and development best practices
  • Debugging and troubleshooting
  • Developing the Rancher API

On the Rancher Users Slack, the channel for developers is #developer.

Rancher Docs

If you have suggestions for the documentation on this website, open an issue in the main Rancher docs repository. This repo contains documentation for Rancher v2.0 and later.

See the Rancher docs README for more details on contributing to and building the Rancher v2.x docs repo.

For documentation describing Rancher v1.6 and earlier, see the Rancher 1.x docs repo, which contains source files for

Rancher Repositories

All of repositories are located within our main GitHub organization. There are many repositories used for Rancher, but we'll provide descriptions of some of the main ones used in Rancher.

Rancher repository is the main source code for Rancher 2.x.
Types repository is the repository that has all the API types for Rancher 2.x.
API Framework repository is an API framework for building Rancher style APIs backed by Kubernetes Custom Resources.
User Interface repository is the source of the Dashboard UI.
(Rancher) Docker Machine repository is the source of the Docker Machine binary used when using Node Drivers. This is a fork of the docker/machine repository.
machine-package repository is used to build the Rancher Docker Machine binary.
kontainer-engine repository is the source of kontainer-engine, the tool to provision hosted Kubernetes clusters.
RKE repository repository is the source of Rancher Kubernetes Engine, the tool to provision Kubernetes clusters on any machine.
CLI repository is the source code for the Rancher CLI used in Rancher 2.x.
(Rancher) Helm repository repository is the source of the packaged Helm binary. This is a fork of the helm/helm repository.
Telemetry repository repository is the source for the Telemetry binary.
loglevel repository repository is the source of the loglevel binary, used to dynamically change log levels.

To see all libraries/projects used in Rancher, see the go.mod file in the rancher/rancher repository.

Rancher diagram

Rancher components used for provisioning/managing Kubernetes clusters.

Building Rancher Repositories

Every repository should have a Makefile and can be built using the make command. The make targets are based on the scripts in the /scripts directory in the repository, and each target will use Dapper to run the target in an isolated environment. The Dockerfile.dapper will be used for this process, and includes all the necessary build tooling needed.

The default target is ci, and will run ./scripts/validate, ./scripts/build, ./scripts/test and ./scripts/package. The resulting binaries of the build will be in ./build/bin and are usually also packaged in a Docker image.

Rancher Bugs, Issues or Questions

If you find any bugs or are having any trouble, please search the reported issue as someone may have experienced the same issue or we are actively working on a solution.

If you can't find anything related to your issue, contact us by filing an issue. Though we have many repositories related to Rancher, we want the bugs filed in the Rancher repository so we won't miss them! If you want to ask a question or ask fellow users about an use case, we suggest creating a post on the Rancher Forums.

Checklist for Filing Issues

Please follow this checklist when filing an issue which will helps us investigate and fix the issue. More info means more data we can use to determine what is causing the issue or what might be related to the issue.


For large amounts of data, please use GitHub Gist or similar and link the created resource in the issue.


Please remove any sensitive data as it will be publicly viewable.

  • Resources: Provide as much as detail as possible on the used resources. As the source of the issue can be many things, including as much of detail as possible helps to determine the root cause. See some examples below:

    • Hosts: What specifications does the host have, like CPU/memory/disk, what cloud does it happen on, what Amazon Machine Image are you using, what DigitalOcean droplet are you using, what image are you provisioning that we can rebuild or use when we try to reproduce
    • Operating System: What operating system are you using? Providing specifics helps here like the output of cat /etc/os-release for exact OS release and uname -r for exact kernel used
    • Docker: What Docker version are you using, how did you install it? Most of the details of Docker can be found by supplying output of docker version and docker info
    • Environment: Are you in a proxy environment, are you using recognized CA/self signed certificates, are you using an external loadbalancer
    • Rancher: What version of Rancher are you using, this can be found on the bottom left of the UI or be retrieved from the image tag you are running on the host
    • Clusters: What kind of cluster did you create, how did you create it, what did you specify when you were creating it
  • Steps to reproduce the issue: Provide as much detail on how you got into the reported situation. This helps the person to reproduce the situation you are in.

    • Provide manual steps or automation scripts used to get from a newly created setup to the situation you reported.
  • Logs: Provide data/logs from the used resources.

    • Rancher

      • Docker install

        docker logs \
        --timestamps \
        $(docker ps | grep -E "rancher/rancher:|rancher/rancher " | awk '{ print $1 }')
      • Kubernetes install using kubectl


        Make sure you configured the correct kubeconfig (for example, export KUBECONFIG=$PWD/kube_config_cluster.yml if Rancher is installed on a Kubernetes cluster) or are using the embedded kubectl via the UI.

        kubectl -n cattle-system \
        logs \
        -l app=rancher \
      • Docker install using docker on each of the nodes in the RKE cluster

        docker logs \
        --timestamps \
        $(docker ps | grep -E "rancher/rancher@|rancher_rancher" | awk '{ print $1 }')
      • Kubernetes Install with RKE Add-On


        Make sure you configured the correct kubeconfig (for example, export KUBECONFIG=$PWD/kube_config_cluster.yml if the Rancher server is installed on a Kubernetes cluster) or are using the embedded kubectl via the UI.

        kubectl -n cattle-system \
        logs \
        --timestamps=true \
        -f $(kubectl --kubeconfig $KUBECONFIG get pods -n cattle-system -o json | jq -r '.items[] | select(.spec.containers[].name="cattle-server") |')
    • System logging (these might not all exist, depending on operating system)

      • /var/log/messages
      • /var/log/syslog
      • /var/log/kern.log
    • Docker daemon logging (these might not all exist, depending on operating system)

      • /var/log/docker.log
  • Metrics: If you are experiencing performance issues, please provide as much of data (files or screenshots) of metrics which can help determining what is going on. If you have an issue related to a machine, it helps to supply output of top, free -m, df which shows processes/memory/disk usage.