Detailed explanations of Kubernetes system concepts and abstractions.

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What is a DaemonSet?

A DaemonSet ensures that all (or some) Nodes run a copy of a Pod. As nodes are added to the cluster, Pods are added to them. As nodes are removed from the cluster, those Pods are garbage collected. Deleting a DaemonSet will clean up the Pods it created.

Some typical uses of a DaemonSet are:

In a simple case, one DaemonSet, covering all nodes, would be used for each type of daemon. A more complex setup might use multiple DaemonSets for a single type of daemon, but with different flags and/or different memory and cpu requests for different hardware types.

Writing a DaemonSet Spec

Create a DaemonSet

You can describe a DaemonSet in a YAML file. For example, the daemonset.yaml file below describes a DaemonSet that runs the fluentd-elasticsearch Docker image:

apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: DaemonSet
  name: fluentd-elasticsearch
  namespace: kube-system
    k8s-app: fluentd-logging
      name: fluentd-elasticsearch
        name: fluentd-elasticsearch
      - key:
        effect: NoSchedule
      - name: fluentd-elasticsearch
            memory: 200Mi
            cpu: 100m
            memory: 200Mi
        - name: varlog
          mountPath: /var/log
        - name: varlibdockercontainers
          mountPath: /var/lib/docker/containers
          readOnly: true
      terminationGracePeriodSeconds: 30
      - name: varlog
          path: /var/log
      - name: varlibdockercontainers
          path: /var/lib/docker/containers

Required Fields

As with all other Kubernetes config, a DaemonSet needs apiVersion, kind, and metadata fields. For general information about working with config files, see deploying applications, configuring containers, and object management using kubectl documents.

A DaemonSet also needs a .spec section.

Pod Template

The .spec.template is one of the required fields in .spec.

The .spec.template is a pod template. It has exactly the same schema as a Pod, except it is nested and does not have an apiVersion or kind.

In addition to required fields for a Pod, a Pod template in a DaemonSet has to specify appropriate labels (see pod selector).

A Pod Template in a DaemonSet must have a RestartPolicy equal to Always, or be unspecified, which defaults to Always.

Pod Selector

The .spec.selector field is a pod selector. It works the same as the .spec.selector of a Job.

As of Kubernetes 1.8, you must specify a pod selector that matches the labels of the .spec.template. The pod selector will no longer be defaulted when left empty. Selector defaulting was not compatible with kubectl apply. Also, once a DaemonSet is created, its spec.selector can not be mutated. Mutating the pod selector can lead to the unintentional orphaning of Pods, and it was found to be confusing to users.

The spec.selector is an object consisting of two fields:

When the two are specified the result is ANDed.

If the .spec.selector is specified, it must match the .spec.template.metadata.labels. Config with these not matching will be rejected by the API.

Also you should not normally create any Pods whose labels match this selector, either directly, via another DaemonSet, or via other controller such as ReplicaSet. Otherwise, the DaemonSet controller will think that those Pods were created by it. Kubernetes will not stop you from doing this. One case where you might want to do this is manually create a Pod with a different value on a node for testing.

Running Pods on Only Some Nodes

If you specify a .spec.template.spec.nodeSelector, then the DaemonSet controller will create Pods on nodes which match that node selector. Likewise if you specify a .spec.template.spec.affinity, then DaemonSet controller will create Pods on nodes which match that node affinity. If you do not specify either, then the DaemonSet controller will create Pods on all nodes.

How Daemon Pods are Scheduled

Normally, the machine that a Pod runs on is selected by the Kubernetes scheduler. However, Pods created by the DaemonSet controller have the machine already selected (.spec.nodeName is specified when the Pod is created, so it is ignored by the scheduler). Therefore:

Daemon Pods do respect taints and tolerations, but they are created with NoExecute tolerations for the following taints with no tolerationSeconds:

This ensures that when the TaintBasedEvictions alpha feature is enabled, they will not be evicted when there are node problems such as a network partition. (When the TaintBasedEvictions feature is not enabled, they are also not evicted in these scenarios, but due to hard-coded behavior of the NodeController rather than due to tolerations).

They also tolerate following NoSchedule taints:

When the support to critical pods is enabled and the pods in a DaemonSet are labelled as critical, the Daemon pods are created with an additional NoSchedule toleration for the taint.

Note that all above NoSchedule taints above are created only in version 1.8 or later if the alpha feature TaintNodesByCondition is enabled.

Also note that the NoSchedule toleration specified in the above example is needed on 1.6 or later to schedule on master nodes as this is not a default toleration.

Communicating with Daemon Pods

Some possible patterns for communicating with Pods in a DaemonSet are:

Updating a DaemonSet

If node labels are changed, the DaemonSet will promptly add Pods to newly matching nodes and delete Pods from newly not-matching nodes.

You can modify the Pods that a DaemonSet creates. However, Pods do not allow all fields to be updated. Also, the DaemonSet controller will use the original template the next time a node (even with the same name) is created.

You can delete a DaemonSet. If you specify --cascade=false with kubectl, then the Pods will be left on the nodes. You can then create a new DaemonSet with a different template. The new DaemonSet with the different template will recognize all the existing Pods as having matching labels. It will not modify or delete them despite a mismatch in the Pod template. You will need to force new Pod creation by deleting the Pod or deleting the node.

In Kubernetes version 1.6 and later, you can perform a rolling update on a DaemonSet.

Alternatives to DaemonSet

Init Scripts

It is certainly possible to run daemon processes by directly starting them on a node (e.g. using init, upstartd, or systemd). This is perfectly fine. However, there are several advantages to running such processes via a DaemonSet:

Bare Pods

It is possible to create Pods directly which specify a particular node to run on. However, a DaemonSet replaces Pods that are deleted or terminated for any reason, such as in the case of node failure or disruptive node maintenance, such as a kernel upgrade. For this reason, you should use a DaemonSet rather than creating individual Pods.

Static Pods

It is possible to create Pods by writing a file to a certain directory watched by Kubelet. These are called static pods. Unlike DaemonSet, static Pods cannot be managed with kubectl or other Kubernetes API clients. Static Pods do not depend on the apiserver, making them useful in cluster bootstrapping cases. Also, static Pods may be deprecated in the future.


DaemonSets are similar to Deployments in that they both create Pods, and those Pods have processes which are not expected to terminate (e.g. web servers, storage servers).

Use a Deployment for stateless services, like frontends, where scaling up and down the number of replicas and rolling out updates are more important than controlling exactly which host the Pod runs on. Use a DaemonSet when it is important that a copy of a Pod always run on all or certain hosts, and when it needs to start before other Pods.


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