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Rancher Manager Configuration

This page will walk you through how to configure Rancher Manager images instead of the upstream Docker hub images, both for its own components and downstream Rancher Kubernetes clusters (RKE2/K3s).

NOTE: Due to current limitations of cloud providers, this project will not work for managing Cloud Provider clusters (AKS, EKS, GKE). If you're currently using Rancher to manage those workloads, do not use this project. We intend to improve this experience in the future.

Compatibility Matrix

InfraProvisionerRegistry Auth StrategyTest Status
AnyRancher (Cloud provisioner)Global Registry (Rancher)Validated
AnyRancher (Custom provisioner)Authenticated Registry (Manual registries.yaml)Validated
AnySelf InstallationGlobal Registry (Rancher)Validated
AnyImported ClusterUnknown
AWS-EKSRancherECR (public or private)

Configuring Cert Manager

As Rancher has a dependency on Cert Manager, you'll need to update your Helm install of Cert Manager to use Carbide Secured Registry (CSR) images that are validated and signed by Rancher Government.

If you're following Rancher's Connected installation instructions, you'll need to follow the next steps to use the Carbide Secured Registry (CSR) images for cert-manager.

If using the Airgapped installation instructions, make sure you've pulled the images to your local/airgapped registry.

Cert Manager Helm Install

Follow Rancher's Connected installation instructions, but using the following steps instead of the helm install command from the docs.

After adding the Cert Manager repo and installing the CRDs, use the following to create a temporary values.yaml for your chart, subsituting your registry domain:

cat <<EOT > /tmp/cert-manager-values.yaml
repository: jetstack/cert-manager-controller

repository: jetstack/cert-manager-webhook

repository: jetstack/cert-manager-cainjector

repository: jetstack/cert-manager-ctl

Then use the following helm install command to use the images:

helm install cert-manager jetstack/cert-manager \
--namespace cert-manager \
--create-namespace \
--version v1.7.1 \
-f /tmp/values.yaml

Registry Auth Scenarios

Global Registry

Setting a Private Registry with No Credentials as the Default Registry

  1. Log into Rancher and configure the default administrator password.
  2. Click ☰ > Global Settings.
  3. Go to the setting called system-default-registry and choose ⋮ > Edit Setting.
  4. Change the value to your registry (e.g. Do not prefix the registry with http:// or https://.

Result: Rancher will use your private registry to pull system images.

Setting a Private Registry with Credentials when Deploying a Cluster

You can follow these steps to configure a private registry when you create a cluster:

  1. Click ☰ > Cluster Management.
  2. On the Clusters page, click Create.
  3. Choose a cluster type.
  4. In the Cluster Configuration go to the Registries tab and click Pull images for Rancher from a private registry.
  5. Enter the registry hostname and credentials.
  6. Click Create.

Result: The new cluster will be able to pull images from the private registry.

Manual registries.yaml configuration (RKE2/k3s)

In order to configure authentication to the CRI before pulling down the base kubernetes container image. To modify the system images that k3s or rke2 uses upon bootstrapping, configure k3s' mirror settings as described here.

The full configuration using the shared alpha account is below:

# /etc/rancher/k3s/registries.yaml
# /etc/rancher/rke2/registries.yaml

username: <redacted>
password: <redacted>

registries.yaml Strategy

ScenarioBest practice
Use of a 'golden image'Pre-configure registries.yaml on golden image before host provisioning
Rancher provisioned clusterEmbed a cloud-init file into cluster provisioning (Example below)
Ansible/Saltstack/ManualPre-configure registries.yaml on host before cluster provisioning

Usage with Rancher

Follow Rancher's Installation Guide, adding in the following steps to use our Carbide Helm Chart and the helm install command.

When installing Rancher, to utilize the private registry, you'll need to set the following values in your Helm values:

helm repo add carbide-charts
helm repo update
helm search repo carbide-charts

helm install rancher carbide-charts/rancher \
--namespace cattle-system \
--set \
--set replicas=3 \
--set rancherImage=YOUR_REGISTRY_DOMAIN/rancher/rancher
--set systemDefaultRegistry=YOUR_REGISTRY_DOMAIN

NOTE: This requires configuring your above K3s/RKE2 registries.yaml to work.

Example cloud-init (RKE2)

# cloud-init

- mkdir /etc/rancher/rke2
- path: /etc/rancher/rke2/registries.yaml
content: |

username: <redacted>
password: <redacted>
permissions: '0644'