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This page is targeting k3d v4.0.0 and newer!

k3d is a lightweight wrapper to run k3s (Rancher Lab’s minimal Kubernetes distribution) in docker.

k3d makes it very easy to create single- and multi-node k3s clusters in docker, e.g. for local development on Kubernetes.

View a quick demo


k3d demo repository: iwilltry42/k3d-demo

Featured use-cases include:

  • hot-reloading of code when developing on k3d (Python Flask App)
  • build-deploy-test cycle using Tilt
  • full cluster lifecycle for simple and multi-server clusters
  • Proof of Concept of using k3d as a service in Drone CI



Platform Stage Version Release Date
GitHub Releases stable GitHub release (latest by date) GitHub Release Date
GitHub Releases latest GitHub release (latest by date including pre-releases) GitHub (Pre-)Release Date
Homebrew - homebrew -
Chocolatey stable chocolatey -


You have several options there:

Install Script

Install current latest release

  • wget: wget -q -O - | bash
  • curl: curl -s | bash

Install specific release

Use the install script to grab a specific release (via TAG environment variable):

  • wget: wget -q -O - | TAG=v4.0.0 bash
  • curl: curl -s | TAG=v4.0.0 bash

Other Installers

Other Installation Methods
  • asdf: asdf plugin-add k3d && asdf install k3d latest

    Note: asdf plugin-add k3d, then asdf install k3d <tag> with <tag> = latest or 4.x.x for a specific version (maintained by spencergilbert/asdf-k3d)

  • Others
    • install via go: go install (Note: this will give you unreleased/bleeding-edge changes)

Quick Start

Create a cluster named mycluster with just a single server node:

k3d cluster create mycluster

Use the new cluster with kubectl, e.g.:

kubectl get nodes
Getting the cluster’s kubeconfig (included in k3d cluster create)

Get the new cluster’s connection details merged into your default kubeconfig (usually specified using the KUBECONFIG environment variable or the default path $HOME/.kube/config) and directly switch to the new context:

k3d kubeconfig merge mycluster --kubeconfig-switch-context
  • vscode-k3d: VSCode Extension to handle k3d clusters from within VSCode
  • k3x: a graphics interface (for Linux) to k3d.
  • AbsaOSS/k3d-action: fully customizable GitHub Action to run lightweight Kubernetes clusters.
  • AutoK3s: a lightweight tool to help run K3s everywhere including k3d provider.
  • nolar/setup-k3d-k3s: setup K3d/K3s for GitHub Actions.

Last update: July 20, 2021
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