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5 Reasons to Use K3s

Lightweight Kubernetes Distribution K3s may not be as feature-rich as a normal K8s setup, but it has its place. Here are 5 cool use cases.

Jun 08, 2023 • 4 Minute Read

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  • Software Development
  • kubernetes

You may have heard about K3s, the lightweight Kubernetes Distribution. It sounds pretty cool, and it's definitely easy to install. On the other hand, its simplified nature means it may not be as customizable or feature-robust as a normal K8s setup. So when should you actually consider using something like K3s? Here are some ideas for K3s use cases. If you find yourself in any of these situations, maybe give K3s a try!

1. You want an easy, lightweight Kubernetes development environment.

Software development can either be helped or hurt by the available development environments. Quick, versatile environments that mirror production conditions in important ways are crucial to developer productivity.

K3s is a great way to get Kubernetes up and running quickly and easily, without the need for developers to have a detailed knowledge of the inner workings of Kubernetes. K3s also won't take up too many local resources, making it a great option for local Kubernetes development environments.

2. You want to run Kubernetes on the edge.

Edge devices such as IoT devices and mobile phones, most of which today run on ARM architectures, have a special and prominent place in the future of computing. K3s is optimized to run on ARM architectures. Its small footprint and simplicity make it easier to run and manage in the smaller, more resource-constrained world of edge computing. With K3s, orchestrated containers are no longer limited to a datacenter.

3. You want to make Kubernetes a part of your CI process.

Continuous Integration is often about reproducing production components and infrastructure on a smaller scale. Are you deploying your app to a Kubernetes cluster? Why not test it on a small, temporary cluster as part of your CI process?

K3s can be useful here. CI automation usually benefits when things are quick, simple and lightweight, and K3s fits the bill. You can literally install it in a few seconds with one command. As such, K3s is easy to manage as part of your CI automation process.

Taylor Dolezal

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4. You want to run Kubernetes on a Raspberry Pi cluster.

Lately, everyone seems obsessed with running Kubernetes on Raspberry Pi hardware. These tiny, inexpensive Linux machines have been used for everything from Robotics to watering plants. At a few recent conferences, I saw some impressive and cool-looking Kubernetes clusters running on these little machines.

But although Raspbery Pis are surprisingly powerful, they still have limited resources compared to the hardware you would normally use to run Kubernetes. Luckily, the small resource footprint of K3s makes it ideal for this scenario. In theory, you could run K3s four times on the memory provided by the lowest-end Raspberry Pi model. K3s is even officially tested on the Raspian Linux Distro!

5. You just want a quick and easy Kubernetes cluster.

K3s is a great tool any time you want a quick and simple Kubernetes cluster, especially if you don't care too much about customization. K3s includes packaged add-ons and sensible defaults that make it powerful right out of the box.

It's easy to install and manage, and it's even production-ready. In any situation where you need some quick and easy container orchestration, why not try K3s?

Want to learn more about K3s?

K3s is a great tool that makes Kubernetes useful in a wider range of scenarios than ever before. From IoT devices to development environments to Raspberry Pis, K3s makes Kubernetes easy to use in a variety of new territories.

If you're interested in learning the basics of K3s and getting hands-on with it yourself, check out my course, Introduction to K3s. This short course will get you up to speed on the basics of K3s and walk you through building a simple K3s cluster to deploy and run an application.