Installing Istio 1.4 - New version, new methods

Written on November 21, 2019 (2 min read)

The latest release of Istio – 1.4.x – is changing the way Istio is installed. There are now two methods, the method using Helm will be deprecated in the future:

  • Istio Operator, this is in alpha state at the moment and seems to be similar to the way Red Hat Service Mesh is installed (see here)
  • Using istioctl

I have tried the istioctl method with a Kubernetes cluster on IBM Cloud (IKS) and want to document my findings.

Download Istio

Execute the following command:

$ curl -L | sh -

This will download the latest Istio version from Github, currently 1.4.0. When the command has finished there are instructions on how to add istioctl to your path environment variable. To do this is important for the next steps.

Target your Kubernetes cluster

Execute the commands needed (if any) to be able to access your Kubernetes cluster. With IKS this is at least:

$ ibmcloud ks cluster config <cluster-name>

Verify Istio and Kubernetes

$ istioctl verify-install

This will try and access your Kubernetes cluster and check if Istio is installable on it. The command should result in: “Install Pre-Check passed! The cluster is ready for Istio installation.”

Installation Configuration Profiles

There are 5 built-in Istio installation profiles: default, demo, minimal, sds, remote. Check with:

$ istioctl profile list

“minimal” installs only Pilot, “default” is a small footprint installation, “demo” installs almost all features in addition to setting the logging and tracing ratio to 100% (= everything) which is definitely not desirable in a production environment, it would put too much load on your cluster simply for logging and tracing.

Here is a good overview of the different profiles. You can modify the profiles and enable or disable certain features. I will use the demo profile, this has all the options I want enabled.

Installing Istio

This requires a single command:

$ istioctl manifest apply --set profile=demo

Verify the installation

First, generate a manifest for the demo installation:
$ istioctl manifest generate --set profile=demo > generated-manifest.yaml
Then verify that this was applied on your cluster correctly:
$ istioctl verify-install -f generated-manifest.yaml
Result (last lines) should look like this:

Checked 23 crds
Checked 9 Istio Deployments
Istio is installed successfully

Also check the Istio pods with:

$ kubectl get pod -n istio-system

The result should look similar to this:

NAME                                      READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
grafana-5f798469fd-r756w                  1/1     Running   0          7m
istio-citadel-56465d79b9-vtbbd            1/1     Running   0          7m5s
istio-egressgateway-5ff488489-99jkw       1/1     Running   0          7m5s
istio-galley-86c8659987-mlmsb             1/1     Running   0          7m4s
istio-ingressgateway-66c76dfc5f-kp8zb     1/1     Running   0          7m5s
istio-pilot-68bd4747d8-89qqt              1/1     Running   0          7m3s
istio-policy-77964b9766-v8l8n             1/1     Running   1          7m4s
istio-sidecar-injector-759bf6b4bc-ppwg2   1/1     Running   0          7m2s
istio-telemetry-5649c7d7c6-xt8wz          1/1     Running   1          7m3s
istio-tracing-cd67ddf8-ldvlp              1/1     Running   0          7m6s
kiali-7964898d8c-qb4jb                    1/1     Running   0          7m3s
prometheus-586d4445c7-tmw2q               1/1     Running   0          7m4s 

Kiali, Prometheus, Jaeger

Kiali is Istio’s dashboard and this is one of the coolest features in 1.4.x: To open the Kiali dashboard you no longer need to execute complicated port-forwarding commands, simply type

$ istioctl dashboard kiali

Then login with admin/admin:

The same command works for Prometheus (monitoring) and Jaeger (tracing), too:

$ istioctl dashboard prometheus
$ istioctl dashboard jaeger

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