Install OpenShift 4 on vSphere

Steps to install an OpenShift 4 cluster on VMWare vSphere.

These steps follow the Installing a cluster on vSphere docs to set up an installer provisioned installation (IPI).

This how-to guide is an early draft. So far, we’ve setup only one cluster using the instructions in this guide.

The certificates created during bootstrap are only valid for 24h. So make sure you complete these steps within 24h.

Starting situation

  • You already have a Project Syn Tenant and its Git repository

  • You have a CCSP Red Hat login and are logged into Red Hat Openshift Cluster Manager

    Don’t use your personal account to login to the cluster manager for installation.
  • You have credentials for the target vSphere cluster with the permissions described in the upstream documentation.

  • You want to register a new cluster in Lieutenant and are about to install Openshift 4 on vSphere


Cluster Installation

Register the new OpenShift 4 cluster in Lieutenant.

Lieutenant API endpoint

Use the following endpoint for Lieutenant:

Set cluster facts

For customer clusters, set the following cluster facts in Lieutenant:

  • access_policy: Access-Policy of the cluster, such as regular or swissonly

  • service_level: Name of the service level agreement for this cluster, such as guaranteed-availability

  • sales_order: Name of the sales order to which the cluster is billed, such as S10000

  • release_channel: Name of the syn component release channel to use, such as stable

Set up Keycloak service

  1. Create an LDAP service

    Use to create a service. The name and ID must be clusters name. For the optional URL use the OpenShift console URL.

Configure input

vSphere API
export VCENTER_HOSTNAME=<vcenter hostname> (1)
1 The vCenter hostname must be provided without the leading https://.
vSphere credentials
export VSPHERE_USERNAME=<username>
export VSPHERE_PASSWORD=<password>
vSphere resources
export VSPHERE_CLUSTER=<cluster name>
export VSPHERE_DATACENTER=<datacenter name>
export VSPHERE_DATASTORE=<datastore name>
export VSPHERE_NETWORK=<network name>
export VSPHERE_FOLDER=<folder name>
Cluster machine network
export MACHINE_NETWORK_CIDR=<machine network cidr>
export API_VIP=<api vip>
export INGRESS_VIP=<ingress vip>
Access to VSHN Lieutenant
# For example:
# IMPORTANT: do NOT add a trailing `/`. Commands below will fail.
export COMMODORE_API_URL=<lieutenant-api-endpoint>

# Set Project Syn cluster and tenant ID
export CLUSTER_ID=<lieutenant-cluster-id> # Looks like: c-<something>
export TENANT_ID=$(curl -sH "Authorization: Bearer $(commodore fetch-token)" ${COMMODORE_API_URL}/clusters/${CLUSTER_ID} | jq -r .tenant)
OpenShift configuration
export BASE_DOMAIN=<your-base-domain> # customer-provided base domain without cluster name, e.g. ""
export PULL_SECRET='<redhat-pull-secret>' # As copied from "Copy pull secret". value must be inside quotes.

For BASE_DOMAIN explanation, see DNS Scheme.

Set secrets in Vault

Connect with Vault
export VAULT_ADDR=
vault login -method=oidc
Store various secrets in Vault
# Store vSphere credentials
vault kv put  clusters/kv/${TENANT_ID}/${CLUSTER_ID}/vsphere/credentials \
  username=${VSPHERE_USERNAME} \

# Generate an HTTP secret for the registry
vault kv put clusters/kv/${TENANT_ID}/${CLUSTER_ID}/registry \
  httpSecret=$(LC_ALL=C tr -cd "A-Za-z0-9" </dev/urandom | head -c 128)

# Generate a master password for K8up backups
vault kv put clusters/kv/${TENANT_ID}/${CLUSTER_ID}/global-backup \
  password=$(LC_ALL=C tr -cd "A-Za-z0-9" </dev/urandom | head -c 32)

# Generate a password for the cluster object backups
vault kv put clusters/kv/${TENANT_ID}/${CLUSTER_ID}/cluster-backup \
  password=$(LC_ALL=C tr -cd "A-Za-z0-9" </dev/urandom | head -c 32)

Prepare Cluster Repository

Starting with this section, we recommend that you change into a clean directory (for example a directory in your home).

Check Running Commodore for details on how to run commodore.

  1. Prepare Commodore inventory.

    mkdir -p inventory/classes/
    git clone $(curl -sH"Authorization: Bearer $(commodore fetch-token)" "${COMMODORE_API_URL}/tenants/${TENANT_ID}" | jq -r '.gitRepo.url') inventory/classes/${TENANT_ID}
  2. Configure the cluster’s domain in Project Syn

    1 Adjust this as necessary if you’re using a non-standard cluster domain.

    The cluster domain configured here must be correct. The value is used to configure how Cilium connects to the cluster’s K8s API.

    pushd "inventory/classes/${TENANT_ID}/"
    yq eval -i ".parameters.openshift.baseDomain = \"${CLUSTER_DOMAIN}\"" \
    git commit -a -m "Configure cluster domain for ${CLUSTER_ID}"
  3. Add Cilium to cluster configuration

    These instructions assume that Cilium is configured to use api-int.${CLUSTER_DOMAIN}:6443 to connect to the cluster’s K8s API. To ensure that that’s the case, add the configuration shown below somewhere in the Project Syn config hierarchy.

          k8sServiceHost: api-int.${openshift:baseDomain}
          k8sServicePort: "6443"

    For VSHN, this configuration is set in the Commodore global defaults (internal).

    yq eval -i '.applications += ["cilium"]' ${CLUSTER_ID}.yml
    yq eval -i '.parameters.networkpolicy.networkPlugin = "cilium"' ${CLUSTER_ID}.yml
    yq eval -i '.parameters.networkpolicy.ignoredNamespaces = ["openshift-oauth-apiserver"]' ${CLUSTER_ID}.yml
    yq eval -i '.parameters.openshift4_monitoring.upstreamRules.networkPlugin = "cilium"' ${CLUSTER_ID}.yml
    yq eval -i '.parameters.openshift.infraID = "TO_BE_DEFINED"' ${CLUSTER_ID}.yml
    yq eval -i '.parameters.openshift.clusterID = "TO_BE_DEFINED"' ${CLUSTER_ID}.yml
    git commit -a -m "Add Cilium addon to ${CLUSTER_ID}"
    git push
  4. Compile catalog

    commodore catalog compile ${CLUSTER_ID} --push -i \
      --dynamic-fact kubernetesVersion.major=$(echo "1.27" | awk -F. '{print $1}') \
      --dynamic-fact kubernetesVersion.minor=$(echo "1.27" | awk -F. '{print $2}') \
      --dynamic-fact openshiftVersion.Major=$(echo "4.14" | awk -F. '{print $1}') \
      --dynamic-fact openshiftVersion.Minor=$(echo "4.14" | awk -F. '{print $2}')
    This commodore call requires Commodore v1.5.0 or newer. Please make sure to update your local installation.

Configure the OpenShift Installer

  1. Generate SSH key

    We generate a unique SSH key pair for the cluster as this gives us troubleshooting access.

    export SSH_PUBLIC_KEY="${SSH_PRIVATE_KEY}.pub"
    ssh-keygen -C "vault@$CLUSTER_ID" -t ed25519 -f $SSH_PRIVATE_KEY -N ''
    if [[ "$OSTYPE" == "linux"* ]]; then
      BASE64_NO_WRAP='base64 --wrap 0'
    vault kv put clusters/kv/${TENANT_ID}/${CLUSTER_ID}/vsphere/ssh \
      private_key=$(cat $SSH_PRIVATE_KEY | eval "$BASE64_NO_WRAP")
    ssh-add $SSH_PRIVATE_KEY
  2. Prepare install-config.yaml

    You can add more options to the install-config.yaml file. Have a look at the installation configuration parameters for more information.

    export INSTALLER_DIR="$(pwd)/target"
    mkdir -p "${INSTALLER_DIR}"
    cat > "${INSTALLER_DIR}/install-config.yaml" <<EOF
    apiVersion: v1
      name: ${CLUSTER_ID} (1)
    baseDomain: ${BASE_DOMAIN} (1)
    compute: (2)
      - architecture: amd64
        hyperthreading: Enabled
        name: worker
        replicas: 3
            cpus: 4
            coresPerSocket: 4
            memoryMB: 16384
              diskSizeGB: 100
      architecture: amd64
      hyperthreading: Enabled
      name: master
      replicas: 3
          cpus: 4
          coresPerSocket: 4
          memoryMB: 16384
            diskSizeGB: 100
          - ${API_VIP}
          - name: datacenter
            server: ${VCENTER_HOSTNAME}
              computeCluster: "/${VSPHERE_DATACENTER}/host/${VSPHERE_CLUSTER}"
              datacenter: ${VSPHERE_DATACENTER}
              datastore: "/${VSPHERE_DATACENTER}/datastore/${VSPHERE_DATASTORE}"
                - ${VSPHERE_NETWORK}
              resourcePool: "/${VSPHERE_DATACENTER}/host/${VSPHERE_CLUSTER}//Resources"
              folder: "/${VSPHERE_DATACENTER}/vm/${VSPHERE_FOLDER}"
          - ${INGRESS_VIP}
          - datacenters:
              - ${VSPHERE_DATACENTER}
            user: ${VSPHERE_USERNAME}
            password: ${VSPHERE_PASSWORD}
            server: ${VCENTER_HOSTNAME}
            port: 443
      networkType: Cilium
        - cidr: ${MACHINE_NETWORK_CIDR}
    pullSecret: |
    sshKey: "$(cat $SSH_PUBLIC_KEY)"
    1 Make sure that the values here match the value of $CLUSTER_DOMAIN when combined as <>.<baseDomain>. Otherwise, the installation will most likely fail.
    2 We only provision a single compute machine set. The final machine sets will be configured through Project Syn.

    If setting custom CIDR for the OpenShift networking, the corresponding values should be updated in your Commodore cluster definitions. See Cilium Component Defaults and Parameter Reference. Verify with less catalog/manifests/cilium/olm/*ciliumconfig.yaml.

Prepare the OpenShift Installer

The steps in this section aren’t idempotent and have to be completed uninterrupted in one go. If you have to recreate the install config or any of the generated manifests you need to rerun all of the subsequent steps.
  1. Render install manifests (this will consume the install-config.yaml)

    openshift-install --dir "${INSTALLER_DIR}" \
      create manifests
    1. If you want to change the default "apps" domain for the cluster:

      yq w -i "${INSTALLER_DIR}/manifests/cluster-ingress-02-config.yml" \
  2. Copy pre-rendered extra machine configs

    if [ -f $machineconfigs ];  then
      yq --no-doc -s \
        "\"${INSTALLER_DIR}/openshift/99x_openshift-machineconfig_\" +" \
  3. Copy pre-rendered Cilium manifests

    cp catalog/manifests/cilium/olm/* ${INSTALLER_DIR}/manifests/
  4. Verify that the generated cluster domain matches the desired cluster domain

    GEN_CLUSTER_DOMAIN=$(yq e '.spec.baseDomain' \
    if [ "$GEN_CLUSTER_DOMAIN" != "$CLUSTER_DOMAIN" ]; then
      echo -e "\033[0;31mGenerated cluster domain doesn't match expected cluster domain: Got '$GEN_CLUSTER_DOMAIN', want '$CLUSTER_DOMAIN'\033[0;0m"
      echo -e "\033[0;32mGenerated cluster domain matches expected cluster domain.\033[0;0m"
  5. Prepare install manifests and ignition config

    openshift-install --dir "${INSTALLER_DIR}" \
      create ignition-configs

Update Project Syn cluster config

  1. Switch to the tenant repo

    pushd "inventory/classes/${TENANT_ID}/"
  2. Include openshift4.yml if it exists

    if ls openshift4.y*ml 1>/dev/null 2>&1; then
        yq eval -i '.classes += ".openshift4"' ${CLUSTER_ID}.yml;
  3. Update cluster config

    yq eval -i ".parameters.openshift.infraID = \"$(jq -r .infraID "${INSTALLER_DIR}/metadata.json")\"" \
    yq eval -i ".parameters.openshift.clusterID = \"$(jq -r .clusterID "${INSTALLER_DIR}/metadata.json")\"" \
    yq eval -i ".parameters.openshift.ssh_key = \"$(cat ${SSH_PUBLIC_KEY})\"" \

    If you use a custom "apps" domain, make sure to set parameters.openshift.appsDomain accordingly.

    yq eval -i ".parameters.openshift.appsDomain = \"${APPS_DOMAIN}\"" \

    By default, the cluster’s update channel is derived from the cluster’s reported OpenShift version. If you want to use a custom update channel, make sure to set accordingly.

    # Configure the OpenShift update channel as `fast`
    yq eval -i " = \"fast-{ocp-minor-version}\"" \
  4. Configure vSphere parameters

    yq eval -i ".parameters.openshift.vsphere.network_name = \"${VSPHERE_NETWORK}\"" \
    yq eval -i ".parameters.openshift.vsphere.datacenter = \"${VSPHERE_DATACENTER}\"" \
    yq eval -i ".parameters.openshift.vsphere.datastore = \"${VSPHERE_DATASTORE}\"" \
    yq eval -i ".parameters.openshift.vsphere.server = \"${VCENTER_HOSTNAME}\"" \
    yq eval -i ".parameters.openshift.vsphere.folder = \"${VSPHERE_FOLDER}\"" \

Commit changes and compile cluster catalog

  1. Review changes. Have a look at the file ${CLUSTER_ID}.yml. Override default parameters or add more component configurations as required for your cluster.

  2. Commit changes

    git commit -a -m "Setup cluster ${CLUSTER_ID}"
    git push
  3. Compile and push cluster catalog

    commodore catalog compile ${CLUSTER_ID} --push -i \
      --dynamic-fact kubernetesVersion.major=$(echo "1.27" | awk -F. '{print $1}') \
      --dynamic-fact kubernetesVersion.minor=$(echo "1.27" | awk -F. '{print $2}') \
      --dynamic-fact openshiftVersion.Major=$(echo "4.14" | awk -F. '{print $1}') \
      --dynamic-fact openshiftVersion.Minor=$(echo "4.14" | awk -F. '{print $2}')
    This commodore call requires Commodore v1.5.0 or newer. Please make sure to update your local installation.

Provision the cluster

The steps in this section must be run on a host which can reach the vSphere API. If you can’t reach the vSphere API directly, but a SSH jumphost is available, you can setup a SOCKS5 proxy with the following commands:

export JUMPHOST_FQDN=<jumphost fqdn or alias from your SSH config> (1)
ssh -D 12000 -q -f -N ${JUMPHOST_FQDN} (2)
export https_proxy=socks5://localhost:12000 (3)
export CURL_OPTS="-xsocks5h://localhost:12000"
1 The FQDN or SSH alias of the host which can reach the vSphere API
2 This command expects that your SSH config is setup so that ssh ${JUMPHOST_FQDN} works without further configuration
3 The openshift-install tool respects the https_proxy environment variable
  1. Trust the vSphere CA certificate

    Ubuntu 22.04
    curl ${CURL_OPTS:-} -kLo https://"${VCENTER_HOSTNAME}"/certs/
    for cert in certs/lin/*.0; do sudo cp $cert /usr/local/share/ca-certificates/$(basename ${cert}.crt); done
    sudo update-ca-certificates
  2. Run the OpenShift installer

    openshift-install --dir "${INSTALLER_DIR}" \
      create cluster --log-level=debug

Access cluster API

  1. Export kubeconfig

    export KUBECONFIG="${INSTALLER_DIR}/auth/kubeconfig"
  2. Verify API access

    kubectl cluster-info

If the cluster API is only reachable with a SOCKS5 proxy, run the following commands instead:

cp ${INSTALLER_DIR}/auth/kubeconfig ${INSTALLER_DIR}/auth/kubeconfig-socks5
yq eval -i '.clusters[0].cluster.proxy-url="socks5://localhost:12000"' \
export KUBECONFIG="${INSTALLER_DIR}/auth/kubeconfig-socks5"

Configure registry S3 credentials

  1. Create secret with S3 credentials for the registry

    oc create secret generic image-registry-private-configuration-user \
      --namespace openshift-image-registry \
      --from-literal=REGISTRY_STORAGE_S3_ACCESSKEY=<TBD> \

    If the registry S3 credentials are created too long after the initial cluster setup, it’s possible that the openshift-samples operator has disabled itself because it couldn’t find a working in-cluster registry.

    If the samples operator is disabled, no templates and builder images will be available on the cluster.

    You can check the samples-operator’s state with the following command:

    kubectl get config.samples cluster -ojsonpath='{.spec.managementState}'

    If the command returns Removed, verify that the in-cluster registry pods are now running, and enable the samples operator again:

    kubectl patch config.samples cluster -p '{"spec":{"managementState":"Managed"}}'

    See the upstream documentation for more details on the samples operator.

Set default storage class

  1. Set storage class thin-csi as default

    kubectl annotate storageclass thin
    kubectl annotate storageclass thin-csi

Setup acme-dns CNAME records for the cluster

You can skip this section if you’re not using Let’s Encrypt for the cluster’s API and default wildcard certificates.
  1. Extract the acme-dns subdomain for the cluster after cert-manager has been deployed via Project Syn.

    fulldomain=$(kubectl -n syn-cert-manager \
      get secret acme-dns-client \
      -o jsonpath='{.data.acmedns\.json}' | \
      base64 -d  | \
      jq -r '[.[]][0].fulldomain')
    echo "$fulldomain"
  2. Add the following CNAME records to the cluster’s DNS zone

    The _acme-challenge records must be created in the same zone as the cluster’s api and apps records respectively.

    $ORIGIN <cluster-zone> (2)
    _acme-challenge.api  IN CNAME <fulldomain>. (1)
    $ORIGIN <apps-base-domain> (3)
    _acme-challenge.apps IN CNAME <fulldomain>. (1)
    1 Replace <fulldomain> with the output of the previous step.
    2 The _acme-challenge.api record must be created in the same origin as the api record.
    3 The _acme-challenge.apps record must be created in the same origin as the apps record.

Ensure emergency admin access to the cluster

  1. Check that emergency credentials were uploaded and are accessible:

    emergency-credentials-receive "${CLUSTER_ID}"
    # Follow the instructions to use the downloaded kubeconfig file

    You need to be in the passbolt group VSHN On-Call.

    If the command fails, check if the controller is already deployed, running, and if the credentials are uploaded:

    kubectl -n appuio-emergency-credentials-controller get -o=jsonpath='{range .items[*]}{}{"\t"}{.status.lastTokenCreationTimestamp}{"\n"}{end}'
  2. Follow the instructions from emergency-credentials-receive to use the downloaded kubeconfig file.

    export KUBECONFIG="em-${CLUSTER_ID}"
    kubectl get nodes
    oc whoami # should output system:serviceaccount:appuio-emergency-credentials-controller:*
  3. Invalidate the 10 year admin kubeconfig.

    kubectl -n openshift-config patch cm admin-kubeconfig-client-ca --type=merge -p '{"data": {"ca-bundle.crt": ""}}'

Finalize installation

  1. Verify that the Project Syn-managed machine sets have been provisioned

    kubectl -n openshift-machine-api get machineset -l

    The command should show something like

    app     3         3         3       3           4d5h (1)
    infra   4         4         4       4           4d5h (1)
    1 The values for DESIRED and AVAILABLE should match.

    If there’s discrepancies between the desired and available counts of the machine sets, you can list the machine objects which aren’t in phase "Running":

    kubectl -n openshift-machine-api get machine | grep -v Running

    You can see errors by looking at an individual machine object with kubectl describe.

  2. If the Project Syn-managed machine sets are healthy, scale down the initial worker machine set

    If the Project Syn-managed machine sets aren’t healthy, this step may reduce the cluster capacity to the point where infrastructure components can’t run. Make sure you have sufficient cluster capacity before continuing.

    INFRA_ID=$(jq -r .infraID "${INSTALLER_DIR}/metadata.json")
    kubectl -n openshift-machine-api patch machineset ${INFRA_ID}-worker \
      -p '{"spec": {"replicas": 0}}' --type merge
  3. Once the initial machine set is scaled down, verify that all pods are still running. The command below should produce no output.

    kubectl get pods -A | grep -vw -e Running -e Completed
  4. If all pods are still running, delete the initial machine set

    kubectl -n openshift-machine-api delete machineset ${INFRA_ID}-worker
  5. Clean up the vSphere CA certificate

    for cert in certs/lin/*.0; do sudo rm /usr/local/share/ca-certificates/$(basename ${cert}.crt); done
    sudo update-ca-certificates
  6. Delete local config files

    rm -r ${INSTALLER_DIR}/

Post tasks


  1. Enable automated upgrades

  2. Add the cluster to the maintenance template, if necessary