Linkerd 2 Integration

Linkerd 2 is a zero-config and ultra-lightweight service mesh. Ambassador Edge Stack natively supports Linkerd 2 for service discovery and end-to-end TLS (including mTLS between services).


Linkerd 2 is designed for simplicity, security, and performance. In the cluster, it runs a control plane in its own namespace and then injects sidecar proxy containers in every Pod that should be meshed.

Ambassador Edge Stack itself also needs to be interwoven or "meshed" with Linkerd 2, and then configured to add special Linkerd headers to requests that tell Linkerd 2 where to forward them. This ie because mTLS between services is automatically handled by the control plane and the proxies. Istio and Consul allow Ambassador to initiate mTLS connections to upstream services by grabbing a certificate from a Kubernetes Secret. However, Linkerd 2 does not work this way, so Ambassador must rely on Linkerd 2 for mTLS connections to upstream services. This means we want Linkerd 2 to inject its sidecar into Ambassador's pods, but not Istio and Consul.

Through that setup, Ambassador Edge Stack terminates external TLS as the gateway and traffic is then immediately wrapped into mTLS by Linkerd 2 again. Thus we have a full end-to-end TLS encryption chain.

Getting started

In this guide, you will use Linkerd 2 Auto-Inject to mesh a service and use Ambassador Edge Stack to dynamically route requests to that service based on Linkerd 2's service discovery data. If you already have Ambassador Edge Stack installed, you will just need to install Linkerd 2 and deploy your service.

Setting up Linkerd 2 requires to install three components. The first is the CLI on your local machine, the second is the actual Linkerd 2 control plane in your Kubernetes Cluster. Finally, you have to inject your services' Pods with Linkerd Sidecars to mesh them.

  1. Install and configure Linkerd 2 instructions. Follow the guide until Step 3. That should give you the CLI on your machine and all required pre-flight checks.

    In a nutshell, these steps boil down to the following:

    # install linkerd cli tool
    curl -sL | sh
    # add linkerd to your path
    export PATH=$PATH:$HOME/.linkerd2/bin
    # verify installation
    linkerd version
  2. Now it is time to install Linkerd 2 itself. To do so execute the following command:

    linkerd install --ha | kubectl apply -f -

    This will install Linkerd 2 in high-availability mode for the control plane. This means the controller and other components are started multiple times. Since Linkerd 2.5 it is also made sure the components are split across different nodes, if possible.

    Note that this simple command automatically enables mTLS by default and registers the AutoInject Webhook with your Kubernetes API Server. You now have a production-ready Linkerd 2 setup rolled out into your cluster!

  3. Deploy Ambassador Edge Stack.

    Note: If this is your first time deploying Ambassador Edge Stack, reviewing the Ambassador Edge Stack getting started is strongly recommended.

    kubectl apply -f

    If you're on GKE, or haven't previously created the Ambassador Edge Stack service, please see the quick start guide.

  4. Configure Ambassador Edge Stack to add Linkerd 2 Headers to requests.

    kind: Module
    name: ambassador
    add_linkerd_headers: true

    This will tell Ambassador Edge Stack to add additional headers to each request forwarded to Linkerd 2 with information about where to route this request to. This is a general setting. You can also set add_linkerd_headers per Mapping.

Routing to Linkerd 2 Services

You'll now register a demo application with Linkerd 2, and show how Ambassador Edge Stack can route to this application using endpoint data from Linkerd 2.

  1. Enable AutoInjection on the Namespace you are about to deploy to:

    apiVersion: v1
    kind: Namespace
    name: default # change this to your namespace if you're not using 'default'
    annotations: enabled

    Save the above to a file called namespace.yaml and run kubectl apply -f namespace.yaml. This will enable the namespace to be handled by the AutoInjection Webhook of Linkerd 2. Every time something is deployed to that namespace, the deployment is passed to the AutoInject Controller and injected with the Linkerd 2 proxy sidecar automatically.

  2. Deploy the QOTM demo application.

    apiVersion: extensions/v1beta1
    kind: Deployment
    name: qotm
    replicas: 1
    type: RollingUpdate
    app: qotm
    - name: qotm
    image: datawire/qotm:1.7
    - name: http-api
    containerPort: 5000
    - name: POD_IP
    fieldPath: status.podIP
    path: /health
    port: 5000
    initialDelaySeconds: 30
    periodSeconds: 3
    cpu: "0.1"
    memory: 100Mi

    Save the above to a file called qotm.yaml and deploy it with

    kubectl apply -f qotm.yaml

    Watch via kubectl get pod -w as the Pod is created. Note that it starts with 0/2 containers automatically, as it has been auto-injected by the Linkerd 2 Webhook.

  3. Verify the QOTM pod has been registered with Linkerd 2. You can verify the QOTM pod is registered correctly by accessing the Linkerd 2 Dashboard.

    linkerd dashboard

    Your browser should automatically open the correct URL. Otherwise, note the output from the above command and open that in a browser of your choice.

  4. Create a Mapping for the qotm-Linkerd2 service.

    kind: Mapping
    name: linkerd2-qotm
    prefix: /qotm-linkerd2/
    service: qotm-linkerd2

Save the above YAML to a file named qotm-mapping.yaml, and apply it with:

kubectl apply -f qotm-mapping.yaml

to apply this configuration to your Kubernetes cluster. Note that in the above config there is nothing special to make it work with Linkerd 2. The general config for Ambassador Edge Stack already adds Linkerd Headers when forwarding requests to the service mesh.

  1. Send a request to the qotm-Linkerd2 API.

    curl -L http://$AMBASSADOR_IP/qotm-Linkerd2/
    {"hostname":"qotm-749c675c6c-hq58f","ok":true,"quote":"The last sentence you read is often sensible nonsense.","time":"2019-03-29T22:21:42.197663","version":"1.7"}

Congratulations! You're successfully routing traffic to the QOTM application, the location of which is registered in Linkerd 2. The traffic to Ambassador Edge Stack is not TLS secured, but from Ambassador Edge Stack to the QOTM an automatic mTLS connection is being used.

If you now configure TLS termination in Ambassador Edge Stack, you have an end-to-end secured connection.

More information

For more about Ambassador Edge Stack's integration with Linkerd 2, read the service discovery configuration documentation.


We’re here to help. If you have questions, join our Slack, contact us, or request a demo.