Linkerd2 Integration

Linkerd2 is a zero-config and ultra-lightweight service mesh. Ambassador natively supports Linkerd2 for service discovery and end-to-end TLS (including mTLS between services).


Linkerd2 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. mTLS between services is automatically handled by the control plane and the proxies.

Ambassador itself also needs to be meshed and then configured to add special linkerd headers to requests so as to tell Linkerd2 where to forward them.

Through that setup, Ambassador terminates external TLS as the gateway and traffic is then immediately wrapped into mTLS by Linkerd2 again. Thus we have a full end-to-end TLS encryption chain.

Getting started

In this guide, you will use Linkerd2 Auto-Inject to mesh a service and use Ambassador to dynamically route requests to that service based on Linkerd2's service discovery data. If you already have Ambassador installed, you will just need to install Linkerd2 and deploy your service.

Setting up Linkerd2 requires to install three components. The first is the CLI on your local machine, the second is the actual Linkerd2 control plane in your Kubernetes Cluster. Finally you have to inject your services' Pods with Linkerd Sidecars to mesh them.

  1. Install and configure Linkerd2 (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 Linkerd2 itself. To do so execute the following command:

    linkerd install --ha | kubectl apply -f -

    This will install Linkerd2 in high-availability mode for the control plane. This means the controller and other components are started multiple times. Since Linkerd2 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 Linkerd2 setup rolled out into your cluster!

  3. Deploy Ambassador.

    Note: If this is your first time deploying Ambassador, reviewing the Ambassador quick start is strongly recommended.

    kubectl apply -f

    If you're on GKE, or haven't previously created the Ambassador service, please see the Quick Start.

  4. Configure Ambassador to add Linkerd2 Headers to requests.

    kind: Module
      name: ambassador
        add_linkerd_headers: true

    This will tell Ambassador to add additional headers to each request forwarded to Linkerd2 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 Linkerd2 Services

You'll now register a demo application with Linkerd2, and show how Ambassador can route to this application using endpoint data from Linkerd2.

  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 Linkerd2. Every time something is deployed to that namespace, the deployment is passed to the AutoInject Controller and injected with the Linkerd2 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 Linkerd2 Webhook.

  3. Verify the QOTM pod has been registered with Linkerd2. You can verify the QOTM pod is registered correctly by accessing the Linkerd2 Dashboard.

    linkerd dashboard

    You 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 Linkerd2. The general config for Ambassador already adds Linkerd Headers when forwarding requests to the service mesh.

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

    curl 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 Linkerd2. The traffic to Ambassador is not TLS secured, but from Ambassador to the QOTM an automatic mTLS connection is being used.

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

More information

For more about Ambassador's integration with Linkerd2, read the service discovery configuration documentation.