About OpenShift Container Platform installation

You can harness the flexibility of the OpenShift Container Platform installation program to install a cluster. You can use the program in the following ways:

  • Deploy a cluster on provisioned infrastructure.

  • Deploy a cluster on infrastructure that you prepare and maintain.

The following list details two types of basic OpenShift Container Platform clusters:

  • Installer-provisioned infrastructure clusters.

  • User-provisioned infrastructure clusters.

Both cluster types have the following characteristics:

  • Highly available infrastructure with no single points of failure, which is available by default.

  • Administrators can control updates, such as the update mechanism and schedule.

About the installation program

You can use the installation program to deploy each type of cluster. The installation program generates the main assets, such as Ignition config files for the bootstrap, control plane, and compute machines. You can start an OpenShift Container Platform cluster with these three machine configurations, provided you correctly configured the infrastructure.

The OpenShift Container Platform installation program uses a set of targets and dependencies to manage cluster installations. The installation program has a set of targets that it must achieve, and each target has a set of dependencies. Because each target is only concerned with its own dependencies, the installation program can act to achieve multiple targets in parallel with the ultimate target being a running cluster. The installation program recognizes and uses existing components instead of running commands to create them again because the program meets the dependencies.

OpenShift Container Platform installation targets and dependencies
Figure 1. OpenShift Container Platform installation targets and dependencies

About Red Hat Enterprise Linux CoreOS (RHCOS)

Post-installation, each cluster machine uses Red Hat Enterprise Linux CoreOS (RHCOS) as the operating system. RHCOS is the immutable container host version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and features a RHEL kernel with SELinux enabled by default. RHCOS includes the kubelet, which is the Kubernetes node agent, and the CRI-O container runtime, which is optimized for Kubernetes.

Every control plane machine in an OpenShift Container Platform 4.11 cluster must use RHCOS, which includes a critical first-boot provisioning tool called Ignition. This tool enables the cluster to configure the machines. Operating system updates are delivered as a bootable container image, using OSTree as a backend, that is deployed across the cluster by the Machine Config Operator. Actual operating system changes are made in-place on each machine as an atomic operation by using rpm-ostree. Together, these technologies enable OpenShift Container Platform to manage the operating system like it manages any other application on the cluster, by in-place upgrades that keep the entire platform up to date. These in-place updates can reduce the burden on operations teams.

If you use RHCOS as the operating system for all cluster machines, the cluster manages all aspects of its components and machines, including the operating system. Because of this, only the installation program and the Machine Config Operator can change machines. The installation program uses Ignition config files to set the exact state of each machine, and the Machine Config Operator completes more changes to the machines, such as the application of new certificates or keys, after installation.

Glossary of common terms for OpenShift Container Platform installing

The glossary defines common terms that relate to the installation content. Read the following list of terms to better understand the installation process.

Bootstrap node

A temporary machine that runs a minimal Kubernetes configuration required to deploy the OpenShift Container Platform control plane.

Control plane

A container orchestration layer that exposes the API and interfaces to define, deploy, and manage the lifecycle of containers. Also known as control plane machines.

Compute node

Nodes that are responsible for executing workloads for cluster users. Also known as worker nodes.

Disconnected installation

In some situations, parts of a data center might not have access to the internet, even through proxy servers. You can still install the OpenShift Container Platform in these environments, but you must download the required software and images and make them available to the disconnected environment.

The OpenShift Container Platform installation program

A program that provisions the infrastructure and deploys a cluster.

Installer-provisioned infrastructure

The installation program deploys and configures the infrastructure that the cluster runs on.

Ignition config files

A file that the Ignition tool uses to configure Red Hat Enterprise Linux CoreOS (RHCOS) during operating system initialization. The installation program generates different Ignition configuration files to initialize bootstrap, control plane, and worker nodes.

Kubernetes manifests

Specifications of a Kubernetes API object in a JSON or YAML format. A configuration file can include deployments, config maps, secrets, daemonsets, and so on.


A primary node agent that runs on each node in the cluster to ensure that containers are running in a pod.

Load balancers

A load balancer serves as the single point of contact for clients. Load balancers for the API distribute incoming traffic across control plane nodes.

Machine Config Operator

An Operator that manages and applies configurations and updates of the base operating system and container runtime, including everything between the kernel and kubelet, for the nodes in the cluster.


The preferred method of packaging, deploying, and managing a Kubernetes application in an OpenShift Container Platform cluster. An operator takes human operational knowledge and encodes it into software that is easily packaged and shared with customers.

User-provisioned infrastructure

You can install OpenShift Container Platform on infrastructure that you provide. You can use the installation program to generate the assets required to provision the cluster infrastructure, create the cluster infrastructure, and then deploy the cluster to the infrastructure that you provided.

Installation process

When you install an OpenShift Container Platform cluster, you download the installation program from the appropriate Cluster Type page on the OpenShift Cluster Manager Hybrid Cloud Console. This console manages:

  • REST API for accounts.

  • Registry tokens, which are the pull secrets that you use to obtain the required components.

  • Cluster registration, which associates the cluster identity to your Red Hat account to facilitate the gathering of usage metrics.

In OpenShift Container Platform 4.11, the installation program is a Go binary file that performs a series of file transformations on a set of assets. The way you interact with the installation program differs depending on your installation type. Consider the following installation use cases:

  • For clusters with installer-provisioned infrastructure, you delegate the infrastructure bootstrapping and provisioning to the installation program instead of doing it yourself. The installation program creates all of the networking, machines, and operating systems that are required to support the cluster.

  • If you provision and manage the infrastructure for your cluster, you must provide all of the cluster infrastructure and resources, including the bootstrap machine, networking, load balancing, storage, and individual cluster machines.

You use three sets of files during installation: an installation configuration file that is named install-config.yaml, Kubernetes manifests, and Ignition config files for your machine types.

You can modify Kubernetes and the Ignition config files that control the underlying RHCOS operating system during installation. However, no validation is available to confirm the suitability of any modifications that you make to these objects. If you modify these objects, you might render your cluster non-functional. Because of this risk, modifying Kubernetes and Ignition config files is not supported unless you are following documented procedures or are instructed to do so by Red Hat support.

The installation configuration file is transformed into Kubernetes manifests, and then the manifests are wrapped into Ignition config files. The installation program uses these Ignition config files to create the cluster.

The installation configuration files are all pruned when you run the installation program, so be sure to back up all the configuration files that you want to use again.

You cannot modify the parameters that you set during installation, but you can modify many cluster attributes after installation.

The installation process with installer-provisioned infrastructure

The default installation type uses installer-provisioned infrastructure. By default, the installation program acts as an installation wizard, prompting you for values that it cannot determine on its own and providing reasonable default values for the remaining parameters. You can also customize the installation process to support advanced infrastructure scenarios. The installation program provisions the underlying infrastructure for the cluster.

You can install either a standard cluster or a customized cluster. With a standard cluster, you provide minimum details that are required to install the cluster. With a customized cluster, you can specify more details about the platform, such as the number of machines that the control plane uses, the type of virtual machine that the cluster deploys, or the CIDR range for the Kubernetes service network.

If possible, use this feature to avoid having to provision and maintain the cluster infrastructure. In all other environments, you use the installation program to generate the assets that you require to provision your cluster infrastructure.

With installer-provisioned infrastructure clusters, OpenShift Container Platform manages all aspects of the cluster, including the operating system itself. Each machine boots with a configuration that references resources hosted in the cluster that it joins. This configuration allows the cluster to manage itself as updates are applied.

The installation process with user-provisioned infrastructure

You can also install OpenShift Container Platform on infrastructure that you provide. You use the installation program to generate the assets that you require to provision the cluster infrastructure, create the cluster infrastructure, and then deploy the cluster to the infrastructure that you provided.

If you do not use infrastructure that the installation program provisioned, you must manage and maintain the cluster resources yourself. The following list details some of these self-managed resources:

  • The underlying infrastructure for the control plane and compute machines that make up the cluster

  • Load balancers

  • Cluster networking, including the DNS records and required subnets

  • Storage for the cluster infrastructure and applications

If your cluster uses user-provisioned infrastructure, you have the option of adding RHEL compute machines to your cluster.

Installation process details

When a cluster is provisioned, each machine in the cluster requires information about the cluster. OpenShift Container Platform uses a temporary bootstrap machine during initial configuration to provide the required information to the permanent control plane. The temporary bootstrap machine boots by using an Ignition config file that describes how to create the cluster. The bootstrap machine creates the control plane machines that make up the control plane. The control plane machines then create the compute machines, which are also known as worker machines. The following figure illustrates this process:

Creating bootstrap
Figure 2. Creating the bootstrap, control plane, and compute machines

After the cluster machines initialize, the bootstrap machine is destroyed. All clusters use the bootstrap process to initialize the cluster, but if you provision the infrastructure for your cluster, you must complete many of the steps manually.

  • The Ignition config files that the installation program generates contain certificates that expire after 24 hours, which are then renewed at that time. If the cluster is shut down before renewing the certificates and the cluster is later restarted after the 24 hours have elapsed, the cluster automatically recovers the expired certificates. The exception is that you must manually approve the pending node-bootstrapper certificate signing requests (CSRs) to recover kubelet certificates. See the documentation for Recovering from expired control plane certificates for more information.

  • Consider using Ignition config files within 12 hours after they are generated, because the 24-hour certificate rotates from 16 to 22 hours after the cluster is installed. By using the Ignition config files within 12 hours, you can avoid installation failure if the certificate update runs during installation.

Bootstrapping a cluster involves the following steps:

  1. The bootstrap machine boots and starts hosting the remote resources required for the control plane machines to boot. If you provision the infrastructure, this step requires manual intervention.

  2. The bootstrap machine starts a single-node etcd cluster and a temporary Kubernetes control plane.

  3. The control plane machines fetch the remote resources from the bootstrap machine and finish booting. If you provision the infrastructure, this step requires manual intervention.

  4. The temporary control plane schedules the production control plane to the production control plane machines.

  5. The Cluster Version Operator (CVO) comes online and installs the etcd Operator. The etcd Operator scales up etcd on all control plane nodes.

  6. The temporary control plane shuts down and passes control to the production control plane.

  7. The bootstrap machine injects OpenShift Container Platform components into the production control plane.

  8. The installation program shuts down the bootstrap machine. If you provision the infrastructure, this step requires manual intervention.

  9. The control plane sets up the compute nodes.

  10. The control plane installs additional services in the form of a set of Operators.

The result of this bootstrapping process is a running OpenShift Container Platform cluster. The cluster then downloads and configures remaining components needed for the day-to-day operations, including the creation of compute machines in supported environments.

Verifying node state after installation

The OpenShift Container Platform installation completes when the following installation health checks are successful:

  • The provisioner can access the OpenShift Container Platform web console.

  • All control plane nodes are ready.

  • All cluster Operators are available.

After the installation completes, the specific cluster Operators responsible for the worker nodes continuously attempt to provision all worker nodes. Some time is required before all worker nodes report as READY. For installations on bare metal, wait a minimum of 60 minutes before troubleshooting a worker node. For installations on all other platforms, wait a minimum of 40 minutes before troubleshooting a worker node. A DEGRADED state for the cluster Operators responsible for the worker nodes depends on the Operators' own resources and not on the state of the nodes.

After your installation completes, you can continue to monitor the condition of the nodes in your cluster.

  • The installation program resolves successfully in the terminal.

  1. Show the status of all worker nodes:

    $ oc get nodes
    Example output
    NAME                           STATUS   ROLES    AGE   VERSION
    example-compute1.example.com   Ready    worker   13m   v1.21.6+bb8d50a
    example-compute2.example.com   Ready    worker   13m   v1.21.6+bb8d50a
    example-compute4.example.com   Ready    worker   14m   v1.21.6+bb8d50a
    example-control1.example.com   Ready    master   52m   v1.21.6+bb8d50a
    example-control2.example.com   Ready    master   55m   v1.21.6+bb8d50a
    example-control3.example.com   Ready    master   55m   v1.21.6+bb8d50a
  2. Show the phase of all worker machine nodes:

    $ oc get machines -A
    Example output
    NAMESPACE               NAME                           PHASE         TYPE   REGION   ZONE   AGE
    openshift-machine-api   example-zbbt6-master-0         Running                              95m
    openshift-machine-api   example-zbbt6-master-1         Running                              95m
    openshift-machine-api   example-zbbt6-master-2         Running                              95m
    openshift-machine-api   example-zbbt6-worker-0-25bhp   Running                              49m
    openshift-machine-api   example-zbbt6-worker-0-8b4c2   Running                              49m
    openshift-machine-api   example-zbbt6-worker-0-jkbqt   Running                              49m
    openshift-machine-api   example-zbbt6-worker-0-qrl5b   Running                              49m

Installation scope

The scope of the OpenShift Container Platform installation program is intentionally narrow. It is designed for simplicity and ensured success. You can complete many more configuration tasks after installation completes.

Additional resources

OpenShift Local overview

OpenShift Local supports rapid application development to get started building OpenShift Container Platform clusters. OpenShift Local is designed to run on a local computer to simplify setup and testing, and to emulate the cloud development environment locally with all of the tools needed to develop container-based applications.

Regardless of the programming language you use, OpenShift Local hosts your application and brings a minimal, preconfigured Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform cluster to your local PC without the need for a server-based infrastructure.

On a hosted environment, OpenShift Local can create microservices, convert them into images, and run them in Kubernetes-hosted containers directly on your laptop or desktop running Linux, macOS, or Windows 10 or later.

For more information about OpenShift Local, see Red Hat OpenShift Local Overview.

Supported platforms for OpenShift Container Platform clusters

In OpenShift Container Platform 4.11, you can install a cluster that uses installer-provisioned infrastructure on the following platforms:

  • Alibaba Cloud

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)

  • Bare metal

  • Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

  • IBM Cloud® VPC

  • Microsoft Azure

  • Microsoft Azure Stack Hub

  • Nutanix

  • Red Hat OpenStack Platform (RHOSP)

  • VMware Cloud (VMC) on AWS

  • VMware vSphere

For these clusters, all machines, including the computer that you run the installation process on, must have direct internet access to pull images for platform containers and provide telemetry data to Red Hat.

After installation, the following changes are not supported:

  • Mixing cloud provider platforms.

  • Mixing cloud provider components. For example, using a persistent storage framework from a another platform on the platform where you installed the cluster.

In OpenShift Container Platform 4.11, you can install a cluster that uses user-provisioned infrastructure on the following platforms:

  • AWS

  • Azure

  • Azure Stack Hub

  • Bare metal

  • GCP

  • IBM Power

  • IBM Z or IBM® LinuxONE


  • VMware Cloud on AWS

  • VMware vSphere

Depending on the supported cases for the platform, you can perform installations on user-provisioned infrastructure, so that you can run machines with full internet access, place your cluster behind a proxy, or perform a disconnected installation.

In a disconnected installation, you can download the images that are required to install a cluster, place them in a mirror registry, and use that data to install your cluster. While you require internet access to pull images for platform containers, with a disconnected installation on vSphere or bare metal infrastructure, your cluster machines do not require direct internet access.

The OpenShift Container Platform 4.x Tested Integrations page contains details about integration testing for different platforms.

Additional resources