K3d vs k3s vs Kind vs Microk8s vs Minikube

in Kubernetes


Running Kubernetes locally is a great way to try out and ensure that your applications run on the most used container orchestration platform in production. A local Kubernetes tool like minikube is needed for this. This article provides an array of options to choose from and a simple comparison to help you make an informed decision while at it.

    Developed by Google, Kubernetes is an open source platform for automating deployment, scaling, management, and orchestration of containerised applications. It offers an easy system for managing containers across multiple servers with polished load balancing and resource allocation to ensure each application runs optimally.

    Although Kubernetes is built to run in the cloud, IT professionals and developers run it on their local computers for various reasons. Running it locally helps them to quickly try the technology out to “feel the waters” without getting tangled in the complexity or incurring cost from using it directly on the cloud. Running it locally is also an easy way to play around with the container orchestration platform. Developers also use it as a local development environment to mitigate the difference with the production environment and ensure that the application runs effectively in production.

    However, setting up Kubernetes locally requires a tool that helps you create the environment on your local computer. This article outlines and compares five of the most widely used tools for this purpose.



    K3s is a lightweight tool designed to run production-level Kubernetes workloads for low resourced and remotely located IoT and Edge devices.

    K3s helps you run a simple, secure and optimised Kubernetes environment on a local computer using a virtual machine such as VMWare or VirtualBox.


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    K3d is a platform-agnostic, lightweight wrapper that runs K3s in a docker container. It helps run and scale single or multi-node K3S clusters quickly without further setup while maintaining a high availability mode.


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    Primarily designed to test Kubernetes, Kind (Kubernetes in Docker) helps you run Kubernetes clusters locally and in CI pipelines using Docker containers as "nodes".

    It is an open source CNCF certified Kubernetes installer that supports highly available multi-node clusters and builds Kubernetes release builds from its source.


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    Created by Canonical, microK8S is a Kubernetes distribution designed to run fast, self-healing, and highly available Kubernetes clusters. It is optimised for quick and easy installation of single and multi-node clusters on multiple operating systems, including macOS, Linux, and Windows.

    It is ideal for running Kubernetes in the cloud, local development environments and Edge and IoT devices. It also works efficiently in standalone systems using ARM or Intel, such as Raspberry Pi.


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    miniKube is the most widely used local Kubernetes installer. It offers an easy to use guide on installing and running single Kubernetes environments across multiple operating systems. It deploys Kubernetes as a container, VM or bare-metal and implements a Docker API endpoint that helps it push container images faster. It has advanced features like load balancing, filesystem mounts, and FeatureGates, making it a favourite for running Kubernetes locally.

    K3d, K3s, Kind, MicroK8s, and MiniKube: What sets them apart?

    Each of these tools provides an easy to use and lightweight local Kubernetes environment for multiple platforms, but a few things set them apart.

    K3s, for example, offers a VM based Kubernetes environment. To set up multiple Kubernetes servers, you'll need to manually configure extra virtual machines or nodes, which can be pretty challenging. It, however, is designed for use in production, which makes it one of the best options to simulate a real production environment locally.

    As an implementation of K3s, K3d shares most of the features and downsides of K3s; however, it excludes multi-cluster creation. K3s is exclusively built to run K3s with multiple clusters with Docker containers, making it a scalable and improved version of K3s.

    Although minikube is a generally great choice for running Kubernetes locally, one major downside is that it can only run a single node in the local Kubernetes cluster-this makes it a little farther to a production multi-node Kubernetes environment.

    Unlike miniKube, microK8S can run multiple nodes in the local Kubernetes cluster.

    microK8S is challenging to install on Linux machines that do not support the snap package compared to other tools on this list. microK8S uses a snap package created by canonical to install the Linux machine tool, which makes it difficult to run on Linux distributions that do not support it. miniKube also installs on multiple platforms using a VM framework, multipass, to create VMs for Kubernetes clusters.

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