Install Portworx on PKS using the DaemonSet

PKS preparation

Before installing Portworx, let’s ensure the PKS environment is prepared correctly.

Enable privileged containers and kubectl exec

Ensure that following options are enabled on all plans on the PKS tile.

  • Enable Privileged Containers
  • Disable DenyEscalatingExec (This is useful to run kubectl exec to run pxctl commands)

Enable zero downtime upgrades for Portworx PKS clusters

Use the following steps to add a runtime addon to the Bosh Director to stop the Portworx service.

Why is this needed ? When stopping and upgrading instances bosh attempts to unmount /var/vcap/store. Portworx has its root filesystem for its OCI container mounted on /var/vcap/store/opt/pwx/oci and the runc container is running using it. So one needs to stop Portworx and unmount /var/vcap/store/opt/pwx/oci in order to allow bosh to proceed with stopping the instances. The addon ensures this is done automatically and enables zero downtime upgrades.

Perform these steps on any machine where you have the bosh CLI.

  1. Create and upload the release.

    Replace director-environment below with the environment which points to the Bosh Director.

    git clone
    cd portworx-stop-bosh-release
    mkdir src
    bosh create-release --final --version=1.0.0
    bosh -e director-environment upload-release
  2. Add the addon to the Bosh Director.

    First let’s fetch your current Bosh Director runtime config.

    bosh -e director-environment runtime-config

    If this is empty, you can simply use the runtime config at runtime-configs/director-runtime-config.yaml.

    If you already have an existing runtime config, add the release and addon in runtime-configs/director-runtime-config.yaml to your existing runtime config.

    Once we have the runtime config file prepared, let’s update it in the Director.

    bosh -e director-environment update-runtime-config runtime-configs/director-runtime-config.yaml
  3. Apply the changes

    After the runtime config is updated, go to your Operations Manager Installation Dashboard and click “Apply Changes”. This will ensure bosh will add the addon on all new vm instances.

    If you already have an existing Portworx cluster, you will need to recreate the VM instances using the bosh recreate command.

Installing Portworx

For on-premises clusters, PKS (Pivotal Container Service) supports VMware vSphere.


Below diagram gives an overview of the Portworx architecture on vSphere using shared datastores.

  • Portworx runs on each Kubernetes minion/worker.
  • Based on the given spec by the end user, Portworx on each node will create its disk on the configured shared datastore(s) or datastore cluster(s).
  • Portworx will aggregate all of the disks and form a single storage cluster. End users can carve PVCs (Persistent Volume Claims), PVs (Persistent Volumes) and Snapshots from this storage cluster.
  • Portworx tracks and manages the disks that it creates. So in a failure event, if a new VM spins up, Portworx on the new VM will be able to attach to the same disk that was previously created by the node on the failed VM.

Portworx architecture for PKS on vSphere using shared datastores or datastore clusters

ESXi datastore preparation

Create one or more shared datastore(s) or datastore cluster(s) which is dedicated for Portworx storage. Use a common prefix for the names of the datastores or datastore cluster(s). We will be giving this prefix during Portworx installation later in this guide.

NOTE: If you provide a vSphere datastore cluster as an input, Portworx uses a DRS recommendation API that returns the correct datastore to use from the selected datastore cluster.

Step 1: vCenter user for Portworx

You will need to provide Portworx with a vCenter server user that will need to either have the full Admin role or, for increased security, a custom-created role with the following minimum vSphere privileges:

  • Datastore
    • Allocate space
    • Browse datastore
    • Low level file operations
    • Remove file
  • Host
    • Local operations
    • Reconfigure virtual machine
  • Virtual machine
    • Change Configuration
    • Add existing disk
    • Add new disk
    • Add or remove device
    • Advanced configuration
    • Change Settings
    • Extend virtual disk
    • Modify device settings
    • Remove disk

If you create a custom role as above, make sure to select “Propagate to children” when assigning the user to the role.

All commands in the subsequent steps need to be run on a machine with kubectl access.

Step 2: Create a Kubernetes secret with your vCenter user and password

Update the following items in the Secret template below to match your environment:

  1. VSPHERE_USER: Use output of echo '<vcenter-server-user>' | base64
  2. VSPHERE_PASSWORD: Use output of echo '<vcenter-server-password>' | base64

    apiVersion: v1
    kind: Secret
     name: px-vsphere-secret
     namespace: kube-system
    type: Opaque
     VSPHERE_USER: YWRtaW5pc3RyYXRvckB2c3BoZXJlLmxvY2Fs

kubectl apply the above spec after you update the above template with your user and password.

Step 3: Generate rest of the specs

vSphere environment details

Export following env variables based on your vSphere environment. These variables will be used in a later step when generating the yaml spec.

# Hostname or IP of your vCenter server

# Prefix of your shared ESXi datastore(s) names. Portworx will use datastores who names match this prefix to create disks.
export VSPHERE_DATASTORE_PREFIX=mydatastore-

# Change this to the port number vSphere services are running on if you have changed the default port 443

Disk templates

A disk template defines the VMDK properties that Portworx will use as a reference for creating the actual disks out of which Portworx will create the virtual volumes for your PVCs.

Following example will create a 150GB zeroed thick vmdk on each VM.

export VSPHERE_DISK_TEMPLATE=type=zeroedthick,size=150

The template follows the following format:

"type=<vmdk type>,size=<size of the vmdk>"
  • type: Supported types are thin, zeroedthick ,eagerzeroedthick, lazyzeroedthick
  • size: This is the size of the VMDK in GiB

Apply the specs

Apply the generated specs to your cluster.

kubectl apply -f px-spec.yaml
Monitor the Portworx pods
  1. Enter the following kubectl get command, waiting until all Portworx pods show as ready in the output:

    kubectl get pods -o wide -n kube-system -l name=portworx
  2. Enter the following kubectl describe command with the ID of one of your Portworx pods to show the current installation status for individual nodes:

     kubectl -n kube-system describe pods <portworx-pod-id>
       Type     Reason                             Age                     From                  Message
       ----     ------                             ----                    ----                  -------
       Normal   Scheduled                          7m57s                   default-scheduler     Successfully assigned kube-system/portworx-qxtw4 to k8s-node-2
       Normal   Pulling                            7m55s                   kubelet, k8s-node-2   Pulling image "portworx/oci-monitor:2.5.0"
       Normal   Pulled                             7m54s                   kubelet, k8s-node-2   Successfully pulled image "portworx/oci-monitor:2.5.0"
       Normal   Created                            7m53s                   kubelet, k8s-node-2   Created container portworx
       Normal   Started                            7m51s                   kubelet, k8s-node-2   Started container portworx
       Normal   PortworxMonitorImagePullInPrgress  7m48s                   portworx, k8s-node-2  Portworx image portworx/px-enterprise:2.5.0 pull and extraction in progress
       Warning  NodeStateChange                    5m26s                   portworx, k8s-node-2  Node is not in quorum. Waiting to connect to peer nodes on port 9002.
       Warning  Unhealthy                          5m15s (x15 over 7m35s)  kubelet, k8s-node-2   Readiness probe failed: HTTP probe failed with statuscode: 503
       Normal   NodeStartSuccess                   5m7s                    portworx, k8s-node-2  PX is ready on this node
    NOTE: In your output, the image pulled will differ based on your chosen Portworx license type and version.
Monitor the cluster status

Use the pxctl status command to display the status of your Portworx cluster:

PX_POD=$(kubectl get pods -l name=portworx -n kube-system -o jsonpath='{.items[0]}')
kubectl exec $PX_POD -n kube-system -- /opt/pwx/bin/pxctl status

NOTE: Some errors, such as incorrect vSphere user credentials, are only shown in the portworx container logs. To display these errors, use the kubectl logs command:

kubectl logs portworx-pod -n kube-system -c portworx

Wipe Portworx installation

Below are the steps to wipe your entire Portworx installation on PKS.

  1. Run cluster-scoped wipe:

    curl -fsL "" | bash -s -- -T pks
  2. Go to each virtual machine and delete the additional vmdks Portworx created in the shared datastore.

Last edited: Tuesday, Jul 5, 2022