Setting up the Prometheus Operator with Ansible on a Kubeadm Kubernetes Cluster


Prometheus is a popular monitoring tool based on time series data. One of the strengths of Prometheus is its deep integration with Kubernetes. Kubernetes components provide Prometheus metrics out of the box, and Prometheus’s service discovery integrates well with dynamic deployments in Kubernetes.

There are multiple ways how to set up Prometheus in a Kubernetes cluster. There’s an official Prometheus Docker image, so you could use that and create the Kubernetes YAML files from scratch (which according to Joe Beda is not totally crazy). There is also a helm chart. And there is the Prometheus Operator, which is built on top of the CoreOS operator framework.

This blog post shows how to get the Prometheus Operator up and running in a Kubernetes cluster set up with kubeadm. We use Ansible to automate the deployment.


In order to get the Prometheus Operator up and running, kube-prometheus provides a collection of manifests for monitoring Kubernetes itself and applications running on top of it. How to set up kube-prometheus differs slightly depending on the Kubernetes environment. This blog post focuses on Kubernetes clusters set up with kubeadm.

kube-prometheus is experimental and may change significantly at any time. While Joe Beda’s Prometheus as a noob is a great introduction on the topic, set-up instructions have changed significantly in the last six months since the video was published. The set-up described in this post works today, but you might need to adapt it to future changes in the way kube-prometheus is deployed.


We assume that the Kubernetes cluster is up and running, kubectl is working, and go is installed, for example using Ubuntu’s golang-go package.

Reconfigure the Kubelet Service

Kubelet is a systemd service running on the Kubernetes master and on each of the Kubernetes nodes. As of version 1.10, kubeadm configures the kubelet service via command line arguments defined in /etc/systemd/system/kubelet.service.d/10-kubeadm.conf.

As shown in the kube-prometheus-on-kubeadm documentation, we need two changes:

  • Remove the cadvisor-port=0 flag in order to enable the cadvisor.
  • Add the --authentication-token-webhook=true flag.

Instead of modifying the file 10-kubeadm.conf, we create a new file 11-kube-prometheus.conf. These files are applied in alphabetical order, so settings in the our file will overwrite the original settings from 10-kubeadm.conf.

Our 11-kube-prometheus.conf file looks like this:

# Remove the cadvisor-port=0 setting to expose the cadvisor metrics
# allow webhook token authentication.

Note that in order to override ExecStart, we first need to make it empty and then re-define it. Otherwise we would just be adding an additional command instead of replacing the command.

Upload 11-kube-prometheus.conf with Ansible and trigger the handler to reload and restart the kubelet service:

- name: Reconfigure the Kubelet Service
    src: ../files/12-kube-prometheus.conf
    dest: /etc/systemd/system/kubelet.service.d/12-kube-prometheus.conf
    - enable, reload, and restart kubelet

The handler to reload and restart the kubelet service is defined as follows:

- name: enable, reload, and restart kubelet
    name: kubelet
    state: restarted
    enabled: yes
    daemon_reload: yes

To check if this worked, run systemctl status kubelet.service and make sure that the parameter --cadvisor-port=0 is missing and the parameter --authentication-token-webhook=true is present.

Note that you have to run this on the Kubernetes master and on each of the Kubernetes nodes. All other tasks described in the rest of this blog post need to be run only on the master.

Reconfigure the kube-controller-manager and kube-scheduler to listen on non-local addresses

The kube-controller-manager and the kube-scheduler are static pods running on the Kubernetes master. These pods are defined in /etc/kubernetes/manifests/kube-controller-manager.yaml and /etc/kubernetes/manifests/kube-scheduler.yaml.

Kubeadm configures these pods to listen only on the local address In order to allow Prometheus to access them, we need to change this to, as described in the kube-prometheus-on-kubeadm documentation.

- name: Reconfigure kube-controller-manager and kube-scheduler to listen on non-local addresses
    path: "/etc/kubernetes/manifests/{{ item }}"
    regexp: "--address="
    replace: "--address="
    - "kube-controller-manager.yaml"
    - "kube-scheduler.yaml"

The master will restart the pods automatically as soon as the configuration files are changed.

Install jsonnet and jsonnet-bundler

Jsonnet is a templating language for creating JSON files. The jsonnet-bundler is a package manager for jsonnet templates. Kube-prometheus uses these tools to create the manifests for our kube-prometheus deployment. Install both tools:

- name: Install jsonnet and jsonnet-bundler
  shell: 'go get {{ item.source }} && go install {{ item.source }}'
    creates: '/root/go/bin/{{ item.binary }}'
    - { source: '', binary: 'jsonnet' }
    - { source: '', binary: 'jb' }

This should create the executable programs /root/go/bin/jsonnet and /root/go/bin/jb.

Get the jsonnet templates

We can now use the jsonnet-bundler to download the latest version of the jsonnet templates.

- name: Create directory for the jsonnet templates
    path: /root/my-kube-prometheus
    state: directory

- name: Get the jsonnet templates
  shell: '/root/go/bin/jb init && /root/go/bin/jb install'
    chdir: /root/my-kube-prometheus
    creates: /root/my-kube-prometheus/jsonnetfile.json

This should create a directory /root/my-kube-prometheus containing a bunch of *.libsonnet files in its subdirectories.

Upload our deployment definition

We have to create a jsonnet template to import and configure the kube-operator templates. Our template also includes customizations necessary for kubeadm clusters, as described here.

Our example.jsonnet file looks as follows:

// Modified version of:

local kp = (import 'kube-prometheus/kube-prometheus.libsonnet') +
           (import 'kube-prometheus/kube-prometheus-kubeadm.libsonnet') +
           (import 'kube-prometheus/kube-prometheus-node-ports.libsonnet') {
  _config+:: {
    namespace: 'monitoring',

{ ['00namespace-' + name + '.json']: kp.kubePrometheus[name] for name in std.objectFields(kp.kubePrometheus) } +
{ ['0prometheus-operator-' + name + '.json']: kp.prometheusOperator[name] for name in std.objectFields(kp.prometheusOperator) } +
{ ['node-exporter-' + name + '.json']: kp.nodeExporter[name] for name in std.objectFields(kp.nodeExporter) } +
{ ['kube-state-metrics-' + name + '.json']: kp.kubeStateMetrics[name] for name in std.objectFields(kp.kubeStateMetrics) } +
{ ['alertmanager-' + name + '.json']: kp.alertmanager[name] for name in std.objectFields(kp.alertmanager) } +
{ ['prometheus-' + name + '.json']: kp.prometheus[name] for name in std.objectFields(kp.prometheus) } +
{ ['grafana-' + name + '.json']: kp.grafana[name] for name in std.objectFields(kp.grafana) }

We use Ansible to upload this file into the /root/my-kube-prometheus directory:

- name: Upload the jsonnet definition
    src: ../files/example.jsonnet
    dest: /root/my-kube-prometheus/example.jsonnet

Create the manifests

Now we can generate the manifest file from the jsonnet template:

- name: Create output directory for the manifests
    path: /root/my-kube-prometheus/manifests
    state: directory

- name: Generate the manifests
  shell: '/root/go/bin/jsonnet -J vendor -m manifests example.jsonnet'
    chdir: /root/my-kube-prometheus
    creates: /root/my-kube-prometheus/jsonnetfile.json

This should create a directory /root/my-kube-prometheus/manifests containing a bunch of JSON manifest files.

Apply the manifests

As the last step, we kubectl apply each of the manifest files in alphabetical order.

- name: Create list of kube-prometheus json files
    path: /root/my-kube-prometheus/manifests
    patterns: "*.json"
  register: find_kube_prometheus_json
  changed_when: False

- name: Apply kube-prometheus json files
  shell: "kubectl apply -f {{ item }}"
  register: kubectl_apply_prometheus
  changed_when: "kubectl_apply_prometheus.stdout.find('created') != -1"
  with_items: "{{ find_kube_prometheus_json.files | map(attribute='path') | sort }}"

Test if it worked

kube-prometheus exposes the following node ports:

  • Prometheus UI on node port 30900
  • Alertmanager UI on node port 30903
  • Grafana on node port 30902

You can use ssh port forwarding to test this:

ssh -L 30900:localhost:30900 -L 30902:localhost:30902 -L 30903:localhost:30903

On http://localhost:30900 you should now see Prometheus up and running. Click on status -> targets and make sure that the kube-controller-manager, the kube-scheduler, and all kubelets are up and running.

Where to go from here?

The Prometheus Operator documentation is hosted on the CoreOS site:

Author: Fabian Stäber
Categories: kubernetes
Monitoring-Workshop 2018 4./5. September Braunschweig