Differences to Plain Kubernetes

Even though OpenShift 4 strives to be as compatible with upstream Kubernetes as possible, there are some differences that need to be considered when deploying workloads to APPUiO Cloud.

This page lists the main differences, and how to work around them.

Random User IDs

Processes in containers started by OpenShift will run with a random user ID for security reasons.

Contrary to your local Docker installation or vanilla Kubernetes clusters, processes in containers started by OpenShift WON’T run with uid=0 and gid=0. Instead, a random, very high (> 1000000000) UID will be used.

This has some implications, for example:

  • Images that try to bind to ports < 1024 won’t work

  • Images that try to setuid during their startup process won’t work

Most modern software allows you to configure the ports it binds on, and not take assumptions about user or group IDs. For example Nginx, in its default configuration, will try to bind to port 80, and then drop to an unprivileged user using setuid/setgid. In order to run Nginx in OpenShift, its configuration must be amended to bind to ports > 1024, and any user or group directives removed.

If you are using persistent volumes, you don’t have to worry about `chown`ing the contents, OpenShift will do this for you automatically when a volume is mounted.

Read-only Container File Systems

Most paths in containers are read-only.

As a nice side-effect of the previous point (random user IDs), most paths inside the container image are read-only. In most cases this isn’t an issue, as processes running inside containers shouldn’t just write to random paths. Some tools however need to write some temporary files to work, and this could cause problems on OpenShift.

Note that we’re not talking about PersistentVolumes here. Kubernetes will always make sure that your container processes can write to them.

To work around this issue, you can use an emptyDir volume. emptyDir will mount an empty directory (what a surprise, given the name) to the path you specified, just as a volume.


Basic usage of emptyDir volumes
apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
  name: myapp
        - name: myapp
          image: registry.example.com/corp/myapp:v1.5.3
            - name: cache
              mountPath: /var/cache/myapp  (1)
        - name: cache
            sizeLimit: 512Mi  (2)
1 Mount at whatever path your app needs to write to
2 sizeLimit is optional

Network Namespace Isolation

On most Kubernetes clusters, including OpenShift, all pods can communicate with each other through the clusters internal network. APPUiO Cloud by default, only allows this for pods within the same namespace. Network Policies must be used to allow incomming trafic from other namespaces. Incomming trafic from ingress is always allowed.

Upon Namespace/Project creation, APPUiO Cloud will provision some default NetworkPolicies that ensure that

  • containers within the same namespace can communicate with each other

  • containers can be accessed from infrastructure components (monitoring, IngressController, etc.)

See Remove Default NetworkPolicies on how to change this.

For most use cases this is enough, components that need to communicate directly tend to be deployed in the same namespace. In some cases however, we want components in different namespaces to be able to talk to each other.


Let’s assume our Application myapp consist of two parts, frontend and api. Each part

  • is deployed in its own namespace (corp-myapp-frontend-prod and corp-myapp-api-prod respectively)

  • consists of three pods

  • has a service pointing to it (named frontend and api)

  • is exposed via a Route/Ingress (using myapp.example.com and api.example.com as the URI)

network policies.drawio
Figure 1. Our example application

Let’s also assume our frontend needs to talk to the API directly. To achieve this, we’ve 2 options:

Use a Route/Ingress

Since our API is already exposed to the world via an ingress, we can just configure our frontend to use https://api.example.com as the API URL. This should work out of the box, no further configuration is needed.

Create a Custom NetworkPolicy

If our API isn’t exposed to the internet directly, or we don’t want our traffic to leave the cluster, we can create a NetworkPolicy that allows the frontend pods to talk to our API pods directly:

apiVersion: networking.k8s.io/v1
kind: NetworkPolicy
  name: allow-from-frontend  (1)
  namespace: corp-myapp-api-prod  (2)
    - Ingress
      app: api  (3)
    - from:
        - namespaceSelector:
              kubernetes.io/metadata.name: corp-myapp-frontend-prod  (4)
              app: frontend  (5)
        - protocol: TCP
          port: 3000  (6)
1 Give your policy a telling name, so you can identify what it’s supposed to do later
2 The NetworkPolicy must be created in the DESTINATION namespace
3 Select which DESTINATION pods are affected by this NetworkPolicy
4 Select which SOURCE namespaces you want to allow traffic from. Labels must be used to select namespaces; the kubernetes.io/metadata.name label is added automatically to all namespaces
5 Select which specific SOURCE pods in the selected namespaces are allowed
6 Configure which ports traffic is allowed from

Please carefully read the upstream documentation, especially the part about Behavior of to and from selector to avoid accidentally allowing traffic from all namespaces.

Once the NetworkPolicy has been applied to the cluster, you can reconfigure your frontend to use http://api.corp-myapp-api-prod.svc:3000 as the API URL. Kubernetes will automatically route the traffic to the correct pods, and our new NetworkPolicy will ensure that the traffic is permitted.