Deploying a SLATE Cluster on Chameleon with MetalLB

The Chameleon testbed is an OpenStack-based testbed for running a wide variety of experiments.

This blog post will demonstrate how to run a SLATE cluster on the Chameleon testbed, with MetalLB functionality enabled. Normally, MetalLB is not able to run on Chameleon, due to Chameleon’s inability to directly assign a public IP address to an instance. However, by following this guide, MetalLB can still can be deployed, but restricted to the experimental plane. This gives researchers testing on Chameleon the ability to have a much more functional test environment.

This post is intended as an optional follow-up to the “SLATE On Chameleon” blog post. If you have not read this initial post, do so, as it is a prerequisite to this one. It will go through a simpler cluster install on Chameleon, and help familiarize you with the testbed.


MetalLB is a load balancer for Kubernetes that is designed to run on bare metal resources. By default, SLATE installs MetalLB and uses it to provision extra public IP addresses for a cluster. On SLATE clusters, these additional public IP addresses are usually used for running an NGINX ingress controller, as well as giving certain Open Science Grid applications their own dedicated IP.

On SLATE, MetalLB operates in what is called “layer 2 mode”. Essentially, it advertises additional IP addresses on a given node interface by responding to ARP/NDP requests for the additional IP addresses it has been configured to use. Thus, to the rest of the network, the node that MetalLB is running on just looks like it has multiple IP addresses configured on its network interface.

Chameleon Setup

To run a SLATE cluster with MetalLB on Chameleon, you must first have access to a Chameleon account, as well as be on an existing Chameleon project. The first blog post in this series outlines gaining Chameleon access.

Once you have access to the Chameleon testbed, you will need to select a specific site to run your Chameleon experiment on. For this post, we are going to use the “KVM” site, which is slightly different than the sites used in the previous post; however, it can be accessed in the same fashion.

On the Chameleon homepage, navigate to the drop-down menu at the top titled “Experiment”.

Click this menu, and observe the options under “Sites”.

Select the “KVM” site, and you will be brought to the KVM portal page.

Network Setup

By default, Chameleon connects all instances to a default “shared-net”. As mentioned before, MetalLB will be sending ARP packets advertising additional IP addresses that Chameleon has not given us permission to use, and as such, the default Chameleon “shared-net” sees MetalLB as a security risk. To Chameleon, MetalLB looks like it’s performing an ARP-spoofing attack.

To get around this, we need to create a SLATE cluster with MetalLB enabled internally in Chameleon, we must set up a different private network that we control.

Create an additional network

First, we will create the private network our instances will connect to.

  1. Navigate to the left sidebar and select “Network”, then select “Networks” underneath this.
  2. Then, click the “Create Network” button.
  3. Leave all options as they are, but give this new network a name. We like to name ours slate-net.
  4. Click “Next”, and you will be brought to the “Subnet” section.
  5. The only value that needs to be changed here is the “Network Address” parameter (no subnet name is needed). The exact network you choose is not important as long as it has space for all the hosts you will need, and at least one extra IP for the Nginx Ingress Controller. However, for ease in following this guide, we recommend using this subnet:
  6. Following this, click “Next” again. You will be brought to the “Subnet Details” section.
  7. Here, we will be changing the “Allocation Pools” values. This will restrict the number of IPs Chameleon is allowed to allocate, thus leaving some free for MetalLB. In the “Allocation Pools” box, enter, This will leave four IPs reserved for MetalLB. Note that different values can be used here, but we recommend using these for this guide.
  8. Click “Create”.

If you would like to learn more about networks in Chameleon, more information can be found in the Chameleon documentation.

Create a router

Next, a router must be created to serve as a default gateway for our instances to access the rest of the internet.

  1. Navigate to the “Routers” section under the “Network” tab on the left sidebar.
  2. Then, on the right-hand side, click the “Create Router” button.
  3. Next, name this router. We like to use slate-router.
  4. Click the external network drop-down menu, and select “public”.
  5. Leave everything else as-is, and click “Create Router”.

Connect your router to your new network

Here, we will connect the router object we made to our custom network.

  1. Navigate back to the “Routers” section under the “Network” tab on the left sidebar.
  2. Click on the name of the router you created earlier (most likely called slate-router).
  3. Select the “Interfaces” tab, and then click “Add Interface”
  4. Under the “Subnet” drop-down menu, select the network you created earlier (most likely called slate-net).
  5. Leave everything else as-is, and click “Submit”.

Create Security Groups

By default, KVM blocks most external traffic to instances. To communicate with our instance over SSH, and for SLATE to communicate with our instance, we need to create a few additional security rules.

First, we’ll create an SSH rule.

  1. Navigate to the “Security Groups” section under the “Network” tab on the left sidebar.
  2. Click “Create Security Group”.
  3. Name this group ssh, and click “Create Security Group”.
  4. You should be brought to a page for managing rules for the ssh group. Click the “Add Rule” on the right.
  5. Under the “Rule” drop down menu, select “SSH”. Leave everything else the same, and click “Add”.

This will create an ingress rule that allows SSH traffic on port 22.

Next, we’ll create a SLATE API server rule. This rule will allow the SLATE API server to communicate with our cluster using kubectl on port 6443.

  1. Follow the same steps as before for creating a security group, but name this one slate. Click the “Add Rule” button.
  2. After clicking the “Add Rule” button, change the “Port” field to 6443. Leave everything else default.
  3. Click “Add”. This should result in a rule allowing ingress TCP traffic on port 6443.

Launch VM Instances

On KVM, a reservation or lease is not needed to provision instances. We can simply bring them up as needed.

  1. First, navigate to the “Instances” page under the “Compute” menu on the left-hand side.
  2. Then, on the right side of the page, click the “Launch Instance” button.
  3. Under the “Details” tab, give this instance a name (we like slate-vm).
  4. Under the “Source” tab, select “Image” under the “Select Boot Source” drop-down menu. Then, select the CC-CentOS7 image.
  5. Under the “Flavor” tab, select the m1.medium VM flavor.
  6. Under the “Network” tab, make sure that the only network that is selected is our new network (slate-net).
  7. Under the “Security Groups” tab, select the slate and ssh security groups that were created earlier. Make sure the default security group is also enabled.
  8. Under the “Key Pair” tab, make sure you have configured the correct SSH keys. This is explained in more detail in this documentation.
  9. Click the “Launch Instance” button, and wait for the instance to spin up. This should not take long.

Associate Public IP and Log In

To access our instance, we need to NAT a floating public IP to our instance.

  1. First, go to the “Network” tab on the left and select “Floating IPs”.
  2. Click the “Allocate IP to Project” button located on the right side.
  3. Leave the default settings and click “Allocate IP”.
  4. Once an IP address has been allocated, click the “Associate” button to the right of the IP address.
  5. From the “Port to be Associated” menu, select the instance you created earlier (likely slate-vm).
  6. Click “Associate”

For more information regarding associating floating IP addresses, visit the Chameleon Getting Started Guide.

To login to any Chameleon node, log in as user cc, with ssh cc@<PUBLIC_INSTANCE_IP>. This user should have password-less sudo access.

Disable Firewall

Before you go any further, make sure any firewalls are disabled, as they will impact cluster creation. On Chameleon, ufw is often running, even on CentOS. Disable it with sudo ufw disable.

Disable OpenStack ARP-Spoofing Protection

This next step requires access to your Chameleon resources through the OpenStack CLI.

The Chameleon docs provide information on setting this up. We at SLATE recommend using application credentials (download the openrc file) for authenticating command line clients. An unrestricted application credential is not necessary.

Once you have an application credential, run source /path/to/<openstack_rc_fille>. After this, your command line client will be authenticated.

Use the following command to view a list of the IDs of your OpenStack/Chameleon ports.

openstack port list

You will see some output that looks similar to this:

| ID                                   | Name | MAC Address       | Fixed IP Addresses                                                             | Status |
| 17752ced-1919-48c8-b133-91c8dbb9cf8e |      | fa:16:3e:aa:aa:aa | ip_address='', subnet_id='a9a7cb27-14e0-4b11-85cc-c4fd30846124' | N/A    |
| 1c48f086-2d38-447c-9a98-814c80ac6db0 |      | fa:16:3e:aa:aa:aa | ip_address='', subnet_id='f488d515-176a-4922-b52d-48486ca9fd1d'     | ACTIVE |

Copy the ID field from the port that has the internal IP address of your SLATE instance. In this case, we would want the second ID in the list, because its IP address is the internal address of the instance in question.

Then, disable ARP-spoofing protection for each one of your MetalLB IP addresses with this command:

openstack port set <port-id> --allowed-address ip-address=<additional-ip-address>

In our case, we need to run this command four times, once for each IP address we have set aside for MetalLB:

openstack port set <port-id> --allowed-address ip-address=
openstack port set <port-id> --allowed-address ip-address=
openstack port set <port-id> --allowed-address ip-address=
openstack port set <port-id> --allowed-address ip-address=

If you have set aside different addresses for MetalLB, change these previous commands accordingly.

Cluster Setup

To create a Kubernetes cluster and register it with SLATE, follow documentation on the SLATE website, with a few changes. Specifically, follow the instructions for setting up a cluster behind a NAT, but leave MetalLB enabled.

This will mean the following changes to cluster configuration:

  1. Add the supplementary_addresses_in_ssl_keys variable.
  2. Give MetalLB this configuration:
    metallb_enabled: true
      - ""
    metallb_version: v0.9.3

Note that if you have used a different private subnet, or reserved different IP addresses for MetalLB, you will need to change this configuration accordingly.

  1. Configure strict ARP by changing these lines in inventory//group_vars/k8s-cluster/k8s-cluster.yml from
    kube_proxy_strict_arp: false


    kube_proxy_strict_arp: true # Required for MetalLB

Instructions for both of these things can be found in the additional configurations section of the docs.

To run the Ansible playbook (run in kubespray directory):

ansible-playbook -i inventory/<CLUSTER_NAME>/hosts.yaml --become --become-user=root -u <SSH_USER> cluster.yml

This playbook will take a while to run (around 15 minutes, depending). Once it has finished, login to the node and run sudo kubectl get nodes. If all nodes say that they are Ready, then Kubernetes cluster creation was successful!

SLATE Registration

Currently, SLATE operates two separate federations, a development federation and a production federation. When you register your cluster, you will need to decide which federation to register with. By default, you will be given a token for the SLATE production endpoint. If you would like to register your cluster with the production federation, then you simply use the default SLATE token given to you, and as the slate_cli_endpoint parameter in the following command.

However, if you would like to register your cluster with the development federation, reach out to the SLATE team about obtaining a development token. Once you have done this, the development API endpoint is

To register the previously created Kubernetes cluster with SLATE, navigate to the slate-ansible directory, and run the following command:

ansible-playbook -i /path/to/kubespray/inventory/<CLUSTER_NAME>/hosts.yaml -u <SSH_USER> --become --become-user=root \
 -e 'slate_cli_token=<SLATE_CLI_TOKEN>' \
 -e 'slate_cli_endpoint=<SLATE_API_ENDPOINT>' \
 -e 'cluster_access_ip=<EXTERNAL_NAT_IP>:6443' \

After this command runs, you should have a SLATE cluster! Run slate cluster list, and if everything was successful, you should see your cluster listed in the output.


Note: this guide to testing assumes familiarity with the SLATE platform.

  1. On any machine with access to the SLATE CLI, install an instance of nginx on the cluster you just created. Make sure ingress is enabled in the values.yaml, and make a note of your chosen subdomain.

  2. Run this command on the SLATE cluster you just created:

    sudo kubectl get services -n slate-system

An ingress-nginx LoadBalancer will show up. Make a note of the EXTERNAL-IP value. It should be one of the IP addresses you allocated to MetalLB.

  1. Bring up another CC-CentOS7 instance connected to our custom slate-net with the ssh security group added. Login to this instance, and disable ufw. Then, run this command:
    curl -H "Host: <subdomain_name>.<your_cluster_name>" <load_balancer_external_ip>
  1. If everything was successful, you should see the following output:
<h1>Hello world!</h1>


MetalLB is only provisioning internal IP addresses, so access will be limited to inside the experimental plane. This means DNS services or other similar dependencies cannot be used unless they are set-up inside the experimental plane.

Contact Us

If you have any additional comments or questions, please contact our team!

The SLATE Team