Deploying a SLATE Cluster on Chameleon

Chameleon is an OpenStack-based research platform for provisioning compute and networking resources.

SLATE on Chameleon Motivation

Running SLATE clusters on Chameleon enables researchers to quickly test and tweak many different parameters. For example, testing a network of SLATE clusters, with simulated experimental latency or real latency (provided by profiles that launch machines across multiple sites), is made possible by Chameleon. These experiments can be carried out at many scales, from across a campus, to across a region, to across the nation. In addition, differing topologies, at both layer 2 and 3, can be tested. SLATE’s monitoring applications, including perfSONAR, can also be leveraged to understand different testbed profiles and their performance capabilities.

Additionally, being able to rapidly deploy SLATE clusters on Chameleon gives SLATE developers and users many useful capabilities. For example, new applications or new application configurations can be launched on temporary Chameleon clusters, but registered with the SLATE production API, providing a highly realistic yet safe environment for testing changes. Kubespray, the SLATE team’s preferred cluster bring-up tool, can also be quickly tested, or easily tested at scale with many machines on Chameleon.

Chameleon Setup

To run a SLATE cluster on Chameleon, you must first have access to a Chameleon account, as well as be on an existing Chameleon project. The Chameleon Getting Started Guide contains lots of useful information about this.

Once you have access to the Chameleon testbed, you will need to select a specific site to run your Chameleon experiment on. The homepage for Chameleon has a drop-down menu at the top titled “Experiment”. Click this menu, and observe the options under “Sites”. There are currently three sites that your experiment can be instantiated at. For installing a cluster on bare metal, which we will be doing in this post, select either “CHI@TACC” or “CHI@UC”. Selecting either of these will bring you to the Chameleon portal specific to that site. Both sites’ portals will be identical other than the resources they access.

Once you are in the Chameleon portal, create a reservation for one instance and one floating public IP address. Then, instantiate one CentOS 7 instance. There are multiple CentOS 7 instances available through Chameleon; choose the one titled CC-CentOS7. Next, associate the previously allocated floating public IP to this instance.

Detailed instructions regarding creating instances and associating IP addresses can be found in the Getting Started Guide. If you are not familiar with Chameleon, it is recommended that you read this document and follow the instructions there.

Additional Considerations

  • You must create a reservation (which won’t physically provision anything) before you can instantiate actual instances under that reservation.
  • If there are no resources available at your selected site, try the other one. If there are still no resources available, you may have to wait until a later time.
  • If you would like to setup a multiple-node cluster, provision additional machines at this time.

The instance(s) will take about 10 minutes to spin up. Once they are done, we are ready to set up a Kubernetes cluster.

Logging In

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. 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.

Cluster Setup

To create a Kubernetes cluster and register it with SLATE, follow documentation here, with a few changes. Specifically, follow the instructions for setting up a cluster behind a NAT.

This will mean the following changes to cluster configuration:

  • MetalLB will be disabled.
  • The supplementary_addresses_in_ssl_keys variable will need to be added.

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 10 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' \
 -e 'slate_enable_ingress=false' \

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.


Currently, SLATE on Chameleon does not support a floating-IP address provisioner (MetalLB on most SLATE clusters). Thus, most OSG applications cannot be run. Additionally, the functionality of the ingress controller present on most SLATE clusters will be limited.

Additional Components

Ingress Controller - NodePort

Due to some current limitations of Chameleon, a fully-operational ingress controller cannot be installed. However, there is a workaround, but it requires all ingress traffic to be routed though a NodePort service on the main node IP. This means all ingress requests must have the ingress controller NodePort appended to their URL.

To install the ingress controller, login to a cluster node with kubectl access, and download the following Kubernetes manifest:

curl -o deploy.yaml

Next, open this file with your preferred editor, and navigate to the line that contains this argument: --ingress-class=nginx Change this ingress-class parameter from nginx to slate.

Finally, deploy the ingress controller with kubectl:

sudo kubectl apply -f /path/to/deploy.yaml

At this point, you will have an operational ingress controller. All that remains is to see which ports the ingress controller is running on. This can be done with sudo kubectl get services -n ingress-nginx. You will see an ingress-nginx-controller NodePort service, with ports 80 and 443 mapped to two different high ports. One of these ports (80 is http, 443 is https) must be appended to any and all requests using the ingress controller.

MetalLB on Internal Network

Depending on your use case, running an ingress controller through a NodePort service may not be ideal. More functionality can be achieved, with some caveats, by running MetalLB behind Chameleon’s NAT.

In this case, instead of using MetalLB to provision additional public IPs, we can use MetalLB to provision additional private IP addresses. Thus, the Nginx ingress controller and any other services/applications that use additional IPs will operate as normal, but only inside the Chameleon experimental plane. This approach requires provisioning Chameleon resources differently, and so will be discussed in a separate blog post linked here.

Contact Us

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

The SLATE Team