How to install Rancher 2 on Ubuntu Server 18.04

The Rancher 2 cluster manager is available as a Docker container. Jack Wallen shows you how easy it is to deploy and use on Ubuntu Server 18.04.

Image: Jack Wallen

Rancher is an open source software tool for deploying Kubernetes as a service. With Rancher, you can run Kubernetes anywhere, manage clusters, centralize policy and workload management, and enjoy a platform with zero vendor lock-in. Best of all, Rancher can be installed on off-the-rack hardware, running the Linux operating system.

I'm will walk you through the process of installing Rancher 2 on the Ubuntu Server 18.04 platform.

SEE: Quick glossary: Cloud platform services (Tech Pro Research)

What you need

I'll demonstrate with two nodes (adjust hostnames and IP addresses as needed):

  • RANCHER at IP Address
    RANCHER2 at IP Address

Both of these machines will be running a fully updated Ubuntu Server 18.04.

Install dependencies

The first thing that must be done is to install the Docker dependency on both nodes. We want to install the latest version of Docker (not the version found in the standard repository). To do this, open a terminal window and issue the commands:

sudo apt-get -y install apt-transport-https ca-certificates curl software-properties-common
curl -fsSL | sudo apt-key add -
sudo add-apt-repository "deb [arch=amd64] $(lsb_release -cs) stable"
sudo apt-get -y install docker-ce

Add user to Docker group

To avoid running Docker withsudo (which could lead to security issues), you need to add a user to the Docker group. From the terminal, issue the command:

sudo usermod -a -G docker $USER

In order for the change to take effect, you must log out and log back into your Linux server.

Deploy the Rancher container

This will be done on the primary node (RANCHER at From the terminal, launch the container with the command:

sudo docker run -d --restart=unless-stopped -p 80:80 -p 443:443 rancher/rancher

Open a browser and point it to https://SERVER_IP (where SERVER_IP is the IP Address of your hosting server). You will be greeted by the Rancher login window (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

The Rancher 2 login window.

Here, you will be required to create a new (strong) password for the Rancher 2 user admin.

In the next window (Figure B), you must set the URL (or IP Address) of your Rancher 2 server.

Figure B

Figure B

Setting the URL (or IP Address) of the Rancher 2 server.

Creating your first cluster

Typically, you need a minimum of three machines to create a cluster. I will demonstrate using only two (the primary node and a secondary node). After setting the URL, you'll be presented with a button clearly marked Add Cluster. Click that and then navigate to Clusters | Add Cluster. In the section marked From My Existing Nodes, click Custom (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C

Creating your new cluster.

Give the cluster a name and click Next. In the resulting screen (Figure D), make sure to check etcd, Control Plan, and Worker.

Figure D

Figure D

Setting the correct options for your cluster.

Copy the command from the command window and paste it into your secondary node. If you set up a third node, copy the command there as well. This command will take some time to complete, but when it does, you'll have a new node join your cluster. You should see the new node listed as registered in the Rancher window (Figure E).

Figure E

Figure E

Our node has been registered.

Click the Done button in the Rancher window, and your cluster is ready to rock, Rancher 2 style.

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