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Advanced Options and Configuration

This section contains advanced information describing the different ways you can run and manage RKE2.

Certificate Rotation

By default, certificates in RKE2 expire in 12 months.

If the certificates are expired or have fewer than 90 days remaining before they expire, the certificates are rotated when RKE2 is restarted.

Auto-Deploying Manifests

Any file found in /var/lib/rancher/rke2/server/manifests will automatically be deployed to Kubernetes in a manner similar to kubectl apply.

For information about deploying Helm charts using the manifests directory, refer to the section about Helm.

Configuring containerd

RKE2 will generate the config.toml for containerd in /var/lib/rancher/rke2/agent/etc/containerd/config.toml.

For advanced customization of this file you can create another file called config.toml.tmpl in the same directory and it will be used instead.

The config.toml.tmpl will be treated as a Go template file, and the config.Node structure is being passed to the template. See this template for an example of how to use the structure to customize the configuration file.

Secrets Encryption Config

RKE2 supports encrypting Secrets at rest, and will do the following automatically:

  • Generate an AES-CBC key
  • Generate an encryption config file with the generated key:
  "kind": "EncryptionConfiguration",
  "apiVersion": "",
  "resources": [
      "resources": [
      "providers": [
          "aescbc": {
            "keys": [
                "name": "aescbckey",
                "secret": "xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx"
          "identity": {}
  • Pass the config to the Kubernetes APIServer as encryption-provider-config

Once enabled any created secret will be encrypted with this key. Note that if you disable encryption then any encrypted secrets will not be readable until you enable encryption again using the same key.

Node Labels and Taints

RKE2 agents can be configured with the options node-label and node-taint which adds a label and taint to the kubelet. The two options only add labels and/or taints at registration time, and can only be added once and not removed after that through rke2 commands.

If you want to change node labels and taints after node registration you should use kubectl. Refer to the official Kubernetes documentation for details on how to add taints and node labels.

Starting the Server with the Installation Script

The installation script provides units for systemd, but does not enable or start the service by default.

When running with systemd, logs will be created in /var/log/syslog and viewed using journalctl -u rke2-server or journalctl -u rke2-agent.

An example of installing with the install script:

curl -sfL | sh -
systemctl enable rke2-server
systemctl start rke2-server

Disabling Server Charts

The server charts bundled with rke2 deployed during cluster bootstrapping can be disabled and replaced with alternatives. A common use case is replacing the bundled rke2-ingress-nginx chart with an alternative.

To disable any of the bundled system charts, set the disable parameter in the config file before bootstrapping. The full list of system charts to disable is below:

  • rke2-canal
  • rke2-coredns
  • rke2-ingress-nginx
  • rke2-kube-proxy
  • rke2-metrics-server

Note that it is the cluster operator's responsibility to ensure that components are disabled or replaced with care, as the server charts play important roles in cluster operability. Refer to the architecture overview for more information on the individual system charts role within the cluster.