An OpenShift Operators Guide

This is a brief overview aimed at system administrators in getting accustomed to what OpenShift actually looks like installed on a host, and a common places to look when things go wrong.

What should be running (systemctl)

At a high level, a host in an OpenShift cluster could include the following components:

  • Docker (docker.service)

  • OpenVSwitch (openvswitch.service)

  • Etcd (etcd.service)

  • OpenShift Node (atomic-openshift-node.service)

  • OpenShift Master (atomic-openshift-master OR atomic-openshift-master-api and atomic-openshift-master-controllers depending on HA Configuration)

Depending on the roles of each host and configuration of the cluster, finding these components running might vary, so we’ll break down the potential variants


All hosts in OpenShift are OpenShift Nodes, including Masters. This is a design of Kubernetes since all hosts have some basic pieces in common, to make them part of the Node component and require them everywhere. Therefore, every host in an OpenShift Cluster (masters and nodes) should have the following components running on them.


Docker is a required dependency of all openshift* packages and therefore should be active and enabled on all hosts.

# systemctl status docker
● docker.service - Docker Application Container Engine
   Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/docker.service; enabled; vendor preset: disabled)
  Drop-In: /usr/lib/systemd/system/docker.service.d
   Active: active (running) since Thu 2016-04-07 12:53:20 EDT; 1 months 9 days ago
 Main PID: 5130 (docker)
   Memory: 11.1M
   CGroup: /system.slice/docker.service
           ├─1381 docker-proxy -proto tcp -host-ip -host-port 5000 -container-ip -container-port 443
           ├─1394 docker-proxy -proto tcp -host-ip -host-port 1937 -container-ip -container-port 1937
           └─5130 /usr/bin/docker daemon --insecure-registry= --selinux-enabled --storage-driver devicemapper --storage-opt dm.fs=xfs --storage-opt dm.thinpooldev=/dev/mapper/vg--docker-docker--p...

OpenVSwitch (OVS)

OpenVSwitch is required on every host in order to support the OpenShift SDN communication. However, it should be noted that the OpenShift SDN is packaged as part of the OpenShift Node component (below) not with OVS. OpenVSwitch merely provides the supporting components of the SDN. The openvswitch service should be active and disabled

Note that the openvswitch service is disabled in systemd. This is because it is a dependency of the OpenShift Node service, and should not be started/stopped independently of that service.
For an overview of the OpenShift SDN, see the OpenShift SDN Architectural Overview. For help troubleshooting SDN issues, see Troubleshooting the OpenShift SDN
# systemctl status openvswitch
● openvswitch.service - Open vSwitch
   Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/openvswitch.service; disabled; vendor preset: disabled)
   Active: active (exited) since Thu 2016-04-07 12:52:24 EDT; 1 months 9 days ago
 Main PID: 1126 (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
   Memory: 0B
   CGroup: /system.slice/openvswitch.service

OpenShift Node

All hosts in the cluster should have the atomic-openshift-node service active and enabled.

# systemctl status atomic-openshift-node
● atomic-openshift-node.service - Atomic OpenShift Node
   Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/atomic-openshift-node.service; enabled; vendor preset: disabled)
  Drop-In: /usr/lib/systemd/system/atomic-openshift-node.service.d
   Active: active (running) since Thu 2016-04-07 12:53:20 EDT; 1 months 9 days ago
 Main PID: 4903 (openshift)
   Memory: 111.6M
   CGroup: /system.slice/atomic-openshift-node.service
           ├─  4903 /usr/bin/openshift start node --config=/etc/origin/node/node-config.yaml --loglevel=2
           ├─ 88436 journalctl -k -f
           └─117241 journalctl -k -f


In addition to the sofware that runs on all nodes, OpenShift masters include some specialized components that are involved in managing the cluster’s state. They are:

  • Etcd Datastore (Responsible for holding state data for the cluster)

  • Master API (Resonsible for handling requests from clients, including Nodes, Users, Administrators, and other Infrastructure systems deployed to OpenShift)

  • Master Controllers (Includes the Scheduler and Replication Controller)

  • OpenShift Client tools (oc and oadm).

Depending on the configuration of your cluster, these components may be deployed in different ways. Here we break those down.

The oc client tools are installed as a single binary on all masters. They can additionally be downloaded to administrators' and developers' local machines to be used remotely. Instructions for installing client tools can be found in Getting Started with the CLI.

Single Master

In a cluster with a single master, all master components are bundled together in a single package/service. The atomic-openshift-master service should be active and enabled on all hosts.

# systemctl atomic-openshift-master
Unknown operation 'atomic-openshift-master'.
[root@master ~]# systemctl status atomic-openshift-master
● atomic-openshift-master.service - Atomic OpenShift Master
   Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/atomic-openshift-master.service; enabled; vendor preset: disabled)
   Active: active (running) since Fri 2016-04-08 16:26:04 EDT; 1 months 8 days ago
 Main PID: 33812 (openshift)
   Memory: 497.7M
   CGroup: /system.slice/atomic-openshift-master.service
           └─33812 /usr/bin/openshift start master --config=/etc/origin/master/master-config.yaml --loglevel=2

Multi-Master (Native-HA)

In a multi-master cluster setup using Native-HA, the master components are separated due to the various requirements of the different components to cluster (or not) when there are multiple instances of them.


When in an HA Cluster, Etcd requires at least 3 active cluster memebers. In order to facilitate this, the etcd component is split out into its own service. In this case, the etcd service should be active and enabled.

# systemctl status etcd
● etcd.service - Etcd Server
   Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/etcd.service; enabled; vendor preset: disabled)
   Active: active (running) since Mon 2016-05-16 17:21:20 EDT; 24h ago
 Main PID: 13188 (etcd)
   CGroup: /system.slice/etcd.service
           └─13188 /usr/bin/etcd

Master API

The Master API is a stateless component, and therefore should be active and enabled on all masters.

# systemctl status atomic-openshift-master-api
● atomic-openshift-master-api.service - Atomic OpenShift Master API
   Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/atomic-openshift-master-api.service; enabled; vendor preset: disabled)
   Active: active (running) since Tue 2016-05-17 10:53:13 EDT; 6h ago
 Main PID: 107132 (openshift)
   CGroup: /system.slice/atomic-openshift-master-api.service
           └─107132 /usr/bin/openshift start master api --config=/etc/origin/master/master-config.yaml --loglevel=2 -...

Master Controllers

The Master Controllers component consists of the OpenShift Scheduler and Replication Controller. These components are responsible for the placement and maintenance of pods in the cluster. Because of the stateful nature of these responsibilities, the Controllers component operates in an Active/Passive mode. This avoids cases where, for example, all 3 replication controllers might attempt to recreate a failed pod, resulting in 3 instead of 1 pods being added to the system, etc. As a result, the atomic-openshift-master-controllers service may show as inactive or even failed at certain times in the cluster lifecycle. This is generally ok, as long as there is always one active controller. All controllers should be enabled at all times.

Viewing Logs

OpenShift writes logs to the system by way of journald. Ultimately logs are streamed through the journal and eventually written to the filesystem. By default journald writes most of OpenShift’s logs to /var/log/messages. This can be quite difficult to parse through, so it is recommended to use the journalctl command to view logs for individual components.

For example,

# journalctl -u docker

will spit out logs for the docker systemd unit that are currently in journald’s stream. Additionally,

# journalctl -fu docker

will follow the docker logs.

This can be applied the same to all components of OpenShift and is a convenient way to look at logs for System Administrators.

Storage Management

The following tables show the main directories to which OpenShift components may write data.

Directory Notes Sizing Expected Growth


Used for etcd storage only when in single master mode and etcd is embedded in the atomic-openshift-master process

less than 10GB

Will grow slowly with environment. Only storing metadata


Used for etcd storage when in Multi-Master mode or when etcd has been made standalone by an administrator

less than 20 GB

Will grow slowly with environment. Only storing metadata


Storage used for active container runtimes (including Pods) and storage of local images (not used for registry storage). Mount point should be managed by docker-storage rather than manually.

50 GB for a Node with 16 GB memory.

Additional 20-25 GB for every additional 8 GB Memory

Growth limited by capacity for running containers


Ephemeral volume storage for pods. This includes anything external that is mounted into a container at runtime. Includes environment variables, kube secrets, and data volumes not backed by persistent storage PVs.


Minimal if pods requiring storage are using Persistent Volumes; If using ephemeral storage, this can grow quite quickly.


Log files for all components

10 - 30 GB

Log files can grow quickly; size can be managed by growing disks or managed using logrotate