Imagine a scenario in which you have shown up to a datacenter with only a laptop and your task is to transition a rack of bare metal machines into an HA management plane and multiple Kubernetes clusters created by that management plane. In this guide, we will go through how to create a bootstrap cluster using a Docker-based Talos cluster, provision the management plane, and pivot over to it. Guides around post-pivoting setup and subsequent cluster creation should also be found in the "Guides" section of the sidebar.

Because of the design of Cluster API, there is inherently a "chicken and egg" problem with needing a Kubernetes cluster in order to provision the management plane. Talos Systems and the Cluster API community have created tools to help make this transition easier.


First, you need to install the latest talosctl by running the following script:

curl -Lo /usr/local/bin/talosctl$(uname -s | tr "[:upper:]" "[:lower:]")-amd64
chmod +x /usr/local/bin/talosctl

You can read more about Talos and talosctl at

Next, there are two big prerequisites involved with bootstrapping Sidero: routing and DHCP setup.

From the routing side, the laptop from which you are bootstrapping must be accessible by the bare metal machines that we will be booting. In the datacenter scenario described above, the easiest way to achieve this is probably to hook the laptop onto the server rack's subnet by plugging it into the top-of-rack switch. This is needed for TFTP, PXE booting, and for the ability to register machines with the bootstrap plane.

DHCP configuration is needed to tell the metal servers what their "next server" is when PXE booting. The configuration of this is different for each environment and each DHCP server, thus it's impossible to give an easy guide. However, here is an example of the configuration for an Ubiquti EdgeRouter that uses vyatta-dhcpd as the DHCP service:

This block shows the subnet setup, as well as the extra "subnet-parameters" that tell the DHCP server to include the ipxe-metal.conf file.

$ show service dhcp-server shared-network-name MetalDHCP

 authoritative enable
 subnet {
     lease 86400
     start {
     subnet-parameters "include "/etc/dhcp/ipxe-metal.conf";"

Here is the ipxe-metal.conf file.

$ cat /etc/dhcp/ipxe-metal.conf

allow bootp;
allow booting;

if exists user-class and option user-class = "iPXE" {
  filename "";
} elsif substring (option vendor-class-identifier, 0, 10) = "HTTPClient" {
  option vendor-class-identifier "HTTPClient";
  filename "";
} else {
  filename "ipxe.efi";

host talos-mgmt-0 {
    hardware ethernet d0:50:99:d3:33:60;

Notice that it sets a static address for the management node that I'll be booting, in addition to providing the "next server" info. This "next server" IP address will match references to PUBLIC_IP found below in this guide.

Create a Local Cluster

The talosctl CLI tool has built-in support for spinning up Talos in docker containers. Let's use this to our advantage as an easy Kubernetes cluster to start from.

Set an environment variable called PUBLIC_IP which is the "public" IP of your machine. Note that "public" is a bit of a misnomer. We're really looking for the IP of your machine, not the IP of the node on the docker bridge (ex:

export PUBLIC_IP=""

We can now create our Docker cluster. Issue the following to create a single-node cluster:

talosctl cluster create \
  -p 69:69/udp,8081:8081/tcp,9091:9091/tcp,50100:50100/tcp \
  --workers 0 \
  --endpoint $PUBLIC_IP

Note that there are several ports mentioned in the command above. These allow us to access the services that will get deployed on this node.

Once the cluster create command is complete, issue talosctl kubeconfig /desired/path to fetch the kubeconfig for this cluster. You should then set your KUBECONFIG environment variable to the path of this file.

Untaint Control Plane

Because this is a single node cluster, we need to remove the "NoSchedule" taint on the node to make sure non-controlplane components can be scheduled.

kubectl taint node talos-default-master-1

Install Sidero

As of Cluster API version 0.3.9, Sidero is included as a default infrastructure provider in clusterctl.

To install Sidero and the other Talos providers, simply issue:

clusterctl init -b talos -c talos -i sidero

Patch Components

We will now want to ensure that the Sidero services that got created are publicly accessible across our subnet. This will allow the metal machines to speak to these services later.

Patch the Metadata Server

Update the metadata server component with the following patches:

## Update args to use 9091 for port
kubectl patch deploy -n sidero-system sidero-metadata-server --type='json' -p='[{"op": "add", "path": "/spec/template/spec/containers/0/args", "value": ["--port=9091"]}]'

## Tweak container port to match
kubectl patch deploy -n sidero-system sidero-metadata-server --type='json' -p='[{"op": "replace", "path": "/spec/template/spec/containers/0/ports", "value": [{"containerPort": 9091,"name": "http"}]}]'

## Use host networking
kubectl patch deploy -n sidero-system sidero-metadata-server --type='json' -p='[{"op": "add", "path": "/spec/template/spec/hostNetwork", "value": true}]'

Patch the Metal Controller Manager

## Update args to specify the api endpoint to use for registration
kubectl patch deploy -n sidero-system sidero-controller-manager --type='json' -p='[{"op": "add", "path": "/spec/template/spec/containers/1/args", "value": ["--api-endpoint='$PUBLIC_IP'","--metrics-addr=","--enable-leader-election"]}]'

## Use host networking
kubectl patch deploy -n sidero-system sidero-controller-manager --type='json' -p='[{"op": "add", "path": "/spec/template/spec/hostNetwork", "value": true}]'

Register the Servers

At this point, any servers on the same network as Sidero should PXE boot using the Sidero PXE service. To register a server with Sidero, simply turn it on and Sidero will do the rest. Once the registration is complete, you should see the servers registered with kubectl get servers:

$ kubectl get servers -o wide
NAME                                   HOSTNAME        ACCEPTED   ALLOCATED   CLEAN
00000000-0000-0000-0000-d05099d33360   false      false       false

Accept the Servers

Note in the output above that the newly registered servers are not accepted. In order for a server to be eligible for consideration, it must be marked as accepted. Before a Server is accepted, no write action will be performed against it. Servers can be accepted by issuing a patch command like:

kubectl patch server 00000000-0000-0000-0000-d05099d33360 --type='json' -p='[{"op": "replace", "path": "/spec/accepted", "value": true}]'

For more information on server acceptance, see the server docs.

Create the Default Environment

We must now create an Environment in our bootstrap cluster. An environment is a CRD that tells the PXE component of Sidero what information to return to nodes that request a PXE boot after completing the registration process above. Things that can be controlled here are kernel flags and the kernel and init images to use.

To create a default environment that will use the latest published Talos release, issue the following:

cat <<EOF | kubectl apply -f -
kind: Environment
  name: default
    url: ""
    sha512: ""
      - initrd=initramfs.xz
      - page_poison=1
      - slab_nomerge
      - slub_debug=P
      - pti=on
      - random.trust_cpu=on
      - ima_template=ima-ng
      - ima_appraise=fix
      - ima_hash=sha512
      - console=tty0
      - console=ttyS1,115200n8
      - earlyprintk=ttyS1,115200n8
      - panic=0
      - printk.devkmsg=on
      - talos.platform=metal
      - talos.config=http://$PUBLIC_IP:9091/configdata?uuid=
    url: ""
    sha512: ""

Create Server Class

We must now create a server class to wrap our servers we registered. This is necessary for using the Talos control plane provider for Cluster API. The qualifiers needed for your server class will differ based on the data provided by your registration flow. See the server class docs for more info on how these work.

Here is an example of how to apply the server class once you have the proper info:

cat <<EOF | kubectl apply -f -
kind: ServerClass
  name: default
      - manufacturer: Intel(R) Corporation
        version: Intel(R) Atom(TM) CPU C3558 @ 2.20GHz

In order to fetch hardware information, you can use

kubectl get server -o yaml

Note that for bare-metal setup, you would need to specify an installation disk. See the Installation Disk

Once created, you should see the servers that make up your server class appear as "available":

$ kubectl get serverclass
NAME      AVAILABLE                                  IN USE
default   ["00000000-0000-0000-0000-d05099d33360"]   []

Create Management Plane

We are now ready to template out our management plane. Using clusterctl, we can create a cluster manifest with:

clusterctl config cluster management-plane -i sidero > management-plane.yaml

Note that there are several variables that should be set in order for the templating to work properly:

  • CONTROL_PLANE_ENDPOINT: The endpoint used for the Kubernetes API server (e.g. This is the equivalent of the endpoint you would specify in talosctl gen config. There are a variety of ways to configure a control plane endpoint. Some common ways for an HA setup are to use DNS, a load balancer, or BGP. A simpler method is to use the IP of a single node. This has the disadvantage of being a single point of failure, but it can be a simple way to get running.
  • CONTROL_PLANE_SERVERCLASS: The server class to use for control plane nodes.
  • WORKER_SERVERCLASS: The server class to use for worker nodes.
  • KUBERNETES_VERSION: The version of Kubernetes to deploy (e.g. v1.19.4).
  • CONTROL_PLANE_PORT: The port used for the Kubernetes API server (port 6443)

For instance:

clusterctl config cluster management-plane -i sidero > management-plane.yaml

In addition, you can specify the replicas for control-plane & worker nodes in management-plane.yaml manifest for TalosControlPlane and MachineDeployment objects. Also, they can be scaled if needed:

kubectl get taloscontrolplane
kubectl get machinedeployment
kubectl scale taloscontrolplane management-plane-cp --replicas=3

Now that we have the manifest, we can simply apply it:

kubectl apply -f management-plane.yaml

NOTE: The templated manifest above is meant to act as a starting point. If customizations are needed to ensure proper setup of your Talos cluster, they should be added before applying.

Once the management plane is setup, you can fetch the talosconfig by using the cluster label. Be sure to update the cluster name and issue the following command:

kubectl get talosconfig \
  -o yaml -o jsonpath='{.items[0].status.talosConfig}' > management-plane-talosconfig.yaml

With the talosconfig in hand, the management plane's kubeconfig can be fetched with talosctl --talosconfig management-plane-talosconfig.yaml kubeconfig


Once we have the kubeconfig for the management cluster, we now have the ability to pivot the cluster from our bootstrap. Using clusterctl, issue:

clusterctl init --kubeconfig=/path/to/management-plane/kubeconfig -i sidero -b talos -c talos

Followed by:

clusterctl move --to-kubeconfig=/path/to/management-plane/kubeconfig

Upon completion of this command, we can now tear down our bootstrap cluster with talosctl cluster destroy and begin using our management plane as our point of creation for all future clusters!