Canonical pushes out MicroK8s installer for Mac and Windows, with Multipass VM tech lurking behind the scenes

Another option for Kubernetes fans not strictly on Linux

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Ubuntu daddy Canonical has emitted new MicroK8s installers for Windows and macOS developers using its Multipass technology.

Multipass is Canonical's cross-platform take on lightweight Linux VMs. Using KVM on Linux, Hyper-V on Windows and HyperKit on macOS, developers can rapidly spin up a fresh Ubuntu (naturally) environment with minimal fuss. Mac and Windows users may also use VirtualBox.

When we last looked at the tool, the Multipass gang were heralding the arrival of a -cloud-init option to provision the VMs using YAML, just as if one was working with a cloud-based VM, making it easier to test and deploy locally with something more reflective of the real thing.

With Kubernetes still the flavour of the month, Canonical has attempted to deal with the occasional pain of getting MicroK8s to work under Windows and Mac by using Multipass and its dedicated Linux VM along with an installer that, in theory, takes away the steps needed to coax the tech into life.

MicroK8s itself is a simplified (although still 100 per cent conformant) version of Kubernetes, packaged for simplicity and frequently used for local testing. Available as a snap for Linux fans, the new Windows installer leaves the user able to tinker via microk8s kubectl from a handy command line.

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Naturally, The Reg had a go and found it a remarkably painless way to spin up the service under Windows, even if it took only a small scratch beneath the service and a multipass list to reveal the MicroK8s VM in all its Ubuntu 18.04 LTS glory.

MicroK8s has taken a non-VM approach in the past under Linux and this implementation for Windows, while inevitable, requires VM technology (in this case Multipass and pals), which puts it up against the likes of minikube, which runs a single node Kubernetes cluster in a VM on Linux, macOS and Windows (requiring the likes of Hyper-V or VirtualBox for the latter).

Other options include Rancher's K3s lightweight Kubernetes distribution, which will also sit happily atop Multipass.

Then there is the spectre of the just-released Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL), which shipped with Windows 10 May 2020 Update. Running on Hyper-V technology rather than the translation layer of its predecessor, WSL brings a variety of Linux possibilities to Windows developers.

Canonical itself sees WSL as more of an opportunity than a threat. The company told The Register it was quite content to work with the Windows giant "on improving the WSL2 experience with Ubuntu" and was simply keen to see developers on MicroK8s, either through a Multipass-enabled installer or through WSL.

It also told us: "Our data shows that adoption and downloads of Multipass has a strong growth rate, and is used by many Mac users – we expect this will add to that." ®

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