Over the past few years, Kinvolk has been fortunate to work with some of the leading names in the industry on some of the most interesting projects in the cloud-native space. This work has without exception relied on our team’s deep knowledge of Linux, containers, Kubernetes and how these all work together. Our team’s rare ability to affect every layer of the Kubernetes stack has provided technology-spanning benefits and the driving motivations for our next steps.

With that background, today we are announcing Lokomotive , a full-stack Kubernetes distribution with three overarching goals:

  • Be a secure, stable and dynamic Kubernetes distribution: First and foremost, Lokomotive is made to be production-ready, meaning it delivers on the fundamental qualities organizations require to entrust their business-critical workloads.
  • Drive cutting-edge Linux technologies into Kubernetes: Lokomotive will be our engine to drive the cutting-edge technologies delivered by Flatcar Linux Edge into Kubernetes. Currently this includes Linux 5.1, cgroup v2, Wireguard, new BPF features, OCI hooks integration with BPF, and more. This will ensure that Lokomotive is positioned to be the first Kubernetes distribution to take advantage of such features.
  • Deliver production-grade, completely open sourced product: Kinvolk was founded on our belief that open source is the best way to develop software and drive innovation. We have done that through our community contributions and commercial engineering services. We will continue to be true to our open source ethos as we offer commercial support for Lokomotive, Flatcar Linux and future products.

What is Lokomotive?

Lokomotive is a Kubernetes distribution inspired by CoreOS Tectonic and built to run atop Flatcar Linux . Like Tectonic, Lokomotive is a self-hosted Kubernetes, meaning the Kubernetes components run in containers managed by Kubernetes itself, taking advantage of Kubernetes’ built-in scaling and resiliency features.

The main Lokomotive repository is a fork of former CoreOS engineer Dalton Hubble ’s Typhoon project. Through his efforts, Lokomotive starts with a stable foundation upon which we build.

Platform support currently includes AWS, Azure, Baremetal, GCE and Packet. Others will be added over time.


The main entry point of Lokomotive is lokoctl, the Lokomotive installer. lokoctl packages the entire Lokomotive install experience into an easy to use binary. Configuration is done using HCL -based configuration files. lokoctl development is ongoing and it will be made available by the time full commercial support of Lokomotive is announced.

Lokomotive Components

Lokomotive aims to include the necessary components needed for production Kubernetes deployments. For this we have Lokomotive Components. Lokomotive Components provide all the cluster elements needed before applications are deployed: monitoring, ingress, logging, networking, storage, service mesh, authentication provider, etc. With this approach, we also ensure we deliver a secure configuration out-of-the-box, including secure default settings, authentication, and certificate management. Cluster settings and Components are configured via declarative HCL-based configuration files ensuring a consistent, fully automatable cluster creation process and the ability to treat individual clusters as disposable, easily replicated deployment artifacts.

We’ll be revealing more details about Lokomotive at the same time that we announce full commercial support availability.

What’s next for Lokomotive?

Today we are opening up the first seeds of Lokomotive. A fully supported Lokomotive release with lokoctl and Lokomotive Components will be available this summer.

These first seeds provide a solid base Kubernetes experience. But our main motivation at this point is to start pushing cutting-edge Linux technologies into Kubernetes, leveraging Flatcar Linux Edge. Thus, over the next few months, you can expect Lokomotive to be used to demonstrate some of the new ideas we’d like to see in Kubernetes.

Client-driven development

With production Lokomotive clusters serving hundreds of thousands of requests per second of business-critical traffic, we already know Lokomotive is a stable and reliable technology. We are now working with clients to improve the Lokomotive user experience in preparation for general availability.

If you are looking to have a solid Kubernetes platform and work with experts to drive new technologies forward, please reach out at [email protected] or via IRC (Freenode #lokomotive-k8s).


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