Install with Istioctl

Follow this guide to install and configure an Istio mesh for in-depth evaluation or production use. If you are new to Istio, and just want to try it out, follow the quick start instructions instead.

This installation guide uses the istioctl command line tool to provide rich customization of the Istio control plane and of the sidecars for the Istio data plane. It has user input validation to help prevent installation errors and customization options to override any aspect of the configuration.

Using these instructions, you can select any one of Istio’s built-in configuration profiles and then further customize the configuration for your specific needs.

The istioctl command supports the full IstioOperator API via command-line options for individual settings or for passing a yaml file containing an IstioOperator custom resource (CR).


Before you begin, check the following prerequisites:

  1. Download the Istio release.
  2. Perform any necessary platform-specific setup.
  3. Check the Requirements for Pods and Services.

Install Istio using the default profile

The simplest option is to install the default Istio configuration profile using the following command:

$ istioctl install

This command installs the default profile on the cluster defined by your Kubernetes configuration. The default profile is a good starting point for establishing a production environment, unlike the larger demo profile that is intended for evaluating a broad set of Istio features.

Various settings can be configured to modify the installations. For example, to enable access logs:

$ istioctl install --set meshConfig.accessLogFile=/dev/stdout

Install from external charts

By default, istioctl uses compiled-in charts to generate the install manifest. These charts are released together with istioctl for auditing and customization purposes and can be found in the release tar in the manifests directory. istioctl can also use external charts rather than the compiled-in ones. To select external charts, set the manifests flag to a local file system path:

$ istioctl install --manifests=manifests/

If using the istioctl 1.12.3 binary, this command will result in the same installation as istioctl install alone, because it points to the same charts as the compiled-in ones. Other than for experimenting with or testing new features, we recommend using the compiled-in charts rather than external ones to ensure compatibility of the istioctl binary with the charts.

Install a different profile

Other Istio configuration profiles can be installed in a cluster by passing the profile name on the command line. For example, the following command can be used to install the demo profile:

$ istioctl install --set profile=demo

Check what’s installed

The istioctl command saves the IstioOperator CR that was used to install Istio in a copy of the CR named installed-state. Instead of inspecting the deployments, pods, services and other resources that were installed by Istio, for example:

$ kubectl -n istio-system get deploy
NAME                   READY   UP-TO-DATE   AVAILABLE   AGE
istio-egressgateway    1/1     1            1           25s
istio-ingressgateway   1/1     1            1           24s
istiod                 1/1     1            1           20s

You can inspect the installed-state CR, to see what is installed in the cluster, as well as all custom settings. For example, dump its content into a YAML file using the following command:

$ kubectl -n istio-system get IstioOperator installed-state -o yaml > installed-state.yaml

The installed-state CR is also used to perform checks in some istioctl commands and should therefore not be removed.

Display the list of available profiles

You can display the names of Istio configuration profiles that are accessible to istioctl by using this command:

$ istioctl profile list
Istio configuration profiles:

Display the configuration of a profile

You can view the configuration settings of a profile. For example, to view the setting for the demo profile run the following command:

$ istioctl profile dump demo
  - enabled: true
          cpu: 10m
          memory: 40Mi
    name: istio-egressgateway


To view a subset of the entire configuration, you can use the --config-path flag, which selects only the portion of the configuration under the given path:

$ istioctl profile dump --config-path components.pilot demo
enabled: true
    value: "100"
      cpu: 10m
      memory: 100Mi

Show differences in profiles

The profile diff sub-command can be used to show the differences between profiles, which is useful for checking the effects of customizations before applying changes to a cluster.

You can show differences between the default and demo profiles using these commands:

$ istioctl profile diff default demo
-  - enabled: false
+  - enabled: true
-          cpu: 100m
-          memory: 128Mi
+          cpu: 10m
+          memory: 40Mi

Generate a manifest before installation

You can generate the manifest before installing Istio using the manifest generate sub-command. For example, use the following command to generate a manifest for the default profile:

$ istioctl manifest generate > $HOME/generated-manifest.yaml

The generated manifest can be used to inspect what exactly is installed as well as to track changes to the manifest over time. While the IstioOperator CR represents the full user configuration and is sufficient for tracking it, the output from manifest generate also captures possible changes in the underlying charts and therefore can be used to track the actual installed resources.

The output from manifest generate can also be used to install Istio using kubectl apply or equivalent. However, these alternative installation methods may not apply the resources with the same sequencing of dependencies as istioctl install and are not tested in an Istio release.

Show differences in manifests

You can show the differences in the generated manifests in a YAML style diff between the default profile and a customized install using these commands:

$ istioctl manifest generate > 1.yaml
$ istioctl manifest generate -f samples/operator/pilot-k8s.yaml > 2.yaml
$ istioctl manifest diff 1.yaml 2.yaml
Differences in manifests are:

Object Deployment:istio-system:istiod has diffs:

              cpu: 500m -> 1000m
              memory: 2048Mi -> 4096Mi

Object HorizontalPodAutoscaler:istio-system:istiod has diffs:

  maxReplicas: 5 -> 10
  minReplicas: 1 -> 2

Verify a successful installation

You can check if the Istio installation succeeded using the verify-install command which compares the installation on your cluster to a manifest you specify.

If you didn’t generate your manifest prior to deployment, run the following command to generate it now:

$ istioctl manifest generate <your original installation options> > $HOME/generated-manifest.yaml

Then run the following verify-install command to see if the installation was successful:

$ istioctl verify-install -f $HOME/generated-manifest.yaml

See Customizing the installation configuration for additional information on customizing the install.

Uninstall Istio

To completely uninstall Istio from a cluster, run the following command:

$ istioctl x uninstall --purge

Alternatively, to remove only a specific Istio control plane, run the following command:

$ istioctl x uninstall <your original installation options>


$ istioctl manifest generate <your original installation options> | kubectl delete -f -

The control plane namespace (e.g., istio-system) is not removed by default. If no longer needed, use the following command to remove it:

$ kubectl delete namespace istio-system
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