Setup FAQ

Which Istio installation method should I use?

In addition to the simple getting started evaluation install, there are several different methods you can use to install Istio. Which one you should use depends on your production requirements. The following lists some of the pros and cons of each of the available methods:

  1. istioctl install

    The simplest and most qualified installation and management path with high security. This is the community recommended method for most use cases.


    • Thorough configuration validation and health verification.
    • Uses the IstioOperator API which provides extensive configuration/customization options.
    • No in-cluster privileged pods needed. Changes are actuated by running the istioctl command.


    • Multiple binaries must be managed, one per Istio minor version.
    • The istioctl command can set values like JWT_POLICY based on your running environment, thereby producing varying installations in different Kubernetes environments.
  2. Istio Operator

    Simple installation path without istioctl binaries. This is a recommended approach for simplified upgrade workflows where running an in-cluster privileged controller is not a concern.


    • Same API as istioctl install but actuation is through a controller pod in the cluster with a fully declarative operation.
    • Uses the IstioOperator API which provides extensive configuration/customization options.
    • No need to manage multiple istioctl binaries.


    • High privilege controller running in the cluster poses security risks.
  3. istioctl manifest generate

    Generate the Kubernetes manifest and then apply with kubectl apply --prune. This method is suitable where strict auditing or augmentation of output manifests is needed.


    • Charts are generated from the same IstioOperator API as used in istioctl install and Operator.
    • Uses the IstioOperator API which provides extensive configuration/customization options.


    • Some checks performed in istioctl install and Operator are not done.
    • UX is less streamlined compared to istioctl install.
    • Error reporting is not as robust as istioctl install for the apply step.
  4. Install using Helm (alpha)

    Using Helm charts allows easy integration with Helm based workflows and automated resource pruning during upgrades.


    • Familiar approach using industry standard tooling.
    • Helm native release and upgrade management.


    • Fewer checks and validations compared to istioctl install and Operator.
    • Some administrative tasks require more steps and have higher complexity.

Installation instructions for all of these methods are available on the Istio install page.

Kubernetes - How can I debug problems with automatic sidecar injection?

Ensure that your cluster has met the prerequisites for the automatic sidecar injection. If your microservice is deployed in kube-system, kube-public or istio-system namespaces, they are exempted from automatic sidecar injection. Please use a different namespace instead.