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Version: v1.4 (dev)

Host Management

Users can view and manage Harvester nodes from the host page. The first node always defaults to be a management node of the cluster. When there are three or more nodes, the two other nodes that first joined are automatically promoted to management nodes to form a HA cluster.


Because Harvester is built on top of Kubernetes and uses etcd as its database, the maximum node fault toleration is one when there are three management nodes.


Node Maintenance

For admin users, you can click Enable Maintenance Mode to evict all VMs from a node automatically. It will leverage the VM live migration feature to migrate all VMs to other nodes automatically. Note that at least two active nodes are required to use this feature.


Cordoning a Node

Cordoning a node marks it as unschedulable. This feature is useful for performing short tasks on the node during small maintenance windows, like reboots, upgrades, or decommissions. When you’re done, power back on and make the node schedulable again by uncordoning it.


Deleting a Node


Before removing a node from a Harvester cluster, determine if the remaining nodes have enough computing and storage resources to take on the workload from the node to be removed. Check the following:

  • Current resource usage in the cluster (on the Hosts screen of the Harvester UI)
  • Ability of the remaining nodes to maintain enough replicas for all volumes

If the remaining nodes do not have enough resources, VMs might fail to migrate and volumes might degrade when you remove a node.

1. Check if the node can be removed from the cluster.

You can safely remove a control plane node depending on the quantity and availability of other nodes in the cluster.

  • The cluster has three control plane nodes and one or more worker nodes.

    When you remove a control plane node, a worker node will be promoted to control plane node. Harvester v1.3.0 allows you to assign a role to each node that joins a cluster. In earlier Harvester versions, worker nodes were randomly selected for promotion. If you prefer to promote specific nodes, please see Role Management and Harvester Configuration for more information.

  • The cluster has three control plane nodes and no worker nodes.

    You must add a new node to the cluster before removing a control plane node. This ensures that the cluster always has three control plane nodes and that a quorum can be formed even if one control plane node fails.

  • The cluster has only two control plane nodes and no worker nodes.

    Removing a control plane node in this situation is not recommended because etcd data is not replicated in a single-node cluster. Failure of a single node can cause etcd to lose its quorum and shut the cluster down.

2. Check the status of volumes.

  1. Access the embedded Longhorn UI.

  2. Go to the Volume screen.

  3. Verify that the state of all volumes is Healthy.

3. Evict replicas from the node to be removed.

  1. Access the embedded Longhorn UI.

  2. Go to the Node screen.

  3. Select the node that you want to remove, click the icon in the Operation column, and then select Edit node and disks.

  4. Configure the following settings:

    • Node Scheduling: Select Disable.
    • Evict Requested" Select True.
  5. Click Save.

  6. Go back to the Node screen and verify that Replicas value for the node to be removed is 0.


Eviction cannot be completed if the remaining nodes cannot accept replicas from the node to be removed. In this case, some volumes will remain in the Degraded state until you add more nodes to the cluster.

4. Manage non-migratable VMs.

Live migration cannot be performed for VMs with certain properties.

  • The VM has PCI passthrough devices or vGPU devices.

    A PCI device is bound to a node. You must remove the PCI device from the VM, or delete the VM and then create a new VM from a backup or snapshot.

  • The VM has a node selector or affinity rules that bind it to the node to be removed.

    You must change the node selector or affinity rules.

  • The VM is on a VM network that binds it to the node to be removed.

    You must select a different VM network.


Create a backup or snapshot for each non-migratable VM before modifying the settings that bind it to the node that you want to remove.

5. Evict workloads from the node to be removed.

If your cluster is running Harvester v1.1.2 or later, you can enable Maintenance Mode on the node to automatically live-migrate VMs and workloads. You can also manually live-migrate VMs to other nodes.

All workloads have been successfully evicted if the node state is Maintenance.



If a cluster has only two control plane nodes, Harvester does not allow you to enable Maintenance Mode on any node. You can manually drain the node to be removed using the following command:

kubectl drain <node_name> --force --ignore-daemonsets --delete-local-data --pod-selector='app!=csi-attacher,app!=csi-provisioner'

Again, removing a control plane node in this situation is not recommended because etcd data is not replicated. Failure of a single node can cause etcd to lose its quorum and shut the cluster down.

6. Remove the node.

  1. On the Harvester UI, go to the Hosts screen.

  2. Locate the node that you want to remove, and then click ⋮ > Delete.


7. Delete RKE2 services on the node.

  1. Log in to the node using the root account.

  2. Run the script /opt/rke2/bin/


There's a known issue about node hard delete. Once resolved, you can skip this step.

Role Management

Hardware issues may force you to replace the management node. In earlier Harvester versions, accurately promoting a specific worker node to a management node was not easy. Harvester v1.3.0 improves the process by introducing the following roles:

  • Management: Allows a node to be prioritized when Harvester promotes nodes to management nodes.
  • Witness: Restricts a node to being a witness node (only functions as an etcd node) in a specific cluster.
  • Worker: Restricts a node to being a worker node (never promoted to management node) in a specific cluster.

Harvester currently allows only one witness node in the cluster.

For more information about assigning roles to nodes, see ISO Installation.

Multi-disk Management

Add Additional Disks

Users can view and add multiple disks as additional data volumes from the edit host page.

  1. Go to the Hosts page.
  2. On the node you want to modify, click ⋮ > Edit Config.

Edit Config

  1. Select the Storage tab and click Add Disk.

Add Disks


As of Harvester v1.0.2, we no longer support adding partitions as additional disks. If you want to add it as an additional disk, be sure to delete all partitions first (e.g., using fdisk).

  1. Select an additional raw block device to add as an additional data volume.
    • The Force Formatted option is required if the block device has never been force-formatted.

Force Format

  1. Last, you can click ⋮ > Edit Config again to check the newly added disk. Meanwhile, you can also add the "Host/Disk" tag (details are described in the next section).

Check Result


In order for Harvester to identify the disks, each disk needs to have a unique WWN. Otherwise, Harvester will refuse to add the disk. If your disk does not have a WWN, you can format it with the EXT4 filesystem to help Harvester recognize the disk.


If you are testing Harvester in a QEMU environment, you'll need to use QEMU v6.0 or later. Previous versions of QEMU will always generate the same WWN for NVMe disks emulation. This will cause Harvester to not add the additional disks, as explained above. However, you can still add a virtual disk with the SCSI controller. The WWN information could be added manually along with the disk attach operation. For more details, please refer to the script.

Storage Tags

The storage tag feature enables only certain nodes or disks to be used for storing Longhorn volume data. For example, performance-sensitive data can use only the high-performance disks which can be tagged as fast, ssd or nvme, or only the high-performance nodes tagged as baremetal.

This feature supports both disks and nodes.


The tags can be set up through the Harvester UI on the host page:

  1. Click Hosts -> Edit Config -> Storage
  2. Click Add Host/Disk Tags to start typing and hit enter to add new tags.
  3. Click Save to update tags.
  4. On the StorageClasses page, create a new storage class and select those defined tags on the Node Selector and Disk Selector fields.

All the existing scheduled volumes on the node or disk won’t be affected by the new tags.


When multiple tags are specified for a volume, the disk and the nodes (that the disk belongs to) must have all the specified tags to become usable.

Remove disks

Before removing a disk, you must first evict Longhorn replicas on the disk.


The replica data would be rebuilt to another disk automatically to keep the high availability.

Identify the disk to remove (Harvester dashboard)

  1. Go to the Hosts page.
  2. On the node containing the disk, select the node name and go to the Storage tab.
  3. Find the disk you want to remove. Let's assume we want to remove /dev/sdb, and the disk's mount point is /var/lib/harvester/extra-disks/1b805b97eb5aa724e6be30cbdb373d04.

Find disk to remove

Evict replicas (Longhorn dashboard)

  1. Please follow this session to enable the embedded Longhorn dashboard.
  2. Visit the Longhorn dashboard and go to the Node page.
  3. Expand the node containing the disk. Confirm the mount point /var/lib/harvester/extra-disks/1b805b97eb5aa724e6be30cbdb373d04 is in the disks list.

Check the removing disk

  1. Select Edit node and disks.

Edit node and disks

  1. Scroll to the disk you want to remove.
  • Set Scheduling to Disable.
  • Set Eviction Requested to True.
  • Select Save. Do not select the delete icon.

Evict disk

  1. The disk will be disabled. Please wait until the disk replica count becomes 0 to proceed with removing the disk.

Wait replicas

Remove the disk (Harvester dashboard)

  1. Go to the Hosts page.
  2. On the node containing the disk, select ⋮ > Edit Config.
  3. Go to the Storage tab and select x to remove the disk.

Remove disk

  1. Select Save to remove the disk.

Ksmtuned Mode

Available as of v1.1.0

Ksmtuned is a KSM automation tool deployed as a DaemonSet to run Ksmtuned on each node. It will start or stop the KSM by watching the available memory percentage ratio (i.e. Threshold Coefficient). By default, you need to manually enable Ksmtuned on each node UI. You will be able to see the KSM statistics from the node UI after 1-2 minutes.(check KSM for more details).

Quick Run

  1. Go to the Hosts page.
  2. On the node you want to modify, click ⋮ > Edit Config.
  3. Select the Ksmtuned tab and select Run in Run Strategy.
  4. (Optional) You can modify Threshold Coefficient as needed.

Edit Ksmtuned

  1. Click Save to update.
  2. Wait for about 1-2 minutes and you can check its Statistics by clicking Your Node > Ksmtuned tab.

View Ksmtuned Statistics


Run Strategy:

  • Stop: Stop Ksmtuned and KSM. VMs can still use shared memory pages.
  • Run: Run Ksmtuned.
  • Prune: Stop Ksmtuned and prune KSM memory pages.

Threshold Coefficient: configures the available memory percentage ratio. If the available memory is less than the threshold, KSM will be started; otherwise, KSM will be stopped.

Merge Across Nodes: specifies if pages from different NUMA nodes can be merged.


  • Standard: The default mode. The control node ksmd uses about 20% of a single CPU. It uses the following parameters:
Boost: 0
Decay: 0
Maximum Pages: 100
Minimum Pages: 100
Sleep Time: 20
  • High-performance: Node ksmd uses 20% to 100% of a single CPU and has higher scanning and merging efficiency. It uses the following parameters:
Boost: 200
Decay: 50
Maximum Pages: 10000
Minimum Pages: 100
Sleep Time: 20
  • Customized: You can customize the configuration to reach the performance that you want.

Ksmtuned uses the following parameters to control KSM efficiency:

BoostThe number of scanned pages is incremented each time if the available memory is less than the Threshold Coefficient.
DecayThe number of scanned pages is decremented each time if the available memory is greater than the Threshold Coefficient.
Maximum PagesMaximum number of pages per scan.
Minimum PagesThe minimum number of pages per scan, also the configuration for the first run.
Sleep Time (ms)The interval between two scans, which is calculated with the formula (Sleep Time * 16 * 1024* 1024 / Total Memory). Minimum: 10ms.

For example, assume you have a 512GiB memory node that uses the following parameters:

Boost: 300
Decay: 100
Maximum Pages: 5000
Minimum Pages: 1000
Sleep Time: 50

When Ksmtuned starts, initialize pages_to_scan in KSM to 1000 (Minimum Pages) and set sleep_millisecs to 10 (50 * 16 * 1024 * 1024 / 536870912 KiB < 10).

KSM starts when the available memory falls below the Threshold Coefficient. If it detects that it is running, pages_to_scan increments by 300 (Boost) every minute until it reaches 5000 (Maximum Pages).

KSM will stop when the available memory is above the Threshold Coefficient. If it detects that it is stopped, pages_to_scan decrements by 100 (Decay) every minute until it reaches 1000 (Minimum Pages).

NTP Configuration

Time synchronization is an important aspect of distributed cluster architecture. Because of this, Harvester now provides a simpler way for configuring NTP settings.

In previous Harvester versions, NTP settings were mainly configurable during the installation process. To modify the settings, you needed to manually update the configuration file on each node.

Beginning with version v1.2.0, Harvester is supporting NTP configuration on the Harvester UI Settings screen (Advanced > Settings). You can configure NTP settings for the entire Harvester cluster at any time, and the settings are applied to all nodes in the cluster.

You can set up multiple NTP servers at once.

You can check the settings in the annotation in Kubernetes nodes:

  • ntpSyncStatus: Status of the connection to NTP servers (possible values: disabled, synced and unsynced)
  • currentNtpServers: List of existing NTP servers
$ kubectl get nodes harvester-node-0 -o yaml |yq -e '.metadata.annotations.[""]'


  1. Do not modify the NTP configuration file on each node. Harvester will automatically sync the settings that you configured on the Harvester UI to the nodes.
  2. If you upgraded Harvester from an earlier version, the ntp-servers list on the Settings screen will be empty (see screenshot). You must manually configure the NTP settings because Harvester is unaware of the previous settings and is unable to detect conflicts.

Cloud-Native Node Configuration

You may need to customize one or more nodes after installing Harvester. This process usually entails updating the runtime configuration and modifying files in the /oem directory of each node to make changes persist after rebooting.

In Harvester v1.3.0, these customizations can be described in a Kubernetes manifest and then applied to the underlying cluster using kubectl or other GitOps-centric tools such as Fleet.


Misconfigurations might compromise the ability of a Harvester node to boot up, or even damage the overall stability of the cluster. You can prevent such issues by reading the Elemental toolkit documentation to learn how to correctly customize Elemental.

Creating a CloudInit Resource

Harvester node customization is bounded only by your creativity and by what the Elemental toolkit markup can syntactically express. The documentation, therefore, cannot provide an exhaustive list of possible customizations and use cases.

Example: You want to add an SSH authorized key for the default rancher user on all nodes.

Start by creating a Kubernetes manifest for a CloudInit resource.

file: ssh_access.yaml
kind: CloudInit
name: ssh-access
matchSelector: {}
filename: 99_ssh.yaml
contents: |
- authorized_keys:
- ssh-ed25519 AAAA...

This manifest describes an Elemental cloud-init document that will be applied to all nodes (because the empty matchSelector: {} field matches everything). The YAML document in the .spec.contents field will be rendered to /oem/99_ssh.yaml (because of the .spec.filename field.)

Apply this example using the command kubectl apply -f ssh_access.yaml.


Reboot the relevant Harvester nodes so that the Elemental toolkit executor can apply the new configuration at boot.

CloudInit Resource Spec

matchSelectorYesSetting that allows you to specify the nodes that will receive the configuration changes.
filenameYesName of the file that appears in /oem.
contentsYesElemental toolkit cloud-init-style file that will be rendered to a file in /oem.
pausedNoWhen set to true, the file will not be updated on nodes as it changes.

The matchSelector field can be used to target specific nodes or groups of nodes based on their labels.


matchSelector: "harvester-node-1"

All label key-value pairs listed in the matchSelector field must match the labels of the intended nodes.

In the following example, matchSelector will match harvester-node-1 only if that node also has the label with the value role-a.

matchSelector: "harvester-node-1" "role-a"

Updating a CloudInit Resource

You can use the command kubectl edit to update a CloudInit resource. However, there is a caveat if the matchSelector field is updated to exclude one or more nodes from the customization. See the note in the Deleting a CloudInit Resource section regarding rolling back customizations.

# kubectl edit cloudinit CLOUDINIT_NAME

Deleting a CloudInit Resource

You can use the command kubectl delete to remove a CloudInit resource from the Harvester cluster.

# kubectl delete cloudinit CLOUDINIT_NAME

Harvester is unable to "roll back" previously described customizations because the CloudInit resource can describe anything that can be expressed as an Elemental toolkit customization, including arbitrary shell commands.

In the Creating a CloudInit Resource example, the YAML file contains the authorized_keys stanza. This is an append-only action in the Elemental toolkit. When the resource is changed or deleted, the authorized_keys file in Rancher will still contain the old public key.

You are responsible for amending or creating a CloudInit resource that rolls the changes back (if necessary) before you reboot the node.

Troubleshooting CloudInit Rollouts

If an Elemental toolkit cloud-init document does not appear in /oem or does not contain the expected contents, the status block of the CloudInit resource might contain useful hints.

# kubectl get cloudinit CLOUDINIT_NAME -o yaml
- lastTransitionTime: "2024-02-28T22:31:23Z"
message: ""
reason: CloudInitApplicable
status: "True"
type: Applicable
- lastTransitionTime: "2024-02-28T22:31:23Z"
message: Local file checksum is the same as the CloudInit checksum
reason: CloudInitChecksumMatch
status: "False"
type: OutOfSync
- lastTransitionTime: "2024-02-28T22:31:23Z"
message: 99_ssh.yaml is present under /oem
reason: CloudInitPresentOnDisk
status: "True"
type: Present

The harvester-node-manager pod(s) in the harvester-system namespace may also contain some hints as to why it is not rendering a file to a node. This pod is part of a daemonset, so it may be worth checking the pod that is running on the node of interest.