How To Use and Benefit From AWS Bottlerocket In EKS

Guillaume Vincent
Guillaume Vincent
The  feature image of the AWS bottlerocket article showing a rocket image
Photo by John Baker / Unsplash
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Have containerized workloads on Amazon Web Services? Explore what is AWS Bottlerocket in AWS Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) and leverage your security and maintenance to the next level!

Since its release, AWS Bottlerocket has only grown in popularity. Having the most efficient operating system to run containers is easily attainable. Bottlerocket focuses on security and integration with AWS-managed services using containers such as Amazon EKS (Elastic Kubernetes Service) and ECS (Elastic Container Service).

In this article, we will see what is Bottlerocket and its components, and what are the benefits to use it. Then we will create an Amazon EKS cluster with eksctl and explore it. Β 

What Is AWS Bottlerocket

AWS Bottlerocket is an open-source Linux-based OS optimized for running containers on Amazon Web Services. It is inspired by traditional general-purpose Linux distributions as well as some container-focused operating systems like CoreOS Container Linux, RancherOS, and Project Atomic.

It includes only essential software to run containers and comes with a transactional update mechanism. This feature allows users to reduce maintenance requirements, improve security and enhance resource usage. The Bottlerocket's root filesystem is read-only and is backed with dm-verity. It is configured with Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) policies for isolation.

A Kubernetes Operator is responsible for updates on hosts in a cluster. When a new Kubernetes node is started in the cluster, the Bottlerocket update operator starts a DaemonSet acting as an agent on this one. The Bottlerocket node is responsible for draining the node, managing periodically querying updates, and performing them when it is required. Β 

AWS Bottlerocket Components

  • Bottlerocket manages and orchestrates updates by integration with container orchestrators such as the Amazon EKS service.
  • A single-step atomic update mechanism that allows applying and rolling back system updates.
  • Minimal components including the Linux Kernel and system software needed for containerization.
  • An admin container for advanced troubleshooting and debugging.

Why You Should Use AWS Bottlerocket

  • Bottlerocket improves uptime and reduces operational costs. Thousands of OS updates can be applied simultaneously with minimal disruptions to the applications. Rollbacks are automatically done if needed to exclude the risk of errors.
  • Bottlerocket improves security and ensures better resource utilization. All the files are read-only and cannot be directly modified by the userspace processes. The integrity of exchanged containers is checked using a cryptographic digest. Any anomaly or corruption can restart the whole process.
  • Updates can be easily automated as soon as they are available. Bottlerocket uses image-based updates. AWS claims that the updating process is as simple as updating your phone.
Diagram showing about how to use AWS bottlerocket
Bottlerocket "How it works" from
  • Bottlerocket is open-source and universally available so anyone interested can make code, design, and dataset changes to it. Users also get everything required due to excellent support by AWS such as Amazon EKR, Amazon EKS, Amazon EC2.
GitHub - bottlerocket-os/bottlerocket: An operating system designed for hosting containers
An operating system designed for hosting containers - GitHub - bottlerocket-os/bottlerocket: An operating system designed for hosting containers

Exploring AWS Bottlerocket on Amazon EKS

Creating the EKS Cluster

Install eksctl :

GitHub - weaveworks/eksctl: The official CLI for Amazon EKS
The official CLI for Amazon EKS. Contribute to weaveworks/eksctl development by creating an account on GitHub.

Here is the YAML file to create the EKS cluster:

kind: ClusterConfig

  name: bottlerocket-cluster
  region: us-east-1

Apply the file to create the cluster:

$ eksctl create cluster -f cluster.yml

Deploying the Bottlerocket EKS node group

Create an SSH key pair to connect to Bottlerocket hosts:

$ aws ec2 create-key-pair \
    --key-name my-key-pair \
    --key-type rsa \
    --query "KeyMaterial" \
    --output text > eks_bottlerocket.pem

Here is the YAML file to create the Bottlerocket node group:

kind: ClusterConfig

  name: bottlerocket-cluster
  region: us-east-1
  version: 1.20

  - name: bottlerocket-nodegroup
    instanceType: t3.medium
    minSize: 2
    maxSize: 4
    desiredCapacity: 2
    amiFamily: Bottlerocket
      nodegroup-type: Bottlerocket

Apply the file to create the node group:

$ eksctl create nodegroup --cluster bottlerocket-cluster -f node-group.yml

Adding the EKS cluster to kubeconfig

With AWS CLI, generate the kubeconfig to connect to the cluster:

$ aws --region us-east-1 eks update-kubeconfig --name bottlerocket-cluster

By listing nodes with kubectl command, you can have information on the OS image of the nodes:

$ kubectl get nodes,ARCH:.status.nodeInfo.architecture,OS-Image:.status.nodeInfo.osImage,OS:.status.nodeInfo.operatingSystem
NODE                             ARCH    OS-Image                               OS
ip-192-168-18-242.ec2.internal   amd64   Bottlerocket OS 1.5.2 (aws-k8s-1.21)   linux
ip-192-168-53-240.ec2.internal   amd64   Bottlerocket OS 1.5.2 (aws-k8s-1.21)   linux

Accessing to Bottlerocket EKS nodes with SSM

List the instances ID with the following AWS command:

$ aws ec2 describe-instances --query 'Reservations[*].Instances[*].[InstanceId]' --output text

With SSM, you can start a session to connect to a Bottlerocket instance:

$ aws ssm start-session --target i-0551208f375cbbec1

You can see the current settings with an API request:

$ apiclient get settings

You can change settings like this:

$ apiclient set motd="hi there" kubernetes.node-labels.environment=test

Connecting to Bottlerocket EKS nodes with SSH

Reuse the saved private PEM key used to create the SSH key pair. You'll connect to the admin container:

$ ssh -i ~/.ssh/eks_bottlerocket.pem ec2-user@BottlerocketElasticIP

You can run sheltie command to get a full root shell in the Bottlerocket host. Be careful; while you can inspect and change even more as root.

$ sudo sheltie

You can use logdog through the admin container to obtain an archive of log files from your Bottlerocket host:

# logdog

Testing a node group upgrade

$ eksctl upgrade nodegroup --name=bottlerocket-nodegroup --cluster=bottlerocket-cluster --kubernetes-version=1.21

Cleaning up the stack

Execute the following commands to clean up the node group and the cluster:

$ eksctl delete nodegroup --cluster bottlerocket-cluster --name bottlerocket-nodegroup
$ eksctl delete cluster --name=bottlerocket-cluster


Bottlerocket is the result of Amazon's experience and know-how to run containers at scale. It helps to run containers efficiently, enhance better security and ensure operational excellence. Β 

We have seen a quick tutorial with eksctl to explore Bottlerocket on EKS orchestrator. You can also use it with Terraform with this example:

terraform-aws-eks/examples/bottlerocket at v17.0.3 Β· terraform-aws-modules/terraform-aws-eks
Terraform module to create an Elastic Kubernetes (EKS) cluster and associated worker instances on AWS - terraform-aws-eks/examples/bottlerocket at v17.0.3 Β· terraform-aws-modules/terraform-aws-eks

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