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Calico is a networking and security solution that enables Kubernetes workloads and non-Kubernetes/legacy workloads to communicate seamlessly and securely.

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There are several ways you can install Calico onto a Kubernetes cluster. This document follows method recommended in the official Calico documentation which involves using the Tigera Calico operator.

Install Tigera Operator

helm repo add projectcalico
helm repo update

helm install calico projectcalico/tigera-operator \
    --namespace tigera-operator \
    --create-namespace \
    --set autoDiscovery.clusterName=foo \
    --set \
    --set tigeraOperator.image=chainguard/tigera-operator \
    --set tigeraOperator.version=latest

After setting up and connecting to the Kubernetes cluster where you want to install Calico, install the Tigera Calico operator and custom resource definitions (CRDs).

Create ImageSet

For Calico versions < 3.28, omit calico/key-cert-provisioner in the example below, as this was only introduced in v3.28.

ImageSet is a CRD provided by the Tigera operator. It is required to define which images are used for Calico deployments.

Note, we do not pass the registry or image names here, only the image digests. The registry is passed when creating a Calico cluster.

kind: ImageSet
  name: calico-v3.26.1
    - image: calico/node
      digest: ... # Replace with $(crane digest
    - image: calico/cni
      digest: ... # Replace with $(crane digest
    - image: calico/kube-controllers
      digest: ... # Replace with $(crane digest
    - image: calico/pod2daemon-flexvol
      digest: ... # Replace with $(crane digest
    - image: calico/csi
      digest: ... # Replace with $(crane digest
    - image: calico/typha
      digest: ... # Replace with $(crane digest
    - image: calico/node-driver-registrar
      digest: ... # Replace with $(crane digest
    - image: calico/key-cert-provisioner
      digest: ... # Replace with $(crane digest
    # This isn't used on Linux, but it needs to have a value containing a valid digest.
    - image: calico/windows-upgrade
      digest: sha256:0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

Using different image names

Providing an ImageSet allows you to specify alternative image digests, but it does not allow you to swap in custom image names. If you wish to use images that are named differently, you'll need to first re-tag them.

For example, /some/registry/node-fips: would need to be re-tagged to /some/registry/node:. The digest would be the same for both image tags.

Create Calico installation

Once the ImageSet is completed, specify the image registry and the image prefix to use.

Our images follow calico- naming format, i.e calico-node, do we define an imagePrefix.

kind: Installation
  name: default
  variant: Calico
  imagePath: chainguard
  imagePrefix: calico-

The combination of these ImageSet and Installation CRDs serve as a drop in replacement for Step 2 of the upstream documentation. Together, these correctly rename the Calico images to their variants.

After creating the CRDs, you can ensure that the pods are running with a command like the following.

kubectl get pods -n calico-system

Chainguard Images contain software packages that are direct or transitive dependencies. The following licenses were found in the "latest" version of this image:

  • Apache-2.0

  • GPL-2.0-only

  • GPL-2.0-or-later

  • GPL-3.0-or-later

  • LGPL-2.1-or-later

  • MIT

  • MPL-2.0

For a complete list of licenses, please refer to this Image's SBOM.

Software license agreement


This is a FIPS validated image for FedRAMP compliance.

This image is STIG hardened and scanned against the DISA General Purpose Operating System SRG with reports available.

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