Site Authoring Guide

This guide describes the steps to create the site documents needed by Airship to deploy a standard greenfield bare metal deployment according to your specific environment. In the form of YAML comments, the reference-airship-core site manifests in the Treasuremap git repository contain the tags and descriptions of the required site specific information that the users must provide.

Airship Layering Approach

Following the DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) principle, Airship uses four conceptual layer types to drive consistency and reusability:

  • Function: An atomic, independent building block of a Kubernetes workload, e.g., a HelmRelease, Calico.

  • Composite: A logical group of multiple Functions integrated and configured for a common purpose. Typical examples include OpenStack or interrelated logging and monitoring components. Composites can also pull in other Composites to further customize their configurations.

  • Type: A prototypical deployment plan that represents a typical user case, e.g., network cloud, CI/CD pipeline, basic K8S deployment. A Type defines the collection of Composites into a deployable stack, including control plane, workload, and host definitions. A Type also defines the Phases of deployment, which serve to sequence a deployment (or upgrade) into stages that must be performed sequentially, e.g., the Kubernetes cluster must be created before a software workload is deployed. A type can inherit from another type.

  • Site: A Site is a realization of exactly one Type, and defines (only) the site-specific configurations necessary to deploy the Type to a specific place.

To learn more about the Airship layering design and mechanism, it is highly recommended to read Layering and Deduplication.

Initializing New Site

It is a very complex and tedious task to create a new site form scratch. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that the user creates the new site based on a reference site. The reference site can be a site that has been already created and deployed by the user, or an example site in the treasuremap git repository.

The reference-airship-core site from the treasuremap may be used for such purpose. It is the principal pipeline for integration and continuous deployment testing of Airship on bare metal.

To create a new site definition from the reference-airship-core site, the following steps are required:

  1. Clone or checkout the treasuremap repository at the specified reference in the Airship home directory.

  2. Create a project side-by-side with airshipctl and treasuremap directory.

  3. Copy the reference site manifests to ${PROJECT}/manifests/site/${SITE}.

  4. Update the site’s metadata.yaml appropriately.

  5. Create and update the Airship config file for the site in ${HOME}/.airship/config.

Airshipctl provides a tool that automates the above site creation tasks.

export AIRSHIPCTL_REF_TYPE=tag # type can be "tag", "branch" or "commithash"
export AIRSHIPCTL_REF=v2.1.0 # update with the git ref you want to use
export TREASUREMAP_REF_TYPE=tag # type can be "tag", "branch" or "commithash"
export TREASUREMAP_REF=v2.1.0 # update with the git ref you want to use
export REFERENCE_SITE=../treasuremap/manifests/site/reference-airship-core
export REFERENCE_TYPE=airship-core # the manifest type the reference site uses



The environment variables have default values that point to airshipctl release tag v2.1.0 and treasuremap release tag v2.1.0. You only need to (re)set them in the command line if you want a different release version, a branch or a specific commit.

To find the Airship release versions and tags, go to Versioning. In addition to release tag, the user can also specify a branch (e.g., v2.1) or a specific commit ID when checking out the treasuremap or airshipctl repository.

Preparing Deployment Documents

After the new site manifests are initialized, you will then need to manually make changes to these files. These site manifests are heavily commented to identify and explain the parameters that need to change when authoring a new site.

The areas that must be updated for a new site are flagged with the label NEWSITE_CHANGEME in YAML comments. Search for all instances of NEWSITE_CHANGEME in your new site definition. Then follow the instructions that accompany the tag in order to make all needed changes to author your new Airship site.

Because some files depend on (or may repeat) information from others, the order in which you should build your site files is as follows.


A helpful practice is to replace the tag NEWSITE_CHANGEME with NEWSITE_CHANGED along the way when each site specific value is entered. You can run a global search on NEWSITE_CHANGEME at the end to check if any site fields were missed.


Before you start, collect the following network information:

  • PXE network interface name

  • The name of the two 25G networks used for the bonded interface

  • OAM, Calico and Storage VLAN ID’s

  • OAM, Calico and Storage network configuration

  • PXE, OAM, Calico and Storage IP addresses for ephemeral/controller nodes and worker nodes

  • Kubernetes and ingress virtual IP address (on OAM)

  • DNS servers

  • NTP servers

First, define the target and ephemeral networking catalogues.

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/target/catalogues/shareable/networking.yaml: Contains the network definition in the entire system.

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/target/catalogues/shareable/networking-ha.yaml: Defines the Kubernetes and ingress virtual IP addresses as well as the OAM interface.

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/ephemeral/catalogues/shareable/networking.yaml: Provides only the overrides specific to the ephemeral nodes.

Last, update network references (e.g., interface name, IP address, port) in the target cluster deployment documents:

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/phases/phase-patch.yaml

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/target/catalogues/shareable/versions-airshipctl.yaml

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/target/controlplane/metal3machinetemplate.yaml

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/target/controlplane/versions-catalogue-patch.yaml

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/target/initinfra-networking/patch_calico.yaml

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/target/workers/provision/metal3machinetemplate.yaml

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/kubeconfig/kubeconfig.yaml

Host Inventory

Host inventory configuration requires the following information for each server:

  • host name

  • BMC address

  • BMC user and password

  • PXE NIC mac address

  • OAM | Calico | PXE | storage IP addresses

Update the host inventory and other ephemeral and target cluster documents:

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/host-inventory/hostgenerator/host-generation.yaml: Lists the host names of the all the nodes in the host inventory.

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/target/catalogues/shareable/hosts.yaml: The host catalogue defines the host information such as BMC address, credential, PXE NIC, IP addresses, hardware profile name, etc., for every single host.

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/ephemeral/bootstrap/baremetalhost.yaml: Contains the host name and bmc address of the ephemeral bare metal host.

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/ephemeral/bootstrap/hostgenerator/host-generation.yaml: Defines the single host in the ephemeral cluster.

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/ephemeral/controlplane/hostgenerator/host-generation.yaml: Defines the host name of the first controller node to bootstrap ion the target cluster.

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/phases/phase-patch.yaml: Updates the ephemeral node host name and ISO URL.

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/target/controlplane/hostgenerator/host-generation.yaml: Defines the list of hosts to be deployed in the target cluster control plane.

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/target/workers/hostgenerator/host-generation.yaml: Defines the list of hosts of the worker nodes.

  • manifests/site/${SITE}/target/workers/provision/machinedeployment.yaml: Configures the total number of worker nodes.


Using a general purpose Ceph cluster configuration in Treasuremap manifests, Rook will deploy Ceph cluster using all the remaining disks, i.e., raw devices with no partitions or formatted filesystems, on all the hosts (both controller and worker nodes).

The user can customize the Ceph cluster configuration based on specific use cases. The following is an example to specify which hosts to include in the storage cluster and which devices to use for Ceph:

  • treasuremap/manifests/site/{SITE}/target/catalogues/shareable/storage.yaml

For more information, please refer to Rook Ceph Storage document.

Downstream Images and Binaries

For a production environment, the access to external resources such as the or various go packages may not be available, or further customized security hardening is required in the images.

In those cases, the operator will need to host their pre-built images or binaries in a downstream repository or artifactory. The manifests specifying image locations for the Kustomize plugins will need to be updated prior to running airshipctl commands, e.g., replacement-transformer, templater, sops, etc.

Here is an example sed command on the cloned airshipctl and treasuremap manifests for updating the image locations:

find ./airshipctl/manifests/ ./treasuremap/manifests/ -name "*.yaml" -type f -readable -writable -exec sed -i \
  -e "s,,,g" -i \
  -e "s,,,g" -i \
  -e "s,,,g" {} +;

Now the manifests for the new site are ready for deployment.