K3s: The World’s Most Downloaded and Beloved Kubernetes Distribution


K3s is one of the most popular open source CNCF projects and continues to be the most widely adopted Kubernetes distribution in the world due to its simplicity and efficiency. As a lightweight Kubernetes solution, K3s is uniquely positioned to meet the demands of edge computing and Kubernetes deployments in diverse environments, excelling where other Kubernetes distributions struggle or fail.

K3s at a Glance

With millions of downloads and tens of thousands of new installations each week, K3s is the preferred lightweight Kubernetes distribution on the planet. K3s is a lightweight, easy-to-install Kubernetes distribution specifically designed to run on resource-constrained environments and IoT devices, making it ideal for edge computing scenarios. K3s benefits from robust community support, with over 26.5k stars on GitHub and contributions from more than 1,855 active members. These figures not only reflect its popularity but also ensure that K3s remains on the cutting edge of technology advancements.

Key Benefits of K3s

  • Scalability: Manage thousands of clusters effortlessly with Rancher Prime and K3s, while ensuring unmatched scalability, openness and control.
  • Lightweight and performant: Install anywhere to get the most out of your infrastructure and apps.
  • Optimized for edge: K3s is certified for production workloads in unattended, resource-constrained, remote locations or inside micro edge devices.
  • Resilience: Provides high availability and consistent performance, crucial in environments like The Home Depot where downtime is not an option.
  • Simplicity: Facilitates easy setup and management, making Kubernetes accessible to teams of varying technical levels.
  • Flexibility: Adapts to a wide range of use cases, from development to production, across different industries.
  • Multi-Architecture Support: K3s offers extensive support for both ARM64 and ARMv7 architectures, enhancing versatility across various hardware platforms.


First Native Edge in Space: Kratos

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions is pioneering the digital transformation of satellite communications. By leveraging K3s, Kratos has shifted from reliance on proprietary hardware to a dynamic, software-defined approach. This agility allows Kratos to remotely rebuild satellite functionalities swiftly in response to changing demands on the ground — a critical advantage in the satellite industry.

  • Digital Transformation: Kratos uses K3s to virtualize network functions on satellites, enabling rapid reconfiguration of satellite platforms.
  • Edge Innovation: Running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Micro and K3s, Kratos’ OpenSpace Platform exemplifies the cutting-edge application of Kubernetes at the far edge of network operations.

The Home Depot: Enhancing Retail Operations with K3s

At The Home Depot, K3s drives the edge computing strategy, managing applications across 2,200 U.S. stores. This extensive deployment underscores K3s’ ability to streamline operations and support scalable solutions, ensuring reliable performance even in disconnected environments and meeting diverse technical needs from QA to full-scale production workloads.

Arm: Empowering Engineers with K3s

Arm expanded its use of the Rancher Prime technology stack to include K3s, scaling its deployment to 2,500 engineers. This scale-up highlights K3s’ ability to simplify complex DevOps processes and reduce operational complexity, efficiently supporting a vast scale of enterprise engineering needs.


Looking Ahead

K3s integrates cutting-edge technologies such as edge, IoT, AI and machine learning to address evolving business needs. As organizations like Kratos, The Home Depot and Arm continue to innovate, K3s is a critical component of their technology strategies, driving efficiency and innovation.

K3s is not merely a tool; it’s a pivotal technology that empowers businesses to harness the full potential of Kubernetes without the typical associated complexities of larger deployments. Its significant impact on companies like The Home Depot and Arm showcases its capacity to revolutionize industries by making edge computing more accessible and manageable.

By adopting K3s, enterprises aren’t just choosing a technology; they’re embracing a future where flexibility, scalability and reliability are readily achievable.

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Ivan Tarin Product Marketing Manager at SUSE, specializing in Enterprise Container Management and Kubernetes solutions. With experience in software development and technical marketing, Ivan bridges the gap between technology and strategic business initiatives, ensuring SUSE's offerings are at the forefront of innovation and effectively meet the complex needs of global enterprises.