Migrate ECE to Podman hostsedit

This section provides guidelines and recommendations for migrating an existing platform to a Podman-based environment. You have an existing ECE installation version >=3.0 and want to migrate all hosts to use Podman as a container runtime. The recommended approach consists of three (3) high-level steps.

Step 1: Upgrade ECE to version >= 3.3.0 following the Upgrade your installation guidelines. Skip this step if your ECE installation is already running a version >= 3.3.0.

Step 2: Prepare an additional RHEL 8 VM (the version must be >= 8.5, but <9). We recommend using one additional VM to perform a rolling grow-and-shrink upgrade.

Step 3: Migrate each host one by one from docker to Podman. This allows you to move workloads from Docker-based hosts to Podman-based ones without downtime. We highly recommend to allocate the additional Podman allocator to the same zone as the docker allocator you want to replace. The following diagram shows the conceptual steps.

Using docker or Podman as container runtime is a configuration local to the host. For example, the admin console is not aware which container runtime is using Podman. Hence there is no restriction on the migration ordering of the hosts.

Migration Overview

When copy-pasting commands, verify that characters like quotes (“) are encoded correctly in the console where you copy the command to.

Steps that run commands starting with sudo can be run as any sudoers user. Otherwise, when the file content changes, the corresponding user is mentioned as part of the step description.

  1. Make sure you are running a healthy x-node ECE environment ready to be upgraded. All nodes use the docker container runtime.
  2. Upgrade to ECE 3.3.0+ following the Upgrade your installation guideline. Skip this step if your existing ECE installation already runs ECE >= 3.3.0
  3. Follow your internal guidelines to add an additional vanilla RHEL 8 VM to your environment. Note that the version must be >= 8.5, but <9.
  4. Verify that required traffic from the host added in step 3 is allowed to the primary ECE VM(s). Check the Networking prerequisites and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) guidelines for a list of ports that need to be open. The technical configuration highly depends on the underlying infrastructure.

    Example For AWS, allowing traffic between hosts is implemented using security groups.

  5. Identify the host you want to replace with a podman-based host and copy the associated roles.

    Example 1 You want to migrate the docker host with the role Allocator to a podman host. Copy the role allocator.

    Migrate Allocator

    Example 2 You want to migrate the docker host with the roles Allocator, Controller, Director, and Proxy to a podman host. Copy the roles allocator, coordinator, director, proxy.

    Migrate Allocator

    The role Controller in the admin console is called coordinator for the elastic-cloud-enterprise.sh script

  6. Configure the RHEL 8 Host

    1. Install the OS packages lvm2, iptables, sysstat, and net-tools by executing

      sudo dnf install lvm2 iptables sysstat net-tools 

      The ECE diagnostic script requires net-tools.

    2. Remove docker and previously installed podman packages (if previously installed)

      sudo dnf remove docker docker-ce podman podman-remote
    3. As a sudoers user, disable SELinux by adding the following parameter to /etc/selinux/config

    4. Install podman version 4.2.*.

      sudo dnf install podman-4.2.* podman-remote-4.2.*
    5. If podman requires a proxy in your infrastructure setup, modify the /usr/share/containers/containers.conf file and add the HTTP_PROXY and HTTPS_PROXY environment variables in the [engine] section. Please note that multiple env variables in that configuration file exists — use the one in the [engine] section.


      env = ["HTTP_PROXY=http://{proxy-ip}:{proxy-port}", "HTTPS_PROXY=http://{proxy-ip}:{proxy-port}"]
    6. Restart systemd

      sudo systemctl daemon-reload
    7. Create OS groups, if they do not exist yet

      Reference: Users and permissions

      sudo groupadd elastic
      sudo groupadd podman
    8. Add user elastic to the podman group

      Reference: Users and permissions

      sudo useradd -g "elastic" -G "podman" elastic
    9. As a sudoers user, add the following line to /etc/sudoers.d/99-ece-users

      Reference: Users and permissions

      elastic ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD:ALL
    10. Add the required options to the kernel boot arguments

      sudo /sbin/grubby --update-kernel=ALL --args='cgroup_enable=memory cgroup.memory=nokmem swapaccount=1'
    11. Create the directory

      sudo mkdir -p /etc/systemd/system/podman.socket.d
    12. As a sudoers user, create the file /etc/systemd/system/podman.socket.d/podman.conf with the following content. Set the correct ownership and permission.

      Both ListenStream= and ListenStream=/var/run/docker.sock parameters are required!

      File content:


      File ownership and permission:

      sudo chown root:root /etc/systemd/system/podman.socket.d/podman.conf
      sudo chmod 0644 /etc/systemd/system/podman.socket.d/podman.conf
    13. As a sudoers user, create the (text) file /usr/bin/docker with the following content. Verify that the regular double quotes in the text file are used (ASCII code Hex 22)

      podman-remote --url unix:///var/run/docker.sock "$@"
    14. Set the file permissions on /usr/bin/docker

      sudo chmod 0755 /usr/bin/docker
    15. As a sudoers user, add the following two lines to the [storage] section to the file /etc/containers/storage.conf. Verify that those parameters are only defined once. Either remove or comment out potentially existing parameters.

      runroot = "/mnt/data/docker/runroot/"
      graphroot = "/mnt/data/docker"
    16. Enable podman so that itself and running containers start automatically after a reboot

      sudo systemctl enable podman.service
      sudo systemctl enable podman-restart.service
    17. Enable the overlay kernel module (check Use the OverlayFS storage driver) that the Podman overlay storage driver uses (check Working with the Container Storage library and tools in Red Hat Enterprise Linux).

      In Docker world there are two overlay drivers, overlay and overlay2, today most users use the overlay2 driver, so we just use that one, and called it overlay.

      -- https://docs.docker.com/storage/storagedriver/overlayfs-driver/
      echo "overlay" | sudo tee -a /etc/modules-load.d/overlay.conf
    18. Format the additional data partition

      sudo mkfs.xfs /dev/nvme1n1
    19. Create the /mnt/data/ directory used as a mount point

      sudo install -o elastic -g elastic -d -m 700 /mnt/data
    20. As a sudoers user, modify the entry for the XFS volume in the /etc/fstab file to add pquota,prjquota. The default filesystem path used by Elastic Cloud Enterprise is /mnt/data.

      Replace /dev/nvme1n1 in the following example with the corresponding device on your host, and add this example configuration as a single line to /etc/fstab.

      /dev/nvme1n1	/mnt/data	xfs	defaults,nofail,x-systemd.automount,prjquota,pquota  0 2
    21. Restart the local-fs target

      sudo systemctl daemon-reload
      sudo systemctl restart local-fs.target
    22. Set the permissions on the newly mounted device

      ls /mnt/data
      sudo chown elastic:elastic /mnt/data
    23. Create the /mnt/data/docker directory for the Docker service storage

      sudo install -o elastic -g elastic -d -m 700 /mnt/data/docker
    24. Disable the firewalld service. The service is not compatible with Podman and interferes with the installation of ECE. You must disable firewalld before installing or reinstalling ECE.

      If firewalld does not exist on your VM, you can skip this step.

      sudo systemctl disable firewalld
    25. Configure kernel parameters

      cat <<EOF | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
      # Required by Elasticsearch 5.0 and later
      # enable forwarding so the Docker networking works as expected
      # Decrease the maximum number of TCP retransmissions to 5 as recommended for Elasticsearch TCP retransmission timeout.
      # See https://www.elastic.co/guide/en/elasticsearch/reference/current/system-config-tcpretries.html
      # Make sure the host doesn't swap too early
    26. Apply the new sysctl settings

      sudo sysctl -p
      sudo systemctl restart NetworkManager
    27. As a sudoers user, adjust the system limits. Add the following configuration values to the /etc/security/limits.conf file. If you are using a user name other than elastic, adjust the configuration values accordingly.

      *                soft    nofile         1024000
      *                hard    nofile         1024000
      *                soft    memlock        unlimited
      *                hard    memlock        unlimited
      elastic          soft    nofile         1024000
      elastic          hard    nofile         1024000
      elastic          soft    memlock        unlimited
      elastic          hard    memlock        unlimited
      root             soft    nofile         1024000
      root             hard    nofile         1024000
      root             soft    memlock        unlimited
    28. Authenticate the elastic user to pull images from the docker registry you use, by creating the file /home/elastic/.docker/config.json. This file needs to be owned by the elastic user. If you are using a user name other than elastic, adjust the path accordingly.

      Example: In case you use docker.elastic.co, the file content looks like as follows:

       "auths": {
         "docker.elastic.co": {
           "auth": "<auth-token>"
    29. Restart the podman service by running this command:

      sudo systemctl daemon-reload
      sudo systemctl restart podman
    30. Reboot the RHEL host

      sudo reboot
  7. Use the ECE installer script together with the --podman flag to add the additional host as a podman-based host.

    Refer to the official Install Elastic Cloud Enterprise on an additional host and Install ECE online documentation to adapt the command line parameters to your environment including fetching the role token.

    JVM heap sizes describes recommended JVM options.

    Important while running ./elastic-cloud-enterprise.sh

    • Make sure you use --podman on the podman host.
    • To fetch a role token following the Generate Roles Tokens guidelines, you need to send a JSON token to the admin console. Double check the correct format of the roles. Roles are a list of individual strings in quotes, NOT a single string.

      For example 1, the JSON object is as follows:

      '{ "persistent": true, "roles": [ "allocator" ] }'

      For example 2, the JSON object is as follows:

      '{ "persistent": true, "roles": [ "allocator","coordinator","director","proxy" ] }'
    • The ECE version of the additional host must be the same as the version used in step 2. Use --cloud-enterprise-version VERSION_NAME to specify the correct version.
    • To easily identify the podman allocator, apply a tag to the additional host, for example containerengine:podman. The podman allocator is needed as the “target allocator” when you later move instances from the docker allocator to the podman allocator. For example, use --allocator-tags containerengine:podman.
    • Make sure to apply the roles as copied in step 5 to the additional host. The value for the --roles flag is a single string.

      For example 1 in step 4, use --roles "allocator"

      For example 2 in step 4, use --roles "allocator,coordinator,director,proxy"

    • Add the new host to the same availability zone as the docker host you want to replace. Use the --availability-zone <zone> flag.
  8. Login to admin console

    Verify that the new podman host has the same roles (same coloring of the hexagon) as the docker host you want to replace.

    The following screenshot shows the state where the correct roles have been applied. Both hosts in ece-zone-1 have the same color.

    Correct role

    The following screenshot shows the state where incorrect roles have been applied. The hosts in ece-zone-1 do not have the same coloring.

    Wrong role
  9. Put the docker-based allocator you want to replace with a podman allocator in maintenance mode by following the Enable Maintenance Mode documentation.

    As an alternative, use the Start maintenance mode API.

  10. Move all instances from the docker allocator to the podman allocator by following the Move Nodes From Allocators documentation.

    Make sure to specify the target podman allocator using the option “Set target allocators”.

    If you move admin console instances, you might update the URL in the browser before continuing with step 11.

    Move instances

    As an alternative, use the Move clusters API.

    To identifying the correct target allocator, the following APIs might be helpful:

    • Get allocators
    • Get allocator metadata

        "allocator_id": "",
        "zone_id": "ece-zone-1",
        "host_ip": "",
        "public_hostname": "",
        "capacity": {
            "memory": {
                "total": 26000,
                "used": 0
        "settings": {},
        "instances": [],
        "metadata": [
                "key": "containerengine",
                "value": "podman"

      If allocators are tagged as mentioned in step 7, the metadata section of the Get allocators API should contain the tag.

      This information allows you to determine what allocators are running on top of podman (automated way)

  11. Remove the docker allocator by following the Delete Hosts guidelines.

    As an alternative, use the Delete Runner API.