Skip to content


This guide walks through deploying the matchbox service on a Linux host (as a binary or container image) or on a Kubernetes cluster.


matchbox is a service for network booting and provisioning machines to create CoreOS Container Linux clusters. matchbox should be installed on a provisioner machine (Container Linux or any Linux distribution) or cluster (Kubernetes) which can serve configs to client machines in a lab or datacenter.

Choose one of the supported installation options:


Download the latest matchbox release to the provisioner host.

$ wget
$ wget

Verify the release has been signed by Dalton Hubble's GPG Key's signing subkey.

$ gpg --keyserver --recv-key 2E3D92BF07D9DDCCB3BAE4A48F515AD1602065C8
$ gpg --verify matchbox-v0.8.3-linux-amd64.tar.gz.asc matchbox-v0.8.3-linux-amd64.tar.gz
gpg: Good signature from "Dalton Hubble <>"

Untar the release.

$ tar xzvf matchbox-v0.8.3-linux-amd64.tar.gz
$ cd matchbox-v0.8.3-linux-amd64


Generic Linux

Pre-built binaries are available for generic Linux distributions. Copy the matchbox static binary to an appropriate location on the host.

$ sudo cp matchbox /usr/local/bin

Set up User/Group

The matchbox service should be run by a non-root user with access to the matchbox data directory (/var/lib/matchbox). Create a matchbox user and group.

$ sudo useradd -U matchbox
$ sudo mkdir -p /var/lib/matchbox/assets
$ sudo chown -R matchbox:matchbox /var/lib/matchbox

Create systemd service

Copy the provided matchbox systemd unit file.

$ sudo cp contrib/systemd/matchbox-local.service /etc/systemd/system/matchbox.service


Customize matchbox by editing the systemd unit or adding a systemd dropin. Find the complete set of matchbox flags and environment variables at config.

$ sudo systemctl edit matchbox

By default, the read-only HTTP machine endpoint will be exposed on port 8080.

# /etc/systemd/system/matchbox.service.d/override.conf

A common customization is enabling the gRPC API to allow clients with a TLS client certificate to change machine configs.

# /etc/systemd/system/matchbox.service.d/override.conf

Customize matchbox to suit your preferences.


Allow your port choices on the provisioner's firewall so the clients can access the service. Here are the commands for those using firewalld:

$ sudo firewall-cmd --zone=MYZONE --add-port=8080/tcp --permanent
$ sudo firewall-cmd --zone=MYZONE --add-port=8081/tcp --permanent

Generate TLS Certificates

The Matchbox gRPC API allows clients (terraform-provider-matchbox) to create and update Matchbox resources. TLS credentials are needed for client authentication and to establish a secure communication channel. Client machines (those PXE booting) read from the HTTP endpoints and do not require this setup.

The cert-gen helper script generates a self-signed CA, server certificate, and client certificate. Prefer your organization's PKI, if possible

Navigate to the scripts/tls directory.

$ cd scripts/tls

Export SAN to set the Subject Alt Names which should be used in certificates. Provide the fully qualified domain name or IP (discouraged) where Matchbox will be installed.

# DNS or IP Subject Alt Names where matchbox runs
$ export,IP.1:

Generate a ca.crt, server.crt, server.key, client.crt, and client.key.

$ ./cert-gen

Move TLS credentials to the matchbox server's default location.

$ sudo mkdir -p /etc/matchbox
$ sudo cp ca.crt server.crt server.key /etc/matchbox
$ sudo chown -R matchbox:matchbox /etc/matchbox

Save client.crt, client.key, and ca.crt for later use (e.g. ~/.matchbox).

$ mkdir -p ~/.matchbox
$ cp client.crt client.key ca.crt ~/.matchbox/

Start matchbox

Start the matchbox service and enable it if you'd like it to start on every boot.

$ sudo systemctl daemon-reload
$ sudo systemctl start matchbox
$ sudo systemctl enable matchbox


Verify the matchbox service is running and can be reached by client machines (those being provisioned).

$ systemctl status matchbox
$ dig

Verify you receive a response from the HTTP and API endpoints.

$ curl

If you enabled the gRPC API,

$ openssl s_client -connect -CAfile /etc/matchbox/ca.crt -cert scripts/tls/client.crt -key scripts/tls/client.key
depth=1 CN = fake-ca
verify return:1
depth=0 CN = fake-server
verify return:1
Certificate chain
 0 s:/CN=fake-server

Download Container Linux (optional)

matchbox can serve Container Linux images in development or lab environments to reduce bandwidth usage and increase the speed of Container Linux PXE boots and installs to disk.

Download a recent Container Linux release with signatures.

$ ./scripts/get-coreos stable 1967.3.0 .     # note the "." 3rd argument

Move the images to /var/lib/matchbox/assets,

$ sudo cp -r coreos /var/lib/matchbox/assets
├── coreos
│   └── 1967.3.0
│       ├── CoreOS_Image_Signing_Key.asc
│       ├── coreos_production_image.bin.bz2
│       ├── coreos_production_image.bin.bz2.sig
│       ├── coreos_production_pxe_image.cpio.gz
│       ├── coreos_production_pxe_image.cpio.gz.sig
│       ├── coreos_production_pxe.vmlinuz
│       └── coreos_production_pxe.vmlinuz.sig

and verify the images are acessible.

$ curl

For large production environments, use a cache proxy or mirror suitable for your environment to serve Container Linux images.


Review network setup with your network administrator to set up DHCP, TFTP, and DNS services on your network. At a high level, your goals are to:

  • Chainload PXE firmwares to iPXE
  • Point iPXE client machines to the matchbox iPXE HTTP endpoint
  • Ensure resolves to your matchbox deployment

Poseidon provides dnsmasq as

Container Image

Run the container image.

$ mkdir -p /var/lib/matchbox/assets
$ sudo docker run --net=host --rm -v /var/lib/matchbox:/var/lib/matchbox:Z -v /etc/matchbox:/etc/matchbox:Z,ro -address= -rpc-address= -log-level=debug

Create machine profiles, groups, or Ignition configs by adding files to /var/lib/matchbox.


Install matchbox on a Kubernetes cluster by creating a deployment and service.

$ kubectl apply -f contrib/k8s/matchbox-deployment.yaml
$ kubectl apply -f contrib/k8s/matchbox-service.yaml
$ kubectl get services
NAME                 CLUSTER-IP   EXTERNAL-IP   PORT(S)             AGE
matchbox      <none>        8080/TCP,8081/TCP   46m

Example manifests in contrib/k8s enable the gRPC API to allow client apps to update matchbox objects. Generate TLS server credentials for as shown and create a Kubernetes secret. Alternately, edit the example manifests if you don't need the gRPC API enabled.

$ kubectl create secret generic matchbox-rpc --from-file=ca.crt --from-file=server.crt --from-file=server.key

Create an Ingress resource to expose the HTTP read-only and gRPC API endpoints. The Ingress example requires the cluster to have a functioning Nginx Ingress Controller.

$ kubectl create -f contrib/k8s/matchbox-ingress.yaml
$ kubectl get ingress
NAME      HOSTS                                          ADDRESS            PORTS     AGE
matchbox            ,10...   80        29m
matchbox-rpc        ,10...   80, 443   29m

Add DNS records and to route traffic to the Ingress Controller.

Verify responds with the text "matchbox" and verify gRPC clients can connect to

$ curl
$ openssl s_client -connect -CAfile ca.crt -cert client.crt -key client.key

HTTPS - The read-only Matchbox API is also available with HTTPS

To start matchbox in this mode you will need the following flags set:

Name Type Description
-web-ssl bool true/false
-web-cert-file string Path to the server TLS certificate file
-web-key-file string Path to the server TLS key file

Operational notes

  • Secrets: Matchbox can be run as a public facing service. However, you must follow best practices and avoid writing secret material into machine user-data. Instead, load secret materials from an internal secret store.
  • Storage: Example manifests use Kubernetes emptyDir volumes to store matchbox data. Swap those out for a Kubernetes persistent volume if available.