How To Troubleshoot Kubernetes Pods: Beginners Guide

Troubleshoot Kubernetes Pod errors

In this blog, you will learn to troubleshoot kubernetes pods and debug issues associate with the containers inside the pods.

If you are trying to become a devops engineer with Kubernetes skills, it is essential to understand pod troubleshooting.

In most cases, you can get the pod error details by describing the pod event. With the error message, you can figure out the cause of the pod failure and rectify it.

How to Troubleshoot Pod Errors?

The first step in troubleshooting a pod is getting the status of the pod.

kubectl get pods

The following output shows the error states under the status.

➜  kubectl get pods
NAME                            READY   STATUS                       RESTARTS   AGE
config-service                  0/1     CreateContainerConfigError   0          20s
image-service-fdf74c785-9znfd   0/1     InvalidImageName             0          30s
secret-pod                      0/1     ContainerCreating            0          15s

Now that you know the error type, the next step is to describe the individual pod and browse through the events to pinpoint the reason that is causing the pod error.

For example,

kubectl describe pod config-service

Where config-service is the pod name. Now let’s look into detail on how to troubleshoot and debug different types of pod errors.

Types of Pod Errors

Before diving into pod debugging, it’s essential to understand different types of Pod errors.

Container & Image Errors

All these error states are part of the kubernetes container package & Kubernetes image package

Following is the list of official Kubernetes pod errors with error descriptions.

Pod Error TypeError Description
ErrImagePullIf kubernetes is not able to pull the image mentioned in the manifest.
ErrImagePullBackOffContainer image pull failed, kubelet is backing off image pull
ErrInvalidImageNameIndicates a wrong image name.
ErrImageInspectUnable to inspect the image.
ErrImageNeverPullSpecified Image is absent on the node and PullPolicy is set to NeverPullImage
ErrRegistryUnavailableHTTP error when trying to connect to the registry
ErrContainerNotFoundThe specified container is either not present or not managed by the kubelet, within the declared pod.
ErrRunInitContainerContainer initialization failed.
ErrRunContainerPod’s containers don’t start successfully due to misconfiguration.
ErrKillContainerNone of the pod’s containers were killed successfully.
ErrCrashLoopBackOffA container has terminated. The kubelet will not attempt to restart it.
ErrVerifyNonRootA container or image attempted to run with root privileges.
ErrCreatePodSandboxPod sandbox creation did not succeed.
ErrConfigPodSandboxPod sandbox configuration was not obtained.
ErrKillPodSandboxA pod sandbox did not stop successfully.
ErrSetupNetworkNetwork initialization failed.

Now let’s look at some of the most common pod errors and how to debug them.

Troubleshoot ErrImagePullBackOff

➜  pods kubectl get pods
NAME                                READY   STATUS             RESTARTS   AGE
nginx-deployment-599d6bdb7d-lh7d9   0/1     ImagePullBackOff   0          7m17s

If you see ErrImagePullBackOff in pod status, it is most likely for the following reasons.

  1. The specified image is not present in the registry.
  2. A typo in the image name or tag.
  3. Image pull access was denied from the given registry due to credential issues.

If you check the pod events, you will see the ErrImagePull error followed by ErrImagePullBackOff. This means the kubelet stops trying to pull the image again and again.

kubectl describe pod <pod-name>

Error reference

Warning  Failed     24m (x4 over 25m)    kubelet            Error: ErrImagePull
  Normal   BackOff    23m (x6 over 25m)    kubelet            Back-off pulling image "ngasdinx:latest"
  Warning  Failed     29s (x110 over 25m)  kubelet            Error: ImagePullBackOff

Troubleshoot Error: InvalidImageName

➜  pods kubectl get pod
NAME                                READY   STATUS             RESTARTS   AGE
nginx-deployment-6f597fc4cd-j86mm   0/1     InvalidImageName   0          7m26s

If you specify a wrong image URL in the manifest, you will get the InvalidImageName error.

For example, if you have a private container registry and you mention the image name with https, it will throw the InvalidImageName error. You need to specify the image name without https

troubleshoot Error: InvalidImageName

If you have trailing slashes in the image name, you will get both InspectFailed & InvalidImageName errors. You can check it by describing the pod.

troubleshoot Error: InvalidImageName  with url slash

Error reference

Warning  InspectFailed  4s (x6 over 42s)  kubelet            Failed to apply default image tag "": couldn't parse image reference "": invalid reference format
  Warning  Failed         4s (x6 over 42s)  kubelet            Error: InvalidImageName

Troubleshoot RunContainerError

secret-pod     0/1     RunContainerError            0 (9s ago)   12s

Pod Configmap & Secret Errors [CreateContainerConfigError]

CreateContainerConfigError is one of the common errors related to Configmaps and Secrets in pods.

This normally occurs due to two reasons.

  1. You have the wrong configmap or secret keys referenced as environment variables
  2. The referenced configmap is not available

If you describe the pod you will see the following error.

Warning  Failed     3s (x2 over 10s)  kubelet     Error: configmap "nginx-config" not found

If you have a typo in the key name, you will see the following error in the pod events.

Warning  Failed     2s  kubelet  Error: couldn't find key service-names in ConfigMap default/nginx-config

To rectify this issue,

  1. Ensure the config map is created.
  2. Ensure you have the correct configmap name & key name added to the env declaration.

Let’s look at the correct example. Here is a configmap where service-name is the key that is needed as an env variable inside the pod.

apiVersion: v1
kind: ConfigMap
  name: nginx-config
  namespace: default
  service-name: front-end-service

Here is the correct pod definition using the key (service-name) & configmap name (nginx-config)

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
  name: config-service
    - name: nginx
      image: nginx
        - name: SERVICE
              name: nginx-config
              key: service-name

Pod Pending Error

To troubleshoot pod pending error, you need to be aware of Pod LifeCycle Phases. Pending in the first phase of the pod it means, the pod has been created but none of the main containers are running.

To understand the root cause, you can describe the pod and check the events.

For example,

kubectl describe pod <pod-name> -n <namespace>

Here is an example, output of a pending pod that shows FailedScheduling due to no node availability. It could happen due to

      Type     Reason            Age                  From               Message
      ----     ------            ----                 ----               -------
      Warning  FailedScheduling  38s (x24 over 116m)  default-scheduler  no nodes available to schedule pods

    It could happen due to

    1. Node Less CPU and Memory Resources
    2. No suitable node due to Affinity/Anti-affinity rules.
    3. Nodes could reject the pod due to Taints and Tolerations
    4. The node might not be ready to schedule the pods.
    5. The pod could not find the volume to be attached.
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