This guide walks through deploying the matchbox service on a Linux host (via RPM, rkt, docker, or binary) or on a Kubernetes cluster.


matchbox is a service for network booting and provisioning machines to create Container Linux clusters. matchbox should be installed on a provisioner machine (CoreOS 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 the CoreOS App Signing Key.

$ gpg --keyserver --recv-key 18AD5014C99EF7E3BA5F6CE950BDD3E0A6F71EE5BEDDBA18
$ gpg --verify matchbox-v0.6.1-linux-amd64.tar.gz.asc matchbox-v0.6.1-linux-amd64.tar.gz
# gpg: Good signature from "CoreOS Application Signing Key <>"

Untar the release.

$ tar xzvf matchbox-v0.6.1-linux-amd64.tar.gz
$ cd matchbox-v0.6.1-linux-amd64


RPM-based distro

On an RPM-based provisioner (Fedora 24+), install the matchbox RPM from the Copr repository using dnf.

dnf copr enable @CoreOS/matchbox
dnf install matchbox

RPMs are not currently available for CentOS and RHEL (due to Go version). CentOS and RHEL users should follow the Generic Linux section below.


On a CoreOS provisioner, rkt run matchbox image with the provided systemd unit.

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

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

The Tectonic Installer uses this API. Tectonic users with a CoreOS provisioner can start with an example that enables it.

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

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

Save client.crt, client.key, and ca.crt for later use (e.g. ~/.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 examples/etc/matchbox/client.crt -key examples/etc/matchbox/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 CoreOS (optional)

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

Download a recent CoreOS release with signatures.

$ ./scripts/get-coreos stable 1353.7.0 .     # note the "." 3rd argument

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

$ sudo cp -r coreos /var/lib/matchbox/assets
├── coreos
│   └── 1353.7.0
│       ├── 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 CoreOS images. See contrib/squid for details.


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

CoreOS provides dnsmasq as, if you wish to use rkt or Docker.


Run the container image with rkt.

latest or most recent tagged matchbox release ACI. Trust the CoreOS App Signing Key for image signature verification.

$ mkdir -p /var/lib/matchbox/assets
$ sudo rkt run --net=host --mount volume=data,target=/var/lib/matchbox --volume data,kind=host,source=/var/lib/matchbox --mount volume=config,target=/etc/matchbox --volume config,kind=host,source=/etc/matchbox,readOnly=true -- -address= -rpc-address= -log-level=debug

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


Run the container image with docker.

$ 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, 443   32m

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

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.