K3s Vs K3d: What is the difference?

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Both K3s and k3d are lightweight Kubernetes distributions that allow you to quickly deploy production-level Kubernetes in your local environments without much storage or network requirements.

Working with Kubernetes in a local environment is not so easy. It requires several operational efforts to check code functionality, build and tag docker images and create and deploy configurations.

To achieve this, professionals rely on tools and distributions designed to deploy lightweight Kubernetes distributions on local machines. Two of such tools are k3s and k3d.

This article explains the capabilities of k3s and k3d and their subtle differences.

Key Takeaways :

  1. K3s
  2. K3d
  3. K3s Vs K3d : What is the difference?


It is an efficient, lightweight tool designed to run production-level Kubernetes on local machines. It is designed to be a single binary of less than 50MB that completely implements the Kubernetes API.

In order to achieve this, they remove a lot of extra drivers that didn’t need to be part of the core and are easily replace with add-ons.

It is a fully CNCF (Cloud Native Computing Foundation) certified Kubernetes offering. This means that you can write your YAML to operate against a regular “full-fat” Kubernetes and they’ll also apply against a k3s cluster.

k3s clusters provide an environment that simulates the standard k8s, allowing you to test your knowledge of Kubernetes and your application similar to a production environment.

It is one of the most widely used tools for a well-optimized, secure, and simple Kubernetes environment in low-resource devices.


k3d is an open-source utility designed to easily run highly available lightweight k3s clusters in a docker container.

With k3d you can easily create single and multi-node k3s clusters for seamless local development and testing on Kubernetes. By running in Kubernetes, k3d also helps you to scale your workload up and down without more effort.

k3d is a wrapper of k3s, as the name suggested that it is k3s on docker.

It also offers additional features such as hot reload of code, building deploying, and testing Kubernetes applications using multi-server clusters.

K3d Vs K3s : What is the difference?

Both k3s and k3d are lightweight tools that allow you to deploy and run Kubernetes on your local machine with less operational effort compared to deploying k8s.

But these two also have some differences which are as follows :

  1. One of the key differences is that k3d deploys Docker-based k3s Kubernetes clusters while k3s deploys a virtual machine-based Kubernetes cluster.
  2. K3d offers a more scalable version of k3s which might make it preferable to the standard k3s.
  3. k3d appears to be a more flexible and improved version of k3s even though their features and usage are similar.
  4. Another difference, k3s is design to be easily deployable in production environments which makes it one of the most favorite options for running Kubernetes for production-level workloads in local environment while k3d is more suitable for use in even smaller environments like Raspberry Pi, IoT, and Edge devices.


This blog will help you to get a better understanding of the Kubernetes lightweight distributions i.e

3s and k3d, along with the key differences between them.

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Hi community, I am sachin from Ghaziabad a tech enthusiastic trying to make something useful for you.