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Amazon EKS Distro

Amazon EKS Distro (EKS-D) is a Kubernetes distribution based on and used by Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) to create reliable and secure Kubernetes clusters. With EKS-D, you can rely on the same versions of Kubernetes and its dependencies deployed by Amazon EKS. This includes the latest upstream updates, as well as extended security patching support. EKS-D follows the same Kubernetes version release cycle as Amazon EKS, and we provide the bits here. EKS-D provides the same software that has enabled tens of thousands of Kubernetes clusters on Amazon EKS.

What is the difference between EKS (the AWS Kubernetes cloud service) and EKS-D? The main difference is in how they are managed. EKS is a fully managed Kubernetes platform, while EKS-D is available to install and manage yourself. You can run EKS-D on-premises, in a cloud, or on your own systems. EKS-D provides a path to having essentially the same Amazon EKS Kubernetes distribution running wherever you need to run it.

Once EKS-D is running, you are responsible for managing and upgrading it yourself. For end users, however, running applications is the same as with EKS since the two support the same API versions and same set of components.

A supported installation method for EKS-D is available with EKS Anywhere (EKS-A). To try out EKS-D without EKS-A, the instructions in this website describe how to:

  • Build EKS-D from source code

  • Install EKS-D using kOps or other installation methods

Check out EKS Distro's Starting a cluster page. See the Partners page for links to third-party methods for installing EKS-D.

Project Tenets (unless you know better ones)

The tenets of the EKS Distro (EKS-D) project are:

  1. The Source: The goal of the EKS Distro is to be the Kubernetes source for EKS and EKS Anywhere
  2. Simple: Make using a Kubernetes distribution simple and boring (reliable and secure)
  3. Opinionated Modularity: Provide opinionated defaults about the best components to include with Kubernetes but give customers the ability to swap them out
  4. Open: Provide open source tooling backed, validated and maintained by Amazon
  5. Ubiquitous: Enable customers and partners to integrate a Kubernetes distribution in the most common tooling (Kubernetes installers and distributions, infrastructure as code, and more)
  6. Stand Alone: Provided for use anywhere without AWS dependencies
  7. Better with AWS: Enable AWS customers to adopt additional AWS services easily

Release Channels

EKS Distro releases Kubernetes versions at the same pace as EKS and issues updates as releases in release channels. A release channel tracks minor versions (v<major>.<minor>.<point>) of Kubernetes, and a channel will be retired when EKS ceases supporting a particular minor version of Kubernetes. EKS Distro announces new releases and release channels via an SNS topic (arn:aws:sns:us-east-1:379412251201:eks-distro-updates) at their launch. Releases and release channels are structured as Kubernetes Custom Resource Definitions (CRDs), and the schema can be found in the eks-distro-build-tooling GitHub repository.

You can install the CRD API type, the release channel manifest for EKS-D, and view the release channel by running the following commands:

kubectl apply -f
kubectl apply -f${RELEASE_BRANCH}.yaml
kubectl get -o yaml releasechannels


Releases of the EKS Distro are in-step with versions of components used by or recommended for use with Amazon EKS. EKS Distro also includes the following components:

  • CNI plugins
  • CoreDNS
  • etcd
  • CSI Sidecars
  • aws-iam-authenticator
  • Kubernetes Metrics Server
  • Kubernetes

All container images for these components are based on Amazon Linux 2 and are available on the ECR Public Gallery for amd64 and arm64 architectures. New releases of EKS Distro will be created when there is an updated component version, a required update in the Amazon Linux 2 base image, or a change required in the build toolchain (ex: a Go version update).

There are components of Kubernetes, CNI, etcd, and aws-iam-authenticator that are not delivered as container images. These components are available as compressed tar archive and executable files. The files have associated sha256 and sha512 sum files provided in release manifests. They are available for download with names similar to the file (ex:

A list of all the components and assets that make up a release, including URIs to all the compressed archives, binaries, and container images, is available in the release manifests. You can install the CRD API type, the release manifest for EKS Distro, and view the release by running the following commands:

kubectl apply -f
kubectl apply -f${RELEASE_BRANCH}/kubernetes-${RELEASE_BRANCH}-eks-${RELEASE}.yaml
kubectl get release kubernetes-${RELEASE_BRANCH}-eks-${RELEASE}
kubectl get release kubernetes-${RELEASE_BRANCH}-eks-${RELEASE} -o yaml

Release Version Dependencies

The EKS Distro of Kubernetes source repository does not include any AMIs (Amazon Machine Images), but it does use the EKS Optimized AMI. See the project repository for the EKS Optimized AMI if you are interested in the AL2 container runtime kernel version.

EKS-D 1.29 Version Dependencies

EKS-D 1.28 Version Dependencies

EKS-D 1.27 Version Dependencies

EKS-D 1.26 Version Dependencies

EKS-D 1.25 Version Dependencies

EKS-D 1.24 Version Dependencies (DEPRECATED)

EKS-D 1.23 Version Dependencies (DEPRECATED)

EKS-D 1.22 Version Dependencies (DEPRECATED)

EKS-D 1.21 Version Dependencies (DEPRECATED)

EKS-D 1.20 Version Dependencies (DEPRECATED)

EKS-D 1.19 Version Dependencies (DEPRECATED)

EKS-D 1.18 Version Dependencies (DEPRECATED)