Pod restart vs. replacement

What’s the difference b/w a restart and a replacement?

If you google Pod restart vs replacement, virutally every article conflates the two, but the distinction is very important!

A good way to test if some event causes a restart vs a replacment is to see if the UID for the pod remains the same or not before vs. after the event:

kubectl get pods -o custom-columns=PodName:.metadata.name,PodUID:.metadata.uid

If the pod name is auto-generated, like how it is with a usual deployment, the pod name will change, too. If the pod name changes, then you know for sure the pod was replaced.

However, when in doubt, check the UID.

A pod with the same UID is guaranteed to be running on the same node, since it has only been restarted.

This article on Pod lifecycle is helpful.

What causes a restart vs replacement

  • restart:
    • failed liveness probe (I confirmed with the UID that this restarts the Pod).
    • When a container exits the pod will be restarted according to the restartPolicy in the podspec.
  • replacement:
    • kubectl rollout restart Yes! It replaces the pod, I checked and the UID changes! Don’t get foooled by the word “restart”
    • deleting the resource (ex: kubectl delete deploy/...)
    • scaling the resource to zero (ex: kubectl scale deployment ...)
    • If you change the podspec.

If unsure do some experiments!

Forcing a container to exit

You can force a container to exit with the following command. This might be useful for testing:

kl exec -it {pod name} -- killall5

This will cause the pod to restart the container, not replace it.

Storage Implications

Storage that exists at the Pod-level, like emptyDir will survive a Pod restart, but NOT a pod replacement:

   - name: myimage
     image: repo/image
      - name: data                 # Mounts a volume called data
         mountPath: /data          # into the /data directory
   - name: data                    # This is the data volume spec,
     emptyDir: {}                  # which is the EmptyDir type.

Any data stored in an EmptyDir volume remains in the Pod between restarts, so Pod’s that are restarted can access data written by their predecessors. An EmptyDir volume can be a reasonable source for a local cache because if the app crashes, then the replacement container will still have the cached files.