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ReplicaSet is the next-generation Replication Controller. The only difference between a ReplicaSet and a Replication Controller right now is the selector support. ReplicaSet supports the new set-based selector requirements as described in the labels user guide whereas a Replication Controller only supports equality-based selector requirements.

How to use a ReplicaSet

Most kubectl commands that support Replication Controllers also support ReplicaSets. One exception is the rolling-update command. If you want the rolling update functionality please consider using Deployments instead. Also, the rolling-update command is imperative whereas Deployments are declarative, so we recommend using Deployments through the rollout command.

While ReplicaSets can be used independently, today it’s mainly used by Deployments as a mechanism to orchestrate pod creation, deletion and updates. When you use Deployments you don’t have to worry about managing the ReplicaSets that they create. Deployments own and manage their ReplicaSets.

When to use a ReplicaSet

A ReplicaSet ensures that a specified number of pod replicas are running at any given time. However, a Deployment is a higher-level concept that manages ReplicaSets and provides declarative updates to pods along with a lot of other useful features. Therefore, we recommend using Deployments instead of directly using ReplicaSets, unless you require custom update orchestration or don’t require updates at all.

This actually means that you may never need to manipulate ReplicaSet objects: use a Deployment instead, and define your application in the spec section.


apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: ReplicaSet
  name: frontend
    app: guestbook
    tier: frontend
  # modify replicas according to your case
  replicas: 3
      tier: frontend
      - {key: tier, operator: In, values: [frontend]}
        app: guestbook
        tier: frontend
      - name: php-redis
            cpu: 100m
            memory: 100Mi
        - name: GET_HOSTS_FROM
          value: dns
          # If your cluster config does not include a dns service, then to
          # instead access environment variables to find service host
          # info, comment out the 'value: dns' line above, and uncomment the
          # line below.
          # value: env
        - containerPort: 80

Saving this manifest into frontend.yaml and submitting it to a Kubernetes cluster should create the defined ReplicaSet and the pods that it manages.

$ kubectl create -f
replicaset.apps/frontend created
$ kubectl describe rs/frontend
Name:		frontend
Namespace:	default
Selector:	tier=frontend,tier in (frontend)
Labels:		app=guestbook
Annotations:	<none>
Replicas:	3 current / 3 desired
Pods Status:	3 Running / 0 Waiting / 0 Succeeded / 0 Failed
Pod Template:
  Labels:       app=guestbook
    Port:       80/TCP
      cpu:      100m
      memory:   100Mi
      GET_HOSTS_FROM:   dns
    Mounts:             <none>
  Volumes:              <none>
  FirstSeen    LastSeen    Count    From                SubobjectPath    Type        Reason            Message
  ---------    --------    -----    ----                -------------    --------    ------            -------
  1m           1m          1        {replicaset-controller }             Normal      SuccessfulCreate  Created pod: frontend-qhloh
  1m           1m          1        {replicaset-controller }             Normal      SuccessfulCreate  Created pod: frontend-dnjpy
  1m           1m          1        {replicaset-controller }             Normal      SuccessfulCreate  Created pod: frontend-9si5l
$ kubectl get pods
frontend-9si5l   1/1       Running   0          1m
frontend-dnjpy   1/1       Running   0          1m
frontend-qhloh   1/1       Running   0          1m

Writing a ReplicaSet Spec

As with all other Kubernetes API objects, a ReplicaSet needs the apiVersion, kind, and metadata fields. For general information about working with manifests, see object management using kubectl.

A ReplicaSet also needs a .spec section.

Pod Template

The .spec.template is the only required field of the .spec. The .spec.template is a pod template. It has exactly the same schema as a pod, except that it is nested and does not have an apiVersion or kind.

In addition to required fields of a pod, a pod template in a ReplicaSet must specify appropriate labels and an appropriate restart policy.

For labels, make sure to not overlap with other controllers. For more information, see pod selector.

For restart policy, the only allowed value for .spec.template.spec.restartPolicy is Always, which is the default.

For local container restarts, ReplicaSet delegates to an agent on the node, for example the Kubelet or Docker.

Pod Selector

The .spec.selector field is a label selector. A ReplicaSet manages all the pods with labels that match the selector. It does not distinguish between pods that it created or deleted and pods that another person or process created or deleted. This allows the ReplicaSet to be replaced without affecting the running pods.

The .spec.template.metadata.labels must match the .spec.selector, or it will be rejected by the API.

In Kubernetes 1.9 the API version apps/v1 on the ReplicaSet kind is the current version and is enabled by default. The API version apps/v1beta2 is deprecated.

Also you should not normally create any pods whose labels match this selector, either directly, with another ReplicaSet, or with another controller such as a Deployment. If you do so, the ReplicaSet thinks that it created the other pods. Kubernetes does not stop you from doing this.

If you do end up with multiple controllers that have overlapping selectors, you will have to manage the deletion yourself.

Labels on a ReplicaSet

The ReplicaSet can itself have labels (.metadata.labels). Typically, you would set these the same as the .spec.template.metadata.labels. However, they are allowed to be different, and the .metadata.labels do not affect the behavior of the ReplicaSet.


You can specify how many pods should run concurrently by setting .spec.replicas. The number running at any time may be higher or lower, such as if the replicas were just increased or decreased, or if a pod is gracefully shut down, and a replacement starts early.

If you do not specify .spec.replicas, then it defaults to 1.

Working with ReplicaSets

Deleting a ReplicaSet and its Pods

To delete a ReplicaSet and all of its Pods, use kubectl delete. The Garbage collector automatically deletes all of the dependent Pods by default.

When using the REST API or the client-go library, you must set propagationPolicy to Background or Foreground in delete option. e.g. :

kubectl proxy --port=8080
curl -X DELETE  'localhost:8080/apis/extensions/v1beta1/namespaces/default/replicasets/frontend' \
> -d '{"kind":"DeleteOptions","apiVersion":"v1","propagationPolicy":"Foreground"}' \
> -H "Content-Type: application/json"

Deleting just a ReplicaSet

You can delete a ReplicaSet without affecting any of its pods using kubectl delete with the --cascade=false option. When using the REST API or the client-go library, you must set propagationPolicy to Orphan, e.g. :

kubectl proxy --port=8080
curl -X DELETE  'localhost:8080/apis/extensions/v1beta1/namespaces/default/replicasets/frontend' \
> -d '{"kind":"DeleteOptions","apiVersion":"v1","propagationPolicy":"Orphan"}' \
> -H "Content-Type: application/json"

Once the original is deleted, you can create a new ReplicaSet to replace it. As long as the old and new .spec.selector are the same, then the new one will adopt the old pods. However, it will not make any effort to make existing pods match a new, different pod template. To update pods to a new spec in a controlled way, use a rolling update.

Isolating pods from a ReplicaSet

Pods may be removed from a ReplicaSet’s target set by changing their labels. This technique may be used to remove pods from service for debugging, data recovery, etc. Pods that are removed in this way will be replaced automatically ( assuming that the number of replicas is not also changed).

Scaling a ReplicaSet

A ReplicaSet can be easily scaled up or down by simply updating the .spec.replicas field. The ReplicaSet controller ensures that a desired number of pods with a matching label selector are available and operational.

ReplicaSet as an Horizontal Pod Autoscaler Target

A ReplicaSet can also be a target for Horizontal Pod Autoscalers (HPA). That is, a ReplicaSet can be auto-scaled by an HPA. Here is an example HPA targeting the ReplicaSet we created in the previous example.

apiVersion: autoscaling/v1
kind: HorizontalPodAutoscaler
  name: frontend-scaler
    kind: ReplicaSet
    name: frontend
  minReplicas: 3
  maxReplicas: 10
  targetCPUUtilizationPercentage: 50

Saving this manifest into hpa-rs.yaml and submitting it to a Kubernetes cluster should create the defined HPA that autoscales the target ReplicaSet depending on the CPU usage of the replicated pods.

kubectl create -f

Alternatively, you can use the kubectl autoscale command to accomplish the same (and it’s easier!)

kubectl autoscale rs frontend

Alternatives to ReplicaSet

Deployment is a higher-level API object that updates its underlying ReplicaSets and their Pods in a similar fashion as kubectl rolling-update. Deployments are recommended if you want this rolling update functionality, because unlike kubectl rolling-update, they are declarative, server-side, and have additional features. For more information on running a stateless application using a Deployment, please read Run a Stateless Application Using a Deployment.

Bare Pods

Unlike the case where a user directly created pods, a ReplicaSet replaces pods that are deleted or terminated for any reason, such as in the case of node failure or disruptive node maintenance, such as a kernel upgrade. For this reason, we recommend that you use a ReplicaSet even if your application requires only a single pod. Think of it similarly to a process supervisor, only it supervises multiple pods across multiple nodes instead of individual processes on a single node. A ReplicaSet delegates local container restarts to some agent on the node (for example, Kubelet or Docker).


Use a Job instead of a ReplicaSet for pods that are expected to terminate on their own (that is, batch jobs).


Use a DaemonSet instead of a ReplicaSet for pods that provide a machine-level function, such as machine monitoring or machine logging. These pods have a lifetime that is tied to a machine lifetime: the pod needs to be running on the machine before other pods start, and are safe to terminate when the machine is otherwise ready to be rebooted/shutdown.