Over the last few days I noticed that when I use kubectl to manage a k8s test cluster in Azure, it takes forever to actually carry out the operations remotely. Today I took some time to debug this. Here’s how to fix a slow kubectl on Windows.
Get Verbose Output
I started with changing the log level, and capturing the details, like this:
kubectl get pods -v=20
The good news is, given that the commands worked so slowly, I had enough time to just read what was going on, and even understand where the problem was. If it’s not so slow, it helps to redirect stderr to a file, like this:
kubectl get pods -v=20 2> err.txt
In my case, it turned out that the command was going through a cache which was on the H: drive. That may not mean much to you, but my employer’s IT maps the H: drive to the (remote) home directory. They also set the HOMEDRIVE, HOMEPATH and HOMESHARE environment variables on login. HOMEDRIVE in particular is set to H:. Given that Windows (unlike Linux) by default doesn’t come with a HOME environment variable, kubectl for Windows tries to make up by constructing the HOME path using HOMEDRIVE and HOMEPATH. So kubectl ended up caching everything on a remote share, some 8500 km away. Needless to say, the lag between my workstation and the remote share is noticable.
How to fix Slow kubectl on Windows
So, how do you fix this? Well, it’s actually very easy: set the HOME environment variable to a local directory, run kubectl again, and now it’s a lot faster. In PowerShell, for that session, I just did
$env:HOME = $env:USERPROFILE
Now what’s left for me is to try and convince the IT department to stop using the HOMEDRIVE and HOMESHARE for remote users. That’s the tough part 😉