Kubernetes Installations


Our Installer can handle the installation of Element Enterprise into your existing production kubernetes (k8s) environment.

Server minimum requirements

The ESS deployment resource usage is described in ESS Sizing.


Before beginning the installation, there are a few things that must be prepared to ensure a successful deployment and functioning installation.

Python environment

The installer needs python3, pip3 and python3-venv installed to run.

Kubectl environment

The installer uses your currently active kubectl context which can be determined with kubectl config current-context - make sure this is the correct context as all subsequent operations will be performed under this.

More information on configuring this can be found in the upstream kubectl docs

Be sure to export K8S_AUTH_CONTEXT=<kube context name> for the Installer if you need to use a context aside from your currently active one.


Before you can begin with the installation you must have a PostgreSQL database instance available. The installer does not manage databases itself.

The database you use must be set to a locale of C and use UTF8 encoding

see https://element-hq.github.io/synapse/latest/postgres.html#set-up-database for further details as they relate to Synapse. If the locale / encoding are incorrect, Synapse will fail to initialize the database and get stuck in a CrashLoopBackoff cycle.

Please make note of the database hostname, database name, user, and password as you will need these to begin the installation.

For testing and evaluation purposes, you can deploy PostgreSQL to k8s before you begin the installation process - see Kubernetes Installations - Quick Start - Deploying PostgreSQL to Kubernetes for more information.

Kubernetes Ingress Controller

The installer does not manage cluster Ingress capabilities since this is typically a cluster-wide concern - You must have this available prior to installation. Without a working Ingress Controller you will be unable to route traffic to your services without manual configuration.

If you do not have an Ingress Controller deployed please see Kubernetes Installations - Quick Start - Deploying ingress-nginx to Kubernetes for information on how to set up a bare-bones ingress-nginx installation to your cluster.

Use an existing Ingress Controller

If you have an Ingress Controller deployed already and it is set to the default class for the cluster, you shouldn't have to do anything else.

If you're unsure you can see which providers are available in your cluster with the following command:

$ kubectl get IngressClass
nginx   k8s.io/ingress-nginx   <none>       40d

And you can check to see whether an IngressClass is set to default using kubectl, for example:

$ kubectl describe IngressClass nginx
Name:         nginx
Labels:       app.kubernetes.io/component=controller
Annotations:  ingressclass.kubernetes.io/is-default-class: true
Controller:   k8s.io/ingress-nginx
Events:       <none>

In this example cluster there is only an nginx IngressClass and it is already default, but depending on the cluster you are deploying to this may be something you must manually set.

Beginning the Installation

Head to https://ems.element.io/on-premise/download and download the latest installer. The installer will be called element-enterprise-graphical-installer-YYYY-MM.VERSION-gui.bin. You will take this file and copy it to the machine where you will be installing the Element Server Suite from. This machine will need to be running on RHEL 8, RHEL 9, or Ubuntu and have access to your kubernetes cluster network. Once you have this file on the machine in a directory accessible to your sudo-enabled user, you will run:

chmod +x ./element-enterprise-graphical-installer-YYYY-MM.VERSION-gui.bin

replacing the YYYY-MM.VERSION with the appropriate tag for the installer you downloaded.

If you have multiple kubernetes clusters configured in your kubeconfig, you will have to export the K8S_AUTH_CONTEXT variable before running the installer :

export K8S_AUTH_CONTEXT=<kube context name>

Once you have done this, you will run:


replacing the YYYY-MM.VERSION with the appropriate tag for the installer you downloaded, and this will start a web server with the installer loaded.

You will see a message similar to:

[user@element-demo ~]$ ./element-enterprise-graphical-installer-2023-02.02-gui.bin 
Testing network...

Using self-signed certificate with SHA-256 fingerprint:

To start configuration open: or or

At this point, you will need to open a web browser and browse to one of these IPs. You may need to open port 8443 in your firewall to be able to access this address from a different machine.

If you are unable to open port 8443 or you are having difficulty connecting from a different machine, you may want to try ssh port forwarding in which you would run:

ssh <host> -L 8443:

replacing host with the IP address or hostname of the machine that is running the installer. At this point, with ssh connected in this manner, you should be able to use the link as this will then forward that request to the installer box via ssh.

Upon loading this address for the first time, you may be greeted with a message informing you that your connection isn't private such as this:


In this case, you'll need to click "Advanced" and then "Continue to (unsafe)" in order to view the installer. As the exact button names and links can vary between browsers, it would be hard for us to document them all, so you may have slightly different wording depending on your browser.

The Hosts Screen

The very first page that you come to is the host screen.


You will want to make sure that "Kubernetes Application" is selected. You will then need to specify the kuberentes context name for which you are deploying into. (Hint: Use kubectl config view to see which contexts you have access to.)

You can opt to skip the update setup or the operator setup, but unless you know why you are doing that, you should leave them alone.

The very next prompt that you come to is for an EMS Image Store Username and Token. These are provided to you by element as access tokens for our enterprise container registries. If you have lost your token, you can always generate a new token at https://ems.element.io/on-premise/subscriptions.


Here, we find the ability to set the namespaces that the application will be deployed into.

The next options on the hostpage are related to connectivity. For this guide, we are assuming "Connected" and you can leave that be. If you are doing "Airgapped", you would pick airgapped at this point and then please see the section on airgapped installations.

You are presented with the option to provide docker hub credentials. These are optional, but if you do not provide them, you may be rate limited by Docker and this could cause issues pulling container images.


Finally, we come to the host admin page, which allows you to set parameters around which domain the installer and admin console should run on post deployment. This section is optional.

The Domains Screen


On this page, we get to specify the domains for our installation. In this example, we have a domain name of airgap.local and this would mean our MXIDs would look like @kabbott:airgap.local.

Our domain page has checking to ensure that the host names resolve. Once you get green checks across the board, you can click continue.

The Certificates Screen

On the Certificates screen, you will provide SSL certificate information for well-known delegation, Synapse, Element Web, Synapse Admin, and Integrator.

If you are using Let's Encrypt, then each of the sections should look like:


If you are using certificate files, then you will see a screen like:


which allows you to upload a .crt and .key file for each host. These files must be in PEM encoding. Our installer does accept wildcard certificates.

Once you have completed the certificate section for each host on the page, you may click continue.

The Database Screen


As you must use an external PostgreSQL database with our kubernetes install, on this page, we provide the option to specify the database name, the database host name, the port to connect to, the SSL mode to use, and finally, the username and password to connect with. Once you have completed this section, you may click continue.

The Media Screen

On this page, you can specify the size of your synapse media volume. Please leave "Create New Volume" checked and specify the size of the volume that you wish to allocate. You must have this space available in /data/element-deployment or whatever you specified back on the hosts screen. If you wish to create a 50G volume, you would need to specify 50Gi for the Volume size.

The Cluster Screen

Most deployments can ignore this, however, if you want to change any kubernetes cluster parameters, this is where to do it.

If you are in an environment where you have self-signed certificates, you will want to disable TLS verification, by clicking "Advanced" and then scrolling down and unchecking Verify TLS: