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Jose Angel Munoz
Jose Angel Munoz

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Kubernetes Pods Stuck in Terminating: A Resolution Guide

Do you know why a Pod takes too much time to get deleted or even hangs on the Terminating state?

This post describes the Pod Lifecycle conditions, reasons why they could hang in the Terminating state, and some tips to get rid of them.

Pod Termination

There are multiple reasons why the Kubernetes Scheduler can evict a healthy container. For example, the execution of Pods with higher priority, the drain of a node during a version update, an auto-scaling process, a resource bin-packing, or a simple kubectl delete command.

Kubernetes provides graceful termination for not needed Pods with Container Lifecycle Hooks. They are executed by the kubelet on the specific containers when it receives the event.

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When Kubelet knows that a Pod should evict, it marks the Pod state as Terminating and stops sending traffic to it. Then, it executes the preStop lifecycle hook (when available). It sends the SIGTERM to the Main process (pid 1) within each container and waits for their termination. If the applications inside the containers are properly prepared, they will start a graceful shutdown. The duration should not be more than the specified in the spec.terminationGracePeriodSeconds which is 30 seconds by default.

If the application has not completed the shutdown properly, the Kubelet gives a grace period until removing the Pod IP and killing the container by sending a SIGKILL. At this point, Kubernetes removes the Pod from the API server.

Why a Pod can hang on Terminating state

The most common reasons for a Pod hanging during the eviction process are:

  • A Finalizer dependency
  • An incorrect terminationGracePeriodSeconds value

Finalizers

From Kubernetes documentation:

Finalizers are namespaced keys that tell Kubernetes to wait until specific conditions are met before it fully deletes resources marked for deletion.

Finalizers are used to prevent the accidental deletion of resources. When a Pod hangs in the Terminating state, check its metadata/finalizers.

For instance, this example has a Kubernetes key as a finalizer used for namespaces.

kind: Pod
metadata:
  finalizers:
    - kubernetes
spec:
  containers:
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Upon attempting to delete the pod:

kubectl delete pod/mypod &
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Kubernetes will report back that its deletion:

kubectl get pod/mypod -o yaml
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What happened is that the object was updated, not deleted. The Pod gets modified to include the deletion timestamp keeping it in the Terminating state.

  creationTimestamp: "2023-01-28T15:01:32Z"
  deletionGracePeriodSeconds: 0
  deletionTimestamp: "2023-01-28T15:01:44Z"
  finalizers:
  - kubernetes
status:
    state:
      terminated:
        containerID: containerd://b6298f7ee5613b717000bb5a54cf96e70f7f0cb8dd8e1c3c5f9d115b0fbfc7c9
        exitCode: 0
        finishedAt: "2023-01-28T15:01:44Z"
        reason: Completed
        startedAt: "2023-01-28T15:01:33Z"
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The PreStop hook and terminationGracePeriodSeconds

From the Kubernetes Documentation:

If a PreStop hook hangs during execution, the Pod's phase will be Terminating and remain there until the Pod is killed after its terminationGracePeriodSeconds expires.

For instance. This configuration:

spec:
  terminationGracePeriodSeconds: 3600
  containers:
    - lifecycle:
        preStop:
        exec:
          command:
            - /bin/sh
            - -c
            - sleep 3600
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Will keep the Pod in the Terminating state for 1 hour.

It is essential to handle the SIGTERM correctly and ensure that the application terminates gracefully when the kubelet sends the SIGTERM to the container.

Remove Finalizers

Determine if the cause of the Terminating state for a Pod, Namespace, or PVC is a finalizer. A Finalizer example to protect PVCs from deletion is the kubernetes.io/pvc-protection.

To delete the Pod, patch it on the command line to remove the finalizers:

kubectl patch pod/mypod --type=json -p '[{"op": "remove", "path": "/metadata/finalizers" }]'
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or

kubectl patch pod/mypod -p '{"metadata":{"finalizers":null}}'
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Once the finalizer list is empty, the object can be reclaimed by Kubernetes and put into a queue to be deleted from the registry.

Force Delete the POD

The Kubernetes Documentation asserts that force deletions do not wait for confirmation from the kubelet that the Pod has been Terminated. Use it with care and as a workaround solution:

kubectl delete pod/mypod --grace-period=0 --force
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Extra: Finalizers blocking Kubernetes upgrade

One or many of your Cluster node resources or availability can cause Pod eviction.

The kubelet monitors resources like memory, disk space, and filesystem inodes on your cluster's nodes. When one or more of these resources reach specific consumption levels, the kubelet can proactively fail one or more Pods on the node to reclaim resources and prevent starvation.

During a cluster version update, check your node drain:

kubectl get nodes
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NAME       STATUS                     ROLES           AGE   VERSION
cluster    Ready,SchedulingDisabled   control-plane   12m   v1.26.1
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Review the status of your Pods with:

kubectl get Pods -A
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NAMESPACE     NAME                                      READY   STATUS        RESTARTS   AGE
default       mypod                                     0/1     Terminating   0          5m42s
kube-system   etcd-minikube                             1/1     Running       0          14m
kube-system   kube-apiserver-minikube                   1/1     Running       0          14m
kube-system   kube-controller-manager-minikube          1/1     Running       0          14m
kube-system   kube-proxy-5dwnf                          1/1     Running       0          14m
kube-system   kube-scheduler-minikube                   1/1     Running       0          14m
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Check Pod finalizer as usual:

kubectl get pod/mypod -o yaml
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apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  creationTimestamp: "2023-01-29T14:12:38Z"
  deletionGracePeriodSeconds: 0
  deletionTimestamp: "2023-01-29T14:13:28Z"
  finalizers:
  - kubernetes
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And patch when needed:

kubectl patch pod/mypod -p '{"metadata":{"finalizers":null}}'
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Conclusion

If you find any Kubernetes component stuck in Terminating, review if any component finalizer is protecting its deletion. Whether for a Pod, PVC, or Namespace.

A good example to remember is the instructions to uninstall the KEDA operator for a Kubernetes cluster here, where the scaledobjects can interfere with its Namespace deletion.

Top comments (4)

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naubit profile image
Al - Naubit

Hey, that was a nice read, you got my follow, keep writing 😉

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imjoseangel profile image
Jose Angel Munoz

Thank you @naubit

I will do!!

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galache profile image
galache

"Congratulations it's a very good article.

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imjoseangel profile image
Jose Angel Munoz

Thanks @galache !!

♥️♥️

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