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Abraham Dahunsi Web Developer 🌐 | Technical Writer ✍️| DevOps Enthusiast👨‍💻 | Python🐍 |

Docker desktop – kubernetes failed to start

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Docker Desktop with Kubernetes integration is a powerful tool for developers. When you enable Kubernetes under Docker Desktop for the first time, it pulls these Docker images from the remote Kubernetes registry.

You can view the images using the terminal as shown below:

docker images
REPOSITORY                                TAG                                                                           IMAGE ID       CREATED         SIZE
docker/desktop-kubernetes                 kubernetes-v1.29.2-cni-v1.4.0-critools-v1.29.0-cri-dockerd-v0.3.11-1-debian   c8405f018c81   3 months ago    423MB            v1.29.2                                                                       2bceedbd3273   3 months ago    123MB   v1.29.2                                                                       32eb28f276a5   3 months ago    118MB                v1.29.2                                                                       6241433e83b5   3 months ago    85.4MB            v1.29.2                                                                       96e2c08ad32e   3 months ago    58MB                      3.5.10-0                                                                      79f8d13ae8b8   7 months ago    136MB           v1.11.1                                                                       2437cf762177   10 months ago   57.4MB                     3.9

But sometimes, you might encounter an error message stating “Kubernetes failed to start.” This can be frustrating, but fear not! Here’s a breakdown of potential causes and solutions to get your Kubernetes cluster up and running.

Common Culprits:

  • Conflicting Software: Applications like VPNs or security software can interfere with Docker’s communication. Try temporarily disabling them and restarting Docker Desktop.
  • WSL Integration Issues (Windows only): If you’re using WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) for development, ensure your WSL distribution is compatible with Docker Desktop’s Kubernetes engine. You might need to switch to a different WSL version.
  • Corrupted Files: Occasionally, configuration files related to Kubernetes can become corrupted. Resetting Kubernetes within Docker Desktop can often resolve this.

Steps to fix this error

  1. Click the Troubleshooting icon under Docker Desktop and then choose Clean/Purge Data.

2. Select “Reset the Kubernetes Cluster”.


3. Ensure all the Kubernetes images are downloaded once you reset the Kubernetes cluster.


4. Disable VPN, if any

Most of the enterprise developers work behind the corporate proxy server, causing the Kubernetes startup to fail. Adding *.docker.internal to the no_proxy hosts might solve the issue. If possible, try disabling VPN and resetting the Kubernetes cluster.

5. Restart Docker Desktop.

6. Choose “Enable Kubernetes”.

Wait for 15-20 seconds and you will start seeing the Kubernetes service containers coming up one by one. By now, you might see the new status for all the images as “In use”.

7. Open the terminal and verify if the Kubernetes is up and running.

$ kubectl get namespace
NAME              STATUS   AGE
default           Active   80s
kube-node-lease   Active   82s
kube-public       Active   82s
kube-system       Active   82s


By following these steps and exploring the provided resources, you should be able to resolve the “Kubernetes failed to start” error and get your Docker Desktop environment running smoothly again. Remember, if the issue persists, consider searching the Docker Community Forum or contacting Docker support for further assistance.

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Abraham Dahunsi Web Developer 🌐 | Technical Writer ✍️| DevOps Enthusiast👨‍💻 | Python🐍 |
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