Preparing and Joining your Nodes to the Controller

How to join your Anka Build Virtualization Nodes to the Anka Build Cloud Controller

Preparing your Nodes

Once the Anka Build Virtualization software has been installed onto a macOS machine, you’ll want to turn off sleep and several other default features that would cause the machine to become unavailable.

This guide has a few options that are typically not available on MDM controlled machines. You may need to ask your system administrators/local IT team to allow them.
Be sure to reboot the host after applying these changes.


  1. Start a UI session by logging into your node’s user to ensure Apple’s services are started (it doesn’t have to be an administrator).

  2. Ensure you uncheck Log out after X minutes of inactivity under System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Advanced (disabled by default, but good to check)

  3. Disable screensaver and sleep: sudo systemsetup -setsleep Never && sudo defaults write idleTime 0

  4. Run anka create test && anka delete --yes test at least once for both root and non-root users to create the necessary folders and garbage collect temporary files.

  • Enable Automatic Login for the current user: Go to Preferences > Users > Enable Automatic Login for the current user. Or, using the CLI.

    Not available if FileVault is enabled or you use an iCloud password to log into the user.

    If using the CLI method of enabling Automatic Login, you must also XOR-encrypt the login password and add it to /etc/kcpassword.

    The /etc/kcpassword file must be owned by root:wheel with a mode of 0600.

    See the GitHub repository veertuinc/kcpassword for help generating the encrypted password string.

  • If on macOS version Big Sur: Disable Apple’s mitigations with sudo anka config vmx_mitigations 0. Without it, performance will be ~10% worse inside of the VM. (This does not work on Monterey versions of macOS)

  • Disable spotlight on the host and also inside of the VM:

    If you cannot perform launchctl commands, you can execute these commands from the command-line:

    sudo defaults write ~/.Spotlight-V100/VolumeConfiguration.plist Exclusions -array "/Volumes"
    sudo defaults write ~/.Spotlight-V100/VolumeConfiguration.plist Exclusions -array "/Network"
    sudo killall mds || true
    sleep 60
    sudo mdutil -a -i off /
    sudo mdutil -a -i off
    sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/
    sudo rm -rf /.Spotlight-V100/*

    MDS can be disable entirely with sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/, but only if SIP is disabled on the host (not recommended).

You may also want to have your nodes restart on host level failure: systemsetup -setrestartpowerfailure on & systemsetup -setrestartfreeze on

Joining Prerequisites

Joining to your Anka Build Cloud Controller

Be sure to run ankacluster as root.
Avoid using underscores in your domainnames/urls.
❯ sudo ankacluster join http://anka.controller
Testing connection to the controller...: Ok
Testing connection to the registry...: Ok
Anka Cloud Cluster join success

You can join a Node to multiple controllers by comma separating them: sudo ankacluster join http://anka.controller1,http://anka.controller2

❯ ankacluster join --help
Joins the current machine to one or many Anka Build Cloud Controllers


      --api-key-id string           API Key identifier
      --api-key-string string       API Key string
  -c, --cacert string               Specify the path to your Root CA Certificate (PEM/X509)
  -M, --capacity-mode string        Set the capacity mode (resource or number) the Node will use when pulling jobs from the Anka Cloud Cluster queue. 'resource' will look at available resources (see --vcp-override and --ram-override) / 'number' will only accept if --max-vm-count isn't already met (default "number")
  -C, --cert string                 Specify the path to the Node's certificate file (PEM/X509)
  -K, --cert-key string             Specify the path to the Node's certificate key file (PEM/X509)
      --enable-vm-monitor           Enabled unresponsive VM monitoring. This will throw a failure when the VM becomes unresponsive for longer than the --vm-stuck-timeout
  -f, --force-no-sudo               Force the anka_agent to start without sudo
  -g, --global                      DEPRECATED! Install agent into system domain
  -G, --groups string               Specify group name (or multiple names sepearated by ',') to add the current Node to
      --heartbeat duration          Set the duration between status updates the Node sends to the Anka Cloud Cluster (default: 5 seconds)
  -h, --help                        help for join
  -H, --host string                 Set the address (IP or Hostname) of the Node that the Anka Cloud Cluster will use when communicating with CI tools/plugins. This is useful when your CI tool cannot connect to the Node's local IP address (the default value of --host), but does have access to an external IP or hostname for it (proxy, load balancer, etc).
  -k, --keystore string             Specify the path to your certificate keystore (PEM/PKCS12)
  -p, --keystore-pass string        Specify the password for your certificate keystore
  -m, --max-vm-count int            Set the maximum number of VMs this Node is allowed to run (default: 2) (default 2)
  -n, --name string                 Set a custom Node name (default: hostname)
      --no-central-logging          Disable sending logs to central logging location
      --node-id string              Custom node id
  -R, --ram-override int            Set the the max RAM (in GB) that this Node can handle (default: {total ram} - 2GB)
      --reserve-space string        Disk space to reserve when pulling. Number followed by magnitude (1024B, 10KB, 140MB, 45GB...) (default: 20% of disk size)
  -r, --root-cert string            Identical to --cacert
      --skip-tests                  Disable testing the connection before starting the agent
      --skip-tls-verification       Skip TLS verification
  -t, --tls                         Enable TLS for communicating with the Anka Cloud Cluster
  -V, --vcpu-override int           Set the max vcpus that this Node can handle. (default: {current physical cpu count} * 2)
      --vm-stuck-delay duration     The time between unresponsive VM checks (default: 30s - Duration examples: 3500s, 20m, 5h)
      --vm-stuck-timeout duration   The time to wait until the VM is considered unresponsive (default: 10s - Duration examples: 3500s, 20m, 5h)
The Anka agent is listening on a socket to provide status information at runtime. You can override the path of the socket by setting the ANKA_AGENT_SOCKET env var.

Joining as a non-sudo user

It is also possible to join without needing sudo. However, as of right now, this has a problems you need to consider:

  1. When you upgrade the Anka Build Controller software, there is an automatic agent update triggered for each one of your Anka Nodes. This agent communicates with the Controller to pick up tasks from the queue. Since Apple’s installer command requires root, this process will not work when running the agent as a non-sudo user. The solution is to disjoin nodes before upgrading your Build Cloud and then issue curl -O http://**{controllerUrlHere}**/pkg/AnkaAgent.pkg && sudo installer -pkg AnkaAgent.pkg -tgt / (AnkaAgentArm.pkg if using Anka 3.0) on the nodes after it’s running.

To join with a non-sudo user, you simply run ankacluster join http://anka.controller --force-no-sudo.


You don’t need to disjoin nodes to upgrade the Anka Virtualization package.
❯ sudo ankacluster disjoin
Disjoined from the Anka Cloud Cluster

Check Join Status

You can check the status of the Anka agent using the ankacluster status command.

❯ ankacluster status
status: running
  vm_limit: 2
  optimization_threshold: 5
  num_workers: 2
  version: 1.13.0-6cd34a2c
  capacity_mode: number
  heartbeat: 5s
  node_name: MyMacMiniNode
  vm_stuck_check_delay: 30s
  vm_stuck_check_timeout: 10s

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

  • Errors like the following are typically the cause of an older version of the agent on your node. You’ll want to visit, download the agent version matching your controller’s version, and then try your ankacluster join command again:
    > sudo ankacluster join http://anka.controller --reserve-space 20GB
    Testing connection to controller...: Ok
    Testing connection to the registry...: Ok
    exit status 2
    Log file created at: 2021/07/16 12:36:10
    Running on machine: hostname1
    Binary: Built with gc go1.14.3 for darwin/amd64
    Log line format: [IWEF]mmdd hh:mm:ss.uuuuuu threadid file:line] msg
    I0716 12:36:10.164826  8172 log_cleaner.go:34] clean /var/log/veertu/anka_agent*...
    I0716 12:36:10.166385  8172 log_cleaner.go:56] don't touch: /var/log/veertu/anka_agent.hostname1.root.log.INFO.20210716-123610.8172
    I0716 12:36:10.172275  8172 main.go:173] starting ankaAgent
    I0716 12:36:10.172282  8172 main.go:174] Anka Agent version: 1.7.1-9545c9f5
    I0716 12:36:10.965625  8172 runner.go:43] Anka version is 2.4.1
    I0716 12:36:10.965806  8172 runner.go:46] Agent Version is v2
    Joining cluster failed
  • The Controller will be checking disk space on every pull/preparation of a VM. If not enough disk space is available, it will automatically delete VM Templates/tags from the Node based on which has the oldest last used timestamp until there is enough space for the VM Template/Tag. This cannot be disabled at the moment. This can be modified to some extent by using –reserve-space flag (see explanation above)
  • The registry External URL (seen in the controller UI/config) is used by the Nodes to pull down templates and tags. Be sure to set this URL properly in your Build Cloud Configuration and ensure firewalls allow communication.