I think it’s safe to say that 2019 was a huge year for Linkerd. It saw the project emerge from the “seems promising but let’s wait and see” phase and firmly into “okay, I need an excuse to try this out” territory. In this post, I want to highlight what I think made 2019 Linkerd’s breakout year.


Linkerd began 2019 quite feature rich in spite of its youth. Its control plane was easy to navigate and its data plane was blazing fast and extremely secure (three cheers for Rust!). But 2019 saw a dizzying array of improvements:

  • Distributed tracing support
  • Traffic splitting (crucial for use cases like canary deployments and blue/green deployments)
  • The linkerd tap command, which enables you to “listen in” on traffic to/from a Linkerd-enabled service (extremely useful for debugging)
  • The linkerd log command, which tails logs from Linkerd-enabled containers
  • Compliance with the Service Mesh Interface (SMI), an effort to establish a universal interface for all service meshes and to thereby make it dramatically easier to experiment with, migrate between, and combine meshes
  • Automatic request retries and timeouts
  • Service profiles, which are Kubernetes custom resource definitions (CRDs) that enable you to apply per-endpoint configuration to Linkerd-enabled services
  • Automatic proxy injection (aka auto-inject) installs a Linkerd proxy on any Kubernetes Pod with the linkerd.io/inject: enabled annotation without the need for user intervention.
  • Support for installing Linkerd with Helm

Whew! There are others but I don’t want to belabor the point. For a more granular look at Linkerd development in 2019, check out the changelog.

Linkerd on the big stage

After having just a few talks at KubeCon Asia 2018 in Shanghai, Linkerd had a pretty solid showing at KubeCon North America 2018 in Seattle, with nine talks. But 2019 proved to be a breakout year for Linkerd at KubeCon as well.

  • At KubeCon Europe 2019 in Barcelona, Linkerd was featured in 16 talks, including a keynote by Linkerd co-creator Oliver Gould
  • At the sadly truncated KubeCon Asia 2019 in Shanghai, Linkerd had just one talk. But that’s okay because…
  • …Linkerd came roaring back at KubeCon North America 2019 in San Diego, with eight talks as well as its first Day Zero event: A Linkerd in Production Workshop hosted by the company Buoyant. You can see a nice recap of the conference on the Linkerd blog.

Sterling security audit

Here at the CNCF, security is of paramount concern. As a condition for graduation, we require projects to undergo a security audit. Like KubernetesPrometheus, and others, Linkerd was independently audited by the highly respected Cure53, which subjected it to both a penetration test and a general source code audit.

The results were nothing short of thrilling for all of us at the CNCF. This was the highlight for me:

Judging by the lack of discovered relevant vulnerabilities and only a few miscellaneous issues, Cure53 has gained a rarely observed and very good impression of the examined Linkerd software complex and its surroundings…Cure53 is happy to report that no real vulnerabilities could be identified on the Linkerd scope.

I strongly encourage you to download the audit PDF and peruse the results yourself.

Revamped web presence

At the onset of 2019, Linkerd had a nice Bootstrap-y website and very good docs (including its now-famous Getting Started guide). But later in the year, the site got a complete aesthetic makeover, with what I personally find to be marvelous results.


Not everyone loves swag, perhaps mostly because a lot of it is subpar. But 2019 saw Linkerd become a leader in the swag space, with its now-iconic baseball cap an increasingly common sight at conferences. I look terrible in hats so I will not be partaking, personally, but y’all should get your hands on one.


Linkerd was featured in a variety of podcast episodes:

So if you have a hankering to learn about Linkerd when you’re making dinner or stuck in traffic, I can’t recommend these episodes enough.

Looking ahead

As 2020 gathers steam, I expect that Linkerd will continue garnering adoption and cementing its status as a standard-bearer amongst service meshes, particularly in the domain of usability. And it has no signs of slowing down this upcoming year. When I sit down to write my 2020 year in review for Linkerd, I expect it to have pushed the service mesh space forward in an even more dramatic fashion. Expect not just more features and docs and videos and talks but a slew of successful production deployments and a much larger share of the world’s backend east-west traffic.