Kubernetes is a great platform to deploy and maintain applications in production, but keeping track of all the resources in a growing cluster can be challenging. To aid in maintaining a birds-eye overview of the entire cluster contents, the kubernetes dashboard can be installed in the cluster for a visualized and structured web ui of the cluster resources, state and configuration.
Installing the dashboard
The kubernetes dashboard requires the metrics-server to accurately display resource usage and statistics. While some distributions like K3s will install this by default, cloud-hosted solutions like GKE or EKS will typically not.
You can check if you have the metrics-server installed by running
kubectl get deployment metrics-server -n kube-system
If this returns a
NotFound error, you will need to install it with
kubectl apply -f https://github.com/kubernetes-sigs/metrics-server/releases/latest/download/components.yaml
Now verify that the installation has created the dashboard resources and metrics scraper in the kubernetes-dashboard namespace:
kubectl get all -n kubernetes-dashboard
The output should look similar to this:
NAME READY STATUS RESTARTS AGE pod/dashboard-metrics-scraper-5cb4f4bb9c-pp4n5 1/1 Running 0 100m pod/kubernetes-dashboard-6967859bff-rw2kz 1/1 Running 0 100m NAME TYPE CLUSTER-IP EXTERNAL-IP PORT(S) AGE service/dashboard-metrics-scraper ClusterIP 10.43.230.188 <none> 8000/TCP 100m service/kubernetes-dashboard ClusterIP 10.43.30.79 <none> 443/TCP 100m NAME READY UP-TO-DATE AVAILABLE AGE deployment.apps/dashboard-metrics-scraper 1/1 1 1 100m deployment.apps/kubernetes-dashboard 1/1 1 1 100m NAME DESIRED CURRENT READY AGE replicaset.apps/dashboard-metrics-scraper-5cb4f4bb9c 1 1 1 100m replicaset.apps/kubernetes-dashboard-6967859bff 1 1 1 100m
Setting up dashboard authentication
To access the web interface, we first need a
ServiceAccount with the
cluster-admin role to authenticate as. You can create a sample user and the role binding with a single file:
apiVersion: v1 kind: ServiceAccount metadata:name: admin-usernamespace: kubernetes-dashboard apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1 kind: ClusterRoleBinding metadata:name: admin-user roleRef:apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.iokind: ClusterRolename: cluster-admin subjects: - kind: ServiceAccountname: admin-usernamespace: kubernetes-dashboard
Save the file locally and apply it to your cluster with
kubectl apply -f dashboard-account.yml
To verify that the user was created correctly, run
kubectl get serviceaccounts -n kubernetes-dashboard
and ensure that the
admin-user account is listed.
Accessing the web ui
To access the web interface of the dashboard, we first need an authentication token to log in. You can retrieve one with the command:
kubectl create token admin-user -n kubernetes-dashboard
Copy the entire output of this command, you will need it in a moment. Note that this bearer token is usually temporary, so it will become invalid after roughly 1 hour, at which point you will need to get a new one to log in again.
The dashboard is now deployed internally. While we could expose it through a Service or Ingress, it is often more practical to simply proxy it to a local machine, so the service is not exposed to the entire internet. We use the
kubectl proxy command to do this (which is preferred over
kubectl port-forward for the kubernetes dashboard, as some features can be faulty with it).
Leave this window open. As long as the command is running, you can access your dashboard at http://localhost:8001/api/v1/namespaces/kubernetes-dashboard/services/https:kubernetes-dashboard:/proxy/.
You should see a login screen similar to this:
Make sure you select the "Token" authentication option and paste your copied
ServiceAccount token into the input field, the click "Sign in".
You now have a working Kubernetes Dashboard installed, with dependencies and authentication setup. The dashboard contains many different views of resources and configurations, and even allows you to change or add new configurations to the cluster.