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kubectl Cheat Sheet

See also: Kubectl Overview and JsonPath Guide.

This page is an overview of the kubectl command.

kubectl - Cheat Sheet

Kubectl Autocomplete


source <(kubectl completion bash) # setup autocomplete in bash into the current shell, bash-completion package should be installed first.
echo "source <(kubectl completion bash)" >> ~/.bashrc # add autocomplete permanently to your bash shell.

You can also use a shorthand alias for kubectl that also works with completion:

alias k=kubectl
complete -F __start_kubectl k


source <(kubectl completion zsh)  # setup autocomplete in zsh into the current shell
echo "if [ $commands[kubectl] ]; then source <(kubectl completion zsh); fi" >> ~/.zshrc # add autocomplete permanently to your zsh shell

Kubectl Context and Configuration

Set which Kubernetes cluster kubectl communicates with and modifies configuration information. See Authenticating Across Clusters with kubeconfig documentation for detailed config file information.

kubectl config view # Show Merged kubeconfig settings.

# use multiple kubeconfig files at the same time and view merged config
KUBECONFIG=~/.kube/config:~/.kube/kubconfig2 kubectl config view

# Get the password for the e2e user
kubectl config view -o jsonpath='{.users[?( == "e2e")].user.password}'

kubectl config current-context              # Display the current-context
kubectl config use-context my-cluster-name  # set the default context to my-cluster-name

# add a new cluster to your kubeconf that supports basic auth
kubectl config set-credentials kubeuser/ --username=kubeuser --password=kubepassword

# set a context utilizing a specific username and namespace.
kubectl config set-context gce --user=cluster-admin --namespace=foo \
  && kubectl config use-context gce


apply manages applications through files defining Kubernetes resources. It creates and updates resources in a cluster through running kubectl apply. This is the recommended way of managing Kubernetes applications on production. See Kubectl Book.

Creating Objects

Kubernetes manifests can be defined in json or yaml. The file extension .yaml, .yml, and .json can be used.

kubectl apply -f ./my-manifest.yaml           # create resource(s)
kubectl apply -f ./my1.yaml -f ./my2.yaml     # create from multiple files
kubectl apply -f ./dir                        # create resource(s) in all manifest files in dir
kubectl apply -f         # create resource(s) from url
kubectl create deployment nginx --image=nginx  # start a single instance of nginx
kubectl explain pods,svc                       # get the documentation for pod and svc manifests

# Create multiple YAML objects from stdin
cat <<EOF | kubectl apply -f -
apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
  name: busybox-sleep
  - name: busybox
    image: busybox
    - sleep
    - "1000000"
apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
  name: busybox-sleep-less
  - name: busybox
    image: busybox
    - sleep
    - "1000"

# Create a secret with several keys
cat <<EOF | kubectl apply -f -
apiVersion: v1
kind: Secret
  name: mysecret
type: Opaque
  password: $(echo -n "s33msi4" | base64 -w0)
  username: $(echo -n "jane" | base64 -w0)

Viewing, Finding Resources

# Get commands with basic output
kubectl get services                          # List all services in the namespace
kubectl get pods --all-namespaces             # List all pods in all namespaces
kubectl get pods -o wide                      # List all pods in the namespace, with more details
kubectl get deployment my-dep                 # List a particular deployment
kubectl get pods --include-uninitialized      # List all pods in the namespace, including uninitialized ones

# Describe commands with verbose output
kubectl describe nodes my-node
kubectl describe pods my-pod

kubectl get services # List Services Sorted by Name

# List pods Sorted by Restart Count
kubectl get pods --sort-by='.status.containerStatuses[0].restartCount'

# Get the version label of all pods with label app=cassandra
kubectl get pods --selector=app=cassandra rc -o \

# Get all worker nodes (use a selector to exclude results that have a label
# named '')
kubectl get node --selector='!'

# Get all running pods in the namespace
kubectl get pods --field-selector=status.phase=Running

# Get ExternalIPs of all nodes
kubectl get nodes -o jsonpath='{.items[*].status.addresses[?(@.type=="ExternalIP")].address}'

# List Names of Pods that belong to Particular RC
# "jq" command useful for transformations that are too complex for jsonpath, it can be found at
sel=${$(kubectl get rc my-rc --output=json | jq -j '.spec.selector | to_entries | .[] | "\(.key)=\(.value),"')%?}
echo $(kubectl get pods --selector=$sel --output=jsonpath={})

# Show labels for all pods (or any other Kubernetes object that supports labelling)
# Also uses "jq"
for item in $( kubectl get pod --output=name); do printf "Labels for %s\n" "$item" | grep --color -E '[^/]+$' && kubectl get "$item" --output=json | jq -r -S '.metadata.labels | to_entries | .[] | " \(.key)=\(.value)"' 2>/dev/null; printf "\n"; done

# Check which nodes are ready
JSONPATH='{range .items[*]}{}:{range @.status.conditions[*]}{@.type}={@.status};{end}{end}' \
 && kubectl get nodes -o jsonpath="$JSONPATH" | grep "Ready=True"

# List all Secrets currently in use by a pod
kubectl get pods -o json | jq '.items[].spec.containers[].env[]?' | grep -v null | sort | uniq

# List Events sorted by timestamp
kubectl get events --sort-by=.metadata.creationTimestamp

Updating Resources

As of version 1.11 rolling-update have been deprecated (see, use rollout instead.

kubectl set image deployment/frontend www=image:v2               # Rolling update "www" containers of "frontend" deployment, updating the image
kubectl rollout undo deployment/frontend                         # Rollback to the previous deployment
kubectl rollout status -w deployment/frontend                    # Watch rolling update status of "frontend" deployment until completion

# deprecated starting version 1.11
kubectl rolling-update frontend-v1 -f frontend-v2.json           # (deprecated) Rolling update pods of frontend-v1
kubectl rolling-update frontend-v1 frontend-v2 --image=image:v2  # (deprecated) Change the name of the resource and update the image
kubectl rolling-update frontend --image=image:v2                 # (deprecated) Update the pods image of frontend
kubectl rolling-update frontend-v1 frontend-v2 --rollback        # (deprecated) Abort existing rollout in progress

cat pod.json | kubectl replace -f -                              # Replace a pod based on the JSON passed into std

# Force replace, delete and then re-create the resource. Will cause a service outage.
kubectl replace --force -f ./pod.json

# Create a service for a replicated nginx, which serves on port 80 and connects to the containers on port 8000
kubectl expose rc nginx --port=80 --target-port=8000

# Update a single-container pod's image version (tag) to v4
kubectl get pod mypod -o yaml | sed 's/\(image: myimage\):.*$/\1:v4/' | kubectl replace -f -

kubectl label pods my-pod new-label=awesome                      # Add a Label
kubectl annotate pods my-pod icon-url=       # Add an annotation
kubectl autoscale deployment foo --min=2 --max=10                # Auto scale a deployment "foo"

Patching Resources

kubectl patch node k8s-node-1 -p '{"spec":{"unschedulable":true}}' # Partially update a node

# Update a container's image; spec.containers[*].name is required because it's a merge key
kubectl patch pod valid-pod -p '{"spec":{"containers":[{"name":"kubernetes-serve-hostname","image":"new image"}]}}'

# Update a container's image using a json patch with positional arrays
kubectl patch pod valid-pod --type='json' -p='[{"op": "replace", "path": "/spec/containers/0/image", "value":"new image"}]'

# Disable a deployment livenessProbe using a json patch with positional arrays
kubectl patch deployment valid-deployment  --type json   -p='[{"op": "remove", "path": "/spec/template/spec/containers/0/livenessProbe"}]'

# Add a new element to a positional array 
kubectl patch sa default --type='json' -p='[{"op": "add", "path": "/secrets/1", "value": {"name": "whatever" } }]'

Editing Resources

The edit any API resource in an editor.

kubectl edit svc/docker-registry                      # Edit the service named docker-registry
KUBE_EDITOR="nano" kubectl edit svc/docker-registry   # Use an alternative editor

Scaling Resources

kubectl scale --replicas=3 rs/foo                                 # Scale a replicaset named 'foo' to 3
kubectl scale --replicas=3 -f foo.yaml                            # Scale a resource specified in "foo.yaml" to 3
kubectl scale --current-replicas=2 --replicas=3 deployment/mysql  # If the deployment named mysql's current size is 2, scale mysql to 3
kubectl scale --replicas=5 rc/foo rc/bar rc/baz                   # Scale multiple replication controllers

Deleting Resources

kubectl delete -f ./pod.json                                              # Delete a pod using the type and name specified in pod.json
kubectl delete pod,service baz foo                                        # Delete pods and services with same names "baz" and "foo"
kubectl delete pods,services -l name=myLabel                              # Delete pods and services with label name=myLabel
kubectl delete pods,services -l name=myLabel --include-uninitialized      # Delete pods and services, including uninitialized ones, with label name=myLabel
kubectl -n my-ns delete po,svc --all                                      # Delete all pods and services, including uninitialized ones, in namespace my-ns,

Interacting with running Pods

kubectl logs my-pod                                 # dump pod logs (stdout)
kubectl logs my-pod --previous                      # dump pod logs (stdout) for a previous instantiation of a container
kubectl logs my-pod -c my-container                 # dump pod container logs (stdout, multi-container case)
kubectl logs my-pod -c my-container --previous      # dump pod container logs (stdout, multi-container case) for a previous instantiation of a container
kubectl logs -f my-pod                              # stream pod logs (stdout)
kubectl logs -f my-pod -c my-container              # stream pod container logs (stdout, multi-container case)
kubectl run -i --tty busybox --image=busybox -- sh  # Run pod as interactive shell
kubectl attach my-pod -i                            # Attach to Running Container
kubectl port-forward my-pod 5000:6000               # Listen on port 5000 on the local machine and forward to port 6000 on my-pod
kubectl exec my-pod -- ls /                         # Run command in existing pod (1 container case)
kubectl exec my-pod -c my-container -- ls /         # Run command in existing pod (multi-container case)
kubectl top pod POD_NAME --containers               # Show metrics for a given pod and its containers

Interacting with Nodes and Cluster

kubectl cordon my-node                                                # Mark my-node as unschedulable
kubectl drain my-node                                                 # Drain my-node in preparation for maintenance
kubectl uncordon my-node                                              # Mark my-node as schedulable
kubectl top node my-node                                              # Show metrics for a given node
kubectl cluster-info                                                  # Display addresses of the master and services
kubectl cluster-info dump                                             # Dump current cluster state to stdout
kubectl cluster-info dump --output-directory=/path/to/cluster-state   # Dump current cluster state to /path/to/cluster-state

# If a taint with that key and effect already exists, its value is replaced as specified.
kubectl taint nodes foo dedicated=special-user:NoSchedule

Resource types

List all supported resource types along with their shortnames, API group, whether they are namespaced, and Kind:

kubectl api-resources

Other operations for exploring API resources:

kubectl api-resources --namespaced=true      # All namespaced resources
kubectl api-resources --namespaced=false     # All non-namespaced resources
kubectl api-resources -o name                # All resources with simple output (just the resource name)
kubectl api-resources -o wide                # All resources with expanded (aka "wide") output
kubectl api-resources --verbs=list,get       # All resources that support the "list" and "get" request verbs
kubectl api-resources --api-group=extensions # All resources in the "extensions" API group

Formatting output

To output details to your terminal window in a specific format, you can add either the -o or --output flags to a supported kubectl command.

Output format Description
-o=custom-columns=<spec> Print a table using a comma separated list of custom columns
-o=custom-columns-file=<filename> Print a table using the custom columns template in the <filename> file
-o=json Output a JSON formatted API object
-o=jsonpath=<template> Print the fields defined in a jsonpath expression
-o=jsonpath-file=<filename> Print the fields defined by the jsonpath expression in the <filename> file
-o=name Print only the resource name and nothing else
-o=wide Output in the plain-text format with any additional information, and for pods, the node name is included
-o=yaml Output a YAML formatted API object

Kubectl output verbosity and debugging

Kubectl verbosity is controlled with the -v or --v flags followed by an integer representing the log level. General Kubernetes logging conventions and the associated log levels are described here.

Verbosity Description
--v=0 Generally useful for this to ALWAYS be visible to an operator.
--v=1 A reasonable default log level if you don’t want verbosity.
--v=2 Useful steady state information about the service and important log messages that may correlate to significant changes in the system. This is the recommended default log level for most systems.
--v=3 Extended information about changes.
--v=4 Debug level verbosity.
--v=6 Display requested resources.
--v=7 Display HTTP request headers.
--v=8 Display HTTP request contents.
--v=9 Display HTTP request contents without truncation of contents.

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