Kubernetes Dashboards: Headlamp

Headlamp logo

Installation

Most of the tools in this space either provide a local app that connects to your Kubernetes cluster or a web UI that runs in the cluster itself. One of the super cool things about Headlamp is that you can use it both ways. There’s a desktop app that you can install locally. It runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows, and the installation doc is very clear. Or, if your team likes Headlamp enough, you can run it in your clusters and folks can connect to it using their web browsers.

Screenshot of choosing a cluster to view

Authentication

I expected that I would be able to authenticate with my user account in the Kubernetes cluster. I was using Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) and had already authenticated with the gcloud CLI. But Headlamp seems to want the user to authenticate with either a system account in the Kubernetes cluster or OpenID Connect (OIDC).

Cluster View

I was able to view metrics from my GKE cluster without any additional setup. The default cluster view shows some basic metrics and a list of recent events, which is very handy. In the example below, I had a pod that couldn’t deploy, and by mousing over the entry in the events list I was able to see the cause.

Headlamp’s cluster view, showing basic cluster metrics and a list of events

Viewing and Editing Objects

Viewing Kubernetes objects with Headlamp is excellent. The UI is very clean and functional. There’s a mix of metrics and lists of objects on the pages, and I appreciate having different ways to parse the state of the cluster visually. It feels like there was a lot of attention to detail in the design.

Viewing a deployment in Headlamp
Editing an object with Headlamp
Viewing the API docs in the Headlamp user interface

Conclusion

I think Headlamp is one of the more capable Kubernetes dashboards that I’ve seen. The design is very slick, and I love the idea that I could choose to run it in my clusters or as a desktop app. That kind of flexibility is great.

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