When and How to Use Kubectl Proxy to Access the Kubernetes API

Mercy Kibet
8 min read

Kubernetes is a virtualization platform that automates and simplifies application deployment, scaling, and maintenance by leveraging container technology. As a developer or engineer working with Kubernetes, you must learn how to configure the necessary components to deploy your app. One such component is the API server, which provides a RESTful interface for managing running nodes. This blog post will show you when and how to use the kubectl proxy server to access the Kubernetes API server from outside your cluster.


#Kubectl Series

#What Is Kubectl Proxy?

Kubectl proxy is a simple command line utility that allows access to the Kubernetes API server from within a cluster. It helps access the API server from within a pod or a remote location outside the cluster.

To use kubectl proxy, specify the desired port and hostname or IP address:

kubectl proxy --port=8080 --address=

This will start a proxy server on port 8080 that will forward requests to the Kubernetes API server at

If you just want to access the API server from within the cluster, you can use the cluster IP address:

kubectl proxy --port=8080 --address=

You can also use a hostname or FQDN if your DNS is configured correctly:

kubectl proxy --port=8080 --address=kubernetes.default.svc.cluster.local

Once the proxy runs, you can access the API server using any standard HTTP client (curl http://localhost:8080/api/v1/)/. The proxy will forward all requests to the API server and return the response.

#Why Use Kubectl Proxy?

You can also use the proxy to access the Kubernetes dashboard if it runs in the cluster: http://localhost:8080/api/v1/proxy/namespaces/kube-system/services/kubernetes-dashboard.

You may previously have used kubectl to manage these resources, e.g., to control the state of a Kubernetes cluster, create a Kubernetes Pod, or create Nodes. If a user wanted to send an HTTP request to Kubernetes API server, they would typically have started their environment this way:

$ kubectl proxy $ kubectl proxy -n default $ curl localhost:8080/api/v1/namespaces/kube-system -H "Content-Type: application/json;charset=UTF-8"

However, this is not the only way to access the API server outside your cluster. Kubectl proxy also provides an HTTPS proxy that you can use from a local host, AWS, or an external service.

#When Should I Use This?

The proxy is designed for use in a trusted environment. It’s not suitable for environments that expose services directly to the internet. For example, you should never expose it on TCP port 80 of your laptop or on a machine that hosts any other internet services (e.g., web servers). Always follow best practices regarding network security and firewalls when using this tool.


#What Are the Requirements?

To use this feature, you must access a local kubectl proxy. If you don’t yet have a local kubectl proxy installed, follow the instructions here.

Make sure that you can install and run kubectl commands on your terminal. You can verify that you have the necessary kubectl credentials by running: $ kubectl get secret -n default. The output should resemble something like this:

kind : Secret
apiVersion : v1
    name : os-kubernetes-default-admin
sections :
... apiServer : http://localhost:8001/getting-started

#How Do I Start Using It?

To access the Kubernetes API server through a local proxy, you must specify your proxy in settings.yaml by adding `kubectl.proxyURL: “https://<IP>:5555”:`


#How Do I Connect to the Kubernetes API Server?

You can connect to the Kubernetes API server from a local machine by specifying proxyName in the kubectl.contexts object in settings.yaml. To view the contexts that are already configured, use kubectl config get-contexts.

kubectl config set-context <context_name> --proxy=https://<ip>:5555

The kubectl proxy commands must be run separately from where you run your applications. If you run your proxy commands in the same shell, you must specify an explicit proxy with the command. For example, if you use the same shell to run your applications and the kubectl proxy commands, you must add the -p flag for each command.

$ kubectl proxy -p 5555 $ kubectl get nodes -p 5555 $ curl localhost:5555/api/v1/namespaces/default/services/kubernetes

Alternatively, you can use a separate terminal tab to run your applications and proxy commands.

#Where Is the Log Output?

The logs for all kubectl proxy commands are printed on standard output (stdout). When you run kubectl proxy, the log output shows how the commands interact with the Kubernetes API server.

#How Do I Connect to a Remote Proxy?

To connect to a remote proxy, you must specify a URL in the –url flag in your kubectl proxy command. For example:

$ kubectl proxy --url # Remote machine. $ kubectl proxy -n default --url # Remote machine.

The -n defaults to the current context defined in your .kube/config file.

#How Do I Configure My Firewall to Allow a Remote Proxy?

Suppose you’re running a remote Kubernetes API server (such as one in Google Container Engine, AWS, etc.). In that case, you can configure your firewall to allow access to the port that the Kubernetes API server specifies (e.g., 8080).

-p &lt;port> The port on which to serve the API (default: 8443)

--http-address=<address> The IP address on which to serve the API. If not specified, you use
--https-address=<address> The IP address on which to serve HTTPS requests. If not specified, you use

Here’s how you can allow access to Kubernetes on the container engine:

-p 8080 -p 443 -http-address --https-address

These rules will work without creating a firewall rule (unless it’s part of a larger port specification). There are two exceptions: if you’re running on OpenShift Origin and you want to access your Kubernetes cluster on port 443 with TLS/SSL, or if you want to access the Kubernetes API server outside of your network (e.g., on the internet). See the sections below for more.

To run kubectl proxy on Google Container Engine, you must create a firewall rule that allows access to Google Container Engine services (e.g., http://container-name:2443).

Here’s an example of running kubectl proxy on Google Container Engine with TLS/SSL (type in “–tls” to get a list of options):

-p 443 -p 8443 -https-address= -http-address= --tls --context="cluster:<container_name>" --user cloud-user@cloud-router:client-certificate-authority=/etc/kubernetes/ssl/client.pem --user cloud-user@cloud-router:client-key/ca.crt:/path/to/client.key

Cloud router proxies only allow you to specify a single context. If you want to use a different context, you must append “:spec” to the spec. For example, if you want to use a different Kubernetes server or use a different forwarding service than kubectl port-forward, add the extra context for your choice:

kubectl proxy -p 8080:spec --http-address= --https-address= --tls --context="cluster:<container_name>"

#How Do I Access Remote Services from Outside My Network?

You can access any Kubernetes API server from outside your local network via the default context. For example, if you’re running on OpenShift Origin and you want to access your Kubernetes cluster on port 443 with TLS/SSL, or if you want to access the Kubernetes API server outside of your network (e.g., on the internet), see the section above.

#How Do I Limit the Resources Used by Kubectl Proxy?

The kubectl proxy command doesn’t use many server resources. It just proxies requests to your local cluster. You can run it on multiple servers so long as they’re within the same namespace and can talk to a common Kubernetes API server. For example:

# Run this many instances of the proxy in parallel (-n).
# Default is 1. # Use at most 20 at a time (--max).
kubectl proxy --min 10 --max 20 -n mynamespace

If you want finer-grained control over resource availability, use the kubectl proxy –min=10 command, which follows the same syntax as –min but specifies a lower limit on how many instances you want to run. For example:

kubectl proxy --min 10 -n mynamespace # Run this many instances of the proxy in parallel (-n). # Default is 1. # Use at most 10 at a time (--max). # Use at most 5000.

#Troubleshooting Common Errors When Using Kubectl Proxy

There are a few things you can do to troubleshoot common errors when using kubectl proxy:

  1. Make sure you use a version of kubectl that’s compatible with your cluster.
  2. Check the permissions of your service account.
  3. Make sure the kubectl proxy command runs with the correct flags.
  4. If you still have issues, try running the proxy in verbose mode to get more information.


Now that you know more about kubectl get nodes, I’d encourage you to review some of the other Kubernetes commands and learn what information that comes with them. Using these tools with each other will help you become a better user of Kubernetes and give you a successful foundation for using your Kubernetes cluster.

This post was written by Mercy Kibet. Mercy is a full-stack developer with a knack for learning and writing about new and intriguing tech stacks.

Sign up for our newsletter

Be the first to know about new features, announcements and industry insights.