About This Guide
Goal: Install Loft to Kubernetes, evaluate the core features, and decide if Loft is what your team needs
Estimated time: 5 minutes
- any local or remote Kubernetes cluster (minikube, kind, Docker Desktop, GKE, EKS, AKS, Rancher, ...). Allocate at least 4 GB of memory for single node clusters like Docker Desktop and minikube.
helmv3 (check with
- a kube-context with admin access to this Kubernetes cluster (check with
kubectl auth can-i create clusterrole -A)
1. Download Loft CLI
Use one of the following commands to download the Loft CLI binary from GitHub:
- Mac Terminal
- Linux Bash
- Windows Powershell
Alternatively, you can simply download the binary for your platform from the GitHub Releases page and add this binary to your PATH.
2. Deploy Loft + Login
Ensure that you are in the correct kube-context and then run this command:
Choose Port Forwarding
When Loft CLI asks you how you
How do you want to access loft?, answer with
via port-forwarding. We will see later how you can connect a domain and configure SSL.
The output of
loft start will look like this:
You may re-run
loft start and it will automatically detect that Loft has already been deployed and just start port forwarding again.
After Loft has been deployed and port forwarding has been started, open a second terminal window and run the following command to log in to your Loft instance:
The CLI will then open the browser, so you can log in with the admin password shown in the output of
loft start (see step 2 above).
After you logged in via the UI, you will also be logged in via the CLI because you started the login process via
3. Main Features
Spaces in Loft are the equivalent of regular Kubernetes namespaces with the difference that users can create spaces without having to be cluster admin.
- Create Spaces
- Delete Spaces
- List Spaces
- Use Spaces
- Inspect Spaces
While users will be able to create spaces via the UI, it is much easier to create them via the CLI:
Because this command adds a kube-context to the local kube-config file for this space, the user will now be able to immediately use this namespace with any tool that is working with the current kube-context.
Here are just a few example commands of what a user could do with their space:
3.2 Virtual Clusters
What are virtual clusters?
- Fully functional Kubernetes clusters (run with the certified Kubernetes distribution k3s)
- Run inside a single namespace of another Kubernetes cluster
- Very lightweight and start within a few seconds (much faster than regular EKS/GKE clusters)
- Much cheaper than "real" Kubernetes clusters (no extra cost for API server + sleep mode, see below)
How to work with virtual clusters?
Using virtual clusters is very similar to using spaces:
- Create Virtual Clusters
- Delete Virtual Clusters
- List Virtual Clusters
- Use Virtual Clusters
- Inspect Virtual Clusters
While users will be able to create Virtual Clusters via the UI, it is much easier to create them via the CLI:
Because this command adds a kube-context to the local kube-config file for this virtual cluster, the user will now be able to use the virtual cluster with any tool that is working with the current kube-context.
Here are just a few example commands of what a user could do with this virtual cluster:
Virtual Cluster Admin
Especially looking at the last example command above, you can see that the user really is admin of this virtual cluster. Although the user only has very restricted access to a single namespace of the host cluster, the user is admin of the virtual cluster that runs inside this namespace of the host cluster.
Why virtual clusters?
Sometimes, your engineers may need more than just namespaces, e.g. when:
- they need to deploy Helm charts that configure RBAC
- they deploy applications to multiple namespaces (e.g. database is supposed to run in a different namespace)
- they want to install something that needs to add Custom Resource Definitions
In such cases, users can create virtual clusters instead of spaces/namespaces. Learn more about virtual Kubernetes clusters.
3.3 Sleep Mode + Auto-Delete
Loft automatically tracks idle namespaces and lets you configure if they should either be put to sleep or be automatically deleted after a certain period of inactivity.
- Using UI
- Automatic For All Spaces
Run this command to manually put a space to sleep:
To learn more about how sleep mode works, take a look at the docs page about sleep mode for namespaces and virtual clusters.
4. Give Your Team Access
The features you have seen in this quickstart guide are great, but the idea of Loft is not that you as an admin are going to use them, instead the idea is to let your engineers use these features to get self-service access to Kubernetes. With Loft, you can add a pool of clusters and then give engineers access to these clusters.
In Loft, access to a cluster is defined by a cluster account. A cluster account is an object created in each connected cluster that references a user or team and defines which access and restrictions apply. Every one of these clusters can run in a different availability zone or even in a different cloud platform etc. So, you can connect, for example, EKS clusters from AWS and GKE clusters from Google Cloud and then give people access depending on what they need to work with.
Loft provides a lot of powerful team features that will make it easy for you to set up a Kubernetes self-service platform for your team:
- Integration with Authentication Providers (LDAP, SAML, GitHub, GitLab, Micrsoft, Google, ...)
- Multi-Cluster Access Management & Secure Multi-Tenancy
- Automatic Tenant and Namespace Isolation via Security Templates
- Namespace-Based Kube-Context Management (as seen in the examples above)
Get Started - Loft For Your Team
To set up Loft for your team on top of a public or private cloud Kubernetes platform such as GKE, EKS, AKS, RKE, or DOKS, follow the Full Setup Guide for setting up Loft for your team.
Not sure yet? Speak to an expert!
If you have questions about Loft or need help setting it up for your use case, schedule a call with one of our Kubernetes experts to get a full demo of Loft and to discuss your use case.
If you installed Loft to a test cluster and you are now ready to depoy it to a different cluster for your team, use this guide to fully remove everything and uninstall Loft from your test cluster with just a few commands.