kubernetes, addons, dashboard

Installing Kubernetes Dashboard per Namespace

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Even though I'm not Kubernetes Dashboard user, I understand why it is the easiest way for most people to interact with their apps running on top of Kubernetes. If you are interacting with it daily or managing the cluster itself, you are probably more fine with CLI, aka kubectl. Kubernetes Dashboard is easy to install, but you might want to have it per namespace and to limit what users can do. Let's see how to install and configure it for this scenario.

The Problem

The latest version of Kubernetes dashboard v2.0 is running without a cluster-admin role, which was too dangerous. On top of that, all secrets are explicitly created, and ServiceAccount doesn't have permission to create any secret. This is excellent news. But, you probably want to limit users for touching anything that is not part of their namespace. Or even more, make it read-only and disable access to some sensitive info, like secrets.

Installation and Configuration

Kubernetes Dashboard does have namespace support. Installing the dashboard is a pretty straightforward process. So, let's say you want to install it in the default namespace. First, create a custom config for kubernetes-dashboard helm chart:

cat > values-dashboard.yaml<<EOF 
  - --system-banner="Test Cluster"
  - --namespace=default

  enabled: true

NOTE: If you have a single sign-on solution with ingress, you can set --enable-skip-login and --enable-insecure-login extra args to disable dashboard authentication. With ingress terminating SSL, you need to set protocolHttp: true as well.

In the above config, I enabled metrics scraper. It is required to have a metrics server running in the cluster for this to work. If you don't have it installed, you can enable it via config.

Let's make this dashboard read only by adding custom role:

cat > kubernetes-dashboard-role.yaml<<EOF
apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1beta1
kind: Role
  name: dash-kubernetes-dashboard-read-only
- apiGroups:
  - "*"
  - configmaps
  - cronjobs
  - daemonsets
  - deployments
  - events
  - ingresses
  - jobs
  - persistentvolumeclaims
  - persistentvolumes
  - pods
  - pods/log
  - replicasets
  - replicationcontrollers
  - services
  - statefulsets
  - describe
  - get
  - list
  - watch

cat > kubernetes-dashboard-rolebinding.yaml<<EOF
apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1beta1
kind: RoleBinding
  name: dash-kubernetes-dashboard-read-only
    app: kubernetes-dashboard
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
  kind: Role
  name: dash-kubernetes-dashboard-read-only
- kind: ServiceAccount
  name: dash-kubernetes-dashboard
  namespace: default

NOTE: Set a preferred namespace - default in this case.

The last step it to apply all those resources and to install the dashboard:

kubectl apply -f kubernetes-dashboard-role.yaml -n default
kubectl apply -f kubernetes-dashboard-rolebinding.yaml -n default

helm repo add kubernetes-dashboard https://kubernetes.github.io/dashboard/

helm install --name dash \
  --namespace default \
  -f values-dashboard.yaml \

You can go ahead and check if the dashboard works as expected. If you try to list namespaces or check cluster-wide resources, you will get the namespaces is forbidden error message, which is what you wanted to achieve by running it per namespace. You can further adjust `dash-kubernetes-dashboard-read-only` role to make it work for your use case.


Installing a Kubernetes Dashboard per namespace and with limited options is a simple way of adding more visibility to the Kubernetes cluster without violating security. Stay tuned for the next one.