Get access to a container in Kubernetes cluster

With Kubernetes(K8s), there’s no need to do ssh [email protected] anymore since everything is running as containers. There are still occasions when I need shell access to a container to do some troubleshooting.

With Docker I can do

docker exec -ti <container_id> /bin/bash

It’s quite similar in K8s

kubectl exec -ti <container_id> -- /bin/bash

However in K8s containers have random IDs so I need to know the container ID first

kubectl get pods

Then I can grab the container ID and do the `kubectl exec` command. This is hard to automate because picking up the expected container ID using `grep` and `awk` commands can fail if the matching condition is too strict.

Given a deployment like this

---
apiVersion: extensions/v1beta1
kind: Deployment
metadata:
 name: my-app-deploy
spec:
 replicas: 2
 template:
   metadata:
     labels:
       app: my-app
...

the K8s way to query the container will be

kubectl get pods --selector=app=my-app -o jsonpath='{.items[0].metadata.name}'

A chained one-liner could be

kubectl exec -ti $(kubectl get pods --selector=app=my-app -o jsonpath='{.items[0].metadata.name}') -- /bin/bash

This doesn’t check for errors, eg. if no container matching `app=my-app` was found, but a better script can be easily crafted from here.

🙂

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