Use FZF to Speed Up KUBECTL

FZF is general purpose option selector for Linux command line. By default fzf is an super-upgrade for the ctrl-r command history finder, but it is helpful for almost any scenario where you need to pick 1 item from a list.

Here’s a tiny use case where I use fzf to select a kubernetes namespace and set it as the default namespace, just to save the effort to type --namespace flag everytime when I need to do something not in the default namespace.

function kns() {
cns=$(kubectl get namespaces --output=jsonpath='{range .items[*]}{}{"\n"}'|fzf)
kubectl config set-context --current --namespace=$cns

Let me explain the script above step by step:

  1. kubectl get namespaces will list all namespaces currently accessible
  2. --output=jsonpath='{range .items[*]}{}{"\n"}' will only output the name of namespaces and 1 in each line
  3. |fzf to pipe the result from step 2 to fzf, a list will popup and becomes interactive for the user to choose one.
  4. kubectl config set-context --current --namespace=$cns will set the chosen namespace from step 3 as the default namespace

This is very convenient when there are not too many namespaces and when you need to work in different namespaces randomly. 🙂

Golang and Docker Multi-Stage Build

I have noticed a common pattern amonst some new utilities such as kubectl, kops and terraform: There’s only 1 single executable file to install, and by ‘install’ it can be put anywhere as long as it’s in $PATH. This was before I learned some Golang but it’s easy to find out that the reason behind this pattern is that they are all written in Go.

And in the containers’ realm, the new-ish multi-stage build steps of Docker released in 2017 are super beneficial to Golang containers. A TL;DR example looks like:

  1. use a 1GB Debian container with all Golang tools and build dependencies to build the Golang executable( FROM ... AS in the sample ).
  2. put the executable into a tiny run-time container such as Alpine Linux, resulting in a < 20MB container image(depending on the size of the app obviously) ( COPY --FROM in the sample )

A multi-stage ‘hello world’ Dockerfile looks like:

FROM golang:1.12.5-alpine3.9 as builder
RUN apk update --no-cache && \
apk add git
ADD ./ /app
RUN go build -o golang-test .

FROM alpine:3.9.4
RUN addgroup -g 2000 golang && \
adduser -D -u 2000 -G golang golang
USER golang
COPY --from=builder /app/golang-test .
CMD ["/app/golang-test"]

Note: To be able to use the multi-stage feature, the Docker version has to be > 17.06.


Home VPN with OpenVPN

Here are step to run a simple OpenVPN service at home, so that I can access home network easily while not at home.

First, clone the git repo for OpenVPN docker container:

git clone

I can use the pre-built docker image from docker hub but it has just been breached so I’d rather build it myself:

cd docker-openvpn && docker build -t openvpn .

Create a docker volume to persist data if the OpenVPN container to be rebuilt:

export $OVPN_DATA=ovpn_data
docker volume create --name $OVPN_DATA

Generate OpenVPN configurations, if there’s no DNS record for the server, use the public IP of the home broadband alternatively.

docker run -v $OVPN_DATA:/etc/openvpn --log-driver=none --rm openvpn ovpn_genconfig -u udp://VPN.SERVERNAME.COM

Build a new secret key which will be used to generate user keys. I’d advise to use a strong password which can be saved in a password manager or vault. This is needed everytime when I create a new user.

docker run -v $OVPN_DATA:/etc/openvpn --log-driver=none --rm -it openvpn ovpn_initpki

Then the OpenVPN server container can be run as a service:

docker run -v $OVPN_DATA:/etc/openvpn -d -p 1194:1194/udp --cap-add=NET_ADMIN openvpn

Generate the first user profile. The password for secret key will be needed. Then retrieve the OpenVPN configuration with the 2nd command.

docker run -v $OVPN_DATA:/etc/openvpn --log-driver=none --rm -it openvpn easyrsa build-client-full <username> nopass
docker run -v $OVPN_DATA:/etc/openvpn --log-driver=none --rm openvpn ovpn_getclient <username> > <username>.ovpn

This .ovpn file can be used to configure OpenVPN client softwares on laptops or phones.

At last, ensure UDP 1194 port is forwarded to the host of the docker container. This is usually done in the home broadband router.

Working with a Big Corporation

So it’s been a while since I started this job in a big corporation. I always enjoy new challenges, now my wish got granted. Not in a very good way.

The things work in a quite different manner here. There are big silos and layers between teams and departments, so the challenges here are not quite technical in nature. How unexpected this is.

Still there are lots of things can be improved with technology, here’s one example. When I was migrating an old web application stack from on-premises infrastructure to AWS, the AWS landing zone has already been provisioned with a duo-VPC setup. I really really miss the days that working with Kubernetes clusters and I can just run kubectl exec -ti ... and get a terminal session quickly.

Now things look like year 2000 and I need to use SSH proxy command again, without old school static IP addresses though. Ansible dynamic inventory is quite handy in most cases but it failed due to some unknown corporate firewall rules. I still have bash, aws-cli and jq, so this is my handy bash script to connect to 1 instance of an auto scaling group, via a bastion host(they both can be rebuilt and change IP).

function get_stack_ip(){
aws ec2 describe-instances \
--fileter "Name=tag-key,Values=aws:cloudformation:stack-name" "Name=tag-value,Values=$1" \
|jq '.Reservations[] |select(.Instance[0].PrivateIpAddress != null).Instance[0].PrivateIpAddress' \
|tr -d '"'

Then it’s easy to use this function to get IPs of the bastion stack and the target stack, such as:

IP_BASTION=$(get_stack_ip bastion_stack)
IP_TARGET=$(get_stack_ip target_stack)
ssh -o ProxyCommand="ssh [email protected]_BASTION nc %h %p" [email protected]_TARGET