k9s - My Favorite Kubernetes Tool

Kubernetes CLI To Manage Your Clusters In Style

If you work with Kubernetes clusters a lot, you are most probably used to typing a lot of kubectl commands. A while ago, I discovered k9s and it made working with Kubernetes clusters so much simpler. To quote the description directly from the k9s site:

K9s is a terminal based UI to interact with your Kubernetes clusters


k9s is written in go-lang. The beauty of programs written in that language is that they are compiled down to a single binary with all the dependencies included. The project’s GitHub site makes pre-compiled binaries available for all major OS’s and CPU architectures. Just download the appropriate one and place the single executable binary in your PATH.

For MacOS, if you have Homebrew installed (you should!), simply running brew install k9s will install it.


Running it is as simple as typing k9s. Once that command is run, you are presented with an interface in the shell where the command was issued. It looks like:

k9s UI

The app uses the same mechanism as kubectl to connect to the Kubernetes clusters. So if you can connect to your cluster with kubectl commands, k9s will connect as well.

Once in the interface, you use the UP and DOWN keys to navigate lists, ENTER key to see details of the current object, ESC key to get back to the previous list, and other simple keyboard shortcut keys to do various operations. Most of these operations usually require lengthy kubectl commands if done outside of k9s. For example, when viewing a list of pods in k9s, if you press the L key, you get to see the logs for the first container in the pod. Then pressing ECS gets you back to the list of pods.

In k9s, you can view all kinds of Kubernetes resources. By default, you are shown Pods in the default namespace. Its like running kubectl get pods -w - the list will update itself as Pods are added, removed, or become ready. To see Deployment resources, simply type :deployments - now you are looking at list of the Deployments. You have probably already figured out the pattern. :services for list of Service resources, :namespaces for list of Namespaces, :serviceaccounts for ServiceAccounts list, so on and so forth.

You don’t have to memorize any of the keyboard commands once in k9s. The top portion of the interface tells you about the available commands in a context-sensitive manner. Once you do have them memorized, you can turn off the top portion and reclaim that screen real-estate. The ? key will give you full list of commands.


I stole the sub-title of this post from the k9s site. It says:

Kubernetes CLI To Manage Your Clusters In Style

And its so true. You feel like a l33t h4x0r when you are flying around in the k9s interface listing pods, creating port-forwards, or checking on the status of your cron-job invocations. With a small set of commands, you can become very productive in a short amount of time.

What are your favorite tools when dealing with Kubernetes? Please reach out if you’d like to hear more about this or other topics.

See also