Kubernetes Hacks: Unleashing the Power of kubectl for Advanced Operations

Praveen Dandu
3 min readJul 20, 2023

Introduction:

In our previous blog, we explored the top 20 kubectl commands every DevOps engineer must conquer to efficiently manage Kubernetes clusters. Now, let’s take our skills to the next level and dive into some exciting Kubernetes hacks using kubectl. These advanced techniques will empower you to perform complex operations, streamline workflows, and become a true Kubernetes ninja. So, fasten your seatbelt as we journey into the fascinating world of Kubernetes hacks!

1. Dynamic Manifest Generation with kubectl and Template Rendering:

Sometimes, you need to generate Kubernetes manifests dynamically based on certain variables or configurations. We can achieve this using kubectl combined with template rendering tools like `envsubst`. Let’s create a deployment manifest with custom replicas using environment variables:

Example:

export REPLICAS=3
envsubst < deployment_template.yaml | kubectl apply -f -

In this example, we use a deployment_template.yaml file with placeholders like `$REPLICAS`. The `envsubst` command replaces the placeholders with the corresponding environment variables, and then we apply the manifest to the cluster.

2. Effortless Namespace Management:

Managing multiple namespaces can be tedious, but kubectl can simplify this process. Let’s create a set of namespaces for different environments using a bash loop:

Example:

for env in dev staging prod; do
kubectl create namespace $env
done

This script creates three namespaces: `dev`, `staging`, and `prod`, with just a few lines of code.

3. Backup and Restore Kubernetes Resources:

Backups are crucial for disaster recovery. Instead of manually exporting resources, kubectl offers a built-in way to backup and restore resources using the `kubectl get` and `kubectl apply` commands:

Example (Backup):

kubectl get deployments,pods,services - all-namespaces -o yaml > cluster_backup.yaml

Example (Restore):

kubectl apply -f cluster_backup.yaml

With this, you can quickly backup your entire cluster or specific resources and restore them when needed.

4. kubectl Explain with Resource Types and Fields:

Understanding complex Kubernetes resources can be challenging. With kubectl explain, we can explore resource types and their fields in-depth:

Example (Pods):

kubectl explain pods.spec.containers
kubectl explain pods.spec.volumes

These commands provide detailed information about the fields within pods’ specifications, aiding in better understanding and resource configuration.

5. On-the-fly Debugging with kubectl Debug:

Debugging a container inside a pod can be daunting, but kubectl makes it easy with the `kubectl debug` command:

Example:

kubectl debug <pod_name> -c <container_name>

This launches a new container in the pod with the same namespaces and network as the target container, allowing you to troubleshoot in a live environment.

6. Powerful Label and Annotation Queries:

Labels and annotations are powerful ways to categorize and describe resources. Use kubectl to filter resources using label and annotation queries:

Example:

kubectl get pods -l app=myapp
kubectl get deployments -n mynamespace -l environment=prod

These queries help you find resources quickly based on specific labels or annotations.

Conclusion:

With these Kubernetes hacks using kubectl, you can perform advanced operations, automate tasks, and streamline workflows like a pro. By leveraging the full potential of kubectl and exploring various possibilities, you’ll become a Kubernetes master, making your DevOps journey smoother and more enjoyable. Remember to experiment and practice these hacks in your test environments to build confidence and discover new possibilities. Happy hacking and Kubernetting!

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Praveen Dandu

🚀 DevOps Engineer | Automating Infrastructure, Streamlining Deployments | Continuous Integration & Delivery Specialist https://www.linkedin.com/in/pravin24/