OIDC Authentication

Capsule does not care about the authentication strategy used in the cluster and all the Kubernetes methods of authentication are supported. The only requirement to use Capsule is to assign tenant users to the group defined by userGroups option in the CapsuleConfiguration, which defaults to capsule.clastix.io.

In the following guide, we'll use Keycloak an Open Source Identity and Access Management server capable to authenticate users via OIDC and release JWT tokens as proof of authentication.

Configuring OIDC Server

Configure Keycloak as OIDC server:

  • Add a realm called caas, or use any existing realm instead
  • Add a group capsule.clastix.io
  • Add a user alice assigned to group capsule.clastix.io
  • Add an OIDC client called kubernetes
  • For the kubernetes client, create protocol mappers called groups and audience

If everything is done correctly, now you should be able to authenticate in Keycloak and see user groups in JWT tokens. Use the following snippet to authenticate in Keycloak as alice user:

$ KEYCLOAK=sso.clastix.io
$ REALM=caas
$ OIDC_ISSUER=${KEYCLOAK}/auth/realms/${REALM}

$ curl -k -s https://${OIDC_ISSUER}/protocol/openid-connect/token \
     -d grant_type=password \
     -d response_type=id_token \
     -d scope=openid \
     -d client_id=${OIDC_CLIENT_ID} \
     -d client_secret=${OIDC_CLIENT_SECRET} \
     -d username=${USERNAME} \
     -d password=${PASSWORD} | jq

The result will include an ACCESS_TOKEN, a REFRESH_TOKEN, and an ID_TOKEN. The access-token can generally be disregarded for Kubernetes. It would be used if the identity provider was managing roles and permissions for the users but that is done in Kubernetes itself with RBAC. The id-token is short lived while the refresh-token has longer expiration. The refresh-token is used to fetch a new id-token when the id-token expires.

   "id_token": "ID_TOKEN",
   "scope": "openid groups profile email"

To introspect the ID_TOKEN token run:

$ curl -k -s https://${OIDC_ISSUER}/protocol/openid-connect/introspect \
     -d token=${ID_TOKEN} \
     --user ${OIDC_CLIENT_ID}:${OIDC_CLIENT_SECRET} | jq

The result will be like the following:

  "exp": 1601323086,
  "iat": 1601322186,
  "aud": "kubernetes",
  "typ": "ID",
  "azp": "kubernetes",
  "preferred_username": "alice",
  "email_verified": false,
  "acr": "1",
  "groups": [
  "client_id": "kubernetes",
  "username": "alice",
  "active": true

Configuring Kubernetes API Server

Configuring Kubernetes for OIDC Authentication requires adding several parameters to the API Server. Please, refer to the documentation for details and examples. Most likely, your kube-apiserver.yaml manifest will looks like the following:

  - command:
    - kube-apiserver
    - --oidc-issuer-url=https://${OIDC_ISSUER}
    - --oidc-ca-file=/etc/kubernetes/oidc/ca.crt
    - --oidc-client-id=${OIDC_CLIENT_SECRET}
    - --oidc-username-claim=preferred_username
    - --oidc-groups-claim=groups
    - --oidc-username-prefix=-

Configuring kubectl

There are two options to use kubectl with OIDC:

  • OIDC Authenticator
  • Use the --token option

To use the OIDC Authenticator, add an oidc user entry to your kubeconfig file:

$ kubectl config set-credentials oidc \
    --auth-provider=oidc \
    --auth-provider-arg=idp-issuer-url=https://${OIDC_ISSUER} \
    --auth-provider-arg=idp-certificate-authority=/path/to/ca.crt \
    --auth-provider-arg=client-id=${OIDC_CLIENT_ID} \
    --auth-provider-arg=client-secret=${OIDC_CLIENT_SECRET} \
    --auth-provider-arg=refresh-token=${REFRESH_TOKEN} \
    --auth-provider-arg=id-token=${ID_TOKEN} \

To use the --token option:

$ kubectl config set-credentials oidc --token=${ID_TOKEN}

Point the kubectl to the URL where the Kubernetes APIs Server is reachable:

$ kubectl config set-cluster mycluster \
    --server=https://kube.clastix.io:6443 \

If your APIs Server is reachable through the capsule-proxy, make sure to use the URL of the capsule-proxy.

Create a new context for the OIDC authenticated users:

$ kubectl config set-context alice-oidc@mycluster \
    --cluster=mycluster \

As user alice, you should be able to use kubectl to create some namespaces:

$ kubectl --context alice-oidc@mycluster create namespace oil-production
$ kubectl --context alice-oidc@mycluster create namespace oil-development
$ kubectl --context alice-oidc@mycluster create namespace gas-marketing

Warning: once your ID_TOKEN expires, the kubectl OIDC Authenticator will attempt to refresh automatically your ID_TOKEN using the REFRESH_TOKEN. In case the OIDC uses a self signed CA certificate, make sure to specify it with the idp-certificate-authority option in your kubeconfig file, otherwise you'll not able to refresh the tokens.