Add an OIDC Provider

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The Enterprise PKS tile > UAA pane configures a default Identity Provider (IDP) for all the clusters that PKS creates.

This topic explains how you can use a Kubernetes profile to override this default IDP. The Kubernetes profile applies a custom OIDC-compatible IDP to a cluster by deploying an OIDC connector as a service pod on the cluster.

As an example, the Kubernetes profile in this topic deploys dex as an OIDC provider, but you can use any OIDC service.

For more information and other uses of Kubernetes profiles, see Using Kubernetes Profiles.


The following diagram shows how this configuration works:

OIDC diagram

  • OIDC service provider cluster with external hostname
    • Hosts a dex pod that accesses the LDAP server
    • Publishes its OIDC service to
  • OIDC Kubernetes profile has the URL of the OIDC service
  • Host cluster with external hostname
    • Uses the OIDC Kubernetes profile
    • Calls the OIDC service at to authenticate the user whenever a user requests an app hosted on the cluster


To configure a custom OIDC provider for PKS clusters, you:

  1. Set Up Dex Workload - Configure dex as an OIDC provider for an LDAP directory.
  2. Set Up Communication Path - Set up \etcd\hosts and TLS so that clusters can access dex securely.
  3. Deploy and Expose Dex - Run dex as a local service within a pod and exposes its endpoint via an IP address.
  4. Create Kubernetes Profile - Create a Kubernetes profile that lets a cluster’s kube-api-server connect to the dex server.
  5. Create Cluster - Create a cluster that uses the Kubernetes profile.
  6. Test Cluster Access - Test that the cluster uses the OIDC provider to control access.

Set Up Dex Workload

  1. Create a cluster in PKS for installing dex as a pod:

    $ pks create-cluster dex -p small -e
  2. Run pks cluster for the cluster, and record its Kubernetes Master IP address:

    $ pks cluster dex
    PKS Version:             1.7.0-build.11
    Name:                    dex
    K8s Version:             1.15.5
    Plan Name:               small
    UUID:                    dbe1d880-478f-4d0d-bb2e-0da3d9641f0d
    Last Action:             CREATE
    Last Action State:       succeeded
    Last Action Description: Instance provisioning completed
    Kubernetes Master Host:
    Kubernetes Master Port:  8443
    Worker Nodes:            1
    Kubernetes Master IP(s):
    Network Profile Name:
    Kubernetes Profile Name:
  3. Add the Kubernetes Master IP address to your local /etc/hosts file.

  4. Populate your ~/.kube/config with context for dex:

    $ pks get-credentials dex
  5. Switch to the admin context of the dex cluster:

    $ kubectl config use-context dex
  6. Follow the Deploying dex on Kubernetes steps in the dex repo to deploy a dex workload on a Kubernetes cluster.

    • Use the dex.yaml example YAML file in GitHub to create a dex deployment that connects to an LDAP server.

Set Up Communication Path

  1. Add the /etc/hosts entry for the public IP and the hostname on your local workstation. This lets you retrieve a token to access your OIDC-profile cluster later.
  2. Generate TLS assets for the dex deployment as described in the Generate TLS assets section of the dex documentation.

  3. Add the generated TLS assets to the cluster as a secret, following the steps in the Create cluster secrets section of the dex documentation.

Deploy and Expose Dex

  1. On a Kubernetes cluster, deploy dex using the example YAML file linked above.

  2. Once the deployment succeeds, expose the dex deployment as a service named dex-service:

    $ kubectl expose deployment dex --type=LoadBalancer --name=dex-service
    > service/dex-service exposed
  3. This should create a dex service with a public IP address that clusters can use as an OIDC issuer URL. Retrieve the IP address by running:

    $ kubectl get services dex-service
  4. Add the IP of the dex service to your /etc/hosts:
    • Ensure that you map the dex service to, which the dex binary expects as issuer_url and for TLS handshakes.
    • For this example, we set up the issuer URL as

Create Kubernetes Profile

To create a Kubernetes profile that lets a cluster’s kube-api-server connect to the dex service:

  1. Create a Kubernetes profile /tmp/profile.json similar to this, containing your custom OIDC settings under the kube-apiserver component:

    $ cat /tmp/profile.json
       "name": "oidc-config",
       "description": "Kubernetes profile with OIDC configuration",
       "customizations": [
             "component": "kube-apiserver",
             "arguments": {
                "oidc-client-id": "example-app",
                "oidc-issuer-url": "",
                "oidc-username-claim": "email"
             "file-arguments": {
                "oidc-ca-file": "/tmp/oidc-ca.pem"

    Of all the supported kube-apiserver flags, the following are specific to OIDC. You can find a description of each of these in the kube-apiserver documentation.

    • In the arguments block:
      • oidc-issuer-url: Set this to "".
      • oidc-client-id
      • oidc-username-claim: Set this to "email" for testing with the example app below.
      • oidc-groups-claim
    • In the file-arguments block:
      • oidc-ca-file: Set this to a path in the local file system that contains a CA certificate file.
  2. Create the profile:

  $ pks create-kubernetes-profile /tmp/profile.json

In the example above, the file-path /tmp/oidc-ca.pem points to a CA certificate on the local file system, and the pks create-kubernetes-profile command sends this certificate to the API server when it creates the profile.

Create Cluster

To create a cluster using the Kubernetes profile created above:

$ pks create-cluster cluster-with-custom-oidc -e -p
    small --kubernetes-profile oid-config

The cluster should have custom OIDC settings from the profile.

Test Cluster Access

To generate an ID token and test the cluster, you can use an example app from the dex repo as follows.

In real-world scenarios, you can replace the example app with a full-fledged application like Gangway.

  1. Install the example-app app from the Logging into the cluster documentation section in the dex repo.

  2. Run the dex example app:

    ./bin/example-app --issuer
    --issuer-root-ca /tmp/ca.pem
    • The example app only provides the email scope.
  3. To fetch the token, use the information provided here to generate the ID token.

  4. Log in using the Log in with Email option and enter the email and password of an account in your OIDC IDP. This example uses email and password password.

    Test app pane: 'Authenticate for' field, 'Extra scopes' field, 'Connector ID' field, 'Request offline access' checkbox, and 'Login' button

  5. A page appears listing the ID Token, Access Token, Refresh Token, ID Token Issuer (iss claim), and other information.

    Page lists: 'ID Token' with cert, 'Access Token' with token, 'Claims' with access structure for user 'alana', and 'Refresh Token' token string

  6. Once the token is generated, edit your .kube/config file to add a new context for the test user, and include cluster.server and user.token values retrieved using the example app:

    $ cat ~/.kube/config
    apiVersion: v1
    - cluster:
        certificate-authority-data: CA-CERT
        server: CLUSTER-URL
      name: TEST-CLUSTER
    - context:
        cluster: TEST-CLUSTER
        user: TEST-USER
      name: TEST-CONTEXT
    current-context: TEST-CONTEXT
    kind: Config
    preferences: {}
    - name: TEST-USER
        token: ID-TOKEN


    • CA is your CA certificate
    • CLUSTER-URL is the address of the test service, such as
    • TEST-CLUSTER is the name of the test cluster, such as cluster-with-custom-oidc
    • TEST-USER is the test account username, such as alana
    • TEST-CONTEXT is a name you create for the new context, such as cluster-with-custom-oidc-ldap-alana
    • ID-TOKEN is the ID Token retrieved by the example-app app above
  7. Create a ClusterRole YAML file that grants permissions to access services and pods in the default namespace:

    kind: ClusterRole
      namespace: default
      name: pod-reader-clusterRolebinding
    - apiGroups: [""] # "" indicates the core API group
      resources: ["pods", "services"]
      verbs: ["get", "watch", "list"]
  8. Run kubectl apply or kubectl create to pass the ClusterRole spec file to the kube controller:

    kubectl apply -f ClusterRole.yml
  9. Create a ClusterRoleBinding YAML file that applies the ClusterRole role to the test user:

    # This role binding allows "" to read pods in the "default" namespace.
    kind: ClusterRoleBinding
      name: read-pods-clusterRolebinding
      namespace: default
    - kind: User
      name: # Name is case sensitive
      kind: ClusterRole #this must be Role or ClusterRole
      name: pod-reader-clusterRolebinding # this must match the name of the Role or ClusterRole you wish to bind to
  10. Run kubectl apply or kubectl create to pass the ClusterRoleBinding spec file to the kube controller:

    kubectl apply -f ClusterRoleBinding.yml

If the test user alana can run kubectl get pods, then the cluster is authenticating her successfully by connecting via OIDC to the dex OIDC provider.

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