Querying metrics from the Kubernetes API using the official golang Kubernetes client

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Tags: golang kubernetes


I was initially struggling a bit to figure out how to query the metrics.k8s.io API using the golang client. For some time, it just seemed simpler to just use the client to get a Bearer token and query the API directly with the net/http, which is exactly what I ended up doing when I attempted the same in Python, but I wanted to figure this one out.

The road towards querying the Kubernetes API in golang

Within the code blocks here, I am including the required imports, the relevant function’s signature, and the function call itself for illustrative purposes.

Importing auth plugins

In order to get the authentication to work properly for some cloud providers (e.g. Azure AKS) you have to import an auth plugin.

import _ "k8s.io/client-go/plugin/pkg/client/auth"

Configuring clients

Then we need to configure the client with a cluster (master) hostname, certificate authority and a service account token (the actual Bearer token).

Package clientcmd provides one stop shopping for building a working client from a fixed config, from a .kubeconfig file, from command line flags, or from any merged combination.

import "k8s.io/client-go/tools/clientcmd"
// func BuildConfigFromFlags(masterUrl, kubeconfigPath string) (*restclient.Config, error)
kubeconfig, err := clientcmd.BuildConfigFromFlags("", "")

If both these arguments are empty strings, it will fall back to in-cluster config, which will configure it to use an in-cluster reachable masterUrl and look for CA and token in the default locations (/run/secrets/kubernetes.io/serviceaccount/{ca.crt,token}).

So when you are running stuff off of your local machine, which has a working kubeconfig, pass an empty masterUrl and use the location of your config file to kubeconfigPath, which is normally at ~/.kube/config.

Instantiating an API client

Now we need to instantiate a client set using the configuration we have loaded. A client set contains API groups, and the client set exported in k8s.io/client-go/kubernetes contains all the officially supported groups for the chosen package version. This means that the latest version, as of writing, includes all the API groups available in Kubernetes v1.20.

For the metrics API however, we need to use an additional client set which is defined in k8s.io/metrics/pkg/client/clientset/versioned.

import "k8s.io/client-go/kubernetes"
// func NewForConfigOrDie(c *rest.Config) *Clientset
clientset := kubernetes.NewForConfigOrDie(kubeconfig)

import metricsv "k8s.io/metrics/pkg/client/clientset/versioned"
// func NewForConfigOrDie(c *rest.Config) *Clientset
metricsclientset := metricsv.NewForConfigOrDie(kubeconfig)

The NewForConfigOrDie is a helper function to panic if an error occurs. The NewForConfig can be used instead if you want to handle the error manually.

Querying using the client sets

The CoreV1 API

Now we are ready to send actual queries. As noted, the clientsets contains one or more API groups. To query pods, we have to use the CoreV1 group. To figure out what group you have to use for other resources I advice to read the Kubernetes API reference.

Now, having a kubeconfig and a clientset we can list all pods in all namespaces. The single string argument passed to Pods() is a namespace. When empty it matches all namespaces.

pods, err := clientset.CoreV1().Pods("").List(context.TODO(), metav1.ListOptions{})

What this query returns is a *v1.PodList. To see if any pods were found you can check the len of PodList.Items, or iterate over it with range.

See the godoc for v1.Pod to see what properties this struct exports. The struct is importing other structs inline so e.g. the metadata of a resource is at the root level of the struct itself, not under a Metadata property. I.e. the name and namespace of a Pod is in Pod.Name and Pod.Namespace.

Metrics API

For this we use the other client set.

podMetrics, err := metricsclientset.MetricsV1beta1().PodMetricses("").List(context.TODO(), metav1.ListOptions{})

See the godoc for the metrics v1beta1 for details of how the resource is structured. It’s pretty much the same as with the Pods, except it’s a different resource with different properties.


I think this post sheds light on the complexity of the Kubernetes project. Having to use multiple packages and modules to do a seemingly simple operations with the Kubernetes API is drastically raising the bar of entry. I can’t say I know how things should be done differently, but here’s an attempt to help someone else out there to do the same thing as I was striving for; getting all pods and pod metrics in all namespaces in a Kubernetes cluster.


If you have any comments or feedback, please send me an e-mail. (stig at stigok dotcom).

Did you find any typos, incorrect information, or have something to add? Then please propose a change to this post.

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