Command-line cluster management with Red Hat OpenShift’s new web terminal (tech preview)

Command-line cluster management with Red Hat OpenShift’s new web terminal (tech preview)

Red Hat OpenShift‘s web console simplifies many development and deployment chores to just a few clicks, but sometimes you need a command-line interface (CLI) to get things done on a cluster. Whether you’re learning by cut-and-paste in a tutorial or troubleshooting a deep bug in production (also often done by cut-and-paste), you’ll likely need to enter at least a line or two at a command prompt.

Starting with version 4.5.3, OpenShift users can try out a tech preview of the new Web Terminal Operator. The new OpenShift web terminal brings indispensable command-line tools right to the web console, and its Linux environment runs in a pod deployed on your OpenShift cluster. The web terminal eliminates the need to install software and configure connections and authentication for your local terminal. It also makes it easier to use OpenShift on devices like tablets and mobile phones, which might lack a native terminal.

This article introduces the new OpenShift web terminal, including how to install and activate the Web Terminal Operator.

An easier way to manage OpenShift clusters

The new OpenShift web terminal includes key programs for working with clusters, including:

  • The oc tool for comprehensive OpenShift management.
  • odo, OpenShift’s streamlined workflow utility for application development.
  • kubectl, the core Kubernetes API client.

CLI client tools for the Tekton CI/CD framework, Helm application deployment charts, and Knative serverless workloads are also installed and ready to run. These OpenShift and Kubernetes tools are supported by the usual suspects of Unix-like, general-purpose text processing, and shell scripting.

Once you’ve installed the Web Terminal Operator, you can access the web terminal from the command-prompt icon (>_) on the OpenShift web console masthead, as shown in Figure 1.

A screenshot showing the command-prompt icon in the web console.

Figure 1: The command prompt icon in the OpenShift web console.

Clicking the icon displays the web terminal frame at the bottom of the OpenShift web console, as shown in Figure 2. You can resize, reposition, or pop out the terminal into a new browser window or tab.

A screenshot of the web terminal open in the web console.

Figure 2: The new command-line terminal opens at the bottom of the OpenShift web console.

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How to activate the OpenShift web terminal

OpenShift versions 4.5.3 and later support the new Web Terminal Operator, which manages the terminal environment on the cluster. To activate the web terminal, visit the OperatorHub in the left sidebar of the Web Console Administrator Experience and search for Web Terminal. Install the Web Terminal Operator.

Once you’ve deployed the Operator, log into the web console as a user without the cluster-admin role. Click the command-prompt icon in the top-right corner of your screen to start a web terminal. You’re ready to build, deploy, and manage your cluster workloads with your favorite oc or odo one-liners, without ever leaving your browser.

Note: The web terminal’s tech preview imposes a couple of limitations. First, cluster admins cannot use the web terminal, it is available only to less privileged roles. Second, the shell history feature works to recall previous commands with the up and down arrow keys and other bash mechanics, but this information is not preserved between terminal sessions.

We appreciate your feedback

Community feedback helps us continually improve the OpenShift developer experience. We really want to hear from you! Attend one of our office hours, or complete this survey to let us know your thoughts about the OpenShift web console and the new web terminal. You can also join the OpenShift Developer Experience Google Group to share your tips, get help with what doesn’t work so well for you, and shape the future of the OpenShift Developer Experience.

Ready to get started? Try OpenShift today.

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