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Pinniped Documentation

Configure the Pinniped Concierge to validate JWT tokens issued by the Pinniped Supervisor

The Concierge can validate JSON Web Tokens (JWTs), which are commonly issued by OpenID Connect (OIDC) identity providers.

This guide shows you how to use this capability in conjunction with the Pinniped Supervisor. Each FederationDomain defined in a Pinniped Supervisor acts as an OIDC issuer. By installing the Pinniped Concierge on multiple Kubernetes clusters, and by configuring each cluster’s Concierge as described below to trust JWT tokens from a single Supervisor’s FederationDomain, your clusters' users may safely use their identity across all of those clusters. Users of these clusters will enjoy a unified, once-a-day login experience for all the clusters with their kubectl CLI.

If you would rather not use the Supervisor, you may want to configure the Concierge to validate JWT tokens from other OIDC providers instead.


This how-to guide assumes that you have already installed the Pinniped Supervisor with working ingress, and that you have configured a FederationDomain to issue tokens for your downstream clusters.

It also assumes that you have already installed the Pinniped Concierge on all the clusters in which you would like to allow users to have a unified identity.

Create a JWTAuthenticator

Create a JWTAuthenticator describing how to validate tokens from your Supervisor’s FederationDomain:

kind: JWTAuthenticator
  name: my-supervisor-authenticator

  # The value of the `issuer` field should exactly match the `issuer`
  # field of your Supervisor's FederationDomain.

  # You can use any `audience` identifier for your cluster, but it is
  # important that it is unique for security reasons.
  audience: my-unique-cluster-identifier-da79fa849

  # If the TLS certificate of your FederationDomain is not signed by
  # a standard CA trusted by the Concierge pods by default, then
  # specify its CA here as a base64-encoded PEM.
    certificateAuthorityData: LS0tLS1CRUdJTiBDRVJUSUZJQ0...0tLQo=

If you’ve saved this into a file my-supervisor-authenticator.yaml, then install it into your cluster using:

kubectl apply -f my-supervisor-authenticator.yaml

Do this on each cluster in which you would like to allow users from that FederationDomain to log in. Don’t forget to give each cluster a unique audience value for security reasons.

Generate a kubeconfig file

Generate a kubeconfig file for one of the clusters in which you installed and configured the Concierge as described above:

pinniped get kubeconfig > my-cluster.yaml

This assumes that your current kubeconfig is an admin-level kubeconfig for the cluster, such as the kubeconfig that you used to install the Concierge.

This creates a kubeconfig YAML file my-cluster.yaml, unique to that cluster, which targets your JWTAuthenticator using pinniped login oidc as an ExecCredential plugin. This new kubeconfig can be shared with the other users of this cluster. It does not contain any specific identity or credentials. When a user uses this new kubeconfig with kubectl, the Pinniped plugin will prompt them to log in using their own identity.

Use the kubeconfig file

Use the kubeconfig with kubectl to access your cluster:

kubectl --kubeconfig my-cluster.yaml get namespaces

You should see:

  • The pinniped login oidc command is executed automatically by kubectl.

  • Pinniped directs you to login with whatever identity provider is configured in the Supervisor, either by opening your browser (for upstream OIDC Providers) or by prompting for your username and password (for upstream LDAP providers).

  • In your shell, you see your clusters namespaces.

    If instead you get an access denied error, you may need to create a ClusterRoleBinding for username of your account in the Supervisor’s upstream identity provider, for example:

    kubectl create clusterrolebinding my-user-admin \
      --clusterrole admin \

    Alternatively, you could create role bindings based on the group membership of your users in the upstream identity provider, for example:

    kubectl create clusterrolebinding my-auditors \
      --clusterrole view \
      --group auditors

Other notes

  • Pinniped kubeconfig files do not contain secrets and are safe to share between users.

  • Temporary session credentials such as ID, access, and refresh tokens are stored in:

    • ~/.config/pinniped/sessions.yaml (macOS/Linux)
    • %USERPROFILE%/.config/pinniped/sessions.yaml (Windows).