Kiali project, observability for the Istio service mesh

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kiali is a management console for Istio service mesh. Kiali can be quickly installed as an Istio add-on, or trusted as a part of your production environment.

Table of contents

  • Introduction
    • Table of contents
    • Contributing
    • Getting Started
    • How and where Kiali is released?

  • Developer setup

    • Create a Kubernetes cluster and install a Service Mesh
    • Building the Container Image and deploying to a cluster
    • Reloading Kiali image
    • Cluster clean-up
    • Code formatting and linting
    • Enable tracing
    • Running Standalone
    • Running integration tests
    • Debugging Server Backend
    • Debugging GUI Frontend

  • Configuration
  • Embedding Kiali
  • Configure External Services

    • Grafana

  • Additional Notes

    • Upgrading Go
    • Procedure to check and update patternfly versions
    • Running the UI outside the cluster
    • Disabling SSL

  • Exposing Kiali to External Clients Using Istio Gateway
  • Experimental

    • Observing a Remote Cluster


First, check the Community section on, which provides a brief introduction on contributing, how to report issues and request features, and how to reach us.

If you would like to make code contributions, please also check the Contribution Guide.

Getting Started

The target audience of this README are developers. If you are not a developer but want to learn more about Kiali, the Kiali documentation should be more helpful. For instructions on installing Kiali, please read the Installation page.

How and where Kiali is released?

Read the RELEASING.adoc file.

Developer setup


Please, complement the content of this readme document with the README.adoc document of the front-end repository. Although this document has some instructions about building the front-end, they are not complete.

Make sure you have the following tools:

  • The Go Programming Language

    • Currently, Kiali releases are built using a specific minimum version of Go as declared in the Makefile. Although Kiali may build correctly using other versions of Go, it’s suggested to use the version that the Makefile uses for your own development to ensure replicatable builds.

  • git

  • gcc

  • Docker or Podman

    • If you are using podman declare the environment variable DORP=podman.

  • NodeJS (Node.js >= 18 with the NPM command)

  • Yarn

  • The GNU make utility or any of it’s alternatives

Once you have the required developer tools, you can get and build the code with the following script:

# Checkout the source code
mkdir kiali_sources
cd kiali_sources
export KIALI_SOURCES=$(pwd)

git clone git clone git clone

ln -s $KIALI_SOURCES/kiali-operator kiali/operator

Build the back-end and run the tests

cd $KIALI_SOURCES/kiali make build test

You can pass go test flags through the GO_TEST_FLAGS env var

make -e GO_TEST_FLAGS="-race -v -run=\"TestCanConnectToIstiodReachable\"" test

Build the front-end and run the tests

make build-ui-test


The rest of this README assumes the directory tree created by the previous commands:

-- kiali_sources
   |- kiali
   |- kiali-operator
   \- helm-charts

Create a Kubernetes cluster and install a Service Mesh

Since Kiali is a management console for an Istio-based service mesh, you will need an Istio-like Service Mesh to try Kiali. Then, Istio Meshes are installed on Kubernetes clusters.

We provide a few unsupported scripts that can help to get started:

  • You can use the script to create an OpenShift cluster on your local machine.

  • If you are familiar to minikube, you may try the script. It has the option to install Dex which is useful if you want to test with OpenID.

  • You can also use kind, run script to create a single node KinD cluster with metallb enabled for testing Kiali against a real environment.

  • Finally, the and the scripts can assist into installing Istio and the Bookinfo sample application in your cluster, respectively. You can try running these scripts without any arguments.

These scripts are written to rely on the minimum dependencies as possible and will try to download any required tools.

Depending on the type of cluster you are using, you should define the CLUSTER_TYPE environment variable on your shell to openshift (this is the default if not set), minikube or kind value so that the Makefiles can assist in other operations. If you are not using any of these clusters, you should set the environment variable to CLUSTER_TYPE=local.


If you are using minikube it’s recommended that you enable the registry and ingress add-on. The script should do this for you.


If you are using docker and using minikube’s registry add-on or any custom non-secure registry, make sure the Docker daemon is properly configured to use your registry.

Building the Container Image and deploying to a cluster

Assuming that:

  • you have successfully built the back-end and the front-end,

  • you also have created a Kubernetes cluster with an Istio-based Service Mesh installed on it,

  • and you are not using the CLUSTER_TYPE=local environment variable

the following commands should deploy a development build of Kiali to the cluster:


Build the Kiali-server and Kiali-operator container images and push them to the cluster

make cluster-push

If you want to only build and push the Kiali-server container images:

make cluster-push-kiali

If you want to only build and push the Kiali-operator container images:

make cluster-push-operator

Deploy the operator to the cluster

make operator-create

Create a KialCR to instruct the operator to deploy Kiali

make kiali-create

If you are using the CLUSTER_TYPE=local environment variable, you will need to declare some additional environment variables to set the container registry where container images should be pushed and use make container-push* targets instead of cluster-push* targets. For example, if your container registry is localhost:5000:

export QUAY_NAME=localhost:5000/kiali/kiali
export CONTAINER_NAME=localhost:5000/kiali/kiali
export OPERATOR_QUAY_NAME=localhost:5000/kiali/kiali-operator
export OPERATOR_CONTAINER_NAME=localhost:5000/kiali/kiali-operator


Build the Kiali-server and Kiali-operator container images and push them to the cluster

make container-build container-push

If you want to only build and push the Kiali-server container images:

make container-build-kiali container-push-kiali-quay

If you want to only build and push the Kiali-operator container images:

make container-build-operator container-push-operator-quay

Deploy the operator to the cluster

make operator-create

Create a KialCR to instruct the operator to deploy Kiali

make kiali-create

Reloading Kiali image

If you already have Kiali installed and you want to recreate the kiali server pod, you can run the following command:

make kiali-reload-image

This is to facilitate development. To quickly build a new Kiali container image and load it to the cluster, you can run:

cd $KIALI_SOURCES/kiali/frontend
yarn && yarn build

cd $KIALI_SOURCES/kiali make clean build cluster-push-kiali kiali-reload-image


There is no equivalent reload command for the operator. You would need to manually reload the operator via kubectl or oc commands.

Cluster clean-up


Delete the Kiali CR to let the operator remove Kiali.

make kiali-delete

If the previous command never ends, the following command forces removal by bypassing the operator

make kiali-purge

Remove the operator

NOTE: After this completes, the kiali-create and kiali-delete targets will be ineffective

until you run the operator-create target to re-deploy the Kiali operator again.

make operator-delete

Code formatting and linting

If you are changing the back-end code of Kiali, before submitting a pull request make sure your changes are properly formatted and no new linting issues are introduced by running:

# CD to the back-end source code

Install linting tools

make lint-install

Format the code and run linters

make format lint

Enable tracing

Kiali itself is instrumented with opentelemetry tracing to help provide insights and surface performance issues for the kiali server. To enable, set the server.observability.tracing.enabled and server.observability.tracing.collector_url configuration options.

kind: Kiali
  name: kiali
        collector_url: http://jaeger-collector.istio-system:14268/api/traces
        enabled: true

Running Standalone

You may want to run Kiali outside of any cluster environment for debugging purposes. To do this, you will want to use the hack script located in the hack directory. See the --help output for the options you can set. The default configuration it uses is found in the config template file also located in the hack directory. Read the comments at the tops of both files for more details.

cd $KIALI_SOURCES/kiali/hack

Running integration tests

There are two sets of integration tests. The first are backend tests that test the Kiali API directly. These can be found at backend tests. The second are frontend Cypress tests that test Kiali through the browser. These can be found at frontend tests.

Both tests are run as part of the CI pipeline. If you’d like to run these same tests locally, you can use this script to setup your local environment and run the integration tests. Or these tests can be run against any live environment that meets the following requirements.

Requirements: - Istio - Kiali - bookinfo demo app - error rates demo app

You can use this script to install all the neccessary demo apps for testing. The script supports both openshift and non-openshift deployments.

# If you are doing frontend development, start the frontend development server, where <kiali-url> is the URL to the base Kiali UI location such as http://localhost:20001/kiali:
make -e YARN_START_URL=http://<kiali-url> yarn-start

Start the cypress tests. The tests will run against the frontend development server by default.

Otherwise you can pass a custom url with env vars:

make -e CYPRESS_BASE_URL=http://<kiali-url> cypress-gui

make cypress-gui

Note that make cypress-gui runs the Cypress GUI that allows you to pick which individual tests to run. To run the entire test suite in headless mode, use the make target cypress-run instead.

Debugging Server Backend

VisualStudio Code

If you are using VisualStudio Code, you can install the following launcher.json that is then used to launch the Kiali Server in the debugger. Run the hack/ script first to ensure the proper services are up (such as the Prometheus port-forward proxy).

    // To use this, first run "hack/ --tmp-root-dir $HOME/tmp --enable-server false"
    // Pass in --help to that hack script for details on more options.
    "version": "0.2.0",
    "configurations": [
            "name": "Launch Kiali to use hack script services",
            "type": "go",
            "request": "launch",
            "mode": "debug",
            "program": "${workspaceRoot}/kiali.go",
            "cwd": "${env:HOME}/tmp/run-kiali",
            "args": ["-config", "${env:HOME}/tmp/run-kiali/run-kiali-config.yaml"],
            "env": {
                "KUBERNETES_SERVICE_HOST": "",
                "KUBERNETES_SERVICE_PORT": "8001",
                "LOG_LEVEL": "trace"

Debugging GUI Frontend

You can debug the Kiali GUI directly inside of Google Chrome using the Chrome Developer Tools or using VisualStudio Code.

In order to use either one, you first must perform some initial steps.

First, run the Kiali Server backend, either normally within a cluster or via as explained earlier. Determine what the Kiali URL is before moving to the next step. For example, if you run Kiali in minikube, and you set up a port-forward that exposes it, the URL to remember will be http://localhost:20001/kiali.

Second, run the GUI frontend using make: make -e YARN_START_URL=<kiali-url> yarn-start where <kiali-url> is the URL you determined from the previous step. You may need to also pass -e PORT=3001 to override the default port where the yarn server will listen to (the default is 3000 which will conflict with Grafana if you started the Kiali Server via Some examples:

  • If the Kiali Server is running in minikube with a port-forward exposing it, then run make -e YARN_START_URL=http://localhost:20001/kiali yarn-start.

  • If the Kiali Server is running in OpenShift with the usual Kiali Route exposing it, then run make -e YARN_START_URL=https://<Kiali-OpenShift-Route-IP>/ yarn-start.

  • If the Kiali Server is running locally via, then run make -e YARN_START_URL=http://localhost:20001/kiali -e PORT=3001 yarn-start.

The yarn-start make command will start the Kiali GUI frontend on a local endpoint - when it is ready, look at the output for the "Local" URL you use to access it. The output will look something like this:

Compiled successfully!

You can now view @kiali/kiali-ui in the browser.

Local: http://localhost:3001 On Your Network: ...

At this point, you can begin to set up your debugger tool of choice - see the next sections.

Google Chrome Developer Tools

Start Google Chrome and point the browser to the local URL for the Kiali GUI frontend started by yarn-start (in the example above, that will be http://localhost:3001).

In Google Chrome, open the Developer Tools. You can press F12 or Control-Shift-I to do this.

Within the Developer Tools, navigate to the Sources tab, then the Filesystem sub-tab, and press the + Add folder to workspace link. In the file selection dialog, select your Kiali frontend/src folder. This will inform Developer Tools where your Kiali GUI frontend source code can be found.

At this point, you need to give Google Chrome permission to access your local source code folder. Towards the top of the browser window, you will see a prompt - press the "Allow" button to give Chrome the necessary permissions it needs.

You are now ready to debug the Kiali Server frontend. You can set breakpoints, inspect variables, examine stack traces, etc. just as you can do with any typical debugging tool.

VisualStudio Code

If you are using VisualStudio Code, you can install the following launcher.json that is then used to launch Google Chrome to debug the Kiali Server GUI frontend in the debugger. The url setting is the local URL of the yarn-start server - make sure you use the one appropriate for your environment.

    "version": "0.2.0",
    "configurations": [
            "name": "Launch Chrome",
            "type": "chrome",
            "request": "launch",
            "url": "http://localhost:3001",
            "webRoot": "${workspaceFolder}"


Many configuration settings can optionally be set within the Kiali Operator custom resource (CR) file. See this example Kiali CR file that has all the configuration settings documented.

Embedding Kiali

If you want to embed Kiali in other applications, Kiali offers a simple feature called Kiosk mode. In this mode, Kiali won’t show the main header, nor the main navigation bar.

To enable Kiosk mode, you only need to add a kiosk=<platform_id> URL parameter. You will need to use the full path of the page you want to embed. For example, assuming that you access Kiali through HTTPS:

  • To embed the Overview page, use https://kiali_path/overview?kiosk=console.

  • To embed the Graph page, use https://kiali_path/graph/namespaces?kiosk=console.

  • To embed the Applications list page, use https://kiali_path/applications?kiosk=console.

If the page you want to embed uses other URL arguments, you can specify any of them to preset options. For example, if you want to embed the graph of the bookinfo namespace, use the following URL: http://kiali_path/graph/namespaces?namespaces=bookinfo&kiosk=console.

<platform_id> value in the kiosk URL parameter will be used in future use cases to add conditional logic on embedded use cases, for now, any non empty value will enable the kiosk mode.

Configure External Services


If you have Grafana installed in a custom way that is not easily auto-detectable by Kiali, you need to change in the Kiali CR the value of the grafana > url

kind: Kiali
  name: kiali

Additional Notes

Upgrading Go

The Kiali project will periodically upgrade to a newer version of Go. These are the steps that need to be performed in order for the Kiali build to use a different version of Go:

  1. In the top Makefile, change the value of the variable GO_VERSION_KIALI to the new Go version (use a z-stream version: "x.y.z").

  2. Run go mod edit -go=x.y where "x" and "y" are the major/minor versions of the Go version being used.

  3. Run go mod tidy -v

  4. Run make clean build build-ui test to ensure everything builds correctly. If any problems occur, obviously you must fix them.

  5. Commit the changes to your working branch, create a PR, and make sure everything builds and works before merging the PR.

Procedure to check and update patternfly versions

  1. Launch command npx npm-check-updates -t latest -f '/^@patternfly/'

  2. Launch yarn install to update the yarn.lock

  3. Add to the commit package.json and yarn.lock

Running the UI outside the cluster

When developing the Kiali UI you will find it useful to run it outside of the cluster to make it easier to update the UI code and see the changes without having to re-deploy. The preferred approach for this is to use the proxy feature of React. The process is described here. Alternatively, you can use the make -e YARN_START_URL=<url> yarn-start command where <url> is to the Kiali backend.

Disabling SSL

In the provided OpenShift templates, SSL is turned on by default. If you want to turn it off, you should:

  • Remove the "tls: termination: reencrypt" option from the Kiali route

  • Remove the "identity" block, with certificate paths, from the Kiali Config Map.

  • Optionally you can also remove the annotation "" in the Kiali Service, and the related kiali-cabundle volume that is declared and mounted in Kiali Deployment (but if you don’t, they will just be ignored).

Exposing Kiali to External Clients Using Istio Gateway

The operator will create a Route or Ingress by default (see the Kiali CR setting "deployment.ingress_enabled"). If you want to expose Kiali via Istio itself, you can create Gateway, Virtual Service, and Destination Rule resources similar to below:

kind: Gateway
  name: kiali-gateway
  namespace: istio-system
    istio: ingressgateway

  • port: number: 80 name: http-kiali protocol: HTTP # tls: httpsRedirect: false hosts: [<your-host>]
  • port: number: 443 name: https-kiali protocol: HTTPS tls: {} hosts: [<your-host>] ... --- apiVersion: kind: VirtualService metadata: name: kiali-virtualservice namespace: istio-system spec: gateways:
  • kiali-gateway hosts: [<your-host>] http:
  • route:
    • destination: host: kiali.istio-system.svc.cluster.local port: number: 20001 weight: 100 ... --- apiVersion: kind: DestinationRule metadata: name: kiali-destinationrule namespace: istio-system spec: host: kiali trafficPolicy: tls: mode: DISABLE ...


Observing a Remote Cluster


The "Central IstioD" setup is currently named "Primary-remote" multi-cluster setup.


When this support was incorporated into Kiali, the "Central IstioD" setup of Istio was in an early development phase. These instructions are probably now broken.

There are certain use cases where Kiali needs to be deployed in one cluster (Control Plane) and observe a different cluster (Data Plane).

Follow these steps:

1: You should have the Istio with an External Control Plane setup running

2: Create the Kiali ClusterRole, ClusterRoleBinding, and ServiceAccount in the Data Plane cluster

3: Create a remote secret in the Control Plane, using the Data Plane ServiceAccount you just created. This allows the Control Plane to read from and modify the Data Plane

istioctl create-remote-secret --service-account kiali-service-account --context=$DataPlane --name kiali | kubectl apply -n istio-system --context=$ControlPlane -f -

4: You will now run Kiali in the Control Plane. You need to add the remote secret to the Kiali Deployment by specifying a Volume and VolumeMount. When Kiali sees /kiali-remote-secret/kiali it will use the remote cluster’s API server instead of the local API server

      - volumeMounts:
        - mountPath: /kiali-remote-secret
          name: kiali-remote-secret
      - name: kiali-remote-secret
          defaultMode: 420
          optional: true
          secretName: istio-remote-secret-kiali

5: Kiali now needs the Istio metrics from the sidecars. You need to run Prometheus in the Control Plane and have it scrape the metrics from an envoyMetricsService. These metrics are required.

6: Kiali in the Control Plane should now be fully functional with the Data Plane

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