This is a quickstart guide for building and running Headlamp for development.

    Please make sure you read the Contribution Guidelines as well before starting to contribute to the project.

    See platforms to find out which browsers, OS and flavours of Kubernetes we support.

    Dependencies to get started

    These are the required dependencies to get started. Other dependencies are pulled in by the golang or node package managers (see frontend/package.json, app/package.json, backend/go.mod and Dockerfile).

    • Node.js Latest LTS (20.11.1 at time of writing). Many of us use nvm for installing multiple versions of Node.
    • Go , (1.22 at time of writing)
    • Make (GNU). Often installed by default. On Windows this can be installed with the “chocolatey” package manager that is installed with node.
    • Kubernetes , we suggest minikube as one good K8s installation for testing locally. Other k8s installations are supported (see platforms ).

    Build the code

    Headlamp is composed of a backend and a frontend.

    You can build both the backend and frontend by running.


    Or individually:

    make backend


    make frontend

    Run the code

    The quickest way to get the backend and frontend running for development is the following (respectively):

    make run-backend

    and in a different terminal instance:

    make run-frontend

    Build the app

    You can build the app for Linux, Windows, or Mac.

    Do so on the platform you are building for. That is build the mac app on a Mac, and the linux app on a linux box.

    First, we need to

    make backend frontend

    Then choose the relevant command.

    make app-linux
    make app-mac
    make app-win

    For Windows, by default it will produce an installer using NSIS (Nullsoft Scriptable Install System) .

    If you prefer an .msi installer, then be sure to install the WiX Toolset and have its light.exe and candle.exe in the Windows path. E.g. if you are using WiX Toolset version 3.11, this can be done by running the following command, before the one above:

    set PATH=%PATH%;C:\Program Files (x86)\WiX Toolset v3.11\bin

    Then run the following command to generate the .msi installer:

    make app-win-msi

    See the generated app files in app/dist/ .

    Running the app on Ubuntu WSL

    Headlamp on WSL requires some packages installed (maybe it requires more) to run the app.

    sudo apt install libgconf-2-4 libatk1.0-0 libatk-bridge2.0-0 libgdk-pixbuf2.0-0 libgtk-3-0 libgbm1 libnss3 libasound2

    Some of these are also needed some of them only for the end to end tests.

    sudo apt-get install firefox libgstreamer-plugins-bad1.0-0 libegl1 libnotify4 libopengl0 libwoff1 libharfbuzz-icu0 libgstreamer-gl1.0-0 libwebpdemux2 libenchant1c2a libsecret-1-0 libhyphen0 libevdev2 libgles2 gstreamer1.0-libav

    Build a container image

    The following command builds a container image for Headlamp from the current source. It will run the frontend from a backend’s static server, and options can be appended to the main command as arguments.

    make image

    Custom container base images

    The Dockerfile takes a build argument for the base image used. You can specify the base image used using the IMAGE_BASE environment variable with make.

    IMAGE_BASE=debian:latest make image

    If no IMAGE_BASE is specified, then a default image is used (see Dockerfile for exact default image used).

    This is useful if there are requirements on what base images can be used in an environment.

    So far Debian variants (including Ubuntu), and Alpine Linux are supported. If you have other requirements, please get in touch.

    Running the container image

    With docker you can run the Headlamp image( Note, the mount arguments add folders that are referenced in the ~/.kube folders - you may need to add other folders if your config refers to more folders.

    docker run --network="host" -p --mount type=bind,source="/home/rene/.minikube",target=$HOME/.minikube --mount type=bind,source="$HOME/.kube",target=/root/.kube /headlamp/headlamp-server -html-static-dir /headlamp/frontend -plugins-dir=/headlamp/plugins

    If you want to make a new container image called headlamp-k8s/headlamp:development you can run it like this:

    $ DOCKER_IMAGE_VERSION=development make image
    Successfully tagged headlamp-k8s/headlamp:development
    $ docker run --network="host" -p --mount type=bind,source="/home/rene/.minikube",target=$HOME/.minikube --mount type=bind,source="$HOME/.kube",target=/root/.kube headlamp-k8s/headlamp:development /headlamp/headlamp-server -html-static-dir /headlamp/frontend -plugins-dir=/headlamp/plugins

    Then go to https://localhost:4466 in your browser.

    Minikube “in-cluster”

    These instructions are for if you want to use Headlamp running “in-cluster”, and test it locally on minikube with a local container image.

    We assume you’ve already setup a minikube (probably with minikube start --driver=docker).

    Container image in the minikube docker environment

    First we have to make the container image in the minikube docker environment. This is needed because minikube looks for container images in there, not ones made in the local docker environment.

    $ eval $(minikube docker-env)
    $ DOCKER_IMAGE_VERSION=development make image

    Create a deployment yaml.

    $ kubectl create deployment headlamp -n kube-system --image=headlamp-k8s/headlamp:development -o yaml --dry-run -- /headlamp/headlamp-server -html-static-dir /headlamp/frontend -in-cluster -plugins-dir=/headlamp/plugins > minikube-headlamp.yaml

    To use the local container image we change the imagePullPolicy to Never. Making kubectl use local images - which is what you want in development.

    apiVersion: apps/v1
    kind: Deployment
      creationTimestamp: null
        app: headlamp
      name: headlamp
      namespace: kube-system
      replicas: 1
          app: headlamp
      strategy: {}
          creationTimestamp: null
            app: headlamp
            - command:
                - /headlamp/headlamp-server
                - -html-static-dir
                - /headlamp/frontend
                - -in-cluster
                - -plugins-dir=/headlamp/plugins
              image: headlamp-k8s/headlamp:development
              name: headlamp
              imagePullPolicy: Never
              resources: {}
    status: {}

    Now we create the deployment.

    $ kubectl apply -f minikube-headlamp.yaml

    Then we expose the deployment, and get a URL where we can see it.

    $ kubectl expose deployment headlamp -n kube-system --type=NodePort --port=4466
    service/headlamp exposed
    $ kubectl get service headlamp -n kube-system
    NAME       TYPE       CLUSTER-IP      EXTERNAL-IP   PORT(S)          AGE
    headlamp   NodePort   <none>        4466:30712/TCP   6m57s
    $ minikube service headlamp -n kube-system --url

    Go to the URL printed by minikube in your browser, and get your token to login.

    Shipping plugins in the Docker image

    Since the Headlamp server has an option (-plugins-dir) for indicating where to find any plugins, a deployment of Headlamp using the Docker image can mount a plugins folder and point to it by using the mentioned option.

    An alternative is to build an image that ships some plugins in it. For that, just create a “.plugins” folder in the Headlamp project directory as the Dockerfile will include it and point to it by default.

    Special Build Options

    Here are some options that can be used when building Headlamp, to change its default behavior.

    Update Checks

    When in the desktop app, by default, Headlamp will check for new versions from its Github page and warn the user about it, as well as showing the release notes after updating to a new version.

    This behavior can be turned off by adding the following to a .env file in the app/ folder:


    Build Headlamp Base (Headlamp without any plugins)

    For building Headlamp Base (Headlamp without plugins), simply remove the app/app-build-manifest.json and run the build commands in the sections above.