Best Alternatives for The Top Kubernetes IDE You Need to Know of

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Let’s get into it…

At the beginning of every Kubernetes user journey, the interaction with the cluster starts mainly with the kubectl CLI tool and, in a short time, moves to a Kubernetes GUI as Lens, which is one of the most used GUI tools for Kubernetes.


Unfortunately for us, Mirantis who owns Lens, released a new subscription model, and from January 2023, Lens users will need to decide to go with the paid or free version.


If your company exceeds 10 million dollars in revenue or funding, you must use the paid subscription.


So let’s take a look at the best alternatives for Lens

  • Openlens

  • Octant

  • K9s

  • Headlamp

  • Aptakube

OpenLens

OpenLens is an open-source project that is behind the code that supports the main functionality of Lens. The code is being developed by Team Lens developers together with the community and as of now, will stay free.


Lens is built upon the OpenLens project and includes some additional software and libraries with different licenses. However, the core features that Kubernetes users use with Lens will be available with Openlens.


Downloading the Openlens project was a hustle in the past as Openlens release the project’s source code and not the executable downloads. To ease the installation process, some amazing people from the community opened a GitHub project with a downloadable executable for the major OS. You can visit their GitHub repo here.


Octant

Octant is an open-source project which provides a new approach to understanding complex Kubernetes environments. It requires almost no effort to install and reads your config from the default kubeconfig file location.


Octant, off the start gives you as comprehensive information on the cluster as Lens provides. On top of it, octant also shows a resource view which helps you to understand the relationship between resources in the Kubernetes cluster.


K9s

K9s is a terminal-based UI to manage Kubernetes clusters that aim to simplify the Kubernetes cluster management. K9s continuously monitor the cluster for changes and provides shortcuts command to interact with cluster resources.

K9s also has special features such as xray that show dependencies between Kubernetes resources, pulse, which shows high-level status of the cluster, and popeye which scans and reports issues with deployed resources and configuration.


Headlamp

Headlamp is a young open-source project that you can deploy as an in-cluster deployment with a web UI interface or download locally as a desktop application. The only requirement for using Headlamp locally is to have the kubeconfig file located in the local machine.


Headlamp provides clean dashboards, the ability to work with multiple clusters, show pods logs, exec, edit resources, and more.


Aptakube

Aptakube is a lightweight and multi-cluster Kubernetes desktop client. With Aptakube, you can view resources from one or more Kubernetes clusters, view pod, and node health status, logs, and more.


The description of the resources is represented very nicely and easy to understand. So if you need a tool to view basic resources, it can be an excellent fit.


I would love to see two features in the future: the ability to exec into a pod and the ability to see custom resource definitions in their GUI.


Currently, the product is free, but in the future, the project is planning to add a paid subscription. Image has taken from https://aptakube.com/


Conclusion

In January 2023, Lens users will need to decide if to use paid or the free version. As shown above, there are multiple free options that our beloved community provides and that fit most Kubernetes users needs. So let me know in the comments which tool you will use in 2023.