Configure kubectl for Amazon EKS

To use the stock kubectl client for EKS you need to:

  • install the AWS IAM Authenticator for Kubernetes

  • modify your kubectl configuration file to use it for authentication


Other things that may be useful are:

  • helm – if you’re using Helm charts to manage your cluster in EKS
  • kubectl and awscli – goes without saying

E.g. check your aws cli version with:

aws --version and upgrade with pip install awscli --upgrade --user

  • assume-role – if you’re using IAM roles

  • nice to have is fzf:


To update your kubeconfig use:

aws eks update-kubeconfig --name CLUSTER_NAME-eks --region REGION

You’ll need an up-to-date version of the awscli. E.g. 1.15.53 won’t cut it.


To assume role use:

eval $(assume-role <role-name>)


If you get:

it would be because you don’t have a profile in your ~/.aws/config

Your profile in ~/.aws/config should look like:


You should be able to run:

assume-role <role-name>

and see the assume role output.





To test you can access your EKS cluster, use:

kubectl get all -n kube-system

Or for none-system:

kubectl get all



AWS Fargate


AWS Fargate is a compute engine for Amazon ECS and EKS that allows you to run containers without having to manage servers or clusters. With AWS Fargate, you no longer have to provision, configure, and scale clusters of virtual machines to run containers.

Fargate is not currently (August 2018) available in the UK.

How does this differ from ECS (Elastic Container Service) and EKS (Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes) though?


Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) is a highly scalable, high-performance container orchestration service that supports Docker containers and allows you to easily run and scale containerized applications on AWS. Amazon ECS eliminates the need for you to install and operate your own container orchestration software, manage and scale a cluster of virtual machines, or schedule containers on those virtual machines.

ECS was first to market as a commercial container service between the big players and is now suffering as it’s rather out-dated. It’s basically Docker as a Service offering a Docker Registry (aka Amazon Elastic Container Registry or ECR) and support in its CLI for Docker Compose.


EKS (aka Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes) is a managed Kubernetes service.

The differences? Use:

  • ECS if you like using Docker
  • EKS if you like Kubernetes
  • Fargate if you don’t want to managing either Docker or Kubernetes

See also