Istio CLI Cheat Sheet for Ops

cheat sheet istio white

This page is a collection of istioctl commands for debugging and troubleshooting Istio. I gathered them from various sources and my own experience. Happy to get feedback and to complete this page with even more nice commands!

Use the navigation menu on the right side to jump to a specific section.

Install istioctl

Install the Istio CLI and add it to the PATH

export PATH=$PWD/istio-${ISTIO_VERSION}/bin:$PATH

Install Istio

Make sure to distinguish the IstioOperator CRD from the Istio Operator. The Istio Operator is a Kubernetes operator that manages the Istio installation, and its use is now discouraged. The IstioOperator CRD is a Kubernetes CRD that defines the Istio installation. The IstioOperator CRD works well with istioctl.

IstioOperator CRD = ❤️
Istio Operator = 💔 (now discouraged)


istioctl install -y -f - <<EOF
kind: IstioOperator
  profile: default
  tag: 1.17.2
  revision: 1-17
  defaultRevision: true
    accessLogFile: /dev/stdout

Post-install check-up

istioctl verify-install -r 1-17

Istio profiles

For testing purpose, Istio offers several profiles:

Istio profiles

If not specified in the IstioOperator CRD, the default profile is used.

It is recommended to use several IstioOperator CRDs, to manage istiod and the gateways separately.
A good practice consists of using the minimal profile for istiod, and additional IstioOperator CRDs for the N/S and E/W gateways.

Anatomy of the IstioOperator CRD

The API Reference for the IstioOperator CRD is here.

Two main sections:

  • components: defines the Istio components to install

  • meshConfig: defines the mesh configuration for both the control-plane and the data-plane.


Using Istio revisions is a good practice if you want to do canary upgrades. It allows you to have multiple versions of Istio installed in parallel and to switch between them.

List revisions

istioctl x revision list

Canary upgrade with revisions

The following code snippet shows how to do a canary upgrade of the Istio control-plane using revisions. It assumes that you have already installed Istio 1.17 with the defaultRevision: true option and also that you have already installed Istio 1.18 with the revision: 1-18 option.

# Current version is using revision 1-17
# Canary upgrade the "test-ns" namespace to revision 1-18
kubectl label namespace test-ns istio-injection- --overwrite
kubectl rollout restart deployment -n test-ns
# check if everything is ok, then switch the default revision to 1-18
istioctl x revision default 1-18

Delete old revision

# uninstall the old revision
istioctl uninstall --revision 1-17 -y

Sidecar injection

Sidecar injection at the namespace level

kubectl label namespace test-ns istio-injection=enabled
# - or -
kubectl label namespace test-ns

Manual sidecar injection for workloads

istioctl kube-inject -f samples/sleep/sleep.yaml -r 1-17 | kubectl apply -f -



istioctl dashboard prometheus
istioctl dashboard grafana


istioctl dashboard kiali
istioctl dashboard jaeger


Enable access logs on sidecars

kubectl apply -f - <<EOF
kind: Telemetry
  name: mesh-default
  namespace: istio-system
    - providers:
      - name: envoy

Play with the control-plane

Change the log level

# change the log level
istioctl admin log --revision 1-17 --level authorization:debug
# check
istioctl admin log --revision 1-17

Get the logs

kubectl logs $(kubectl -n istio-system \
                get pods -l app=istiod -l \
                -o jsonpath='{.items[0]}') \
  -c discovery -n istio-system

Control-plane metrics

kubectl exec deploy/istiod-${ISTIO_REVISION} -n istio-system -- curl localhost:15014/metrics -s

View discovered services

export ISTIO_REVISION=1-17
kubectl exec -n istio-system deploy/istiod-${ISTIO_REVISION} \
  -- pilot-discovery request GET /debug/registryz | jq  '.[].hostname' | sort

Dump Istio config

Find all the Istio resources that you have created and also the EnvoyFilters that Istio has generated:

export ISTIO_REVISION=1-17
kubectl -n istio-system exec -it \
  $(kubectl -n istio-system get pods -l app=istiod -l${ISTIO_REVISION} \
    -o jsonpath='{.items[0]}') \
  -- curl http://localhost:8080/debug/configz | jq

Print istiod version

kubectl exec deploy/istiod-${ISTIO_REVISION} \
  -n istio-system -- curl localhost:15014/version -s

Certificate management

Retrieve the client certificate assigned to a workload

istioctl pc secret deploy/sleep -o json \
  | jq '[.dynamicActiveSecrets[] | select(.name == "default")][0].secret.tlsCertificate.certificateChain.inlineBytes' -r \
  | base64 -d \
  | openssl x509 -noout -text

Fetch the root CA

kubectl get cm istio-ca-root-cert -o json | jq '[.data[]][0]' -r | openssl x509 -noout -text

Compare CAs

Sometimes, it’s very useful to compare the CA that was shared with a pod, with the root CA given to Istio.
It makes even more sense for multi-cluster setups.

istioctl pc rootca-compare deploy/sleep.default deploy/istio-ingressgateway.istio-system


Look for config errors

istioctl analyze -A --revision 1-17

Check the sync status

istioctl proxy-status

Change the log level (data-plane)

istioctl proxy-config log deploy/httpbin --level debug
istioctl pc log -n istio-gateways deploy/istio-ingressgateway --level debug
# or on a per-component basis
istioctl pc log deploy/httpbin --level connection:debug,conn_handler:debug,filter:debug,router:debug,http:debug,upstream:debug
# list of the Envoy log components:

Proxy stats

Cluster stats

# Ingress Gateway
istioctl x envoy-stats -n istio-gateways deploy/istio-ingressgateway --type clusters
# - or - more advanced query
kubectl -n istio-system exec -it deploy/istio-ingressgateway \
  -- curl localhost:15000/clusters \
  | grep httpbin \
  | grep rq_total

# Works the same with regular workloads
istioctl x envoy-stats -n default deploy/sleep --type clusters

Stats as Prometheus metrics

kubectl -n default exec -it deploy/sleep -c istio-proxy \
  -- curl localhost:15000/stats/prometheus \
  | grep istio_requests_total


My favorites when it comes to debugging!

Find out which policies are applied

# Find AuthorizationPolicies
istioctl x authz check deploy/httpbin.default
# Check the mTLS mode for this workload (STRICT or PERMISSIVE)
istioctl x describe pod httpbin-69ff487f4b-25mzh -n default

[Fav] View the Gateway listeners and routes

Essentially for the Ingress Gateway:

# Listeners
istioctl -n istio-system pc l deploy/istio-ingressgateway
# more info with the following:
istioctl -n istio-system pc l deploy/istio-ingressgateway --port 8443 --type HTTP -o json

# Routes
istioctl -n istio-system pc r deploy/istio-ingressgateway

[Fav] View the upstream clusters and endpoints

Check what clusters and endpoints are known by a proxy (or gateway):

# Clusters
istioctl pc c deploy/httpbin -n default --fqdn sleep.default.svc.cluster.local -o json
istioctl pc c deploy/istio-ingressgateway.istio-system --fqdn -o json
# Endpoints
istioctl pc endpoints deploy/httpbin -n default --cluster "outbound|80||sleep.default.svc.cluster.local" -o json
istioctl pc endpoints deploy/istio-ingressgateway.istio-system --cluster "outbound|443||" -o json

Full config dump for a proxy

kubectl exec $(kubectl get pods -l app=httpbin -o jsonpath='{.items[0]}') \
  -c istio-proxy -- pilot-agent request GET config_dump
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