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Docker Registry Authentication on Kubernetes with Keycloak

In this post we'll cover how to use Keycloak to provide a simple authentication layer for a Docker registry. Simple meaning that in order to push and pull images to the registry, the user will first need to docker login as any valid user in the provided Keycloak realm. Note that there is no additional access control, so all Keycloak users have the ability to perform any action on any image once authenticated. For more fine grained controls, see the section on using Harbour.

This post is part of a series on single sign on for Kubernetes.

  1. Contents and overview
  2. Installing OpenLDAP
  3. Installing Keycloak
  4. Linking Keycloak and OpenLDAP
  5. OIDC Kubectl Login with Keycloak
  6. Authenticate any web app using ingress annotations
  7. Gitea (requires LDAP)
  8. Simple Docker Registry
  9. Harbor Docker Registry with ACL


This assumes you have CLI access to a Kubernetes cluster, will be working in a namespace called identity and have both Helm 3 and Kubectl installed and working locally. Finally it assumes that you're using NGINX for Ingress along with cert manager for SSL certificates with a Cluster Issuer called letsencrypt-production.

If your configuration is different, the majority of the steps will be the same, but you'll need to change the ingress annotations accordingly.

The source for this series of tutorials can be found here: https://github.com/TalkingQuickly/kubernetes-sso-guide and cloned with:

git clone [email protected]:TalkingQuickly/kubernetes-sso-guide.git

All commands in the tutorial assume that they're being executed from the root of this cloned repository.

This post assumes you've already completed the "Installing Keycloak" section.

Configuring Keycloak

When we configured Keycloak, we included the following in the helm values file:

  - -Dkeycloak.profile.feature.docker=enabled

Which enabled the optional support for the Docker registry.

Setting up the Docker Registry in Keycloak

Begin by creating a new client in Keycloak with client id "simple-docker-registry" using client protocol docker-v2. On the following screen go to the installation tab, choose "Docker Compose YAML" and select the "Download" option. Note that we aren't going to be using Docker Compose, but this provides a convenient method for downloading the certificate files we'll need to create as Kubernetes secrets.

Creating the certificate secrets

Having downloaded the Docker Compose YAML zip file from Keycloak, extract it to a locally accessible folder and check that it contains a file certs/localhost_trust_chain.pem. We can then create a Kubernetes secret containing the file with the following:

kubectl create secret generic docker-registry-auth-token-rootcertbundle --from-file YOUR_PATH_TO/certs/localhost_trust_chain.pem

Replacing YOUR_PATH_TO/certs/localhost_trust_chain.pem with the path to the downloaded file.

This will create a secret called docker-registry-auth-token-rootcertbundle containing the certificate contents.

Configuring the docker registry

The documentation for the helm chart we'll be using to install the Docker Registry is here: https://github.com/twuni/docker-registry.helm. Our configuration file will look like this:

      realm: https://sso.ssotest.staging.talkingquickly.co.uk/auth/realms/master/protocol/docker-v2/auth
      service: simple-docker-registry
      issuer: https://sso.ssotest.staging.talkingquickly.co.uk/auth/realms/master
      rootcertbundle: /root-cert-bundle/localhost_trust_chain.pem
  enabled: true
    cert-manager.io/cluster-issuer: letsencrypt-production
    - registry-keycloak.ssotest.staging.talkingquickly.co.uk

  - hosts:
    - registry-keycloak.ssotest.staging.talkingquickly.co.uk
    secretName: keycloak-registry-tls-secret

  - name: docker-registry-auth-token-rootcertbundle
      secretName: docker-registry-auth-token-rootcertbundle

  - mountPath: /root-cert-bundle
    name: docker-registry-auth-token-rootcertbundle
    readOnly: true

The configData section at the top configures the Docker Registry to use token based auth from KeyCloak as per the Keycloak Docs.

You'll then need to update the ingress definitions to reflect the URL you wish to make your docker registry available on, so replacing registry-keycloak.ssotest.staging.talkingquickly.co.uk with the subdomain you'll be using.

Note that ingress annotation nginx.ingress.kubernetes.io/proxy-body-size: "0" removes the default limit on the maximum body size NGINX will accept and avoids 413 Request Entity Too Large when pushing large images.

The extraVolumes section creates a volume which will contain the files from the docker-registry-auth-token-rootcertbundle secret we created. The extraVolumeMounts section instructs Kubernetes to mount this volume at the /root-cert-bundle path within the Docker registry container which matches the rootcertbundle path that we specified in the configData map at the start.

Installing the Docker Registry

We can then add the repository for the helm chart and install the Docker registry with:

helm repo add twuni https://helm.twun.io
helm upgrade --install simple-docker-registry twuni/docker-registry --values ./docker-registry/values-docker-registry.yml

Testing the registry

We'll need to give certificates a small window to be generated via LetsEncrypt, we can check on the progress of the certificates with kubectl get certificates. Once they are ready we can login to our registry with:

docker login registry-keycloak.ssotest.staging.talkingquickly.co.uk

Replacing the URL with the ingress URL we configured. We can then enter the credentials of any Keycloak user in the realm we configured and we'll see something like:

Username: someusername
WARNING! Your password will be stored unencrypted in /home/ben/.docker/config.json.
Configure a credential helper to remove this warning. See

Login Succeeded

If we want to test that pushing images works we can do something like:

docker image tag SOME_IMAGE_REF registry-keycloak.ssotest.staging.talkingquickly.co.uk/SOME_NAME
docker push registry-keycloak.ssotest.staging.talkingquickly.co.uk/SOME_NAME

And see that the image is pushed correctly.

We can then test pulling with:

docker pull registry-keycloak.ssotest.staging.talkingquickly.co.uk/SOME_NAME

We then test that authentication works by logging out with:

docker logout registry-keycloak.ssotest.staging.talkingquickly.co.uk

And trying to pull the image again:

docker pull registry-keycloak.ssotest.staging.talkingquickly.co.uk/SOME_NAME

Where we'll receive a permission denied message.

Use with Kubernetes

In order to access images in the registry we'll need to create appropriate image pull secrets as described here in the kubernetes documentation.


We now have a private Docker Registry which can only be accessed by users authenticated via Keycloak. For more advanced configurations, for example where only certain users should be able to access the registry or where more granular access control is required, see Harbour Docker Registry with Keycloak.

  1. Contents and overview
  2. Installing OpenLDAP
  3. Installing Keycloak
  4. Linking Keycloak and OpenLDAP
  5. OIDC Kubectl Login with Keycloak
  6. Authenticate any web app using ingress annotations
  7. Gitea (requires LDAP)
  8. Simple Docker Registry
  9. Harbor Docker Registry with ACL