Admin Manual

This manual covers installation and configuration of Teleport and the ongoing management of a Teleport cluster. It assumes that the reader has good understanding of Linux administration.


To install Teleport using the official binaries from Github releases simply download the tarball and run:

$ tar -xzf teleport-binary-release.tar.gz
$ sudo make install

Installing from Source

Gravitational Teleport is written in Go language. It requires Golang v1.8.3 or newer.

# get the source & build:
$ mkdir -p $GOPATH/src/
$ cd $GOPATH/src/
$ git clone
$ cd teleport
$ make full

# create the default data directory before starting:
$ sudo mkdir -p /var/lib/teleport


Before diving into configuring and running Teleport, it helps to take a look at the Teleport Architecture and go over the key concepts this document will be referring to:

Concept Description
Node Synonym to "server" or "computer", something one can "SSH to". A node must be running teleport daemon running with "node" role/service turned on.
Certificate Authority (CA) A pair of public/private keys Teleport uses to manage access. A CA can sign a public key of a user or node establishing their cluster membership.
Teleport Cluster A Teleport Auth Service contains two CAs. One is used to sign user keys and the other signs node keys. A collection of nodes connected to the same CA is called a "cluster".
Cluster Name Every Teleport cluster must have a name. If a name is not supplied via teleport.yaml configuration file, a GUID will be generated. IMPORTANT: renaming a cluster invalidates its keys and all certificates it had created.
Trusted Cluster Teleport Auth Service can allow 3rd party users or nodes to connect if their public keys are signed by a trusted CA. A "trusted cluster" is a pair of public keys of the trusted CA. It can be configured via teleport.yaml file.

Teleport Daemon

The Teleport daemon is called teleport and it supports the following commands:

Command Description
start Starts the Teleport daemon.
configure Dumps a sample configuration file in YAML format into standard output.
version Shows the Teleport version.
status Shows the status of a Teleport connection. This command is only available from inside of an active SSH session.
help Shows help.

When experimenting you can quickly start teleport with verbose logging by typing teleport start -d.


Teleport stores data in /var/lib/teleport. Make sure that regular/non-admin users do not have access to this folder on the Auth server.

Systemd Unit File

In production, we recommend starting teleport daemon via an init system like systemd. Here's the example of a systemd unit file:

Description=Teleport SSH Service 

ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/teleport start --config=/etc/teleport.yaml



Teleport services listen on several ports. This table shows the default port numbers.

Port Service Description
3022 Node SSH port. This is Teleport's equivalent of port #22 for SSH.
3023 Proxy SSH port clients connect to. A proxy will forward this connection to port #3022 on the destination node.
3024 Proxy SSH port used to create "reverse SSH tunnels" from behind-firewall environments into a trusted proxy server.
3025 Auth SSH port used by the Auth Service to serve its API to other nodes in a cluster.
3080 Proxy HTTPS connection to authenticate tsh users and web users into the cluster. The same connection is used to serve a Web UI.


You should use a configuration file to configure the teleport daemon. But for simpler experimentation you can use command line flags to teleport start command. To see the list of flags:

$ teleport start --help
usage: teleport start [<flags>]
  -d, --debug            Enable verbose logging to stderr
  -r, --roles            Comma-separated list of roles to start with [proxy,node,auth]
      --pid-file         Full path to the PID file. By default no PID file will be created
      --advertise-ip     IP to advertise to clients if running behind NAT
  -l, --listen-ip        IP address to bind to []
      --auth-server      Address of the auth server []
      --token            One-time token to register with an auth server [none]
      --nodename         Name of this node, defaults to hostname
  -c, --config           Path to a configuration file [/etc/teleport.yaml]
      --labels           List of labels for this node
      --permit-user-env  Enables reading of ~/.tsh/environment when creating a session

Configuration Flags

Let's cover some of these flags in more detail:

  • --roles flag tells Teleport which services to start. It is a comma-separated list of roles. The possible values are auth, node and proxy. The default value is auth,node,proxy. These roles are explained in the Teleport Architecture document.

  • --advertise-ip flag can be used when Teleport nodes are running behind NAT and their externally routable IP cannot be automatically determined. For example, assume that a host "foo" can be reached via but there is no A DNS record for "foo", so you cannot connect to it via tsh ssh foo. If you start teleport on "foo" with --advertise-ip=, it will automatically tell Teleport proxy to use that IP when someone tries to connect to "foo". This is also useful when connecting to Teleport nodes using their labels.

  • --nodename flag lets you assign an alternative name the node which can be used by clients to login. By default it's equal to the value returned by hostname command.

  • --listen-ip should be used to tell teleport daemon to bind to a specific network interface. By default it listens on all.

  • --labels flag allows to assign a set of labels to a node. See the explanation of labeling mechanism in the Labeling Nodes section below.

  • --pid-file flag creates a PID file if a path is given.

  • --permit-user-env flag reads in environment variables from ~/.tsh/environment when creating a session.

Configuration File

Teleport uses the YAML file format for configuration. A sample configuration file is shown below. By default, it is stored in /etc/teleport.yaml


When editing YAML configuration, please pay attention to how your editor handles white space. YAML requires consistent handling of tab characters.

# By default, this file should be stored in /etc/teleport.yaml

# This section of the configuration file applies to all teleport
# services.
    # nodename allows to assign an alternative name this node can be reached by.
    # by default it's equal to hostname
    nodename: graviton

    # Data directory where Teleport keeps its data, like keys/users for 
    # authentication (if using the default BoltDB back-end)
    data_dir: /var/lib/teleport

    # one-time invitation token used to join a cluster. it is not used on 
    # subsequent starts
    auth_token: xxxx-token-xxxx

    # when running in multi-homed or NATed environments Teleport nodes need 
    # to know which IP it will be reachable at by other nodes

    # list of auth servers in a cluster. you will have more than one auth server
    # if you configure teleport auth to run in HA configuration

    # Teleport throttles all connections to avoid abuse. These settings allow
    # you to adjust the default limits
        max_connections: 1000
        max_users: 250

    # Logging configuration. Possible output values are 'stdout', 'stderr' and 
    # 'syslog'. Possible severity values are INFO, WARN and ERROR (default).
        output: stderr
        severity: ERROR

    # Type of storage used for keys. You need to configure this to use etcd
    # backend if you want to run Teleport in HA configuration.
        type: bolt

    # Cipher algorithms that the server supports. This section only needs to be
    # set if you want to override the defaults.
      - aes128-ctr
      - aes192-ctr
      - aes256-ctr
      - [email protected]
      - arcfour256
      - arcfour128

    # Key exchange algorithms that the server supports. This section only needs
    # to be set if you want to override the defaults.
      - curve2[email protected]
      - ecdh-sha2-nistp256
      - ecdh-sha2-nistp384
      - ecdh-sha2-nistp521
      - diffie-hellman-group14-sha1
      - diffie-hellman-group1-sha1

    # Message authentication code (MAC) algorithms that the server supports.
    # This section only needs to be set if you want to override the defaults.
      - [email protected]
      - hmac-sha2-256
      - hmac-sha1
      - hmac-sha1-96

# This section configures the 'auth service':
    # Turns 'auth' role on. Default is 'yes'
    enabled: yes

        # default authentication type. possible values are 'local', 'oidc' and 'saml'
        # only local authentication (Teleport's own user DB) is supported in the open 
        # source version
        type: local
        # second_factor can be off, otp, or u2f
        second_factor: otp
        # this section is used if second_factor is set to 'u2f'
            # app_id must point to the URL of the Teleport Web UI (proxy) accessible
            # by the end users
            app_id: https://localhost:3080
            # facets must list all proxy servers if there are more than one deployed
            - https://localhost:3080

    # IP and the port to bind to. Other Teleport nodes will be connecting to
    # this port (AKA "Auth API" or "Cluster API") to validate client 
    # certificates 

    # Pre-defined tokens for adding new nodes to a cluster. Each token specifies
    # the role a new node will be allowed to assume. The more secure way to 
    # add nodes is to use `ttl node add --ttl` command to generate auto-expiring 
    # tokens. 
    # We recommend to use tools like `pwgen` to generate sufficiently random
    # tokens of 32+ byte length.
        - "proxy,node:xxxxx"
        - "auth:yyyy"

    # Optional "cluster name" is needed when configuring trust between multiple
    # auth servers. A cluster name is used as part of a signature in certificates
    # generated by this CA.
    # By default an automatically generated GUID is used.
    # IMPORTANT: if you change cluster_name, it will invalidate all generated 
    # certificates and keys (may need to wipe out /var/lib/teleport directory)
    cluster_name: "main"

# This section configures the 'node service':
    # Turns 'ssh' role on. Default is 'yes'
    enabled: yes

    # IP and the port for SSH service to bind to. 
    # See explanation of labels in "Labeling Nodes" section below
        role: master
        type: postgres

    # List of the commands to periodically execute. Their output will be used as node labels. 
    # See "Labeling Nodes" section below for more information.
    - name: arch             # this command will add a label like 'arch=x86_64' to a node
      command: [uname, -p]
      period: 1h0m0s

    # enables reading ~/.tsh/environment before creating a session. by default
    # set to false, can be set true here or as a command line flag.
    permit_user_env: false

# This section configures the 'proxy servie'
    # Turns 'proxy' role on. Default is 'yes'
    enabled: yes

    # SSH forwarding/proxy address. Command line (CLI) clients always begin their
    # SSH sessions by connecting to this port

    # Reverse tunnel listening address. An auth server (CA) can establish an 
    # outbound (from behind the firewall) connection to this address. 
    # This will allow users of the outside CA to connect to behind-the-firewall 
    # nodes.

    # The HTTPS listen address to serve the Web UI and also to authenticate the 
    # command line (CLI) users via password+HOTP

    # TLS certificate for the HTTPS connection. Configuring these properly is 
    # critical for Teleport security.
    https_key_file: /var/lib/teleport/webproxy_key.pem
    https_cert_file: /var/lib/teleport/webproxy_cert.pem


Teleport uses the concept of "authentication connectors" to authenticate users when they execute tsh login command. There are three types of authentication connectors:

  • local is used to authenticate against a local Teleport user database. This database is managed by tctl users command. Teleport also supports second factor authentication (2FA) for the local connector. There are two types of 2FA:

  • saml connector type implements SAML authentication. It can be configured against any external identity manager like Okta or Auth0. This feature is only available for Teleport Enterprise.

  • oidc connector type implements OpenID Connect (OIDC) authentication, which is similar to SAML in principle. This feature is only available for Teleport Enterprise.

The authentication connector type is configured via auth/authentication/type setting in the teleport.yaml above.


Teleport supports FIDO U2F hardware keys as a second authentication factor. To start using U2F:

  • Purchase a U2F hardware key. Teleport developers like these.
  • Enable U2F in Teleport configuration teleport.yaml.
  • For CLI-based logins you have to install u2f-host utility.
  • For web-based logins you have to use Google Chrome, as it is the only browser supporting U2F at this moment.

Enabling U2F

By default U2F is disabled. To enable U2F, configure the Teleport configuration file to contain u2f section as shown above.

For single-proxy setups the app_id setting can be equal to the domain name of the proxy, but this will prevent you from adding more proxies without changing the app_id. For multi-proxy setups, the app_id should be an HTTPS URL pointing to a JSON file that mirrors facets in the auth config.


The app_id must never change in the lifetime of the cluster. If the App ID changes, all existing U2F key registrations will become invalid and all users who use U2F as the second factor will need to re-register. When adding a new proxy server, make sure to add it to the list of "facets" in the configuration file, but also to the JSON file referenced by app_id

Logging in with U2F

For logging in via the CLI, you must first install u2f-host. Installing:

# OSX:
$ brew install libu2f-host

# Ubuntu 16.04 LTS:
$ apt-get install u2f-host

Then invoke tsh ssh as usual to authenticate:

tsh --proxy <proxy-addr> ssh <hostname>

Version Warning

External user identities are only supported in Teleport Enterprise. Please reach out to [email protected] for more information.

Adding and Deleting Users

This section covers internal user identities, i.e. user accounts created and stored in Teleport's internal storage.

A user identity in Teleport exists in the scope of a cluster. The member nodes of a cluster have multiple OS users on them. A Teleport administrator assigns allowed logins to every Teleport account, allowing it to login as one of the specified OS users.

Let's look at this table:

Teleport User Allowed OS Logins Description
joe joe,root Teleport user 'joe' can login into member nodes as OS user 'joe' or 'root'
bob bob Teleport user 'bob' can login into member nodes only as OS user 'bob'
ross If no OS login is specified, it defaults to the same name as the Teleport user.

To add a new user to Teleport you have to use tctl tool on the same node where the auth server is running, i.e. teleport was started with --roles=auth.

$ tctl users add joe joe,root

Teleport generates an auto-expiring token (with a TTL of 1 hour) and prints the token URL which must be used before the TTL expires.

Signup token has been created. Share this URL with the user:

NOTE: make sure the <proxy> host is accessible.

The user will complete registration by visiting this URL, picking a password and configuring the 2nd factor authentication. If the credentials are correct, the auth server generates and signs a new certificate and the client stores this key and will use it for subsequent logins. The key will automatically expire after 23 hours by default after which the user will need to log back in with her credentials. This TTL can be configured to a maximum of 30 hours and a minimum of 1 minute. Once authenticated, the account will become visible via tctl:

$ tctl users ls

User           Allowed Logins
----           --------------
admin          admin,root
ross           ross
joe            joe,root 

Joe would need to use the tsh client tool to log in to member node "luna" via bastion "work" as root:

$ tsh --proxy=work --user=joe [email protected]

To delete this user:

$ tctl users rm joe

Editing Users

Users entries can be manipulated using the generic resource commands via tctl. For example to see the full list of user records, an administrator can execute:

$ tctl get users

To edit the user "joe":

# dump the user definition into a file:
$ tctl get user/joe > joe.yaml
# ... edit the contents of joe.yaml

# update the user record:
$ tctl create -f joe.yaml

Some fields in the user record are reserved for the internal use. Some of them will be finalized and documented in the future versions. But fields like is_locked or traits/logins can be used starting in version 2.3

Adding Nodes to the Cluster

Gravitational Teleport is a "clustered" SSH manager, meaning it only allows SSH access to nodes that had been previously granted cluster membership.

A cluster membership means that every node in a cluster has its own host certificate signed by the cluster's auth server.


If interoperability with OpenSSH is required, make sure the node name and DNS name match because OpenSSH clients validate the DNS name against the node name presented on the certificate when connecting to a Teleport node.

A new Teleport node needs an "invite token" to join a cluster. An invite token also defines which role a new node can assume within a cluster: auth, proxy or node.

There are two ways to create invitation tokens:

  • Static Tokens
  • Dynamic, Short-lived Tokens

Static Tokens

You can pick your own tokens and add them to the auth server's config file:

# Config section in `/etc/teleport/teleport.yaml` file for the auth server
    enabled: true
    # statically assigned token: obviously we recommend a much harder to guess
    # value than `xxxxx`, consider generating tokens using a tool like pwgen
    - "proxy,node:xxxxxx"

Now you can start a new Teleport node by setting its invitation token via --token flag to xxxxxx. This node will join the cluster as a regular node but also as a proxy server:

$ teleport start --roles=node,proxy --token=xxxxx --auth-server=

Short-lived Tokens

A more secure way to add nodes to a cluster is to generate tokens as they are needed. Such token can be used multiple times until its time to live (TTL) expires.

Use tctl tool to invite a new node into the cluster with node and auth roles:

$ tctl nodes add --ttl=5m --roles=node,proxy
The invite token: 24be3e582c3805621658225f8c841d2002
Run this on the new node to join the cluster:
> teleport start --roles=node,proxy --token=24be3e582c3805621658225f8c841d2002 --auth-server=

Please note:
  - This invitation token will expire in 5 minutes
  - must be reachable from the new node, see --advertise-ip server flag
  - For tokens of type "trustedcluster", tctl needs to be used to create a TrustedCluster resource. See the Admin Guide for more details. 

As new nodes come online, they start sending ping requests every few seconds to the CA of the cluster. This allows everyone to explore cluster membership and size:

$ tctl nodes ls

Node Name     Node ID                                  Address            Labels
---------     -------                                  -------            ------
turing        d52527f9-b260-41d0-bb5a-e23b0cfe0f8f      distro:ubuntu
dijkstra      c9s93fd9-3333-91d3-9999-c9s93fd98f43      distro:debian

Revoking Invitations

As you have seen above, Teleport uses tokens to invite users to a cluster (sign-up tokens) or to add new nodes to it (provisioning tokens).

Both types of tokens can be revoked before they can be used. To see a list of outstanding tokens, run this command:

$ tctl tokens ls

Token                                Role       Expiry Time (UTC)
-----                                ----       -----------------
eoKoh0caiw6weoGupahgh6Wuo7jaTee2     Proxy      never
696c0471453e75882ff70a761c1a8bfa     Node       17 May 16 03:51 UTC
6fc5545ab78c2ea978caabef9dbd08a5     Signup     17 May 16 04:24 UTC

In this example, the first token with "never" expiry date because it is a static token configured via a config file.

The 2nd token with "Node" role was generated to invite a new node to this cluster. And the 3rd token was generated to invite a new user.

The latter two tokens can be deleted (revoked) via tctl tokens del command:

$ tctl tokens del 696c0471453e75882ff70a761c1a8bfa
Token 696c0471453e75882ff70a761c1a8bfa has been deleted

Labeling Nodes

In addition to specifying a custom nodename, Teleport also allows for the application of arbitrary key:value pairs to each node. They are called labels. There are two kinds of labels:

  1. static labels never change while the teleport process is running. You may want to label nodes with their physical location, the Linux distribution, etc.

  2. label commands or "dynamic labels". Label commands allow you to execute an external command on a node at a configurable frequency. The output of that command becomes the value of such label. Examples include reporting a kernel version, load averages, time after reboot, etc.

Labels can be configured in a configuration file or via --labels flag as shown below:

$ teleport start --labels uptime=[1m:"uptime -p"],kernel=[1h:"uname -r"]

Obviously the kernel version is not going to change often, so this example runs uname once an hour. When this node starts and reports its labels into the cluster, users will see:

$ tctl nodes ls

Node Name     Node ID          Address         Labels
---------     -------          -------         ------
turing        d52527f9-b260   kernel=3.19.0-56,uptime=up 1 hour, 15 minutes

Audit Log

Teleport logs every SSH event into its audit log. The log is stored on the auth server(s) in the data_dir location, under log subdirectory.

There are two components of the audit log:

  1. SSH Events: Teleport logs events like successful user logins along with the metadata like remote IP address, time and the sesion ID.
  2. Recorded Sessions: Every SSH shell session is recorded and can be replayed later.

SSH Events

The event log is stored in data_dir under log directory, usually it is /var/lib/teleport/log. Each day is represented as a file:

$ ls -l /var/lib/teleport/log/
total 104
-rw-r----- 1 root root  31638 Jan 22 20:00 2017-01-23.00:00:00.log
-rw-r----- 1 root root  91256 Jan 31 21:00 2017-02-01.00:00:00.log
-rw-r----- 1 root root  15815 Feb 32 22:54 2017-02-03.00:00:00.log

The log files use JSON format. They are human-readable but can also be programmatically parsed. Each line represents an event and has the following format:

   // Event type. See below for the list of all possible event types
   "event"      : "session.start",
   // Teleport user name
   "user"       : "ekontsevoy",
   // OS login
   "login"      : "root",
   // Server namespace. This field is reserved for future use.
   "namespace"  : "default",
   // Unique server ID.
   "server_id"  : "f84f7386-5e22-45ff-8f7d-b8079742e63f",
   // Session ID. Can be used to replay the sesssion.
   "sid"        : "8d3895b6-e9dd-11e6-94de-40167e68e931",
   // Address of the SSH node
   "addr.local" : "10.5.l.15:3022",
   // Address of the connecting client (user)
   "addr.remote": "",
   // Terminal size
   "size"       : "80:25",
   // Timestamp
   "time"       : "2017-02-03T06:54:05Z"

The possible event types are:

Event Type Description
auth Authentication attempt. Adds the following fields: {"success": "false", "error": "access denied"}
session.start Started an interactive shell session.
session.end An interactive shell session has ended.
session.join A new user has joined the existing interactive shell session.
session.leave A user has left the session.
exec Remote command has been executed via SSH, like tsh ssh [email protected] ls /. The following fields will be logged: {"command": "ls /", "exitCode": 0, "exitError": ""}
scp Remote file copy has been executed. The following fields will be logged: {"path": "/path/to/file.txt", "len": 32344, "action": "read" }
resize Terminal has been resized.


The commercial Teleport edition called "Teleport Enterprise" supports native audit log exporting into external systems like Splunk, AlertLogic and others. Take a look at Teleport Enterprise section to learn more.

Recorded Sessions

In addition to logging session.start and session.end events, Teleport also records the entire stream of bytes going to/from standard input and standard output of an SSH session.

The recorded sessions are stored as raw bytes in the sessions directory under log. Each session consists of two files, both are named after the session ID:

  1. .bytes file represents the raw session bytes and is somewhat human-readable, although you are better off using tsh play or the Web UI to replay it.
  2. .log file contains the copies of the event log entries that are related to this session.
$ ls /var/lib/teleport/log/sessions/default
-rw-r----- 1 root root 506192 Feb 4 00:46 4c146ec8-eab6-11e6-b1b3-40167e68e931.session.bytes
-rw-r----- 1 root root  44943 Feb 4 00:46 4c146ec8-eab6-11e6-b1b3-40167e68e931.session.log

To replay this session via CLI:

$ tsh --proxy=proxy play 4c146ec8-eab6-11e6-b1b3-40167e68e931


A Teleport administrator has two tools to configure a Teleport cluster: the configuration file is used for static configuration like the cluster name, and the tctl admin tool is used for manipulating dynamic records like Teleport users.

tctl has convenient subcommands for this, like tctl users or tctl nodes. However, for dealing with more advanced topics, like connecting clusters together, or when troubleshooting trust, tctl offers the more powerful, although lower-level CLI interface called resources.

The basic idea is borrowed from REST programming pattern: a cluster is composed of different objects (AKA resources) and there are just four common operations that can be performed on them: get, create, remove.

A resource is defined as a YAML file. Every resource in Teleport has three required fields:

  • Kind - The type of resource
  • Name - A required field in the metadata to uniquely identify the resource
  • Version - The version of the resource format

Everything else is resource-specific and any component of a Teleport cluster can be manipulated with just 3 CLI commands:

Command Description Examples
tctl get Get one or multipe resources tctl get users or tctl get user/joe
tctl rm Delete a resource by type/name tctl rm user/joe
tctl create Create a new resource from a YAML file. Use -f to overide / update tctl create -f joe.yaml

YAML Format

By default Teleport uses YAML format to describe resources. YAML is a wonderful and very human-readable alternative to JSON or XML, but it's sensitive to white space. Pay attention to spaces vs tabs!

Here's an example how the YAML resource definition for a user Joe might look like. It can be retreived by executing tctl get user/joe

kind: user
version: v2
  name: joe
  - admin
    # users can be temporarily locked in a Teleport system, but this
    # functionality is reserved for the internal use for now.
    is_locked: false
    lock_expires: 0001-01-01T00:00:00Z
    locked_time: 0001-01-01T00:00:00Z
    # these are "allowed logins" which are usually specified as the last argument to `tctl users add`
    - joe
    - root
  # any resource in Teleport can automatically expire.
  expires: 0001-01-01T00:00:00Z
  # for internal use only
    time: 0001-01-01T00:00:00Z
      name: builtin-Admin


Many of the fields you will see when printing resources are used only internally and are not meant to be changed. Others are reserved for future use.

Here's the list of resources currently exposed via tctl:

Resource Kind Description
user A user record in the internal Teleport user DB.
node A registered SSH node. The same record is displayed via tctl nodes ls
trusted_cluster A trusted cluster. See here for more details on connecting clusters together.
role A role assumed by users. The open source Teleport only includes one role: "admin", but Enterprise teleport users can define their own roles.

Trusted Clusters

Teleport allows to partition your infrastructure into multiple clusters. Some clusters can be located behind firewalls without any open ports. They can also have their own restrictions on which users have access.

A Teleport Cluster has a name and is managed by a teleport daemon with "auth service" enabled.

Let's assume we need to access servers behind a firewall and we only want Teleport user "john" to have access to them. We already have our primary Teleport cluster and our users set up. Say this primary cluster is called main, and the behind-the-firewall cluster is called east as shown on this diagram:


This setup works as follows:

  1. "East" creates an outbound reverse SSH tunnel to "main" and keeps it open.
  2. "East" and "main" must trust each other, they are "trusted clusters" because "main" must authenticate "east" (cluster-to-cluster authentication) when the tunnel is established, and "east" must trust users connecting from "main" (user authentication).
  3. Users of "main" must use tsh --cluster=east flag if they want to connect to any nodes in "east".
  4. Users of "main" can see other trusted clusters connected to "main" by running tsh clusters

Example Configuration

Creating trust between two clusters is easy. Here are the steps:

  1. The main cluster needs to define a "cluster join token" in its config file. This token is used for establishing the initial trust between "main" and new clusters.
  2. The administrator of the eastern cluster must create a "trusted cluster" resource.

Below is the snippet from the auth server configuration for the "main" cluster:

# fragment of /etc/teleport.yaml:
  enabled: true
  - trusted_cluster:secret-token-to-add-new-clusters

The snippet above states that another Teleport cluster can establish a reverse tunnel to "main" if it knows the secret, the cluster join token is declared in the tokens section.


The permission to establish a reverse tunnel is the only action "east" is permitted to. Trusted clusters work only one way: users from "east" cannot connect to the nodes in "main".

Now, with the main cluster prepared to allow remote clusters to connect to it, lets configure "east". The administrator of "east" must create the following resource file:

# cluster.yaml
kind: trusted_cluster
version: v2
  # the trusted cluster name MUST match the 'cluster_name' setting of the
  # cluster
  name: main
  # this field allows to create tunnels that are disabled, but can be enabled later.
  enabled: true
  # the token expected by the "main" cluster:
  token: secret-token-to-add-new-clusters
  # the address in 'host:port' form of the reverse tunnel listening port on the
  # "master" proxy server:
  tunnel_addr: proxy.main:3024
  # the address in 'host:port' form of the web listening port on the
  # "master" proxy server:
  web_proxy_addr: proxy.main:3080

... and create it:

$ tctl create cluster.yaml

At this point the users of the main cluster should be able to see "east" in the list of available clusters.

HTTPS configuration

If the web_proxy_addr endpoint of the main cluster uses a self-signed or invalid HTTPS certificate, you will get an error: "the trusted cluster uses misconfigured HTTP/TLS certificate". For ease of testing the teleport daemon of "east" can be started with --insecure CLI flag to accept self-signed certificates. Make sure to configure HTTPS properly and remove the insecure flag for production use.

Using Trusted Clusters

It's worth repeating: the users of "east" cannot see or connect to the main cluster. The relationship works the other way around: any user from the main cluster can now use nodes in "east":

# login into the main cluster:
$ tsh --proxy=proxy.main login joe

# see the list of available clusters
$ tsh clusters

Cluster Name   Status 
------------   ------ 
main           online 
east           online 

# see the list of machines (nodes) behind the eastern cluster:
$ tsh --cluster=east ls

Node Name Node ID            Address        Labels
--------- ------------------ -------------- -----------
db1.east  cf7cc5cd-935e-46f1  role=db-master
db2.east  3879d133-fe81-3212  role=db-slave

# SSH into any node in "east":
$ tsh --cluster=east ssh [email protected]


Some networks funnel all connections through a proxy server where they can be audited and access control rules applied. For these scenarios Teleport supports HTTP CONNECT tunneling.

To use HTTP CONNECT tunneling, simply set either the HTTPS_PROXY or HTTP_PROXY environment variables and when Teleport builds and establishes the reverse tunnel to the main cluster, it will funnel all traffic though the proxy. Specifically, if using the default configuration, Teleport will tunnel ports 3024 (SSH, reverse tunnel) and 3080 (HTTPS, establishing trust) through the proxy.

The value of HTTPS_PROXY or HTTP_PROXY should be in the format scheme://host:port where scheme is either https or http. If the value is host:port, Teleport will prepend http.


localhost and are invalid values for the proxy host. If for some reason your proxy runs locally, you'll need to provide some other DNS name or a private IP address for it.

Using Teleport with OpenSSH

Teleport is a standards-compliant SSH proxy and it can work in environments with existing SSH implementations, such as OpenSSH. This section will cover:

  • Configuring OpenSSH client ssh to login into nodes inside a Teleport cluster.
  • Configuring OpenSSH server sshd to join a Teleport cluster.

Using OpenSSH Client

It is possible to use the OpenSSH client ssh to connect to nodes within a Teleport cluster. Teleport supports SSH subsystems and includes a proxy subsystem that can be used like netcat is with ProxyCommand to connect through a jump host.

First, you need to export the public keys of cluster members. This has to be done on a node which runs Teleport auth server:

$ tctl auth export --type=host > cluster_node_keys

On your client machine, you need to import these keys. It will allow your OpenSSH client to verify that host's certificates are signed by the trusted CA key:

$ cat cluster_node_keys >> ~/.ssh/known_hosts

Make sure you are logged in and then launch tsh in the SSH agent mode:

$ tsh agent

tsh agent will print environment variables into the console. Copy and paste the output into the shell you will be using to connect to a Teleport node. The output exports the SSH_AUTH_SOCK and SSH_AGENT_PID environment variables that allow OpenSSH clients to find the SSH agent.

Lastly, configure the OpenSSH client to use the Teleport proxy when connecting to nodes with matching names. Edit ~/.ssh/config for your user or /etc/ssh/ssh_config for global changes:

# is the jump host (proxy). credentials will be obtained from the
# teleport agent.
    Port 3023

# connect to nodes in the cluster through the jump
# host (proxy) using the same. credentials will be obtained from the
# teleport agent.
Host *
    HostName %h
    Port 3022
    ProxyCommand ssh -p 3023 %[email protected] -s proxy:%h:%p

# when connecting to a node within a trusted cluster with name "remote-cluster",
# add the name of the cluster to the invocation of the proxy subsystem.
Host *
   HostName %h
   Port 3022
   ProxyCommand ssh -p 3023 %[email protected] -s proxy:%h:%[email protected]

When everything is configured properly, you can use ssh to connect to any node behind

$ ssh [email protected]


Teleport uses OpenSSH certificates instead of keys which means you can not connect to a Teleport node by IP address. You have to connect by DNS name. This is because OpenSSH ensures the DNS name of the node you are connecting is listed under the Principals section of the OpenSSH certificate to verify you are connecting to the correct node.

Integrating with OpenSSH Servers

Existing sshd servers can be added to a Teleport cluster. For that to work, you have to configure sshd to trust the Teleport CA.

Export the Teleport CA certificate into a file:

$ tctl auth export --type=user >

To allow access per-user, append the contents of to ~/.ssh/authorized_keys.

To allow access for all users:

  • Edit and remove cert-authority from the start of line.
  • Copy to /etc/ssh/
  • Update sshd configuration (usually /etc/ssh/sshd_config) to point to this file: TrustedUserCAKeys /etc/ssh/

Integrating with Ansible

Ansible uses the OpenSSH client by default. This makes it compatible with Teleport without any extra work, except configuring OpenSSH client to work with Teleport Proxy:

  • configure your OpenSSH to connect to Teleport proxy and user tsh agent socket
  • enable scp mode in the Ansible config file (default is /etc/ansible/ansible.cfg):
scp_if_ssh = True

High Availability

Usually there are two ways to achieve high availability. You can "outsource" this function to the infrastructure, for example by using a highly available network-based disk volumes (similar to AWS EBS) and by migrating a failed VM to a new host. In this scenario there's nothing Teleport-specific to be done.

But if high availability cannot be provided by the infrastructue (perhaps you're running Teleport on a bare metal cluster), you can configure Teleport to run in a highly available fashion.

Run multiple instances of Teleport Auth Server

For this to work you must switch to a highly available secrets back-end first. Also, you must tell each node in a cluster that there are more than one auth server available. The are two ways to do this:

  • Use a load balancer to create a single auth API access point (AP) and specify this AP in auth_servers section of Teleport configuration for all nodes in a cluster.
  • If a load balancer is not an option, you must specify each instance of an auth server in auth_servers section of Teleport configuration.

IMPORTANT: with multiple instances of the auth servers running, special attention needs to be paid to keep their configuration identical. Settings like cluster_name, tokens, storage, etc must be the same.

Run multiple instances of Teleport Proxy

The Teleport Proxy is stateless which makes running multiple instances trivial. If using the default configuration, configure your load balancer to forward ports 3023 and 3080 to the servers that run the Teleport proxy. If you have configured your proxy to use non-default ports, you will need to configure your load balancer to forward the ports you specified for listen_addr and web_listen_addr in teleport.yaml.

If your load balancer supports health checks, configure it to hit the /webapi/ping endpoint on the proxy. This endpoint will reply 200 OK if the proxy is running without problems.


As the new auth servers get added to the cluster and the old servers get decommissioned, nodes and proxies will refresh the list of available auth servers and store it in their local cache /var/lib/teleport/authservers.json. The values from the cache file will take precedence over the configuration file.

We'll cover how to use etcd and DynamoDB storage back-ends to make Teleport highly available below.

Using etcd

Teleport can use etcd as a storage backend to achieve highly available deployments. Obviously, you must take steps to protect access to etcd in this configuration because that is where Teleport secrets like keys and user records will be stored.

To configure Teleport for using etcd as a storage back-end:

  • Install etcd and configure peer and client TLS authentication using etcd security guide.

  • Configure all Teleport Auth servers to use etcd in the "storage" section of the config file as shown below.

  • Deploy several auth servers connected to etcd back-end.
  • Deploy several proxy nodes that have auth_servers pointed to list of auth servers to connect to.
     type: etcd
     # list of etcd peers to connect to:
     peers: ["", ""]

     # required path to TLS client certificate and key files to connect to etcd
     tls_cert_file: /var/lib/teleport/etcd-cert.pem
     tls_key_file: /var/lib/teleport/etcd-key.pem

     # optional file with trusted CA authority
     # file to authenticate etcd nodes
     tls_ca_file: /var/lib/teleport/etcd-ca.pem

     # etcd key (location) where teleport will be storing its state under:
     prefix: teleport

     # NOT RECOMMENDED: enables insecure etcd mode in which self-signed
     # certificate will be accepted
     insecure: false

Using DynamoDB

If you are running Teleport on AWS, you can use DynamoDB as a storage back-end to achieve high availability.

To configure Teleport to use DynamoDB as a storage back-end:

  • Make sure you have AWS access key and a secret key which give you access to DynamoDB account. If you're using (as recommended) an IAM role for this, the policy with necessary permissions is listed below.
  • Configure all Teleport Auth servers to use DynamoDB back-end in the "storage" section of teleport.yaml as shown below.
  • Deploy several auth servers connected to DynamoDB storage back-end.
  • Deploy several proxy nodes that have auth_servers pointed to list of Auth servers to connect to.
    type: dynamodb
    region: eu-west-1
    table_name: teleport.state
    access_key: BKZA3H2LOKJ1QJ3YF21A
    secret_key: Oc20333k293SKwzraT3ah3Rv1G3/97POQb3eGziSZ

Replace region and table_name with your own settings. Teleport will create the table automatically. Also, here's the example of the IAM policy to grant access to DynamoDB:

    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
            "Sid": "AllAPIActionsOnTeleportAuth",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": "dynamodb:*",
            "Resource": "arn:aws:dynamodb:eu-west-1:123456789012:table/prod.teleport.auth"


To diagnose problems you can configure teleport to run with verbose logging enabled by passing it -d flag.


It is not recommended to run Teleport in production with verbose logging as it generates substantial amount of data.

Sometimes you may want to reset teleport to a clean state. This can be accomplished by erasing everything under "data_dir" directory. Assuming the default location, rm -rf /var/lib/teleport/* will do.

Getting Help

Please open an issue on Github. Alternatively, you can reach through the contact form on our website.

For commercial support, custom features or to try our commercial edition, Teleport Enterprise, please reach out to us: [email protected].