Quick Start Guide

Welcome to the Teleport Quick Start Guide!

The goal of this document is to show off the basic capabilities of Teleport. There are three types of services Teleport nodes can run: nodes, proxies and auth servers.

  • Auth servers are the core of a cluster. Auth servers store user accounts and provide authentication and authorization services for every node and every user in a cluster.
  • Nodes are regular SSH nodes, similar to the sshd daemon you may be familiar with. When a node receives a connection request, the request is authenticated through the cluster's auth server.
  • Proxies route client connection requests to the appropriate node and serve a Web UI which can also be used to log into SSH nodes. Every client-to-node connection in Teleport must be routed via a proxy.

The teleport daemon runs all three of these services by default. This Quick Start Guide will be using this default behavior to create a cluster and interact with it using Teleport's client-side tools:

Tool Description
tctl Cluster administration tool used to invite nodes to a cluster and manage user accounts.
tsh Similar in principle to OpenSSH's ssh. Used to login into remote SSH nodes, list and search for nodes in a cluster, securely upload/download files, etc.
browser You can use your web browser to login into any Teleport node by opening https://<proxy-host>:3080.

Installing and Starting

Gravitational Teleport natively runs on most Linux distributions. You can download pre-built binaries from here or you can build it from source.

After downloading the binary tarball, run:

$ tar -xzf teleport-binary-release.tar.gz
$ cd teleport
$ sudo ./install

This will copy Teleport binaries to /usr/local/bin.

Let's start Teleport on a single-node. First, create a directory for Teleport to keep its data. By default it's /var/lib/teleport. Then start teleport daemon:

$ mkdir -p /var/lib/teleport
$ sudo teleport start

[AUTH]  Auth service is starting on
[PROXY] Reverse tunnel service is starting on
[PROXY] Web proxy service is starting on
[PROXY] SSH proxy service is starting on
[SSH]   Service is starting on

At this point you should see Teleport print listening IPs of all 3 services into the console.

Congratulations - you are now running Teleport!

Creating Users

Teleport users are defined on a cluster level and every Teleport user must be associated with a list of machine-level OS usernames it can authenticate as during a login. This list is called "user mappings".

If you do not specify the mappings, the new Teleport user will be assigned a mapping with the same name. Let's create a Teleport user with the same name as the OS user:

$ sudo tctl users add $USER

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

tctl prints a sign-up URL for you to open in your browser and complete registration:

teleport login

Teleport enforces two-factor authentication. If you do not already have Google Authenticator (or another 2FA client), you will have to install it on your smart phone. Then you can scan the bar code on the Teleport login web page, pick a password and enter in the two factor token.

The default TTL for a login is 12 hours but this can be configured to a maximum of 30 hours and a minimum of 1 minute.

Having done that, you will be presented with a Web UI where you will see your machine and will be able to log in to it using web-based terminal.

teleport ui

Logging in Through CLI

Let's login using the tsh command line tool:

$ tsh --proxy=localhost --insecure login

Notice that tsh client always needs --proxy flag because all client connections in Teleport always must to go via an SSH proxy, sometimes called an "SSH bastion".


For the purposes of this quickstart we are using the -- insecure flag however this should not be used in production. See Admin Manual for more information on setting up Teleport in production.

If successful, tsh login command will receive a user certificate for a given proxy and will store it in ~/.tsh/keys/<proxy> directory.

With a certificate in place, a user can SSH into any host behind the proxy:

$ tsh ssh localhost

To avoid typing "tsh ssh" a user may rename tsh binary to ssh and use the familiar syntax as in ssh localhost.

Adding Nodes to Cluster

Let's add another node to the cluster. The tctl command below will create a single-use token for a node to join and will print instructions for you to follow:

$ sudo tctl nodes add

The invite token: n92bb958ce97f761da978d08c35c54a5c
Run this on the new node to join the cluster:
teleport start --roles=node --token=n92bb958ce97f761da978d08c35c54a5c --auth-server=

Start teleport daemon on a new node as shown above, but make sure to use the proper --auth-server IP to point back to your localhost.

Once you do that, verify that the new node has joined the cluster:

$ tsh --proxy=localhost ls

Node Name     Node ID                     Address            Labels
---------     -------                     -------            ------
localhost     xxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxx     
new-node      xxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxx     


Teleport also supports static pre-defined invitation tokens which can be set in the configuration file

Using Node Labels

Notice the "Labels" column in the output above. It is currently not populated. Teleport lets you apply static or dynamic labels to your nodes. As the cluster grows and nodes assume different roles, labels will help to find the right node quickly.

Let's see labels in action. Stop Teleport ctrl-c on the node we just added and restart it with the following command:

$ sudo teleport start --roles=node --auth-server= --nodename=db --labels "location=virginia,arch=[1h:/bin/uname -m]"

Notice a few things here:

  • We did not use --token flag this time, because this node is already a member of the cluster.
  • We explicitly named this node as "db" because this machine is running a database. This name only exists within Teleport, the actual hostname has not changed.
  • We assigned a static label "location" to this host and set it to "virginia".
  • We also assigned a dynamic label "arch" which will evaluate /bin/uname -m command once an hour and assign the output to this label value.

Let's take a look at our cluster now:

$ tsh --proxy=localhost ls

Node Name     Node ID                     Address            Labels
---------     -------                     -------            ------
localhost     xxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxx     
db            xxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxx     location=virginia,arch=x86_64

Let's use the newly created labels to filter the output of tsh ls and ask to show only nodes located in Virginia:

$ tsh --proxy=localhost ls location=virginia

Node Name     Node ID                     Address            Labels
---------     -------                     -------            ------
db            xxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxx     location=virginia,arch=x86_64

Labels can be used with the regular ssh command too. This will execute ls -l / command on all servers located in Virginia:

$ tsh --proxy=localhost ssh location=virginia ls -l /

Sharing SSH Sessions

Suppose you are trying to troubleshoot a problem on a node. Sometimes it makes sense to ask another team member for help. Traditionally this could be done by letting them know which node you're on, having them SSH in, start a terminal multiplexer like screen and join a session there.

Teleport makes this a bit more convenient. Let's log into "db" and ask Teleport for your current session status:

$ tsh --proxy=teleport.example.com ssh db
db > teleport status

User ID    : joe, logged in as joe from 43026 3022
Session ID : 7645d523-60cb-436d-b732-99c5df14b7c4
Session URL: https://teleport.example.com:3080/web/sessions/7645d523-60cb-436d-b732-99c5df14b7c4

You can share the Session URL with a colleague in your organization. Assuming that your colleague has access to teleport.example.com proxy, she will be able to join and help you troubleshoot the problem on "db" in her browser.

Also, people can join your session via terminal assuming they have Teleport installed and running. They just have to run:

$ tsh --proxy=teleport.example.com join 7645d523-60cb-436d-b732-99c5df14b7c4


For this to work, both of you must have proper user mappings allowing you access db under the same OS user.

Hosted Teleport (Teleconsole)

We run a hosted example of Teleport at teleconsole.com. You can use it to see how Teleport might work without having to set it up for yourself. It's just an easy way to share your terminal with your friends to show Teleport in action.

Running in Production

We hope this quickstart guide has helped you to quickly set up and play with Teleport. For production environments we strongly recommend the following:

  • Install HTTPS certificates for every Teleport proxy.
  • Run Teleport auth on isolated servers. The auth service can run in a highly available (HA) configuration.
  • Use a configuration file instead of command line flags because it gives you more flexibility, for example for configuring HA clusters.
  • Review the Architecture Overview, Admin Manual and User Manual for a better understanding of Teleport.