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Forecastle: my services Dashboard of choice

Diomede
DevOps, messy homelab owner, wannabe gamedev
Originally published at diomedet.com ・3 min read

Some weeks ago, I started the migration of my homelab from many docker-compose files to a more organized and reliable Kubernetes cluster.

In both these scenarios, I needed a way to collect all the links to the various services I have in one place. In the docker-compose implementation, I've used Heimdall, a great tool that gets the job done, but it requires some manual work. With the Kubernetes version of my homelab, I'm trying to automate as many tasks as possible.

I don't remember what the search phrase used to find this was (I couldn't replicate the results), but I come across Forecastle and decide to give it a try.

The installation is pretty simple, follow the steps described on the repository, and you're good to go. I went for the "Vanilla Manifests" path and ended copy the manifest in my homelab repo to inspect it better.

Looking into the manifest, I see that it will create the classic resources, Deployment, Service, ConfigMap, etc. And also a CRD called ForecastleApp and later on, we'll see how it can be used.

As mentioned in my previous post, where I described my journey with external-dns and Pi-hole, I use Kustomize to manage all my manifest. After downloading the Forecastle manifest, I've added it to a kustomization.yml file:

kind: Kustomization
apiVersion: kustomize.config.k8s.io/v1beta1
namespace: Forecastle
resources:
- forecastle.yaml
- ingress.yml
patchesStrategicMerge:
- configmap-patch.yml
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Other than the forecastle.yaml file (this is the one copied from the repo), you can notice the ingress.yml and the configmap-patch.yml

The ingress is nothing special, just an internal domain that points to the forecastle service, created with the base manifest:

apiVersion: networking.k8s.io/v1beta1
kind: Ingress
metadata:
  annotations:
    kubernetes.io/ingress.class: nginx
  name: forecastle
spec:
  rules:
  - host: hub.diomedet.internal
    http:
      paths:
      - backend:
          serviceName: forecastle
          servicePort: http
        path: /
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Note: if you want to know how to create an internal domain, check the post I've linked above ;)

And then, we have the configmap-patch.yml containing a patch applied to the ** Forecastle** config map. Using this patch method allows me not to worry about the base file, which I can re-download every time I want. Kustomize will apply the patch until the config map name does not change.

apiVersion: v1
kind: ConfigMap
metadata:
  name: forecastle
data:
  config.yaml: |-
    crdEnabled: true
    namespaceSelector:
      any: true
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This patch is essential. It tells Forecastle to watch all the namespaces and to enable the CRDs.

For me, the crdEnable: true option is essential because I have some services outside the cluster that I want to have in my dashboard; this allows me to create a ForecastleApp like this one:

unraind.yml

apiVersion: forecastle.stakater.com/v1alpha1
kind: ForecastleApp
metadata:
  name: unraid
spec:
  name: Unraid
  group: Infrastructure
  icon: <icon_url>
  url: http://<unraid_url>:3080
  networkRestricted: true
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For all the services inside the cluster that needs to be in the main dashboard, I use the annotations on the Ingress, like:

home-assistant/ingress.yml

apiVersion: networking.k8s.io/v1beta1
kind: Ingress
metadata:
  annotations:
    kubernetes.io/ingress.class: nginx
    cert-manager.io/cluster-issuer: "letsencrypt-prod"
    forecastle.stakater.com/expose: true
    forecastle.stakater.com/appName: Home Assistant
    forecastle.stakater.com/group: Home Automation
    forecastle.stakater.com/icon: https://<ha_url>/static/icons/favicon-apple-180x180.png
  name: home-assistant
spec:
  rules:
  - host: <ha_url>
    http:
      paths:
      - backend:
          serviceName: home-assistant
          servicePort: ha
        path: /
  tls:
  - hosts:
    - <ha_url>
    secretName: home-assistant-tls
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Technically, Home Assistant is not inside the cluster yet, but this Ingress fits the example I need. If you want to know how I've exposed Home Assistant through the cluster, check my other post on how to expose an external resource with Kubernetes.

In conclusion, now I have two ways of automatically create a new entry in my service dashboard, no more manual insert!

Heimdall does something more than collects links; for some apps, likes Pi-hole, it can show you some stats (like the number of queries blocked) right in the dashboard without even open the link. Even if I had many apps supported by Heimdall, I never used that feature so much, so I'm not going to miss it.

There is one thing I'm going to miss about Heimdall; it comes with many icons you only have to pick.

Anyway, I'm not saying that Forecastle is better than Heimdall it only suits my use case better.

See you the next time, bye!

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