When a person uses the OpenShift Dedicated CLI or web console, their API token authenticates them to the OpenShift Dedicated API. However, when a regular user’s credentials are not available, it is common for components to make API calls independently. For example:

  • Replication controllers make API calls to create or delete pods.

  • Applications inside containers can make API calls for discovery purposes.

  • External applications can make API calls for monitoring or integration purposes.

Service accounts provide a flexible way to control API access without sharing a regular user’s credentials.

User Names and Groups

Every service account has an associated user name that can be granted roles, just like a regular user. The user name is derived from its project and name:


For example, to add the view role to the robot service account in the top-secret project:

$ oc policy add-role-to-user view system:serviceaccount:top-secret:robot

If you want to grant access to a specific service account in a project, you can use the -z flag. From the project to which the service account belongs, use the -z flag and specify the <serviceaccount_name>. This is highly recommended, as it helps prevent typos and ensures that access is granted only to the specified service account. For example:

 $ oc policy add-role-to-user <role_name> -z <serviceaccount_name>

If not in the project, use the -n option to indicate the project namespace it applies to, as shown in the examples below.

Every service account is also a member of two groups:


Includes all service accounts in the system.


Includes all service accounts in the specified project.

For example, to allow all service accounts in all projects to view resources in the top-secret project:

$ oc policy add-role-to-group view system:serviceaccounts -n top-secret

To allow all service accounts in the managers project to edit resources in the top-secret project:

$ oc policy add-role-to-group edit system:serviceaccounts:managers -n top-secret

Granting Service Accounts Access to Dedicated-Admin Roles

As an OpenShift Dedicated administrator, you can use service accounts to perform any actions that require OpenShift Dedicated admin roles.

The dedicated-admin service creates the dedicated-admins group. This group is granted the roles at the cluster or individual project level. Users can be assigned to this group and group membership defines who has OpenShift Dedicated administrator access. However, by design, service accounts cannot be added to regular groups.

Instead, the dedicated-admin service creates a special project for this purpose named dedicated-admin. The service account group for this project is granted OpenShift Dedicated admin roles, granting OpenShift Dedicated administrator access to all service accounts within the dedicated-admin project. These service accounts can then be used to perform any actions that require OpenShift Dedicated administrator access.

Users that are members of the dedicated-admins group, and thus have been granted the dedicated-admin role, have edit access to the dedicated-admin project. This allows these users to manage the service accounts in this project and create new ones as needed.

Users with a dedicated-reader role are granted edit and view access to the dedicated-reader project and view-only access to the other projects.

Managing Service Accounts

Service accounts are API objects that exist within each project. To manage service accounts, you can use the oc command with the sa or serviceaccount object type or use the web console.

To get a list of existing service accounts in the current project:

$ oc get sa
builder    2         2d
default    2         2d
deployer   2         2d

To create a new service account:

$ oc create sa robot
serviceaccount "robot" created

As soon as a service account is created, two secrets are automatically added to it:

  • an API token

  • credentials for the OpenShift Container Registry

These can be seen by describing the service account:

$ oc describe sa robot
Name:		robot
Namespace:	project1
Labels:		<none>
Annotations:	<none>

Image pull secrets:	robot-dockercfg-qzbhb

Mountable secrets: 	robot-token-f4khf

Tokens:            	robot-token-f4khf

The system ensures that service accounts always have an API token and registry credentials.

The generated API token and registry credentials do not expire, but they can be revoked by deleting the secret. When the secret is deleted, a new one is automatically generated to take its place.

Enabling Service Account Authentication

Service accounts authenticate to the API using tokens signed by a private RSA key. The authentication layer verifies the signature using a matching public RSA key.

To enable service account token generation, update the serviceAccountConfig stanza in the /etc/origin/master/master-config.yml file on the master to specify a privateKeyFile (for signing), and a matching public key file in the publicKeyFiles list:

  masterCA: ca.crt (1)
  privateKeyFile: serviceaccount.private.key (2)
  - serviceaccount.public.key (3)
  - ...
1 CA file used to validate the API server’s serving certificate.
2 Private RSA key file (for token signing).
3 Public RSA key files (for token verification). If private key files are provided, then the public key component is used. Multiple public key files can be specified, and a token will be accepted if it can be validated by one of the public keys. This allows rotation of the signing key, while still accepting tokens generated by the previous signer.