This topic explains how to install and initialize the Tanzu command line interface (CLI) on a bootstrap machine. The bootstrap machine is the laptop, host, or server that you deploy management and workload clusters from, and that keeps the Tanzu and Kubernetes configuration files for your deployments. The bootstrap machine is typically local, but it can also be a physical machine or VM that you access remotely.

Once the Tanzu CLI is installed, the second and last step to deploying Tanzu Kubernetes Grid is using the Tanzu CLI to create or designate a management cluster on each cloud provider that you use. The Tanzu CLI then communicates with the management cluster to create and manage workload clusters on the cloud provider.


VMware provides Tanzu CLI binaries for Linux, macOS, and Windows systems.

The bootstrap machine on which you run the Tanzu CLI must meet the following requirements:

  • A browser, if you intend to use the Tanzu Kubernetes Grid installer interface. You can use the Tanzu CLI without a browser, but for first deployments, it is strongly recommended to use the installer interface.
  • A Linux, Windows, or macOS operating system with a minimum system configuration of 6 GB of RAM and a 2-core CPU.
  • A Docker client installed and running on your bootstrap machine:
  • For Windows and macOS Docker clients, you must allocate at least 6 GB of memory in Docker Desktop to accommodate the kind container. See Settings for Docker Desktop in the kind documentation.
  • System time is synchronized with a Network Time Protocol (NTP) server.
  • On VMware Cloud on AWS and Azure VMware Solution, the bootstrap machine must be a cloud VM, not a local physical machine. See Prepare a vSphere Management as a Service Infrastructure for setup instructions.

NOTE: Tanzu Kubernetes Grid uses Cluster API. If you have previously used Cluster API on the machine that you are using as your bootstrap machine, you must delete the ~/.cluster-api folder from that machine. This folder contains Cluster API configuration files that might interfere with the correct operation of Tanzu Kubernetes Grid.

Download and Unpack the Tanzu CLI and kubectl

The tanzu CLI ships with a compatible version of the kubectl CLI. To download and unpack both:

  1. Go to and log in with your My VMware credentials.
  2. Visit the Tanzu Kubernetes Grid downloads page and click Go to Downloads.

  3. Under Product Downloads, scroll to the section labeled VMware Tanzu CLI 1.3.0.

    • For macOS, locate VMware Tanzu CLI for Mac and click Download Now.
    • For Linux, locate VMware Tanzu CLI for Linux and click Download Now.
    • For Windows, locate VMware Tanzu CLI for Windows and click Download Now.
  4. Navigate to the Kubectl 1.20.4 for VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid 1.3.0 section of the download page.

    • For macOS, locate kubectl cluster cli v1.20.4 for Mac and click Download Now.
    • For Linux, locate kubectl cluster cli v1.20.4 for Linux and click Download Now.
    • For Windows, locate kubectl cluster cli v1.20.4 for Windows and click Download Now.
  5. (Optional) Verify that your downloaded files are unaltered from the original. VMware provides a SHA-1, a SHA-256, and an MD5 checksum for each download. To obtain these checksums, click Read More under the entry that you want to download. For more information, see Using Cryptographic Hashes.

  6. On your system, create a new directory named tanzu.

  7. In the tanzu folder, unpack the Tanzu Kubernetes Grid CLI bundle file for your operating system. To unpack the bundle file, use the extraction tool of your choice. For example, the tar -xvf command.

    • For macOS, unpack tanzu-cli-bundle-darwin-amd64.tar.
    • For Linux, unpack tanzu-cli-bundle-linux-amd64.tar.
    • For Windows, unpack tanzu-cli-bundle-windows-amd64.tar.

    After you unpack the bundle file, in your tanzu folder, you will see a cli folder with multiple subfolders and files.

    The files in cli directory, such as ytt, kapp, and kbld, are required by the Tanzu Kubernetes Grid extensions and add-ons. You will need these files later when you install the extensions and register add-ons.

  8. Unpack the kubectl binary file for your operating system. The unpacked kubectl binary files are kubectl-mac-v1.20.4-vmware.1, kubectl-linux-v1.20.4-vmware.1, and kubectl-windows-v1.20.4-vmware.1.exe.

Install the Tanzu CLI

After you have downloaded and unpacked the Tanzu CLI on your bootstrap machine, you must make it available to the system.

  1. Navigate to the tanzu/cli folder that you unpacked in the previous section.

  2. Make the CLI available to the system:

    • For macOS:

      1. Install the binary to /usr/local/bin:
        sudo install core/v1.3.0/tanzu-core-darwin_amd64 /usr/local/bin/tanzu
      2. Confirm that the binary is executable by running the ls command.
    • For Linux:

      1. Install the binary to /usr/local/bin:
        sudo install core/v1.3.0/tanzu-core-linux_amd64 /usr/local/bin/tanzu
      2. Confirm that the binary is executable by running the ls command.
    • For Windows:

      1. Create a new Program Files\tanzu folder.
      2. In the unpacked cli folder, locate and copy the core\v1.3.0\tanzu-core-windows_amd64.exe into the new Program Files\tanzu folder.
      3. Rename tanzu-core-windows_amd64.exe to tanzu.exe.
      4. Right-click the tanzu folder, select Properties > Security, and make sure that your user account has the Full Control permission.
      5. Use Windows Search to search for env.
      6. Select Edit the system environment variables and click the Environment Variables button.
      7. Select the Path row under System variables, and click Edit.
      8. Click New to add a new row and enter the path to the tanzu CLI.
  3. At the command line in a new terminal, run tanzu version to check that the correct version of the CLI is properly installed.

    If you are running on macOS, you might encounter the following error:

    "tanzu" cannot be opened because the developer cannot be verified.

    If this happens, you need to create a security exception for the tanzu executable. Locate the tanzu app in Finder, control-click the app, and select Open.

Install the Tanzu CLI Plugins

After you have installed the tanzu core executable, you must install the CLI plugins related to Tanzu Kubernetes cluster management and feature operations.

  1. (Optional) Remove existing plugins from any previous CLI installations.

    tanzu plugin clean
  2. Navigate to the tanzu folder that contains the cli folder.

  3. Run the following command from the tanzu directory to install all the plugins for this release.

    tanzu plugin install --local cli all
  4. Check plugin installation status.

    tanzu plugin list

    If successful, you should see a list of all installed plugins. For example:

    NAME                LATEST VERSION  DESCRIPTION                                                        REPOSITORY  VERSION  STATUS                                       
    cluster             v1.3.0          Kubernetes cluster operations                                      core        v1.3.0   installed
    login               v1.3.0          Login to the platform                                              core        v1.3.0   installed
    pinniped-auth       v1.3.0          Pinniped authentication operations (usually not directly invoked)  core        v1.3.0   installed
    kubernetes-release  v1.3.0          Kubernetes release operations                                      core        v1.3.0   installed
    management-cluster  v1.3.0          Kubernetes management cluster operations                           tkg         v1.3.0   installed

Install kubectl

To install the version of kubectl compatible with the Tanzu CLI, use the same process as in Install the Tanzu CLI above, but with the following substitutions:

  • Navigate to the executable you downloaded for kubectl.
  • Rename the kubectl-PLATFORM-VERSION executable to kubectl (Linux, macOS) or kubectl.exe (Windows).
  • Run kubectl version to check the correct version, and create a security exception if needed.

Tanzu CLI Help

Run tanzu --help to see the list of commands that the Tanzu CLI provides.

You can view help text for any command group with the --help option to see information about that specific command or command group. For example, tanzu login --help, tanzu management-cluster --help, or tanzu management-cluster create --help.

For more information about the Tanzu CLI, see the Tanzu CLI Command Reference.

What to Do Next

With the Tanzu CLI installed, you can set up and use your bootstrap machine to deploy Kubernetes clusters to vSphere, Amazon EC2, and Microsoft Azure.

  • For information about how to deploy management clusters to your chosen platform, see Deploying Management Clusters.
  • If you have vSphere 7 and the vSphere with Tanzu feature is enabled, you can directly use the Tanzu CLI to deploy Tanzu Kubernetes clusters to vSphere with Tanzu, without deploying a management cluster. For information about how to connect the Tanzu CLI to a vSphere with Tanzu Supervisor Cluster, see Use the Tanzu CLI with a vSphere with Tanzu Supervisor Cluster.
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