This article explains how to use secrets in a workspace. To authenticate the workspace provisioner, see this.

Coder is open-minded about how you get your secrets into your workspaces.

Wait a minute...

Your first stab at secrets with Coder should be your local method. You can do everything you can locally and more with your Coder workspace, so whatever workflow and tools you already use to manage secrets may be brought over.

Often, this workflow is simply:

  1. Give your users their secrets in advance
  2. Your users write them to a persistent file after they've built their workspace

Template parameters are a dangerous way to accept secrets. We show parameters in cleartext around the product. Assume anyone with view access to a workspace can also see its parameters.

SSH Keys

Coder generates SSH key pairs for each user. This can be used as an authentication mechanism for git providers or other tools. Within workspaces, git will attempt to use this key within workspaces via the $GIT_SSH_COMMAND environment variable.

Users can view their public key in their account settings:

SSH keys in account settings

Note: SSH keys are never stored in Coder workspaces, and are fetched only when SSH is invoked. The keys are held in-memory and never written to disk.

Dynamic Secrets

Dynamic secrets are attached to the workspace lifecycle and automatically injected into the workspace. With a little bit of up front template work, they make life simpler for both the end user and the security team.

This method is limited to services with Terraform providers, which excludes obscure API providers.

Dynamic secrets can be implemented in your template code like so:

resource "twilio_iam_api_key" "api_key" {
  friendly_name = "Test API Key"

resource "coder_agent" "main" {
  # ...
  env = {
    # Let users access the secret via $TWILIO_API_SECRET
    TWILIO_API_SECRET = "${twilio_iam_api_key.api_key.secret}"

A catch-all variation of this approach is dynamically provisioning a cloud service account (e.g GCP) for each workspace and then making the relevant secrets available via the cloud's secret management system.

Displaying Secrets

While you can inject secrets into the workspace via environment variables, you can also show them in the Workspace UI with coder_metadata.

secret UI

Can be produced with

resource "twilio_iam_api_key" "api_key" {
  friendly_name = "Test API Key"

resource "coder_metadata" "twilio_key" {
  resource_id = twilio_iam_api_key.api_key.id
  item {
    key = "secret"
    value = twilio_iam_api_key.api_key.secret
    sensitive = true
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