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Getting Started

Starting the Server

With Vault installed, the next step is to start a Vault server.

Vault operates as a client/server application. The Vault server is the only piece of the Vault architecture that interacts with the data storage and backends. All operations done via the Vault CLI interact with the server over a TLS connection.

In this page, we'll start and interact with the Vault server to understand how the server is started.

Starting the Dev Server

First, we're going to start a Vault dev server. The dev server is a built-in, pre-configured server that is not very secure but useful for playing with Vault locally. Later in this guide we'll configure and start a real server.

To start the Vault dev server, run:

$ vault server -dev

==> Vault server configuration:

             Api Address:
                     Cgo: disabled
         Cluster Address:
              Listener 1: tcp (addr: "", cluster address: "", max_request_duration: "1m30s", max_request_size: "33554432", tls: "disabled")
               Log Level: (not set)
                   Mlock: supported: false, enabled: false
                 Storage: inmem
                 Version: Vault v1.0.2
             Version Sha: 37a1dc9c477c1c68c022d2084550f25bf20cac33

WARNING! dev mode is enabled! In this mode, Vault runs entirely in-memory
and starts unsealed with a single unseal key. The root token is already
authenticated to the CLI, so you can immediately begin using Vault.

You may need to set the following environment variable:

    $ export VAULT_ADDR=''

The unseal key and root token are displayed below in case you want to
seal/unseal the Vault or re-authenticate.

Unseal Key: 1+yv+v5mz+aSCK67X6slL3ECxb4UDL8ujWZU/ONBpn0=
Root Token: s.XmpNPoi9sRhYtdKHaQhkHP6x

Development mode should NOT be used in production installations!

==> Vault server started! Log data will stream in below:

# ...

You should see output similar to that above. Vault does not fork, so it will continue to run in the foreground. Open another shell or terminal tab to run the remaining commands.

The dev server stores all its data in-memory (but still encrypted), listens on localhost without TLS, and automatically unseals and shows you the unseal key and root access key.

With the dev server running, do the following four things before anything else:

  1. Launch a new terminal session.

  2. Copy and run the export VAULT_ADDR ... command from the terminal output. This will configure the Vault client to talk to our dev server.

  3. Save the unseal key somewhere. Don't worry about how to save this securely. For now, just save it anywhere.

  4. Copy the generated Root Token value and set is as VAULT_DEV_ROOT_TOKEN_ID environment variable:

    $ export VAULT_DEV_ROOT_TOKEN_ID="s.XmpNPoi9sRhYtdKHaQhkHP6x"

Verify the Server is Running

As instructed, copy and execute export VAULT_ADDR=''.

Verify the server is running by running the vault status command. This should succeed and exit with exit code 0.

If it ran successfully, the output should look like the following:

$ vault status

Key             Value
---             -----
Seal Type       shamir
Initialized     true
Sealed          false
Total Shares    1
Threshold       1
Version         1.0.2
Cluster Name    vault-cluster-3cdf26fe
Cluster ID      08082f3a-b58d-1abf-a770-fbb8d87359ee
HA Enabled      false

If the output looks different, especially if the numbers are different or the Vault is sealed, then restart the dev server and try again. The only reason these would ever be different is if you're running a dev server from going through this guide previously.

We'll cover what this output means later in the guide.


Congratulations! You've started your first Vault server. We haven't stored any secrets yet, but we'll do that in the next section.