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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 guide, you will start and interact with the Vault server running in development mode.

»Starting the Dev Server

First, 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 the Deploy Vault guide, you will configure and start a non-dev 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: info
                   Mlock: supported: false, enabled: false
           Recovery Mode: false
                 Storage: inmem
                 Version: Vault v1.4.1

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. Notice that Unseal Key and Root Token values are displayed.

With the dev server started, perform the following:

  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 the dev server.

    $ export VAULT_ADDR=''

    Vault CLI determines which Vault servers to send requests using the VAULT_ADDR environment variable.

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

  4. Set the VAULT_TOKEN environment variable value to the generated Root Token value displayed in the terminal output.


    $ export VAULT_TOKEN="s.XmpNPoi9sRhYtdKHaQhkHP6x"

    To interact with Vault, you must provide a valid token. Setting this environment variable is a way to provide the token to Vault via CLI. Later, in the Authentication tutorial, you will learn to use the vault login <token_value> command to authenticate with Vault.

»Verify the Server is Running

Verify the server is running by running the vault status command. 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         1.5.0
Cluster Name    vault-cluster-4d862b44
Cluster ID      92143a5a-0566-be89-f229-5a9f9c47fb1a
HA Enabled      false

If the output looks different, 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.

You will learn more about the status output in the Deploy Vault tutorial.


Congratulations! You've started your first Vault server. Continue onto the Your First Secret guide to store secrets in Vault.