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What is AWS CLI? Install and Configure

What is AWS CLI? Install and Configure

Let’s first see what you will be learning further in this What is AWS CLI blog:

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What is AWS CLI?

AWS CLI is one of many ways a developer can access and manage AWS services. You can also go use the AWS Management Console and AWS APIs to do the same, but why should you use AWS CLI? Let’s look at some pointers.

  • Very simple: There are no complex tasks required to start with AWS CLI. It’s very straightforward: download AWS CLI, and then install and configure it.
  • Saves a lot of time: For example, if you want to check out all the S3 buckets in your account, you don’t need to login to your Management Console, choose the service, and then take a look at all the buckets. Instead, you can just type in a single command and get the list.
  • Run powerful scripts: The biggest reason to use AWS CLI is that you can run scripts that can automate the cloud infrastructure partially or fully.
  • Access all of AWS IaaS: It started with just EC2 access, and now you can manage every IaaS AWS resource from the CLI.

As already told, it is pretty simple to install and configure AWS CLI. It can be installed on nearly all OS including Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows.

Benefits of AWS CLI

One of the primary benefits of AWS CLI is the ability to save substantial time. The savings come in the form of easier installs, support of all services from one tool, moving beyond GUIs, and automating processes and commands with shell scripting.

  • Easier to install. Installing previous toolkits like the old AWS EC2 API toolkit took several steps and forced the user to set up multiple environment variables. There were plenty of places to make a wrong move and bork the install. One huge benefit of AWS CLI is that installation is smooth, quick, simple, and standardized.
  • Supports all Amazon Web Services. Previously, you needed a dedicated CLI tool for just the EC2 service. It worked well, but it didn’t let users control other Amazon Web Services, like for instance the AWS RDS (Relational Database Service). The AWS CLI, by contrast, lets you control all the services from one simple tool.
  • Saves time. GUIs are great when you’re just learning the ropes of a system. Once you get up and running, the user-friendly graphical interface tools start to stand in your way. Most users find it faster and easier to use the AWS CLI once they reach a certain level of proficiency.
  • Scripting. The ability to automate control of all Amazon’s web services with scripts is possibly the biggest benefit. Partial task automation can free developers from needing to log into the AWS Management Console. Shell scripts make it easy to fully automate cloud infrastructure.

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Types of AWS CLI

Before starting to install, let’s discuss the different AWS CLI versions. There are two versions of AWS CLI namely:

AWS CLI version 1:

This is the first release of the AWS CLI tool, and it’s still supported by AWS. A lot of new features are introduced in AWS CLI version 2, but those features cannot be backported to version 1. To use those features, you must install AWS CLI version 2.

AWS CLI version 2:

This is the current AWS CLI version. You can only install version 2 as a bundled installer. Let’s take a look at all the new features of CLI version 2.

  • Import AWS credentials from CSV files.
  • Autocomplete server-side resource names
  • Auto-prompt of AWS CLI parameters to help users. Using the –cli-auto-prompt option, you can prompt for the next entry. For example, check out this image:
  • Wizards have been added for configuring, Amazon Dynamodb, and lambda commands. For instance:

Now, let’s see how to download, install, and configure AWS CLI.

For a full list of differences between AWS CLI v1 and v2, you can read through the official doc.

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Installing AWS CLI

Prerequisites for the installation on Windows:

  • AWS CLI version 2 is supported on Windows XP or later.
  • AWS CLI version 2 supports only 64-bit versions of Windows.

To install AWS CLI for Windows, you will have to download the AWS CLI MSI installer. Download it from the below link:

AWS CLI Install Download link – AWS CLI MSI Installer

Download the AWS Command Line Interface for Windows and once it is downloaded, install it like you would install any software with the wizard. Let me give a few screenshots to make it clear.

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Configure AWS CLI

After installing AWS CLI, you will have to configure it to use it. To configure it, you will have to provide access keys and the region.

First, let’s see how to check whether AWS CLI has been successfully installed in your system. For that, just type in the following command in your command prompt:

aws --version

The above screenshot tells you that AWS CLI has been successfully installed. Now, let’s configure it. Before starting it, get your AWS access and the secret access keys. If you do not have them, follow these steps:

  1. Login to your AWS account
  2. Click on the AWS account name ( dropdown ) on the top right.
  3. Select My Security Credentials
  4. Click on the Access keys option. If you already have the Access Key and the Secret access key, then use them. If there is no key, then click on Create New Access Key.
  5. Copy the given key and paste it in notepad.

Once this is all done, we can start off with the configuration.

Type in the following command to start the configuration process –

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aws configure

Once you have entered the Keys, Default region name and output format hit Enter. The configuration is successfully done. Let us do a simple test to check whether our AWS account has been configured. Type the following command:

aws s3 ls

This command lists all the S3 buckets in the configured AWS account. If this command runs successfully, then the configuration is successful.

Command Structure and CLI options

First, let’s take a look at the command structure of the CLI before using some of the AWS CLI commands.

Sample CLI syntax:

aws <command> <subcommand> [options and parameters]

Let’s decode this syntax.

  1. aws – The heart of all AWS CLI commands, call for the CLI
  2. <command> – Corresponds to the AWS service which is going to be accessed
  3. <subcommand> – Specifies the operation which should be performed
  4. [options and parameters] – CLI options and the service’s parameters can be mentioned here

A few CLI options:

  1. –region – Specifies the AWS region to which the command’s request to be sent.
  2. –output – Specifies the output format for a given command. The output formats you can choose from are JSON, YAML, text and table.
  3. –cli-read-timeout – Specifies the maximum socket read time in seconds. If it is 0, then the timeout is indefinite.

You have installed, configured, and tested the AWS CLI. Now, it is time for a hands-on. Let’s do a few operations on EC2 and S3.

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Using Amazon EC2 with AWS CLI

The first aws cli command you can try here is aws ec2 help. This command will list out all the AWS CLI EC2 commands available.

Creating a Key Pair:

Use the subcommand create-key-pair, and then provide the necessary parameters. Let’s create a Keypair directly from the CLI using the below command:

aws ec2 create-key-pair --key-name blogKey --query 'KeyMaterial' --output text > blogKey.pem

Key pair is successfully created. Now, you can verify key creation in two ways. One is logging into your account and checking in the console directly.

The first way of verification is done. Now, let us check it directly from the CLI itself. To do so, use the following command:

aws ec2 describe-key-pairs --key-name blogKey

You have successfully created a key pair. Now, let’s us launch an instance using the same directly from the CLI. To do so, use the following command:

aws ec2 run-instances --image-id ami-07ebfd5b3428b6f4d --count 1 --instance-type t2.micro --key-name blogKey --security-group-ids sg-0152f4b28b4b0e140 --subnet-id subnet-544d1933

You have successfully created an instance from the CLI with a single line of command. This is how convenient the CLI is. If not with the CLI, you will have to do a lot of steps to launch an instance. Or you have to embed the AWS CLI commands with AWS SDKs to launch instances.

So, you have created a key pair and also launched an instance directly from the AWS CLI. Now, let’s practice some CLI commands on the S3 service.

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Using Amazon S3 with AWS CLI

You can access S3 resources from the AWS S3 CLI itself, and it is possible because of the simple command which was used right after you installed the CLI. It listed out all the buckets available in your AWS account. Now, let’s start with creating a bucket using the AWSCLI S3.

The command to create a bucket:

aws s3 mb s3://bucket-name

The bucket has been created. Let’s upload an object to the bucket from the CLI. To do that, use the following command:

aws s3 cp filename s3://bucket-name

You have uploaded a file to the created bucket successfully. Before finishing off with this hands-on, let’s delete the created bucket. Use the following command to delete the bucket:

aws s3 rb s3://bucketname

Please note that this command will not work if you have objects inside the bucket. If you have a file inside the bucket, then first you have to remove the file and then remove the bucket. To remove the file, use this command:

aws s3 rm s3://bucketname/path/filename

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Now, you would be convinced that the AWS CLI tool is very handy and convenient for a developer who uses AWS resources quite often. You can spin up EC2 instances, create DynamoDB tables, push files into an S3 bucket, and do a lot more operations with this tool. This blog has given you a head start on AWS CLI.

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About the Author

Application Architect

Rupinder is a certified IT expert in AWS and Azure, working as a DevOps Architect and specializing in cloud and infrastructure. He designs and builds entire IT setups for important apps in banking, insurance, and finance.