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I would like to download a public Amazon EC2 AMI, such as this one (Ubuntu Lucid), so that I can programmatically extract its contents.

How do I do this? I suspect there is an S3 address somewhere? This blog post looks like it once described this process, but the link seems to no longer work.

So far I can only find explanations of how to move around EC2 instance within AWS. I believe manifest files are an important piece of the puzzle.

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You can download AMI Files stored on S3 like any other file if you know where they are stored in S3. You'll have to check if the files are set to public-read, or that you have been granted read access. 

Note: AMIs are encrypted. You can only decrypt them if they are Linux AMIs created by you and you have AWS private key.

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