Installing AWS Command Line Tools from Amazon Downloads


This article describes how to install the old generation of AWS command line tools. For the most part, these have been replaced with the new AWS cli that is easier to install and more comprehensive:

When you need an AWS command line toolset not provided by Ubuntu packages, you can download the tools directly from Amazon and install them locally.

In a previous article I provided instructions on how to install AWS command line tools using Ubuntu packages. That method is slightly easier to set up and easier to upgrade when Ubuntu releases updates. However, the Ubuntu packages aren’t always up to date with the latest from Amazon and there are not yet Ubuntu packages published for every AWS command line tools you might want to use.

Unfortunately, Amazon does not have one single place where you can download all the command line tools for the various services, nor are all of the tools installed in the same way, nor do they all use the same format for accessing the AWS credentials.

The following steps show how I install and configure the AWS command line tools provided by Amazon when I don’t use the packages provided by Ubuntu.


Install required software packages:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y openjdk-6-jre ruby1.8-full rubygems     libxml2-utils libxml2-dev libxslt-dev     unzip cpanminus build-essential
sudo gem install uuidtools json httparty nokogiri

Create a directory where all AWS tools will be installed:

sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/aws

Now we’re ready to start downloading and installing all of the individual software bundles that Amazon has released and made available in scattered places on their web site and various S3 buckets.

Download and Install AWS Command Line Tools

These steps should be done from an empty temporary directory so you can afterwards clean up all of the downloaded and unpacked files.

Note: Some of these download URLs always get the latest version and some tools have different URLs every time a new version is released. Click through on the tool link to find the latest [Download] URL.

EC2 API command line tools:

wget --quiet
unzip -qq
sudo rsync -a --no-o --no-g ec2-api-tools-*/ /usr/local/aws/ec2/

EC2 AMI command line tools:

wget --quiet
unzip -qq
sudo rsync -a --no-o --no-g ec2-ami-tools-*/ /usr/local/aws/ec2/

IAM (Identity and Access Management) commmand line tools:

wget --quiet
unzip -qq
sudo rsync -a --no-o --no-g IAMCli-*/ /usr/local/aws/iam/

RDS (Relational Database Service) command line tools:

wget --quiet
unzip -qq
sudo rsync -a --no-o --no-g RDSCli-*/ /usr/local/aws/rds/

ELB (Elastic Load Balancer) command line tools:

wget --quiet
unzip -qq
sudo rsync -a --no-o --no-g ElasticLoadBalancing-*/ /usr/local/aws/elb/

AWS CloudFormation command line tools:

wget --quiet
unzip -qq
sudo rsync -a --no-o --no-g AWSCloudFormation-*/ /usr/local/aws/cfn/

Auto Scaling command line tools:

wget --quiet
unzip -qq AutoScaling-*.zip
sudo rsync -a --no-o --no-g AutoScaling-*/ /usr/local/aws/as/

AWS Import/Export command line tools:

wget --quiet
sudo mkdir /usr/local/aws/importexport
sudo unzip -qq -d /usr/local/aws/importexport

CloudSearch command line tools:

wget --quiet
tar xzf cloud-search-tools*.tar.gz
sudo rsync -a --no-o --no-g cloud-search-tools-*/ /usr/local/aws/cloudsearch/

CloudWatch command line tools:

wget --quiet
unzip -qq CloudWatch-*.zip
sudo rsync -a --no-o --no-g CloudWatch-*/ /usr/local/aws/cloudwatch/

ElastiCache command line tools:

wget --quiet
unzip -qq AmazonElastiCacheCli-*.zip
sudo rsync -a --no-o --no-g AmazonElastiCacheCli-*/ /usr/local/aws/elasticache/

Elastic Beanstalk command line tools:

wget --quiet
unzip -qq AWS-ElasticBeanstalk-CLI-*.zip
sudo rsync -a --no-o --no-g AWS-ElasticBeanstalk-CLI-*/ /usr/local/aws/elasticbeanstalk/

Elastic MapReduce command line tools:

wget --quiet
unzip -qq -d elastic-mapreduce-ruby
sudo rsync -a --no-o --no-g elastic-mapreduce-ruby/ /usr/local/aws/elasticmapreduce/

Simple Notification Serivice (SNS) command line tools:

wget --quiet
unzip -qq SimpleNotificationServiceCli-*.zip
sudo rsync -a --no-o --no-g SimpleNotificationServiceCli-*/ /usr/local/aws/sns/
sudo chmod 755 /usr/local/aws/sns/bin/*

Route 53 (DNS) command line tools:

sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/aws/route53/bin
for i in; do
  sudo wget --quiet --directory-prefix=/usr/local/aws/route53/bin$i
  sudo chmod +x /usr/local/aws/route53/bin/$i
cpanm --sudo --notest --quiet Net::DNS::ZoneFile NetAddr::IP   Net::DNS Net::IP Digest::HMAC Digest::SHA1 Digest::MD5

CloudFront command line tool:

sudo wget --quiet --directory-prefix=/usr/local/aws/cloudfront/bin
sudo chmod +x /usr/local/aws/cloudfront/bin/

S3 command line tools:

wget --quiet
unzip -qq
sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/aws/s3/bin/
sudo rsync -a --no-o --no-g s3-curl/ /usr/local/aws/s3/bin/
sudo chmod 755 /usr/local/aws/s3/bin/

AWS Data Pipeline command line tools:

wget --quiet
unzip -qq
sudo rsync -a --no-o --no-g datapipeline-cli/ /usr/local/aws/datapipeline/

Now that we have all of the software installed under /usr/local/aws we need to set up the AWS credentials and point the tools to where they can find everything.

Set up AWS Credentials and Envronment

Create a place to store the secret AWS credentials:

mkdir -m 0700 $HOME/.aws-default/

Copy your AWS X.509 certificate and private key to this subdirectory. These files will have names that look something like this:


Create the file $HOME/.aws-default/aws-credential-file.txt with your AWS access key id and secret access key in the following format:

AWSAccessKeyId=<insert your AWS access id here>
AWSSecretKey=<insert your AWS secret access key here>

Create the file $HOME/.aws-default/aws-credentials.json in the following format:

"access-id": "<insert your AWS access id here>",
"private-key": "<insert your AWS secret access key here>",
"key-pair": "<insert the name of your Amazon ec2 key-pair here>",
"key-pair-file": "<insert the path to the .pem file for your Amazon ec2 key pair here>",
"region": "<The region where you wish to launch your job flows. Should be one of us-east-1, us-west-1, us-west-2, eu-west-1, ap-southeast-1, or ap-northeast-1, sa-east-1>", 
  "use-ssl": "true",
  "log-uri": "s3://yourbucket/datapipelinelogs"

Create the file $HOME/.aws-secrets in the following format:

%awsSecretAccessKeys = (
  'default' => {
    id => '<insert your AWS access id here>',
    key => '<insert your AWS secret access key here>',

Create a symbolic link for s3curl to find its hardcoded config file and secure the file permissions

ln -s $HOME/.aws-secrets $HOME/.s3curl
chmod 600 $HOME/.aws-default/* $HOME/.aws-secrets

Add the following lines to your $HOME/.bashrc file so that the AWS command line tools know where to find themselves and the credentials. We put the new directories in the front of the $PATH so that we run these instead of any similar tools installed by Ubuntu packages.

export JAVA_HOME=/usr
export EC2_HOME=/usr/local/aws/ec2
export AWS_IAM_HOME=/usr/local/aws/iam
export AWS_RDS_HOME=/usr/local/aws/rds
export AWS_ELB_HOME=/usr/local/aws/elb
export AWS_CLOUDFORMATION_HOME=/usr/local/aws/cfn
export AWS_AUTO_SCALING_HOME=/usr/local/aws/as
export CS_HOME=/usr/local/aws/cloudsearch
export AWS_CLOUDWATCH_HOME=/usr/local/aws/cloudwatch
export AWS_ELASTICACHE_HOME=/usr/local/aws/elasticache
export AWS_SNS_HOME=/usr/local/aws/sns
export AWS_ROUTE53_HOME=/usr/local/aws/route53
export AWS_CLOUDFRONT_HOME=/usr/local/aws/cloudfront


export EC2_PRIVATE_KEY=$(echo $HOME/.aws-default/pk-*.pem)
export EC2_CERT=$(echo $HOME/.aws-default/cert-*.pem)
export AWS_CREDENTIAL_FILE=$HOME/.aws-default/aws-credential-file.txt
export ELASTIC_MAPREDUCE_CREDENTIALS=$HOME/.aws-default/aws-credentials.json
export DATA_PIPELINE_CREDENTIALS=$HOME/.aws-default/aws-credentials.json

Set everything up in your current shell:

source $HOME/.bashrc


Make sure that the command line tools are installed and have credentials set up correctly. These commands should not return errors:

eb --version
elastic-mapreduce --list --all
sns-list-topics --keyname default | xmllint --format - --keyname default | xmllint --format - --id default | xmllint --format -
datapipeline  --list-pipelines

Are you aware of any other command line tools provided by Amazon? Let other readers know in the comments on this article.

[Update 2012-09-06: New URL for ElastiCache tools. Thanks iknewitalready]

[Upate 2012-12-21: Added AWS Data Pipeline command line tools. May break Elastic MapReduce due to Ruby version conflict.]


Does amazon by any chance provide a page with urls for latest tools? I was thinking to write a small bash script with wget, grep, awk and sed to upgrade all aws tools in one go.


I'm not aware of any single place where Amazon lists the tools they provide. In the above article I link to the individual pages where you can download the tools. Let us know if you publish something to do the installing/upgrading automatically. A number of my articles have been taken and turned into tools by different folks.

Sure. That was just the first thought that came into my head. I don't use all the tools mentioned here but it would be nice to have/write a utility to update all/individual tools to its/their latest version(s).

Btw, Elastic Cache download url is invalid:

wget --2012-09-06 19:25:21--
Resolving (
Connecting to (||:443... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 403 Forbidden
2012-09-06 19:25:23 ERROR 403: Forbidden.

Correct url would be:

The last part is 001 now.


Thanks, URL updated.

Is a public AMI available with all these tools pre-installed?
That would save a lot of time everytime I initiate an instance and install all the utilities.


I believe the Amazon Linux AMIs come with some command line tools pre-installed, but I doubt they are always the latest given how frequently Amazon keeps releasing new features.

I don't worry about what is installed on an AMI. Rather I just pick the official AMI of the distro I prefer and run automated scripts to install the software I need. Usually this is pretty easy to do with the distro packaging system, but it takes a little more research with AWS command line tools--which is why I wrote this post.

Very useful. Thanks for consolidating this. I wish Amazon had a page like this!

Erik, thanks as always for your really clear and helpful material. They've increased my AWS productivity and grasp many times over.

I wondered two things -- not anything urgent but would help to know the answers:

  1. What sort of speed-of-development-cycle have you noticed for new versions of all the various API CLI tools? I've been using the same set on my primary machine for over a year now, and grab new copies whenever I need them on other machines, but don't know how closely they keep up with the actual expansions of the APIs.
  2. Is there any reason why some toolsets (such as the EC2 or RDS, the most frequently used) aren't available in Git somewhere? That would make updating simpler, but perhaps there's a reason why we're not already on that path?

If no one else out there writes a tool to do just what you describe above for installation/updates. They're such valuable tools but shouldn't be a pain to grab+install.

Thanks again,


I know that Amazon has tended to release updates to, say, the EC2 command line tools when new EC2 features are released. I haven't paid much attention to any releases in between.

Not all of the AWS command line tools are open source.

Ubuntu packages some of the command line tools, but new releases of the tools don't always make it to older Ubuntu repositories:

Mitch Garnaat (at Amazon) is building an open source, fast, flexible, continually up-to-date, service complete set of AWS tools that is on GitHub:

It's worth paying attention to and following aws-cli project as that's going to be the official and best way to use AWS with the command line, making the example commands in my blog somewhat obsolete :-)

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