Easing the use of the AWS CLI
In our company we work a lot with AWS and since we automate everything we use the AWS CLI. To make the usage of the CLI as easy and frictionless as possible we use Docker. Here is the
Dockerfile to create a container having the AWS CLI installed
Note that we need to provide the three environment variables
AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY set in the container such as that the CLI can automatically authenticate with AWS.
Update: a few people rightfully pointed out that one should never ever
disclose secrets in the public, ever! And I agree 100% with this. In
this regard my post was a bit misleading and my “Note:” further down
not explicit enough. My fault, I agree. Thus let me say it loudly
here: “Do not push any image that contains secrets to a public
registry like Docker Hub!” Leave the Dockerfile from above as is
without modifications and pass the real values of the secrets when
running a container, as command line parameters as shown further down
Let’s build and push this container to Docker Hub
docker build -t gnschenker/awscli
to push to Docker Hub I of course need to be logged in. I can use
docker login to do so. Now pushing is straight forward
docker push gnschenker/awscli:latest
Note: I do not recommend to hard-code the values of the secret keys into the
Dockerfile but pass them as parameters when running the container. Do this
docker run -it --rm -e AWS_DEFAULT_REGION='[your region] -e AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID='[your access ID] -e AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY='[your access key] gnschenker/awscli:latest
Running the above command you find yourself running in a bash shell inside your container and can use the AWS CLI. Try to type something like this
aws ecs list-clusters
to get a list of all ECS clusters in your account.
To simplify my life I define an alias in my
bash profile (file
~/.bash_profile) for the above command. Let’s call it
Once I have done that and sourced the profile I can now use the CLI e.g. like this
awscli s3 ls
and I get the list of all S3 buckets defined in my account.
Thanks to the fact that Docker containers are ephemeral by design they are really fast to startup (once you have the Docker image in you local cache) and thus using a container is similar in experience than natively installing the AWS CLI on you machine and using it.