Setup Amazon EC2 API tools on Macbook

Amazon web servicesThis article is meant to be a quick guide that introduces how to get started with Amazon EC2 commandl-ine tools on a MacBook Pro. Most of this information can be found in EC2 API docs, and this is not meant to be a replacement of the documentation, just trying to show the things needed in a clear and smart way.

I assume that you have created an Amazon AWS account already. Once you have your account created, don’t forget to go and create a new X.509 certificate. (It’s under the AWS Access Identifiers page, in the X.509 certificate section near the bottom, click Create New). Once this is done, you need to download the private key file and X.509 certificate.

Dependency resolution

The only real dependency of the EC2 API tools is Java (at least version 1.5). You can use either Sun JDK or OpenJDK. I chose OpenJDK as it can be installed easily via MacPorts:

joseph-MacBook-Pro:~ joseph$ port list | grep openjdk
Warning: port definitions are more than two weeks old, consider using selfupdate
openjdk6                       @b20            java/openjdk6
openjdk6_bootstrap             @b16-r1         java/openjdk6_bootstrap

If you are running Debian (or related distribution), you can easily do this just by running sudo aptitude install sun-java6-jre. For other distributions you can either use their internal packaging mechanism (in case they provide sun-java packages) or just download the binary from sun and install it manually.

EC2 API Tools installation
Next you have to download and install the Amazon EC2 api tools on your Macbook. When it’s installed, the Macbook can be used to start/stop your EC2 servers, and control related resources like disk volume, snapshots, firewalls, machine images, etc.

Extract the EC2 APi tools (it is a zip archive called, move it under a folder of your preference, and build a soft link to ec2-api-tools.
I like to use /usr/local/ec2-api-tools, and you can use any folder you prefer.

$ sudo mv ec2-api-tools- /usr/local
$ cd /usr/local; sudo ln -sf ec2-api-tools- ec2-api-tools
$ ls -l /usr/local
total 8
drwxr-xr-x  20 root    wheel  680 Jun 28 15:28 bin
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root    wheel   22 Jul  9 14:21 ec2-api-tools -> ec2-api-tools-
drwxr-xr-x@  7 joseph  staff  238 May 25 06:20 ec2-api-tools-

Also move the private key and X.509 certificate into a proper directory like ~/.ssh/ec2. Those two files look like cert-xxxxx.pem and pk-xxxxx.pem, and change the permission and ownership as your other key files:

$ chown -R `whoami` .ssh/ec2
$ chmod 700 .ssh/ec2
$ chmod 600 .ssh/ec2/*.pem

EC2 Variables Definition

Next we have to export some shell variables. A suggested place to put these lines in is in ~/.profile:

export JAVA_HOME=/Library/Java/Home
export EC2_HOME=/usr/local/ec2-api-tools
export EC2_PRIVATE_KEY=~/.ssh/ec2/pk-Y3SXMG7CUDS3TSNWP.pem
export EC2_CERT=~/.ssh/ec2/cert-Y3SXMG7CUDS3TSNWP.pem
export PATH=$PATH:$EC2_HOME/bin

Finally source the file to have the changes actived in your current shell session:

$ source ~/.bashrc

Don’t forget to run your first ec2 command to confirm that it’s working well:

$ ec2-describe-group
GROUP     sg-6ae67903     096067314635     default     default group
PERMISSION     096067314635     default     ALLOWS     tcp     0     65535     FROM     USER     096067314635     NAME default     ID sg-6ae67903     ingress
PERMISSION     096067314635     default     ALLOWS     udp     0     65535     FROM     USER     096067314635     NAME default     ID sg-6ae67903     ingress
PERMISSION     096067314635     default     ALLOWS     icmp    -1     -1     FROM     USER     096067314635     NAME default     ID sg-6ae67903     ingress

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