How to install and configure AWS CLI on Linux with Autocompletion

AWS provides several tools to help you manage and automate your AWS environment. Some of the key ones are

  1. AWS CLI - The command line interface for AWS
  2. AWS SAM CLI - The command line interface for AWS Serverless Application Model
  3. AWS CDK - The AWS Cloud Development Kit
  4. AWS Chalice - The AWS Serverless Development Framework

What is AWS CLI?

AWS CLI (Command Line Interface) is an open source tool hosted on GitHub that allows you to interact with AWS services from the command line shell on Linux, Mac OS, or Windows.

You can use AWS CLI on either bash, zsh, or tcsh shells on Linux/MacOS and PowerShell on Windows. Additionally, AWS CLI is installed by default on all AWS Linux EC2 instances.

AWS CLI can manage all IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) services that are available in AWS Management Console.

Installing AWS CLI on Ubuntu Linux

Step 1) First, update your Ubuntu Linux system and install unzip and curl packages.

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y && sudo apt install unzip curl -y

Step 2) Then download & unzip AWS CLI.

curl "" -o "" \
   && unzip

Step 3) Finally, install AWS CLI.

sudo ./aws/install

Verify that you can use the AWS CLI by running the following command:

aws --version

Configuring AWS CLI for use

AWS CLI relies on "Programmatic Access" credentials to access AWS services.

Ideally, you should create an IAM User Account with only programmatic access to use with AWS CLI as shown below.

Create a new IAM User Account with Admin Access

  1. Login to AWS Management Console and navigate to IAM
  2. On the left navigation pane, click on Users
  3. CLick on Add users
  4. Choose a username & select only Programmatic access under Select AWS access type, then click Next: Permissions

Add AWS User

  1. Then click on Attach existing policies and select AdministratorAccess from the list of available policies. Then click Next: Tags
  2. You can leave the Tags empty and click Next: Review
  3. Click Create user to create your new IAM User Account

Keep this window open for now, and notice the Access key ID & Secret access key. This will be needed in next step.

WARNING: Never store this credentials anywhere or share them with anyone. An attacker can user your credentials to create AWS resources in your account. If you need to reconfigure, you can generate a new credentials from IAM screen.

Add AWS User

Configure AWS CLI to use the new IAM User Account

Open a terminal and run the following command:

aws configure

This will start an interactive session, copy paste your access keys and secret access keys that was generated in previous step when prompted

aws configure
AWS Access Key ID [None]: <your access key id>
AWS Secret Access Key [None]: <your secret access key>
Default region name [None]: us-east-1
Default output format [None]: json

Configuring AWS CLI for Autocompletion

AWS CLI relies on a module named aws_completer for autocompletion. This module should be installed while installing AWS CLI however, for it to work correctly it requires

  1. aws_completer to be on the PATH
  2. Enable command completion in the shell

Add aws_completer to the PATH

Step 1: First, check if the aws_completer is already on path by running the following command:

which aws_completer

This should result in the following output: Which AWS Completer

If you don't see any output, it means that the aws_completer is not on the PATH.

Step 2: Find aws_completer executable file by running the following command:

find / -name aws_completer

This will search for the aws_completer executable file in your filesystem. E.g. if you scroll through the results, you should see something similar to the following output:

Find AWS Completer

Step 3: Identify your shell and add the aws_completer to the PATH.

Run echo $SHELL to see what shell you are using.

Echo Shell

If you are using some other shell, you will get a different output.

Step 4: Find the shell configuration file for your shell.

Depending on the shell you're using, your shell's profile file will be one of the following:

  • Bash: .bash_profile, .bash_login, or .profile
  • Zsh: .zshrc
  • Tcsh: .tcshrc, .cshrc, or .login

Find your shell's profile file by running the following command and look for profile file as per above

ls -a ~/.bash_profile ~/.bash_login ~/.profile ~/.zshrc ~/.tcshrc ~/.cshrc ~/.login

You will get a bunch of "No such file or directory" errors except for the shell profile file.

E.g. in my case, I am using bash and my profile file is .profile thus running the above command will result in the following output:

Find Shell Profile

Step 5: Add the aws_completer to the PATH

Now open the shell profile using any text editor, e.g. vi or nano and add the following line to the end of the file and replace <path to aws_completer directory> with the path to the aws_completer executable file discovered in step 2:

export PATH=<path to aws_completer directory>:$PATH

Step 6: Restart your shell

Depending upon the shell, restart your shell by running the following command by replacing <your profile file> with the name of your shell profile file as per step 4:

source ~/<your profile file>

E.g. in my case, this would be source ~/.profile

Enable command completion in the shell

After you have added the aws_completer to the PATH, you need to perform a few steps to enable command completion depending on your shell.

  • bash: Open the .bashrc file in your home directory and add the following line to the end of the file:
complete -C '<path to aws_completer directory>/aws_completer' aws

E.g. in my case, the above would be

complete -C '/usr/local/bin/aws_completer' aws
  • zsh: Open the .zshrc file in your home directory and add the following line to the end of the file:
autoload bashcompinit && bashcompinit
autoload -Uz compinit && compinit
complete -C '<path to aws_completer directory>/aws_completer' aws
  • tcsh: Open the .tcshrc file in your home directory and add the following line to the end of the file:
complete aws 'p/*/`aws_completer`/'

Verify that the command completion is working

Reload your shell again as per step 6.

source ~/<your profile file>

Then type aws s3 and press TAB to see the list of available commands.

You AWS CLI is configure and autocomplete is working.

Need Help? Open a discussion thread on GitHub.

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