7 May 2017

AWS S3 uploading and downloading from Linux command line

Source code

I recently wrote a bash script that automates a database backups to zipped files on a Raspberry Pi. I would then periodically SSH in and transfer the backup files.

This was a simple temporarily and manual solution, but I wanted a way to automate sending these files to a remote backup. I use AWS quite often, so my immediate plan was to transfer the files to S3 (Amazon’s simply storage platform). I found that Amazon has a very nifty command-line tool for AWS including S3.

Here are my notes…


The platform I’m demonstrating with is Raspbian Jessie. This should be much the same for other Debian-based Linux distros, like Ubuntu.

Install Python PIP

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install python-pip

Install AWS CLI

This will take a little while to complete.
Documentation: http://docs.aws.amazon.com/cli/latest/userguide/installing.html

$ pip install --upgrade --user awscli

Add aws command to the PATH variable

This is for convenience and means we can access the aws command anywhere in the terminal.
Documentation: http://docs.aws.amazon.com/cli/latest/userguide/awscli-install-linux.html#awscli-install-linux-path

$ export PATH=~/.local/bin:$PATH
$ source ~/.profile
$ which aws

$ chmod +x ~/.local/bin

Check installation

$ aws --version
aws-cli/1.11.82 Python/2.7.3 Linux/3.18.7+ botocore/1.5.45



You will need to create a user on your AWS account and carefully configure it’s permissions and policies. I won’t cover this in detail, but the basics steps are:

  1. Log in the the AWS console web site.
  2. Go to the IAM Management Console > Users > Add user
  3. Type in a user name and select Programmatic access to get an access key ID and secret access key, instead of a password.
  4. Set up the user’s permissions.
  5. Apply the user credentials to AWS CLI on the Linux machine.

In my situation, I’m using this for remote backups, so I restricted the user to a single S3 Bucket (‘my-bucket’ in this example), and only list and upload permissions, but not delete.

Here’s my custom policy JSON:

    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
            "Resource": "arn:aws:s3:::my-bucket",
            "Condition": {}
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
            "Resource": "arn:aws:s3:::my-bucket/*",
            "Condition": {}
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": "s3:ListAllMyBuckets",
            "Resource": "*",
            "Condition": {}

Make sure to keep the provided ID and key safe and secure. We’ll use this next. Note: The credentials displayed in my examples are fake! 😉

Back on the Linux machine, we’ll configure aws with our new user credentials:

$ aws configure
AWS Secret Access Key [None]: Zb5pCL0isKwbPvU6Zb5pLC0isKwbPvU6bZ5pLC0
Default region name [None]:
Default output format [None]:

That’s it! You should be ready to go 🙂

Example S3 operations

Here are a few basic examples on how to access S3 using command line.

List the contents of an S3 bucket

$ aws s3 ls s3://my-bucket
2017-05-04 13:30:36      51969 picture.jpg

List the contents of an S3 bucket directory

$ aws s3 ls s3://my-bucket/some/directory/
2017-05-03 13:39:42   13080027 20170502-1229_backup.zip
2017-05-04 13:48:13   13090301 20170503-1241_backup.zip
2017-05-04 14:56:19        675 profile.txt

Upload a file to S3

$ aws s3 cp local-file.zip s3://my-bucket/folder/remote-file.zip
upload: ./local-file.zip to s3://my-bucket/folder/remote-file.zip

Delete a file from S3

Note: I received an access denied message because my user should not be allowed to delete files.

$ aws s3 rm s3://my-bucket/some/directory/profile.txt
delete failed: s3://my-bucket/some/directory/profile.txt An error occurred (AccessDenied) when calling the DeleteObject operation: Access Denied

About the Author:

Hardware and software engineer with experience in product development and building automation. Director at Cabot Technologies and Product Manager at NEX Data Management Systems.

Leave a Reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.