Explore Alibaba Cloud Part 2: AliCloud CLI Installation and Examples

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Cloud CLI (Command Line Interface) Tools are them direct and simple way to interact with a new Cloud platform, It is the perfect tool for executing simple and repeatable tasks which you don’t need to keep track of. Alibaba Cloud CLI tool which also manages Cloud resources (or stacks) is no exception. In this blog post, we will install AliCloud CLI and try a few API requests. I do that every time I explore a cloud platform (see previous posts AWSOCIAzureGCP).

As usual, this post will be followed by another article about provisioning a VM in Ali Cloud through Terraforming.

 

The Requirements

Whether on windows or on Linux the basic installation of Aliyun CLI will always require 2 elements:

 

I. Alibaba Cloud CLI Installation

Aliyun (translated as “Ali Cloud”) was the original name of the company until 2017. Therefore you will install Aliyun CLI not Alibaba Cloud CLI ;).

  • Windows
  1. Download & execute the following AzliyunCli installer(current version: v3.0.123) from
    Alibaba Cloud website (latest zipped version)
    GitHub(aliyun/aliyun-cli) (different version available)

  2. Unzip the downloaded file to get the executable file named aliyun.exe
  3. Add the exe file location directory path to your User %PATH% environment variable via GUI or cmd terminal
-- Option 1: from the GUI
C:\> SystemPropertiesAdvanced
Note: Once the window is displayed –> click environment variables
--- Option 2: using pathed


C:\> PathEd.exe add "C:\DATA\cloud\alibabaC:\> aliyun version
 3.0.124

Note: I used the handy pathed tool to append the %PATH% environment variable permanently

  • Linux
    Download the installation package for Linux using curl, decompress it and copy the content to the user bin directory.
brokedba~$ curl -sL https://github.com/aliyun/aliyun-cli/releases/download/v3.0.123/aliyun-cli-linux-3.0.123-amd64.tgz | sudo tar xzC /usr/local/bin

brokedba~$ aliyun version
3.0.123

 

II. Authenticate to Alibaba Cloud from Aliyun CLI

Once your Alibaba Cloud Free Tier account is created and aliyun CLI installed. You will need API credentials including region, and language. There is a list of credentials type available to use in order to authenticate.

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The 2 categories are:  1. Key/StsToken based        2. Role/Instance principal based

Obtain your Access key
We will choose AccessKey authentication for our example. 

  1. Hover onto the profile picture in the upper-right corner, and click AccessKey management.  

    alibaba cloud3

  2. On the Access Key pair section click create AccessKey to generate AccessKey ID /AccessKey and copy them.

    alibaba cloud4

  3. Now that we obtained our key pair we can finally configure our aliyun CLI profile (find all region IDs here)

1. Interactive Configuration
brokedba~$ aliyun configure --mode AK -–profile default
Configuring profile 'default' in '' authenticate mode...
Access Key Id []: AccessKey ID 
Access Key Secret []: AccessKey Secret 
Default Region Id []: us-east-1 
Default Output Format [json]: json (Only support json) 
Default Language [zh|en] en: Saving profile[default] ...Done.
Configure Done!!!
..............888888888888888888888 ........=8888888888888888888D=..............
...........88888888888888888888888 ..........D8888888888888888888888I...........
.........,8888888888888ZI: ...........................=Z88D8888888888D..........
.........+88888888 ..........................................88888888D..........
.........+88888888 .......Welcome to use Alibaba Cloud.......O8888888D..........
.........+88888888 ............. ************* ..............O8888888D..........
.........+88888888 .... Command Line Interface(Reloaded) ....O8888888D..........
.........+88888888...........................................88888888D..........
..........D888888888888DO+. ..........................?ND888888888888D..........
...........O8888888888888888888888...........D8888888888888888888888=...........
............ .:D8888888888888888888.........78888888888888888888O ..............

2. static configuration  
brokedba~$ aliyun configure set \ --profile akProfile \ --mode AK \ --region cn-hangzhou \ --access-key-id AccessKeyID \ --access-key-secret AccessKeySecret
  • We can run aliyun configure command to verify our new configuration   
$  aliyun configure list 
Profile   | Credential      | Valid   | Region    | Language 
--------- | --------------- | ------- | --------- | -------- 
default * | AK:****6        | Valid   | us-east-1 | en 

 aliyun cli configuration is typically stored in the below directory

$ more $HOME/.aliyun/config.json
 {
  "current": "default",
  "profiles": [
  { 
     "name": "default",   
     "mode": "AK",
     "access_key_id": xxxxxxxx
     "access_key_secret":
…

 

III.Test your first API request

Few notions worth reminding before hitting the terminal with aliyun requests :    

A. Command structure: is based on the below components

$ aliyun <product> <operation> [--parameter1 value1 --parameter2 value2 ...]

Parameters: 
Each is followed by values. It will always depend on the product & operation value in the command.

  • Result-related parameters :
       
    1-  unfortunately aliyun doesn’t support table output format unlike any other CSP (JSON only.Bummer!)
       2- “–output”: Allows picking the list of fields to return in the response. It can be used to do some filtering.

B.  Output :

The —output option allows specifying either a field, rows (using JMESpath), or num(row number).
The best way to learn is to fetch all the output and then locate the rows(path) and columns to display.

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To demonstrate the principle here’s an example based on the ECS regions list command

--- Original command 
$ aliyun ecs DescribeRegions | head
{
"Regions": {
        "Region": [       ----> path/rows is Regions.Region[]
         { "LocalName": "华北1(青岛)",
  "RegionEndpoint": "ecs.cn-qingdao.aliyuncs.com",
           "RegionId": "cn-qingdao"
          },
...
 
--- Fileterd output based on RegionId and RegionEndPoint

$ aliyun ecs DescribeRegions --output cols=RegionId,RegionEndpoint rows=Regions.Region[]

RegionId       | RegionEndpoint
--------       | --------------
us-east-1      | ecs.us-east-1.aliyuncs.com
us-west-1      | ecs.us-west-1.aliyuncs.com
eu-west-1      | ecs.eu-west-1.aliyuncs.com
me-east-1      | ecs.me-east-1.aliyuncs.com
eu-central-1   | ecs.eu-central-1.aliyuncs.com
...

Examples 

You will have to rely on the help command first because there is no Alyun CLI command reference available. This is the first time I see a CSP that doesn’t have a dedicated reference for its CLI tool.
Needless to say, you’re on your own as all I found was this pdf.

•You can get help by using the following commands:

    ○ aliyun helpget the product list
    ○ aliyun help <product>get the API information of a specific product

$ aliyun Ecs StopInstance help
Alibaba Cloud Command Line Interface Version 3.0.123
Product: Ecs (Elastic Compute Service)
Parameters:  
--InstanceId  String  Required  
--ConfirmStop Boolean Optional  
--DryRun      Boolean Optional  
--ForceStop   Boolean Optional  
--Hibernate   Boolean Optional  
--StoppedMode String  Optional
...

  • List of publicly available images in the current default region (us-east-1)
$ aliyun ecs DescribeImages --output cols=OSNameEn,Architecture,OSType,IsPublic rows=Images.Image[] 
OSNameEn                                            | Architecture | OSType | IsPublic --------                                            | ------------ | ------ | --------
CentOS  7.9 64 bit for SCC                          | x86_64       | linux  | true
CentOS  8.4 64 bit for SCC                          | x86_64       | linux  | true
AlmaLinux  9.0 64 bit                               | x86_64       | linux  | true
Ubuntu  22.04 64 bit                                | x86_64       | linux  | true
CentOS Stream  9 64 bit                             | x86_64       | linux  | true
Fedora  35 64 bit                                   | x86_64       | linux  | true
Alibaba Cloud Linux  3.2104 LTS 64 bit UEFI Edition | x86_64       | linux  | true Alibaba Cloud Linux  3.2104 LTS 64 bit ARM Edition  | arm64        | linux  | true Alibaba Cloud Linux  3.2104 LTS 64 bit              | x86_64       | linux  | true

 

Object Storage Tool:

  • Download and install ossutil

$ wget http://gosspublic.alicdn.com/ossutil/1.7.7/ossutil64 
$ chmod 755 ossutil64
./ossutil64 config
  • Create a private bucket with Zonal redundancy in us-east-1 region

$ ./ossutil64 mb oss://brokedbabucket -e oss-us-east-1.aliyuncs.com --acl private --
storage-class IA --redundancy-type ZRS

 

Auto-Completion 

This command is supposed to command to enable auto completion in zsh/bash. But it doesn’t autocomplete operation commands as available in AWS CLI for example. 

$ aliyun auto-completion 

 

The Conclusion:

In this tutorial, we learned how to install and configure Aliyun CLI. We also described the command syntax and tried a few requests using output options.

  • The filtering seems to be very limited as there are no JMESPATH examples anywhere associated with the rows option
  • I wish there was a command line reference that could provide more help to end users
  • FREE tier: You will still have to confirm you can use your Free tier credits before deploying any resource. 
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