A collection of utilities for python

pip install stdplus==0.0.47


Nephele: a shell for aws.


I wasn't happy with the AWS web console, because the UI felt disjointed and was slow to navigate. So I slapped this together: a very simple interactive cli shell in python.

I'm actively using it for work, so it supports the things that I'm doing, rather than being an exhaustive system. I invite pull requests for missing features, bugfixes, etc.


This tool is incredibly immature. It WILL be changing considerably as long as I'm using it, because I will be viewing the things it does (or doesn't do), and the manner in which it does (or doesn't do) them as impediments to my workflow.

It is not even "alpha" level code yet, so expect things to be broken or buggy. Also expect syntax to be in a fairly constant state of flux.


pip install nephele


$ nephele
(aws)/: help


Nephele reads ~/.nephele.yaml during startup. Its format looks like this:

profile: {profile-name}

    awsProfile: {aws profile name}
    ssh-jump-host: {jump host name or ip}
    ssh-jump-user: {jump host username}
    awsProfile: {aws profile name}
    ssh-jump-host: {jump host name or ip}
    ssh-jump-user: {jump host username}

  {macro-name}: {remote command}

SSH support

If you've set up your ~/.nephele.yaml with a correct profiles.{profile}.ssh-jump-host entry, then this is probably the best part of nephele.

nephele can ssh to an instance without you having to figure out its ip, modify /etc/host, or know anything other than its aws instance id:

If you've navigated to an autoscaling group, you don't even need to know the instance id. You can ssh by the instance's index in the autoscaling group's list of instances:

(aws)/stack:{stack}/stack:{substack}/: asg 0
loading auto scaling group 0
loading stack resource arn:{arn}
AutoScaling Group:{name}
=== Instances ===
 0 Healthy az-2a {instance-id}
 1 Healthy az-2b {instance-id}
 2 Healthy az-2c {instance-id}
(aws)/stack:{stack}/stack:{substack}/asg:{asg}/: ssh 2
/usr/bin/ssh {first private ip}
Last login: {sometime} from {somewhere}

     __|  __|_  )
     _|  (     /   Amazon Linux AMI


It also supports port forwarding!

(aws)/stack:{stack}/stack:{substack}/asg:{asg}/: ssh 2 -L 8888:localhost:8888
/usr/bin/ssh {first private ip}
Last login: {sometime} from {somewhere}

     __|  __|_  )
     _|  (     /   Amazon Linux AMI

$ exit
(aws)/stack:{stack}/stack:{substack}/asg:{asg}/: ssh 2 -L 8888 # <-- useful shorthand!

So how do you set up your ~/.nephele.yaml for this? It helps if your AWS admins have set things up so that using ssh from a command line is fairly straightforward. If you need a -J option to ssh to connect to a host, specify the jump host user and password using profiles.{profile}.ssh-jump-host and profiles.{profile}.ssh-jump-user, respectively.

Command Reference

We use the excellent argparse module to specify how commands are used. This reference contains descriptions only; for details on syntax, use any command's -h option.

Globally Available Commands


Deal with configuration. Available subcommands:

  • config print - print the current configuration
  • config reload - reload the current configuration from disk
  • config set - change a setting in the configuration
  • config save - save the configuration to disk


Enter a 6-digit MFA token. Nephele will execute the appropriate aws command line to authenticate that token.


Select nephele profile


Exit nephele


SSH to an instance.

Note: This command is extended in more specific contexts, for example inside Autoscaling Groups.


Navigate back to the root level.

For example, if you are in (aws)/stack:.../asg:.../, executing slash will place you in (aws)/.


Navigate up by one level.

For example, if you are in (aws)/stack:.../asg:.../, executing up will place you in (aws)/stack:.../.

New Features

_Most Recent Last._

Doesn't include bug fixes, or any features I forgot to list. Maybe that last bit was obvious :-D

Yes, you could figure this all out by looking at commit logs. Why would I make you go through that?

  • You can now input an MFA token by running mfa {token}. It's rudimentary support at this point, and likely broken if you've never used [aws-mfa](https://github.com/lonelyplanet/aws-mfa) before.
  • You can now ssh with shorthanded port forwarding. Basically, if you want to forward a port on the remote server via the same local port, you no longer have to use the -L {port}:localhost:{port} syntax. Instead, just say -L {port}. You can still use the server as a tunnel to yet another server, or choose different local/remote port numbers with the old syntax though.
  • When launching, nephele automatically runs "stacks" for you.
  • --profile (short: -p) selects a specific AWS profile. This is helpful when other processes require that your default profile be one other than the one you would like nephele to use.
  • nephele now knows how to get your aws device info. I also tried to make it file-compatible with aws-mfa, so you should in theory not need the separate aws-mfa tool any longer - just use nephele to manage your .aws/{mfa-related-files}, and you should be good to go. Of course, my wife always says she wants to move to Theory, because everything works... in Theory.
  • --mfa (short: -m) provide your mfa command at launch. If you know your cached mfa credentials are expired, this saves the step of waiting for nephele to get access denied.
  • there is now a profile command to change profiles after you've started nephele.
  • stacks now adds -e and -i parameters so you can exclude or include new stack states in the filter.
  • ~/.nephele.yaml is the new config file. It has one setting for now, profile. Example:
profile: {aws profile name}
  • ssh commands now have a -R/--replace-key option. It is quite possible in AWS for IP addresses to get recycled, especially if you are creating/tearing-down cloudformation stacks while iterating on their templates. When this happens, you don't want to have to go hack on ~/.ssh/known_hosts in order to ssh in to the host. This option will run the appropriate command (ssh-keygen -R {host}) to remove the entry before running ssh.
  • auto-scaling groups now support the terminateInstance command.
  • AwsStack now prints stack events and outputs as if they were normal stack resources.
  • Added ability to glob when listing stacks. E.g., stacks *cass* will list all stacks with "cass" as a substring.
  • Renamed from aws-shell to nephele (after the mythological cloud nymph), and got the tool to be installable via pip.
  • You can now run a command across the instances in an auto scaling group. Navigate to the group and use the run command.
  • Cloudwatch logging support has commenced. It's very rudimentary so far - you can see log groups inside stacks, select them using the logGroup command, and see that there are streams present. The output is not beautified yet, and you can't actually see the content of those streams yet. Soon.
  • IAM role support has commenced, too. It's also very rudimentary so far. You can see roles inside cloudformation stacks, down to the policy document level using the role. The output is not beautified yet and it's purely read-only. I don't anticipate beautifying it, because pprint() is good enough for me, but I certainly welcome patches if it matters to you.
  • Cloudwatch logging support continues with the addition of the logStream command, which is available from inside a logGroup. Right now you can tail the logs, and they aren't beautified. As I get more comfortable with the log-scanning API, I plan to add some cross-stream log viewing at the logGroup level, probably in the form of a grep-like capability. No promises, of course, just logging where my head's at.
  • In an autoscaling group, the printInstances command has two new options: -t to print the list of tags, and -d to print all the node's details.
  • In a stack, the copy command now knows how to copy an asg's id to the clipboard.
  • ASG's now support the printActivities and printActivity commands to assist in debugging changes initiated by autoscaling.
  • ASG's now support showing scaling policies via the printPolicy command.
  • ASG run command supports -s option to skip _n_ hosts
  • Stacks now display their parameters. These are escaped and "elipsified" in order to fit. Will be adding a command to print a full parameter value at some point.
  • stdplus.elipsifyMiddle is now a thing.
  • ssh commands no longer depend on ~/.ssh/config working, instead supporting ~/.nephele.yaml
  • ssh now supports the fantastic -J option (you'll need a recent ssh client for this to work)
  • ssh has a very limited macro capability. While it does not yet have a way to do variable substitution, you can do something like this:
  cassandrapid: pgrep -f CassandraDaemon

(aws)/stack:.../asg:.../: ssh -m 0 cassandrapid
/usr/bin/ssh -q -J jump-host.us-west-2.generic.domain pgrep -f CassandraDaemon
  • You can now reload your config using the config reload command.
  • Started adding a command reference to this doc.