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How to Install and Use OpenStack's CLI


Your OpenMetal Private Cloud can not only be managed through a web browser, but also through the command line using OpenStack's CLI called OpenStackClient. Using the command line to manage your cloud introduces more flexibility in automation tasks and can generally make an administrator's life simpler. In this guide, we introduce you to the command line method of managing your cloud by explaining how to install and use OpenStackClient.

How to Install OpenStackClient


  • A Linux machine in which you can install OpenStackClient. This can be your own machine, the cloud's hardware nodes, or an instance running in the cloud.
  • Python 3.8 or greater
  • OpenStack RC file
  • clouds.yaml file

Install OpenStackClient

In this section, we demonstrate the initial preparation and installation of OpenStackClient on CentOS 9 Stream instance.

Initial Preparation

Before installing OpenStackClient, you must obtain two files from Horizon, which are required to prepare your shell environment. Those two files are clouds.yaml and the OpenStack RC file.

  • clouds.yaml: Used as a source of configuration for how to connect to a cloud
  • OpenStack RC file: Used as a source of authentication for your user and project

To collect these files, log in to Horizon as your user. Navigate to Project -> API Access to download the OpenStack clouds.yaml and the OpenStack RC files to your machine. When you navigate to Project -> API Access and collect these files, they are associated with the current user and project that user is in.


Figure 1: API Access

This example acquires the clouds.yaml and OpenStack RC file for the user nick and that user's primary project, Development.

Prepare and Install OpenStackClient

Next, use SSH to log in to the instance created previously. If you created your instance by following the guide, How to Create an Instance in OpenStack Horizon, then this instance can only be accessed from one of your control plane nodes.

Step 1: Prepare clouds.yaml and OpenStack RC files

The clouds.yaml file obtained previously must be prepared in this instance. For this demonstration, clouds.yaml is located as ~/.config/openstack/clouds.yaml in this instance. Copy the contents of clouds.yaml obtained from Horizon and store it as ~/.config/openstack/clouds.yaml.

For example:

# Create the following directory
$ mkdir -p ~/.config/openstack

# Copy clouds.yaml into this file
$ vi ~/.config/openstack/clouds.yaml

Note -- The clouds.yaml file can be placed in several locations. For more see the Configuration Files heading of OpenStack Victoria's documentation.

Next, copy the contents of your OpenStack RC file, in our case called ~/, into the instance. This file can be placed anywhere and in this example, the file is stored in the centos user's home directory.

For example:

vi ~/

Step 2: Create a Python virtual environment

This environment is created so as to not interfere with the system's Python version.

The python default module is venv which supports creating lightweight “virtual environments”, each with their own independent set of Python packages installed in their site directories.

Use python -m venv /path/to/new/virtual/environment to create a virtual environment in path /opt.

For example:

python3 -m venv /opt/omi-cli

Step 3: Activate the Python virtual environment

Use source /opt/omi-cli/bin/activate to activate the virtual environment.

For example:

source /opt/omi-cli/bin/activate

Step 4: Upgrade pip

Before installing OpenStackClient and to aid in a smooth installation, upgrade pip. Upgrade pip by using pip install --upgrade pip.

For example:

pip install --upgrade pip

Step 5: Install OpenStackClient

With everything prepared, install OpenStackClient with:

pip install openstackclient

Step 6: Activate User Authentication

The previously created openrc file is now used to set environment variables related to authentication.

For example:

$ source ~/ 
Please enter your OpenStack Password for project Development as user dev-user:

Step 7: List servers associated with your project

For an initial command, list the servers associated with your project by running openstack server list.

If your cloud is configured with a Self Signed certificate (our default) you will need to pass the --insecure flag with your commands, otherwise you will get a SSL Verify error due to the self signed certficiate.

For example:

$ openstack --insecure server list
| ID | Name | Status | Networks | Image | Flavor |
| 3bb6f079-90d3-4233-9400-94ef49c34a34 | Jumpstation | ACTIVE | Private=, | N/A (booted from volume) | m1.small |

Here, we can see the server created in the previous guide.

Command Structure

When using OpenStackClient, there is typically a common command pattern for what you want to accomplish. All openstack commands begin with openstack. You can execute openstack by itself to enter into a shell, where commands no longer need to be prefixed by openstack:

(venv) [root@lovely-ladybug ~]# openstack

List all Available Subcommands

Use openstack --help to list all available subcommands. You initially see all the flags you can pass, but after scrolling a bit, the subcommand list starts:

access rule delete Delete access rule(s)
access rule list List access rules
access rule show Display access rule details
access token create Create an access token
acl delete Delete ACLs for a secret or container as identified by its href. (py
[...output truncated...]

Learn more about a Subcommand

After seeing available commands, learn more about a command by using openstack help <command>.

For example, to learn more about the openstack server command, use openstack help server:

$ openstack help server
Command "server" matches:
server add fixed ip
server add floating ip
server add network
server add port
server add security group
[...output truncated...]

List Items and Show Details

It is very common when using OpenStackClient to list items and the command form is typically openstack <subcommand> list. For example, openstack server list, lists all servers for the currently configured project.

Furthermore, more information about an item can be found by typically running openstack <subcommand> show <item>. For example, openstack server show Jumpstation shows the details about the instance named Jumpstation.

Enable Bash Autocompletion

Note The required bash-completion package is not included in the CentOS 9 Stream image resulting in an errors like the following:

-bash: _get_comp_words_by_ref: command not found

We can install the missing package from the default repositories.:

sudo dnf install bash-completion

By default, shell autocompletion is not enabled for the python-openstackclient package. To view the autocompletion Bash script, use openstack complete. To make the autocompletion persist, store the output of openstack complete into /etc/bash_completion.d/osc.bash_completion and reload your shell.

For example, we print the autocomplete configuration and redirect its output to /etc/bash_completion.d/osc.bash_completion using tee:

openstack complete | sudo tee /etc/bash_completion.d/osc.bash_completion > /dev/null

Next, either log out and back in to your shell or use source to load the autocompletion script for your current shell.

For example:

source /etc/bash_completion.d/osc.bash_completion


OpenStack Bobcat OpenStackClient Documentation