Django Multiple Settings Structure

In my Django projects, I tend to break out into multiple files. This keeps settings for different environments separate from each other. You might want to have debug settings for development environments only. Example settings structure:

(cormier) [[email protected] cormier]$ ls cormier/settings/
(cormier) [[email protected] cormier]

At the top of settings files import base settings.

from .base import *

The settings can be used in two ways, from the command line using –settings parameter.

python manage runserver --settings=cormier.settings.development

or using the environment variable DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE.

export DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE=cormier.settings.development

If you are experiencing an error message similar to the following:

ImportError: No module named settings.development

Note when you create the settings directory, add an empty file or Python will fail to recognize it as a module.

Happy coding!

Oct 12th, 2017 • Filed under Django, Python

API Gateway Path Parameters to Lambda Functions

I have been poking around AWS API Gateway and was trying to access the path parameters from a NodeJS Lambda function handler. To achieve this access we need to create a mapping. Resources -> Integration Request. Expand Body Mapping Templates.

Type application/json and include something like the following:

     "param1": "$input.params('param1')"

This would map the request parameter param1 to event variable param1, the names aren’t important, and don’t have to match.

Retrieve value from within NodeJS handler function:

var param1 = event.param1;

More information can be found here.

Note: Lambda proxy integration will pass all parameters from the HTTP(S) request to the Lambda function.

Mar 8th, 2017 • Filed under Amazon Web Service, API Gateway, Lambda

Troubleshoot AWS CLI Access

If you are having issues using awscli, verify the credentials haven’t changed and that the time is correct on the instance you’re trying to use awscli.

Date and Time

An error occurred (AuthFailure) when calling the DescribeAvailabilityZones operation: AWS was not able to validate the provided access credentials
An error occurred (SignatureDoesNotMatch) when calling the DescribeAccountLimits operation: Signature expired: 20170220T220024Z is now earlier than 20170220T220048Z (20170220T220548Z - 5 min.)

If you are getting errors like above and the credentials haven’t changed. You most likely have a time source issue, and the signatures are being signed with invalid time data. Update time using a reliable NTP source and try again.


A client error (SignatureDoesNotMatch) occurred when calling the GetUser operation: The request signature we calculated does not match the signature you provided. Check your AWS Secret Access Key and signing method. Consult the service documentation for details.

Verify environment variables AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID and AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY are set to the correct values.

Feb 20th, 2017 • Filed under Amazon Web Service, CLI

Amazon EC2 SSH Public Keys via IAM Service

There will come a day when we can provision users and provide the necessary authorization to required enterprise resources with easy, but until that day comes there will be hacks like this one.

This is very much Proof of Concept (PoC), I have not tested this beyond my network, and there would be a lot of angles to consider with any type of deployment, security (sanitization and additional logic), IAM SSH Public Keys were designed for CodeCommit, and other unknowns.

My first attempt was to create a PAM module that would authenticate SSH users via aws-sdk-cpp libraries, accessing the API using instance profile / EC2 IAM roles, allowing EC2 instances to obtain credentials to access the information. This seemed like a good route, but trying to hack a PAM module together that would be portable enough for distribution would be a challenge, static versions of aws-sdk-cpp, etc. I will revisit this in the future, but for now, I will move on.

On my second attempt, I create a Bash script that would produce the correct output for SSH AuthorizedKeysCommand directive using SSH public keys from AWS IAM service via awscli. As the EC2 instance can utilize the instance profile role via aws command. This didn’t come without headaches, permission issues, etc.

Check sshd DEBUG logs if having issues with execution.

chmod 0744 /usr/local/bin/aws-iam-authorized-keys
chown root:root /usr/local/bin/aws-iam-authorized-keys

Once I was finally able to get sshd to execute aws-iam-authorized-keys (my aptly named script), it was able to query for the username’s public SSH keys in IAM and output them in the proper format.

For the EC2 instance to access the IAM to list and retrieve keys, it will require an instance profile, that allows ListSSHPublicKeys and GetSSHPublicKey actions, similar to the following IAM role policy I have been using. You can read more in the user guide under IAM Roles for Amazon EC2:

    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
            "Resource": [

The two /etc/ssh/sshd_config directives

AuthorizedKeysCommand /usr/local/bin/aws-iam-authorized-keys
AuthorizedKeysCommandUser nobody

The daemon sshd will pass the username to the script or application that you supply to AuthorizedKeysCommand as the first argument, and will execute it as the user-defined in AuthorizedKeysCommandUser.

In this scenario, I have a user in IAM with the name jonathan, SSH public key, SSH private key on my notebook (passphrase protected), local EC2 Linux user jonathan. This will allow my notebook SSH client to authenticate after I provide the passphrase of course for the key.

jonathan$ ssh [email protected]
Enter passphrase for key '/Users/jonathan/.ssh/id_rsa': 
Last login: Thu Jan 26 03:44:03 2017 from

 __| __|_ )
 _| ( / Amazon Linux AMI
[[email protected] ~]$ id
uid=501(jonathan) gid=501(jonathan) groups=501(jonathan)
[[email protected] ~]$ ls -la .ssh/
total 8
drwxr-xr-x 2 jonathan jonathan 4096 Jan 26 02:12 .
drwx------ 3 jonathan jonathan 4096 Jan 26 03:26 ..
[[email protected] ~]$

Eureka! We have made a successful authentication. I have increased the log level to DEBUG using the sshd_config directive LogLevel. With this, we can see what sshd is doing.

sshd[5457]: debug1: userauth-request for user jonathan service ssh-connection method none [preauth]
sshd[5457]: debug1: attempt 0 failures 0 [preauth]
sshd[5457]: debug1: PAM: initializing for "jonathan"
sshd[5457]: debug1: PAM: setting PAM_RHOST to "X"
sshd[5457]: debug1: PAM: setting PAM_TTY to "ssh"
sshd[5457]: debug1: userauth-request for user jonathan service ssh-connection method publickey [preauth]
sshd[5457]: debug1: attempt 1 failures 0 [preauth]
sshd[5457]: debug1: test whether pkalg/pkblob are acceptable [preauth]
sshd[5457]: debug1: temporarily_use_uid: 99/99 (e=0/0)
sshd[5457]: debug1: restore_uid: 0/0
sshd[5457]: debug1: temporarily_use_uid: 99/99 (e=0/0)
sshd[5457]: Found matching RSA key:
sshd[5457]: debug1: restore_uid: 0/0
sshd[5457]: Postponed publickey for jonathan from X port 53067 ssh2 [preauth]
sshd[5457]: debug1: userauth-request for user jonathan service ssh-connection method publickey [preauth]
sshd[5457]: debug1: attempt 2 failures 0 [preauth]
sshd[5457]: debug1: temporarily_use_uid: 99/99 (e=0/0)
sshd[5457]: debug1: restore_uid: 0/0
sshd[5457]: debug1: temporarily_use_uid: 99/99 (e=0/0)
sshd[5457]: Found matching RSA key:
sshd[5457]: debug1: restore_uid: 0/0
sshd[5457]: debug1: ssh_rsa_verify: signature correct
sshd[5457]: debug1: do_pam_account: called
sshd[5457]: Accepted publickey for jonathan from X port 53067 ssh2: RSA
sshd[5457]: debug1: monitor_child_preauth: jonathan has been authenticated by privileged process
sshd[5457]: debug1: monitor_read_log: child log fd closed
sshd[5457]: debug1: SELinux support disabled
sshd[5457]: debug1: PAM: establishing credentials
sshd[5457]: pam_unix(sshd:session): session opened for user jonathan by (uid=0)
sshd[5457]: User child is on pid 5513
sshd[5513]: debug1: PAM: establishing credentials
sshd[5513]: debug1: permanently_set_uid: 501/501
sshd[5513]: debug1: Entering interactive session for SSH2.

We can verify the output by running aws-iam-authorized-keys from the command line on an EC2 instance. Output was reduced for brevity.

jonathan$ /usr/local/bin/aws-iam-authorized-keys jonathan
ssh-rsa AAAAB3Nza...noc7qee3 jonathan

Although I am authenticating to a local Linux user account, which doesn’t scale that well, the account information could have come from an external directory like Active Directory or RADIUS via PAM modules.

To recap the instance-side tool chain is as follows, sshd -> ams-iam-authorized-keys -> awscli -> IAM.

You can find the script in Downloads. Enjoy.

Jan 26th, 2017 • Filed under Amazon Web Service, Bash, CLI, EC2, IAM, Linux, SSH

Getting Started with Amazon AWS CLI

Like any good service Amazon Web Services (AWS) has a command line tool that interfaces with it’s various services.

Being the geek that I am, I have always preferred the command line (CLI), be it Cisco IOS, Bash, or the earlier MS-DOS. So getting acquainted with this tool only seems natural, on my journey to learn and discover more about AWS. Command line tools, albeit usually a high learning curve, give way to the underpinnings of the services.

Learning how to use it has it’s advantages, for one it gives to script-ability, therefore complex idempotent tasks can be codified. Reducing technical debt, and really get return on investment, by doing work once, and having the entire company benefit from the scripts that come out of that work.

After all, it’s a lot easier explaining how to run a script, than it is to explain steps that needs to be done, some times in specific order, etc.

Getting Command Line Tools

If you’re not working from AMI Linux, lets get the tools installed. I am working from a CentOS machine, I found them in the repository as package awscli. There are other methods of installation for example pip, easy_install, and of course a clone of the git repository.

# yum install awscli
Loaded plugins: fastestmirror
Running transaction check
Running transaction test
Transaction test succeeded
Running transaction
 Installing : libjpeg-turbo-1.2.90-5.el7.x86_64 1/15 
 Installing : libwebp-0.3.0-3.el7.x86_64 2/15 
 Installing : python2-jmespath-0.9.0-1.el7.noarch 3/15 
 Installing : jbigkit-libs-2.0-11.el7.x86_64 4/15 
 Installing : libtiff-4.0.3-25.el7_2.x86_64 5/15 
 Installing : python-pillow-2.0.0-19.gitd1c6db8.el7.x86_64 6/15 
 Installing : python-docutils-0.11-0.2.20130715svn7687.el7.noarch 7/15 
 Installing : python-colorama-0.3.2-3.el7.noarch 8/15 
 Installing : python2-futures-3.0.5-1.el7.noarch 9/15 
 Installing : python2-pyasn1-0.1.9-7.el7.noarch 10/15 
 Installing : python2-rsa-3.4.1-1.el7.noarch 11/15 
 Installing : python-dateutil-1.5-7.el7.noarch 12/15 
 Installing : python2-botocore-1.4.85-1.el7.noarch 13/15 
 Installing : python2-s3transfer-0.1.9-1.el7.noarch 14/15 
 Installing : awscli-1.11.28-2.el7.noarch 15/15 
 Verifying : python-docutils-0.11-0.2.20130715svn7687.el7.noarch 1/15 
 Verifying : python2-botocore-1.4.85-1.el7.noarch 2/15 
 Verifying : python-dateutil-1.5-7.el7.noarch 3/15 
 Verifying : python2-pyasn1-0.1.9-7.el7.noarch 4/15 
 Verifying : libtiff-4.0.3-25.el7_2.x86_64 5/15 
 Verifying : python2-rsa-3.4.1-1.el7.noarch 6/15 
 Verifying : python-pillow-2.0.0-19.gitd1c6db8.el7.x86_64 7/15 
 Verifying : python2-futures-3.0.5-1.el7.noarch 8/15 
 Verifying : python-colorama-0.3.2-3.el7.noarch 9/15 
 Verifying : python2-s3transfer-0.1.9-1.el7.noarch 10/15 
 Verifying : libjpeg-turbo-1.2.90-5.el7.x86_64 11/15 
 Verifying : jbigkit-libs-2.0-11.el7.x86_64 12/15 
 Verifying : python2-jmespath-0.9.0-1.el7.noarch 13/15 
 Verifying : libwebp-0.3.0-3.el7.x86_64 14/15 
 Verifying : awscli-1.11.28-2.el7.noarch 15/15 

 awscli.noarch 0:1.11.28-2.el7 

As you can  see Python 2 was installed as a dependency of awscli. If you are running a different OS, refer to the user guide to learn how to install for the platform of your choosing.

Supported services

The list of supported services can be found in the documentation, under available services.

Your environment, it’s important.

The AWS CLI tool makes use of the following environment variables.

AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID and AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY hold the Access Key ID and Secret Access Key respectively. AWS_CONFIG_FILE holds the path to a AWS configuration file. Some of the tools make use of additional environment variables. EC2_CERT and EC2_PRIVATE_KEY are used to hold the paths to the public and private key files respectively.

I created the shell script awsenv to display this information and perform some permission validation on the credential files. The script is non-destructive, other than permission changes after prompting the user, running it will do no harm.

How you set the variables is up to you. I usually set them via shell script that isn’t part of a repository and source from .bashrc, or you can just set them temporarily in your shell. Example output from awsenv script.

Running my script awsenv gives an overview of what is configured.

$ awsenv 
[x] Amazon AWS CLI environment
[x] Checking for AWS CLI secrets and credential files...
Checking /root/.aws_secrets...found
Checking /root/.s3curl...not found
[!] AWS_S3_CURL contains path to file that doesn't exist.
Checking /root/.aws/credentials.json...found
Checking /root/.aws/aws_config_file...found

[x] AWS variables
AWS_CONFIG_FILE: /root/.aws/aws_config_file

Ground Control to Major Tom!

Once the environment variables have been set and the credential files created with correct content and proper permissions. We can verify our setup with a single command.

# aws iam get-user
   "User": {
     "UserName": "jonathan", 
     "Path": "/", 
     "CreateDate": "2016-10-01T18:22:32Z", 
     "UserId": "Y", 
     "Arn": "arn:aws:iam::X:user/jonathan" } 

Executing the command aws iam get-user returns your user information out of AWS IAM. The user/jonathan is a member of a group that gives Administrator privileges, if you’re having troubles, verify your account has the correct authorization.

You should now be able to run any necessary AWS CLI-based scripts, given the Access Key ID you’re using with awscli has the correct authorization.

There is a aws-shell program that gives command completion, I have not tried this, one step at a time for me.

Install Command Completion

complete -C aws_completer aws
Jan 18th, 2017 • Filed under Amazon Web Service, CLI, EC2, IAM, S3