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Graffiti Monkey

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The Graffiti Monkey goes around tagging things. By looking at the tags an EC2 instance has, it copies those tags to the EBS Volumes that are attached to it, and then copies those tags to the EBS Snapshots.


usage: graffiti-monkey [-h] [--region REGION] [--profile PROFILE] [--verbose] [--version] [--config CONFIG.YML] [--dryrun]

Propagates tags from AWS EC2 instances to EBS volumes, and then to EBS
snapshots. This makes it much easier to find things down the road.

optional arguments:
  -h, --help           show this help message and exit
  --region REGION      the region to tag things in (default is current region of
                       EC2 instance this is running on). E.g. us-east-1
  --profile PROFILE    the profile to use to connect to EC2 (default is 'default',
                       see Boto docs for profile credential options)
  --verbose, -v        enable verbose output (-vvv for more)
  --version            display version number and exit
  --config CONFIG.YML  read a yaml configuration file.  specify tags to propagate without changing code.
  --dryrun             dryrun only, display tagging actions but do not perform them
  --append             append propagated tags to existing tags (up to a total of ten tags). When not set,
                       graffiti-monkey will overwrite existing tags.
  --volumes            volume(s) to tag
  --snapshots          snapshot(s) to tag
  --novolumes          do not perform volume tagging
  --nosnapshots        do not perform snapshot tagging


Suppose you have the following in us-east-1:

  - Tags:
    - Name: "Instance 1"

  - Attached to i-abcd1234 on /dev/sda1

  - Snapshot of vol-bcde3456

When you run:

graffiti-monkey --region us-east-1

First, Graffiti Monkey will set the EBS volume tags

  - Tags:
    - Name: "Instance 1"
    - instance_id: i-abcd1234
    - device: /dev/sda1

and then it will set the tags on the EBS Snapshot

  - Tags:
    - Name: "Instance 1"
    - instance_id: i-abcd1234
    - device: /dev/sda1


You can install Graffiti Monkey using the usual PyPI channels. Example:

sudo pip install graffiti_monkey

You can find the package details here:

Alternatively, if you prefer to install from source:

git clone
cd graffiti-monkey
python install


This project uses Boto to call the AWS APIs. You can pass your AWS credentials to Boto can by using a .boto file, IAM Roles or environment variables. Full information can be found here:

Graffiti-monkey itself can be configured using a yaml file

#region: us-west-1
  - 'Name'
  - 'Owner'

  - 'Name'
  - 'instance_id'
  - 'device'
  - 'Owner'

  -  key:   'NU_ROLE'
     value: 'ebs'

  -  key:   'NU_ROLE'
     value: 'ebs_snapshot'

# An empty list means tag all volumes
# Example entries:
#  - 'vol-1ab2c345'
#  - 'vol-6de7f890'

# An empty list means tag all snapshots
# Example entries:
#  - 'snap-12ab3c45'
#  - 'snap-6de7f890'

_instance_tags_to_propagate is used to define the tags that are propagated from an instance to its volumes. _volume_tags_to_propagate defines the tags that are propagated from a volume to its snapshots.

_volume_tags_to_be_set is used to define the tags that are set on volumes by default. _snapshot_tags_to_be_set defines the tags that are on snapshots by default.

_volumes_to_tag is used to define the volumes that are tagged. Leave empty to tag all volumes. _snapshots_to_tag is used to define the snapshots to be tagged. Leave empty to tag all snapshots.

If the configuration file is used, the _ entry headers must exist (those entries having no values or commented out values [as shown] is acceptable).

When using yaml configuration files you need to have pyYAML. This can be easily setup
using pip pip install PyYAML. If you don't use config files you don't have this limitation.

If options are specified in both the config file and on the command line, the config file options are used.


Can be found here:

Source Code

The Python source code for Graffiti Monkey is available on GitHub:

About Answers for AWS

This code was written by Peter Sankauskas, founder of Answers for AWS - a company focused on helping businesses learn how to use AWS, without doing it the hard way. If you are looking for help with AWS, please contact us.


Copyright 2013 Answers for AWS LLC

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.


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