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A simple utility for easily executing AWS cli commands with an assumed role.

For more information about the motiviation behind developing this utility, please read our blog post Assuming roles in AWS with sudo-like agility.


awsudo [-d|--duration] [-p|--profile] [-n|--session-name] [-e|--external-id] [-v|--verbose]
[-m|--mfa-token-arn] [-t|--mfa-token] <arn> <command..>

Assume an IAM role for the duration of a command

  arn      ARN to assume                                                [string]
  command  Command to run

  --help               Show help                                       [boolean]
  --version            Show version number                             [boolean]
  -d, --duration       The duration to assume this role in seconds. See
                                                         [number] [default: 900]
  -p, --profile       The profile used to assume the role
                                                          [string] [default: ""]
  -n, --session-name   The role session name to use
                                               [string] [default: "RoleSession"]
  -e, --external-id    The external id string used to authenticate role
                       assumption                      [string] [default: false]
  -v, --verbose        Show debug information         [boolean] [default: false]
  -t, --mfa-token      Current MFA token [Must also supply mfa-token-arn]
                                                       [string] [default: false]
  -m, --mfa-token-arn  ARN for users MFA [Must also supply mfa-token]
                                                       [string] [default: false]


awsudo can be installed as a global utility to use alongside the AWS cli for day-to-day operations, local troubleshooting, etc:

npm install -g awsudo


awsudo can also be installed for use by specific Node.js projects (i.e. as part of a CI/CD build process) by adding it as a dependency like any other:

npm install --save-dev awsudo

npm will place it in the execution PATH for any scripts defined in it package.json that it runs (e.g. start, test).


awsudo can also be used from its official Docker image, which packages it along with its dependencies and the AWS cli.

docker pull awsudo/awsudo

The Docker image can be used as a direct command (remember to mount your AWS configuration as a volume in the container):

docker run -v ~/.aws:/root/.aws awsudo/awsudo awsudo arn:aws:iam::[AWS_ACCOUNT_ID]:role/[role name] [aws command]

or it can be launched as an environment for running multiple commands interactively:

docker run -it -v ~/.aws:/root/.aws awsudo/awsudo awsudo /bin/bash

deb and rpm packages

In addition to the native npm package and Docker image, there are .deb and .rpm packages avaialble.

Warning: You must install Node.js separately, because these packages are not marked as dependent on Node.js within the Debian or Red Hat ecosystems. This facilitates portability across distributions and better accomodates the multitude of ways Node.js can be installed (e.g. using nvm).

These can be downloaded from

  1. the releases tab in your browser

  2. the command-line:

    Latest .deb

    curl -LO $(curl -s | grep -Eo 'https://github\.com/meltwater/awsudo/releases/download/v.*\.deb')

    Latest .rpm

    curl -LO $(curl -s | grep -Eo 'https://github\.com/meltwater/awsudo/releases/download/v.*\.rpm')

Example usages


Basic usage when awsudo is on the PATH:

awsudo arn:aws:iam::123456789012:role/S3Access aws s3 cp ./some/directory s3://some-bucket

when using with Docker as a command (i.e. not within the container):

docker run -v ~/.aws:/root/.aws awsudo/awsudo awsudo arn:aws:iam::123456789012:role/S3Access aws s3 cp ./some/directory s3://some-bucket

Docker-based CI/CD

The Docker image can also be used with CI/CD tools like Drone or CircleCI.

Here is an example Drone pipeline step which uses the awsudo Docker image to deploy into AWS:

  image: awsudo/awsudo:latest
    # Copy build artifacts to publicly-readable S3 bucket
    - awsudo arn:aws:iam::${AWS_ACCOUNT_ID}:role/S3Access aws s3 cp ./build s3://some-bucket --acl public-read --recursive
    - AWS_DEFAULT_REGION=us-east-1
    - aws_access_key_id
    - aws_account_id
    - aws_secret_access_key


Valid AWS Configuration

Any one of the following is required for awsudo to function correctly

  • Appropriate environment variables are set for aws-sdk to work
  • A default profile (e.g. created using aws configure)
  • A set of any named profiles you would like to use

Developing / Testing


This is an included script which validates significant features of awsudo as functioning properly in a true running context.

Not every feature that exists is, or should be, exercised by this tool. If a unit test can adequately validate a given behavior, that is preferred.

Before running, it will check for prerequisites, but for the sake of planning they are:

  • Docker
  • A post-aws configure environment with
    • at least one profile
    • at least one profile requiring an MFA

To execute the tool, run the following from the project root:


it will prompt for profile names and MFA tokens as necessary.


Gitpod ready-to-code

Do we accept contributions? YES! (see our policy for details)

Thank you to everyone who has been one of our contributors!


The maintainer of this repository is the AWS sudo open source maintainers at Meltwater, please send us any questions.