AWS-Vault is a tool used to keep your AWS credentials hidden and secure. ubuntu-aws-vault-error-solution

When you install AWS CLI tool from AWS, the default location stores your AWS credentials in plain text. This is dangerous because your credentials can be exposed to outsiders and may result in a huge AWS bill. AWS-Vault to the rescue.

The installation instructions for installing AWS-Vault on a Linux computer are sparse. In fact they just list one command. There is no documentation to help with errors. So while installing using Homebrew is easy, it’s not error free.

AWS-Vault Not Found In Linux

The problem is after you successfully install AWS-Vault using Homebrew, after exiting the session and begining a new one, you’ll get an error message saying “AWS-Vault Not Found”. So annoying. I had to keep reinstalling both AWS programs at the beginning of each session. The steps below outline how to install AWS CLI and AWS-Vault on Ubuntu Linux to prevent this problem.

Install AWS CLI on Linux

Installing AWS CLI for Linux is pretty simple. You enter the following commands separately.

curl "" -o ""
sudo ./aws/install

See AWS Installation Guide AWS Installation Guide for more details.

The most important step is to locate the path where the program is installed. You’ll need this later. “/usr/local/bin/aws” is the default location.

which aws 

Install AWS-Vault For Linux Without Using Homebrew

Installing AWS-Vault using Homebrew while easy, resulted in a ton of problems for me. Installing AWS-Vault manually has proved to be less problematic.

Step 1: Download latest release of AWS-Vault

Visit 99 Designs AWS-Vault repo for a link to the download. (There are 2 linux-amd64 links. I used the first one). Click link to download to your computer.

Step 2: Change permissions on downloaded file

  1. Change to Downloads folder
    cd Downloads/ 
  2. List files
  3. Make file executable
    chmod +x aws-vault-linux-amd64
  4. Path should end in same place you have the AWS CLI “/usr/local/bin/aws”
    echo $PATH
  5. Move file from Downloads folder to new location. You’ll need to add “aws-vault” to Path.
    mv aws-vault-linux-amd64 /usr/local/bin/aws-vault
  6. Verify AWS-Vault was installed.
    aws-vault --version

Step 3: Add Profile Details to AWS-Vault

You’ll need the secret credentials from your AWS User profile to complete this step. Simply go to IAM > Users > Security Credentials to get details. You may need to create new access keys if you don’t have your “Secret access key”. Make the existing one inactive to delete it and then create a new one.

Store AWS credentials to AWS-Vault

$ aws-vault add ProfileName
Enter Secret Key: %%%

Linux will ask you to set a password for a keyring for AWS-Vault. Create a new password and store it securely. You’ll need it.

Step 4: Activate AWS-Vault in Linux

You must activate AWS-Vault for each new session. You can specify how long you want the computer to hold your credentials. I like to set my duration for 12hrs to give me flexibility.

Activate AWS-Vault

aws-vault exec ProfileName --duration=12h

Verify AWS-Vault is working with the following commands.

- aws sts get-caller-identity    or 
- aws vault list

AWS-Vault Error

Occasionally you’ll get an error saying “aws-vault: error: exec: aws-vault sessions should be nested with care, unset AWS_VAULT to force”

unset AWS_VAULT"

This means that an existing aws-vault credential is already stored from a prior session. If you still have problems accessing aws-vault use the “unset AWS_VAULT” command to release the previous session.

I hope this helps. Every time I closed Linux, I had to reinstall both AWS CLI and AWS-Vault to get them to work. Once I moved them both to the same $Path and installed manually instead of using Homebrew, I didn’t have any more problems. Good luck.

Previous Post
My First Blog Post
Next Post
Different Devop tools and their uses.