Command Line Interface (CLI) Overview

There are many options and tools for using the OpenStack API from the command line. Follow the instructions in the table below to set up a security policy and network, launch and manage a VM and then remove the entire structure.

Note: There is also an API tutorial that the Jetstream team uses here: Jetstream API Tutorial - this tutorial goes into greater detail on some topics and may be of value to those learning the Openstack CLI.

Please note that the tutorial above presently reflects using the API on Jetstream1. It will be updated soon for Jetstream2

Important Notes

  • It is possible to create entities with the same name; e.g. you could create two networks with the same name; however, they will have different Universally Unique Indentifiers (UUIDs). When this occurs you may get a cryptic error message about that entity may not exist or that there are multiple entities with that name. In this case, you must address the entity by its UUID.
  • It is important to understand that everything is owned by the project. Other users in your project can see and manipulate entities that you have created. Be careful in your naming and pay attention to the things you are manipulating.

Getting Started

You should be running the latest version of the clients. We recommend using python-openstack >= 5.0 as it uses Python3 and removes the dependencies on the now deprecated Python2. See Installing Openstack Clients for more information.

The next thing you’ll need to do before being able to do any CLI commands is have an appropriate openrc file. See Authentication (Logging In) for more information.

You can make the output look nicer in your terminal with the –fit-width option:

openstack image show Featured-Ubuntu20 --fit-width

Optionally, you can make that permanent by adding the following to your environment.


You’ll then need to register an ssh key, create a security group and network before launching your first VMs. More information may be found here: