/contrib/famzah

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Two AWS CLI tips for S3 — UTF-8 when piping, and migrating the Storage Class

While working on the “youtube-mp3-archive” project, I stumbled across two issues which are worth to be documented for future use.

“aws s3 ls” shows “???” instead of the UTF-8 key names of the S3 objects

On my machine this happens when I pipe the output of “aws s3 ls” to another program. Here is an example:

$ aws s3 ls --recursive s3://youtube-mp3.famzah/ | tee | grep 4185710
2016-10-30 08:08:49    4185710 mp3/Youtube/??????? - ?? ???? ?????-BF6KuR8vWN0.mp3

There is already a discussion about this at the AWS CLI project. The solution in my case was to tamper with the PYTHONIOENCODING environment variable and force UTF-8:

$ PYTHONIOENCODING=utf8 aws s3 ls --recursive s3://youtube-mp3.famzah/ | tee | grep 4185710
2016-10-30 08:08:49    4185710 mp3/Youtube/Аналгин - Тя беше ангел-BF6KuR8vWN0.mp3

How to convert all stored S3 objects to another Storage Class

As already explained, the Storage Class cannot be set on a per-bucket basis. It must be specified with each upload operation in your client.

The migration procedure is already documented at the AWS CLI project. Here are the commands to check the current Storage Class of all objects in an S3 bucket, and how to convert them to a different Storage Class:

# all our S3 objects are using the "Standard" Storage Class
$ aws s3api list-objects --bucket youtube-mp3.famzah | grep StorageClass | sort | uniq -c
749  "StorageClass": "STANDARD"

# convert without re-uploading the objects from your computer
aws s3 cp --recursive --storage-class STANDARD_IA s3://youtube-mp3.famzah/ s3://youtube-mp3.famzah/

# all our S3 objects are now using the "Standard-Infrequent" Storage Class
$ aws s3api list-objects --bucket youtube-mp3.famzah | grep StorageClass | sort | uniq -c
749  "StorageClass": "STANDARD_IA"

The reason to use a different Storage Class is pricing.

AWS S3 icon by isdownrightnow.net

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Dynamic DNS using AWS Route 53

The Internet ecosystem and technologies advanced so much lately that you can rebuild an entire business from scratch in a few hours of coding and at pretty acceptable costs. I’m referring to the dynamic DNS (aka. DDNS or DynDNS) service which was a hit a few years back. It took me less than a hundred lines of code to create a simple dynamic DNS using AWS Route 53. The AWS API and backend provide the DNS service, while the free service “ipify” lets you look up your real remote IP address. While this solution is not free as speech, it’s free as beer and costs less than a dollar per month.

DNS icon by PRchecker


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Goodbye Acronis cloud — Hello Encrypted S3 backup!

Over time the backup strategies for my personal laptop are changing in the search for the most cost-effective, robust and secure solution. And it must be able to back up both my Windows host and Linux virtual machine.

  • I tried a backup to an AWS EC2 instance for a while but this was expensive.
  • I then changed to Acronis Cloud backup because I’m very satisfied with their local hard disk backups. But their online cloud backup was an unpleasant experience. The cloud backup failed without indication in the taskbar; when I clicked for more info, the cryptic “error(0x49052524) in lib; please contact support” was displayed; I contacted support to no avail — but they wanted me to reinstall; it fixed itself after a dozen of days; this has happened two times in a few months; last but not least, when I wanted to browse my online backup the web interface was really slow. Sorry Acronis, but you really disappointed me.

Now I’ve come to an open-source solution for my backup needs — the Encrypted S3 Backup written in Bash based on the official Amazon Command-Line Interface (CLI). This simple backup system leaves control and visibility in your hands. Additionally, the backup scripts are very small and you can easily audit them. The README provides all information about the design, security, usage, disaster recovery, etc. More or less, it’s a solution for Linux technical guys, and not really suited for end-uses who should try Duplicati instead. And it doesn’t back up an “image” of your system but it is file-based. Only the file data is archived, so you can’t restore the file owners, permissions and other meta info.

Let’s review the pricing side. In my case I’m doing a daily backup for 125 GB data in 320,000 files.

  • The incremental daily backup costs me $2.73 per month. 89% is the cost for S3 (mainly the GB-storage cost) and the rest is for bandwidth.
  • The initial one-time upload of 70 GB costed me $3.43. Expect about double for 125 GB.
  • The projected cost for a full restore is $11.59 where 96% is the price of the used bandwidth from S3 to Internet.
  • All prices are without taxes.

As far as performance is concerned, S3 is great!

  • Browsing my backup versions in the online S3 explorer is lightning fast.
  • The daily sync for 125 GB data in 320,000 files takes 23 minutes. I don’t change a lot of files on my laptop during my daily activities.
  • My initial upload performed with a speed of 10 MBytes/s, and it could have been faster if I had more than 80 Mbit/s Internet at my disposal.

Note that in the end you need to trust AWS S3 to encrypt your data server-side, and then to completely forget your original data.

Backup icon by PRchecker


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Securely avoid SSH warnings for changing IP addresses

If you have servers that change their IP address, you’ve probably already been used to the following SSH warning:

The authenticity of host '176.34.91.245 (176.34.91.245)' can't be established.
...
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes

Besides from being annoying, it is also a security risk to blindly accept this warning and continue connecting. And be honest — almost none of us check the fingerprint in advance every time.

A common scenario for this use case is when you have an EC2 server in Amazon AWS which you temporarily stop and then start, in order to cut costs. I have a backup server which I use in this way.

In order to securely avoid this SSH warning and still be sure that you connect to your trusted server, you have to save the fingerprint in a separate file and update the IP address in it every time before you connect. Here are the connect commands, which you can also encapsulate in a Bash wrapper script:

IP=176.34.91.245 # use an IP address here, not a hostname
FPFILE=~/.ssh/aws-backup-server.fingerprint

test -e "$FPFILE" && perl -pi -e "s/^\S+ /$IP /" "$FPFILE"
ssh -o StrictHostKeyChecking=ask -o UserKnownHostsFile="$FPFILE" root@$IP

Note that the FPFILE is not required to exist on the first SSH connect. The first time you connect to the server, the FPFILE will be created when you accept the SSH warning. Further connects will not show an SSH warning or ask you to accept the fingerprint again.