Command Structure

OpenStackClient has a consistent and predictable format for all of its commands.

Commands take the form:

openstack [<global-options>] <object-1> <action> [<object-2>] [<command-arguments>]
  • All long options names begin with two dashes (--) and use a single dash (-) internally between words (--like-this). Underscores (_) are not used in option names.

Global Options

Global options are global in the sense that they apply to every command invocation regardless of action to be performed. They include authentication credentials and API version selection. Most global options have a corresponding environment variable that may also be used to set the value. If both are present, the command-line option takes priority. The environment variable names are derived from the option name by dropping the leading dashes (--), converting each embedded dash (-) to an underscore (_), and converting to upper case.

For example, the default value of --os-username can be set by defining the environment variable OS_USERNAME.

Command Object(s) and Action

Commands consist of an object described by one or more words followed by an action. Commands that require two objects have the primary object ahead of the action and the secondary object after the action. Any positional arguments identifying the objects shall appear in the same order as the objects. In badly formed English it is expressed as “(Take) object1 (and perform) action (using) object2 (to it).”

<object-1> <action> <object-2>


$ group add user <group> <user>

$ volume type list   # 'volume type' is a two-word single object

Command Arguments and Options

Each command may have its own set of options distinct from the global options. They follow the same style as the global options and always appear between the command and any positional arguments the command requires.


The objects consist of one or more words to compose a unique name. Occasionally when multiple APIs have a common name with common overlapping purposes there will be options to select which object to use, or the API resources will be merged, as in the quota object that has options referring to both Compute and Volume quotas.

  • access token: (Identity) long-lived OAuth-based token
  • availability zone: (Compute, Network, Volume) a logical partition of hosts or block storage or network services
  • aggregate: (Compute) a grouping of servers
  • backup: (Volume) a volume copy
  • catalog: (Identity) service catalog
  • command: (Internal) installed commands in the OSC process
  • configuration: (Internal) openstack client configuration
  • console log: (Compute) server console text dump
  • console url: (Compute) server remote console URL
  • consumer: (Identity) OAuth-based delegatee
  • container: (Object Storage) a grouping of objects
  • credentials: (Identity) specific to identity providers
  • domain: (Identity) a grouping of projects
  • ec2 credentials: (Identity) AWS EC2-compatible credentials
  • endpoint: (Identity) the base URL used to contact a specific service
  • extension: (Compute, Identity, Network, Volume) OpenStack server API extensions
  • federation protocol: (Identity) the underlying protocol used while federating identities
  • flavor: (Compute) predefined server configurations: ram, root disk, etc
  • group: (Identity) a grouping of users
  • host: (Compute) - the physical computer running a hypervisor
  • hypervisor: (Compute) the virtual machine manager
  • hypervisor stats: (Compute) hypervisor statistics over all compute nodes
  • identity provider: (Identity) a source of users and authentication
  • image: (Image) a disk image
  • ip fixed: (Compute, Network) - an internal IP address assigned to a server
  • ip floating: (Compute, Network) - a public IP address that can be mapped to a server
  • ip floating pool: (Compute, Network) - a pool of public IP addresses
  • keypair: (Compute) an SSH public key
  • limits: (Compute, Volume) resource usage limits
  • mapping: (Identity) a definition to translate identity provider attributes to Identity concepts
  • module: (Internal) - installed Python modules in the OSC process
  • network: (Compute, Network) - a virtual network for connecting servers and other resources
  • object: (Object Storage) a single file in the Object Storage
  • policy: (Identity) determines authorization
  • port: (Network) - a virtual port for connecting servers and other resources to a network
  • project: (Identity) owns a group of resources
  • quota: (Compute, Volume) resource usage restrictions
  • region: (Identity) a subset of an OpenStack deployment
  • request token: (Identity) temporary OAuth-based token
  • role: (Identity) a policy object used to determine authorization
  • role assignment: (Identity) a relationship between roles, users or groups, and domains or projects
  • router: (Network) - a virtual router
  • security group: (Compute, Network) - groups of network access rules
  • security group rule: (Compute, Network) - the individual rules that define protocol/IP/port access
  • server: (Compute) virtual machine instance
  • server dump: (Compute) a dump file of a server created by features like kdump
  • server image: (Compute) saved server disk image
  • service: (Identity) a cloud service
  • service provider: (Identity) a resource that consumes assertions from an identity provider
  • snapshot: (Volume) a point-in-time copy of a volume
  • subnet: (Network) - a contiguous range of IP addresses assigned to a network
  • subnet pool: (Network) - a pool of subnets
  • token: (Identity) a bearer token managed by Identity service
  • usage: (Compute) display host resources being consumed
  • user: (Identity) individual cloud resources users
  • user role: (Identity) roles assigned to a user
  • volume: (Volume) block volumes
  • volume type: (Volume) deployment-specific types of volumes available

Plugin Objects

The following are known Objects used by OpenStack Plugins. These are listed here to avoid name conflicts when creating new plugins. For a complete list check out Plugin Commands.

  • action definition: (Workflow Engine (Mistral))
  • action execution: (Workflow Engine (Mistral))
  • baremetal: (Baremetal (Ironic))
  • congress datasource: (Policy (Congress))
  • congress driver: (Policy (Congress))
  • congress policy: (Policy (Congress))
  • congress policy rule: (Policy (Congress))
  • cron trigger: (Workflow Engine (Mistral))
  • dataprocessing data source: (Data Processing (Sahara))
  • dataprocessing image: (Data Processing (Sahara))
  • dataprocessing image tags: (Data Processing (Sahara))
  • dataprocessing plugin: (Data Processing (Sahara))
  • message-broker cluster: (Message Broker (Cue))
  • message flavor: (Messaging (Zaqar))
  • orchestration resource: (Orchestration (Heat))
  • orchestration template: (Orchestration (Heat))
  • pool: (Messaging (Zaqar))
  • ptr record: (DNS (Designate))
  • queue: (Messaging (Zaqar))
  • recordset: (DNS (Designate))
  • secret: (Key Manager (Barbican))
  • secret container: (Key Manager (Barbican))
  • secret order: (Key Manager (Barbican))
  • software config: (Orchestration (Heat))
  • software deployment: (Orchestration (Heat))
  • stack event: (Orchestration (Heat))
  • stack hook: (Orchestration (Heat))
  • stack output: (Orchestration (Heat))
  • stack resource: (Orchestration (Heat))
  • stack snapshot: (Orchestration (Heat))
  • stack template: (Orchestration (Heat))
  • task exeuction: (Workflow Engine (Mistral))
  • tld: (DNS (Designate))
  • workbook: (Workflow Engine (Mistral))
  • workflow: (Workflow Engine (Mistral))
  • workflow execution: (Workflow Engine (Mistral))
  • zone: (DNS (Designate))
  • zone blacklist: (DNS (Designate))
  • zone transfer: (DNS (Designate))


The actions used by OpenStackClient are defined below to provide a consistent meaning to each action. Many of them have logical opposite actions. Those actions with an opposite action are noted in parens if applicable.

  • authorize - authorize a token (used in OAuth)
  • add (remove) - add some object to a container object; the command is built in the order of container add object <container> <object>, the positional arguments appear in the same order
  • create (delete) - create a new occurrence of the specified object
  • delete (create) - delete specific occurrences of the specified objects
  • issue (revoke) - issue a token
  • list - display summary information about multiple objects
  • lock (unlock) - lock one or more servers so that non-admin user won’t be able to execute actions
  • migrate - move a server to a different host; --live performs a live migration if possible
  • pause (unpause) - stop one or more servers and leave them in memory
  • reboot - forcibly reboot a server
  • rebuild - rebuild a server using (most of) the same arguments as in the original create
  • remove (add) - remove an object from a group of objects
  • rescue (unrescue) - reboot a server in a special rescue mode allowing access to the original disks
  • resize - change a server’s flavor
  • restore - restore a heat stack snapshot
  • resume (suspend) - return one or more suspended servers to running state
  • revoke (issue) - revoke a token
  • save - download an object locally
  • set (unset) - set a property on the object, formerly called metadata
  • shelve (unshelve) - shelve one or more servers
  • show - display detailed information about the specific object
  • start (stop) - start one or more servers
  • stop (start) - stop one or more servers
  • suspend (resume) - stop one or more servers and save to disk freeing memory
  • unlock (lock) - unlock one or more servers
  • unpause (pause) - return one or more paused servers to running state
  • unrescue (rescue) - return a server to normal boot mode
  • unset (set) - remove an attribute of the object
  • unshelve (shelve) - unshelve one or more servers


The command structure is designed to support seamless addition of plugin command modules via setuptools entry points. The plugin commands must be subclasses of Cliff’s command.Command object. See Plugins for more information.

Command Entry Points

Commands are added to the client using setuptools entry points in setup.cfg. There is a single common group openstack.cli for commands that are not versioned, and a group for each combination of OpenStack API and version that is supported. For example, to support Identity API v3 there is a group called openstack.identity.v3 that contains the individual commands. The command entry points have the form:

action_object = fully.qualified.module.vXX.object:ActionObject

For example, the list user command for the Identity API is identified in setup.cfg with:

openstack.identity.v3 =
    # ...
    list_user = openstackclient.identity.v3.user:ListUser
    # ...

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