Skip to content

Instantly share code, notes, and snippets.

What would you like to do?
HOWTO: Installing Vault on AWS Linux

HOWTO: Installing Vault On AWS Linux

This is quick howto for installing vault on AWS Linux, mostly to remind myself. At the end of this tutorial, you'll have a working vault server, using s3 for the backend, self signed certificates for tls, and supervisord to ensure that the vault server is always running, and starts on reboot.

Setting up S3

First things first, let's set up an s3 bucket to use as the storage backend for our s3 instance.

  1. From the AWS Mangement Console, go to the S3 console.

  2. Click on the Create Bucket button

  3. Name it something

IAM Stuff

Next, let's create an IAM Policy with full access to our newly created bucket. We'll also create an IAM Role and IAM User in this step, but this should not be neccessary once Vault v5 is released.

  1. From the AWS Management Console, go the IAM console.

  2. Click on Policies in the sidenav

  3. Click on Create Policy

  4. Select the Policy Generator option, because it's easy.

  5. Select Amazon S3 from the AWS Service dropdown

  6. Select All Actions (*) from the Actions dropdown

  7. Enter the Amazon Resource Name: arn:aws:s3:::<your_bucket_name>

  8. Click Add Statement

  9. Next, repeat steps 5-8, except use the following ARN: arn:aws:s3:::<your_bucket_name>/* (this is required to let vault manage all keys within the bucket)

  10. Click Next Step

  11. Give the policy a name: s3-vault-full-access

  12. Click Add Policy

Next, we create an IAM Role and attach our policy to it. We will use this role as the EC2 instance role later on.

  1. Click on Roles in the side nav

  2. Click Create New Role

  3. Give the role a name: vault-ec2

  4. Click Next Step

  5. Under Select Role Type, select Amazon EC2 from the AWS Service Roles section

  6. Attach our newly created s3-vault-full-access policy to the role and click Next Step

  7. Lastly, review our role, and click Create Role

Lastly, due to a bug in the current version of vault (v4.1), we create a new user and assign the policy to it. We will then generate access keys for this user to use when initializing vault.

  1. Click on Users from the side nav

  2. Click on Create New Users

  3. Enter a username: vault and click Create

  4. Save/download the security credentials on the next screen

  5. Back to the Users screen, and click on our newly created user

  6. Under the Permissions tab, click Attach Policy

  7. Select the s3-vault-full-access policy and attach it.

Launch EC2

Ok, now it's time to launch an ec2 that will act as our Vault server.

  1. From the AWS Management Console, go to the EC2 console.

  2. Click Launch Instance

  3. Select the most recent Amazon Linux AMI, usually at the top

  4. Select an appropriate size, for this tutorial, I'll use a t2.nano

  5. Click Next: Configure Instance Details

  6. Under IAM role, select the IAM Role we created earlier (vault-ec2)

  7. Click Next: Add Storage

  8. The default storage is fine, so click Next: Tag Instance

  9. Give your instance a name tag: vault

  10. Click Next: Configure Security Group

  11. Give your security group a name: vault

  12. Give your security group a description: vault server security group

  13. Click Add Rule

  14. Select Custom TCP Rule and define a port range: 8200

  15. Under source, for the purposes of this tutorial, select My IP. However, in production, you should restrict this port to the security groups of the servers that require access to vault.

  16. Click Review and Launch

  17. Click Launch

  18. If you have an existing key-pair, you can use it, or create a new one and download it

  19. Lastly, click Launch Instance and then View Instances

Generating self-signed certificate for vault

Now, we're going to generate a self-signed certificate to use with vault. You can go ahead and skip this step if you already have an ssl certificate to use. Note: these steps were taken from

  1. Create a directory to hold the ssl stuff
mkdir .ssl && cd .ssl
  1. Generate a private key, remember the password you use
openssl genrsa -des3 -out server.key 1024
  1. Generate a CSR (Certificate Signing Request). This will prompt you to enter some details, go ahead and skip the challenge password part by pressing enter.
openssl req -new -key server.key -out server.csr
  1. Remove passhprase from key
cp server.key
openssl rsa -in -out server.key
  1. Generate a Self-Signed Certificate
openssl x509 -req -days 365 -in server.csr -signkey server.key -out server.crt
  1. Minor cleanup, discard the temporary key file
rm && cd

Installing Vault

Once the instance has finished initializing, it's time to download the Vault binary and unpack it.

  1. ssh into the ec2 instance
ssh -i <path/to/key.pem> ec2-user@<ec2-dns>

note: if this is a new key, you may receive a permission denied error, in which case, modify the key permissions and try again.

chmod 0700 <path/to/key.pem>
  1. update the instance
sudo yum update
  1. install Vault (find the latest binary on the vault project page)
  1. unzip it
  1. move the binary
sudo mv vault /usr/local/bin/vault
  1. verify that Vault is ready to go
vault version
  1. create the vault configuration file
touch vault-config.hcl
  1. edit the file
nano vault-config.hcl
  1. define the vault configuration like so
listener "tcp" {
    address = ""

backend "s3" {
    bucket = "<your_bucket_name>"
    region = "us-west-2"

  1. exit and save (control+x to exit, y to save)

Installing supervisord

Next, we install supervisord, which will simplify the whole "let's get Vault running as a service, and have it start on reboot, blah blah blah"

  1. install supervisor
sudo easy_install supervisor
  1. create a new supervisord configuration file
echo_supervisord_conf > supervisord.conf
  1. modify the configuration file
    • under [unix_http_server]
      • change ;chmod=0700 to chmod=0766
    • change the ;[program:theprogramname] header to [program:vault]
    • under [program:vault]
      • change ;command=/bin/cat to command=vault server -config=/home/ec2-user/vault-config.hcl
      • change ;user=chrism to user=ec2-user
      • change ;environment=A="1",B="2" to environment=AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID="<your_access_key_id",AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY="<your_secret_access_key>", where <your_access_key_id> and <your_secret_access_key> are the credentials you downloaded/wrote down when we created the vault user.

Configuring supervisord

Lastly, we need to configure supervisord to start on init.

  1. create a new init script
sudo touch /etc/init.d/supervisord
  1. edit the file contents:
# Amazon Linux AMI startup script for a supervisor instance
# chkconfig: 2345 80 20
# description: Autostarts supervisord.

# Source function library.
. /etc/rc.d/init.d/functions


[ -f $supervisord ] || exit 1
[ -f $supervisorctl ] || exit 1


start() {
     echo -n "Starting $name: "
     $supervisord -c /home/ec2-user/supervisord.conf
     return $RETVAL

stop() {
     echo -n "Stopping $name: "
    $supervisorctl shutdown
     return $RETVAL

case "$1" in



exit $REVAL
  1. make the init script executable
sudo chmod +x /etc/init.d/supervisord
  1. add the supervisor init script to chkconfig services
sudo chkconfig --add supervisord
  1. start the supervisord service
sudo service supervisord start
Copy link

veacks commented Jan 31, 2018

I had this issue while starting supervisord service:

$ supervisorctl
vault                            BACKOFF   can't find command 'vault'

I fixed it by passing the full path of vault in the command statement: command=/usr/local/bin/vault server -config=/home/ec2-user/vault-config.hcl

By the way, thank you for the Step-By-Step Guide

Copy link

vanhumbeecka commented Feb 22, 2018

I got an error on the last line

$ supervisorctl
error: <class 'socket.error'>, [Errno 13] Permission denied: file: /usr/lib64/python2.7/ line: 228

Copy link

yossi2cohen commented Nov 29, 2018

The last step before initializing Vault has failed for me. Calling "supervisorctl" resulted
"FATAL Exited too quickly (process log may have details)". Any idea what can be the reason or how to troubleshoot it?


Copy link

v6 commented Nov 30, 2018

@yossi2cohen what research have you already done on your own for this? Please provide at least some basic information about your installation, and look up how to get logs from supervisord or systemd??

Please go through the Getting Started guide on ?

Copy link

sunnyhith commented Aug 29, 2019

I got an error on the last line

$ supervisorctl
error: <class 'socket.error'>, [Errno 13] Permission denied: file: /usr/lib64/python2.7/ line: 228

Hi! Did you find a way to overcome this error? I'm getting the same error too.

Sign up for free to join this conversation on GitHub. Already have an account? Sign in to comment