Install python-openstackclient on Linux and Mac OS

  • Last updated on: 2019-12-20
  • Authored by: Jered Heeschen

Remote management

The Cloud Control Panel isn’t the only way to manage Cloud Servers. If you’re running a script or program, you can use the Cloud Servers API, but that involves some coding effort.

If you want to manage your servers from the command line without dealing directly with the API, you can use an open-source client application called python-openstackclient.

Note: Rackspace does not maintain the openstackclient, and it is not guaranteed to operate with Rackspace Cloud.


To run python-openstackclient, you need python 2.7 or later installed on your system. You can run the client from either a desktop machine or from a remote system, like a Cloud Server. You also need pip, which is a python package manager.

Installing the package

To install the client, use pip:

pip install python-openstackclient

Environment variables

Now that you’ve installed the openstackclient, set up the environment variables that allow it to connect to your Rackspace Cloud account.

Setting the environment variables

To set some environment variables, run the following command to open your .bash_profile file for editing:

nano ~/.bash_profile

Then add the lines in the following data center sections, changing values to match your requirements. Pay particular attention to the username, password, and tenant name or account number. You can find your account number in the upper right of the Cloud Control Panel after you log in.


Use the following format:



After you’ve set all of the environment variables, save the file. Because there’s a password included, run the following command to set permissions on the file so other people can’t read it:

chmod 600 ~/.bash_profile

Environment variable explanations

The following table lists explanations for each environment variable and offers suggested values:

Variable name Value type Description
OS_USERNAME username Set this value to your Rackspace Cloud account username.
OS_TENANT_NAME account number Set this value to your Rackspace Cloud account number, visible in the upper right of the Cloud Contol Panel when logged in.
OS_AUTH_SYSTEM rackspace Set this value to rackspace to connect to the Rackspace Cloud.
OS_PASSWORD password Set this value to your Rackspace Cloud account password.
OS_AUTH_URL identity endpoint Set this value to the endpoint for the identity service the client uses to authenticate for API operations, which is
OS_REGION_NAME datacenter region The code for the data center region containing the servers you want to manipulate. You can check your server’s datacenter by checking its details screen in the Cloud Control Panel. The datacenter code is just the first three letters of the datacenter’s identifier; e.g. DFW, IAD, ORD, HKG, SYD, or LON. You can override the region setting with the --os-region-name command-line option.
OS_NO_CACHE 0 or 1 On newer versions of the Ubuntu operating system the openstackclient tries to use a system keyring that’s usually not set up on servers. Setting this value to “1” works around the issue. It shouldn’t be necessary on other systems, but it shouldn’t interfere with the client’s operations either. You can override the no_cache setting with the --no-cache command-line option.

Loading the environment variables

To apply these environment variables to your current shell, run the following command:

source ~/.bash_profile

Testing the client

Next, run a quick query to make sure the openstackclient is ready to go. To see if you can talk to the API server, run the following command:

openstack image list

If the command is successful, the system displays a list of the images available to you when creating a server.

Keychain password message

If you’re running the client on the Ubuntu® operating system and it asks for a keychain password, run the client with the --no-cache option, as shown in the following example:

openstack --no-cache image-list

To save some typing, set the environment variable OS_NO_CACHE=1 as shown in the preceding configuration sample.

Viewing the command list

You can get a full list of commands by using the following command:

openstack help

Note: You won’t be able to use every command listed. The openstackclient is written for use with recent development versions of OpenStack®, so it includes support for some features that have not yet been implemented in the Rackspace Cloud.

You can get more help for a subcommand by running the following command:

openstack help network


Use the --debug flag to output both the full request from openstackclient and any responses from the Rackspace Cloud APIs. This information can be helpful when you file a bug report or opening a support ticket.

A common problem is entering the username, tenant name, or password incorrectly, so be sure to double-check those settings.

Remember that, if you change any environment variables, you need to either log out and log back in, or tell your shell to read the .bash_profile again by using the following command:

source ~/.bash_profile

You can also use the options that are listed in the openstack help output to override some environment variable settings. If you’re unsure about the region, for example, you can substitute it with the --os-region-name option as shown in the following example:

openstack --os-region-name ORD image list

Advantages over Cloud Control Panel

The openstackclient supports features that are available in the Cloud Servers API, but not exposed in the Cloud Control Panel. For example, the following command creates a server with the OpenStack Config Drive and user data for cloud-init:

openstack server create --image "Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) (PVHVM)" --flavor general1-1 --config-drive=True --user-data=rack-ubuntu.yml openstack-server

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