I'm using chef's knife ec2 tool which requires the name of a loaded SSH key (that was created in the Amazon EC2 control panel)

It seems strange to me that it uses a name to reference the keypair - because the name was created in the ec2 control panel:

Picture.png http://img843.imageshack.us/img843/4236/pictureiy.png

When I download the file I am just getting the mykey.pem file. Does that somehow contain the encoded keypair name? This key pair's name does not seem to be visible at the command line:

$ ssh-add -L
ssh-rsa AAAAB3NzaC1yc2EAAAABIwAAAQE69PeuHFtO[truncated]== /Users/me/mykey.pem

$ ssh-add -l
2048 b4:45:70:23:b1:f3:3b:01:11:23:45:67:89:0a:bc:de /Users/me/mykey.pem (RSA)


  1. Is there a keypair "name" somewhere that I'm missing? How can I view these?
  2. How does a third party software (like the knife tool) know which keypair to use based on the "name" of the keypair that appears invisible?

I hope those questions make sense - I'm happy to elaborate on any gray areas.


(Long story short, it uses FOG.)

If I understood your question properly, I guess it comes from EC2 like this:

lib/chef/knife/ec2_server_create.rb knows something about the SSH key name in this section (def run):

server = connection.servers.create(create_server_def)
# ...
msg_pair("SSH Key", server.key_name)

this connection.servers.create can be found in lib/chef/knife/ec2_base.rb, where we find:

def connection
  @connection ||= begin
    connection = Fog::Compute.new(
      :provider => 'AWS',
      :aws_access_key_id => Chef::Config[:knife][:aws_access_key_id],
      :aws_secret_access_key => Chef::Config[:knife][:aws_secret_access_key],
      :region => locate_config_value(:region)

i.e. it uses FOG which talks to AWS and thus knows how to deal with the key name....I suppose (?)

  • ahhh! ok, makes perfect sense! it doesn't know from the key - it talks to amazon, which tells it which key is associated with the name! very enlightening! thanks so much!!!! – cwd Mar 6 '12 at 17:43
  • You're welcome :) (I wish I would have found a way to get code highlighting, though...) – sr_ Mar 6 '12 at 17:44
  • says you can specify it on this page (unix.stackexchange.com/editing-help) but i have not had luck with that either – cwd Mar 6 '12 at 19:06

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