I want to automatically configure an EC2 via a build, using the aws cli and ssm.

The (manual) setup for the container looks something like this:

  • Create an EC2
  • Run a shell script as root
  • Run a shell script as a specific user


Is it possible to run a command on an ec2 utilising a tool such as aws ssm send-command specifying the linux user which will execute the command?

Assuming the command is a shell script, would specifying the user inside the script do the same job? e.g using sudo su my_user


1 Answer 1


I didn't find anything on AWS or boto3 docs that allows for that, but I was able to execute as a different user using the runuser command. In theory, you could do the same thing with a combination of sudo and su commands, but this one is pretty simpler.

For that, you can do as follows:

runuser -l  userNameHere -c '/path/to/command arg1 arg2'

Since send-command executes as root, you don't have any issues.

Note: I thought that send-command uses in some way a session managed by the SSM Session Manager, but I was wrong. I spent a good time configuring SSM Session Manager preferences and tagging IAM resources according to this doc and this one, but send-command always execute as root as far I saw.


  • Thank you! This also helped me when trying to execute a script via AWS Systems Manager - Run Command, since su - username wasn't allowing me to switch the user from root.
    – Leo Folsom
    Commented Feb 9, 2022 at 19:03
  • 1
    Thank you so much for this, you saved my day. Documentation is so weak. And running command after or with sudo su - username did not work at all, even if I send it in same command separated with ; or as list of command.
    – MohitC
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 17:15

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