Transitioning from gcutil to gcloud compute

With gcloud compute in General Availability, Google Compute Engine recommends that all users transition to the gcloud compute tool from gcutil. gcloud compute is a unified command-line tool that features a number of improvements over gcutil, including:

  • Tab completion
  • In-place upgrading
  • Extensive man-page style help
  • Choice of different output formats

To help users transition from gcutil to gcloud compute, this guide briefly describes the major changes between the two tools. For a detailed description of the gcloud compute tool, see the gcloud compute documentation.

New gcloud commands

All existing gcutil commands have equivalent commands in the gcloud compute tool, with a few exceptions. You can get a full list of the gcloud commands by visiting the reference pages or by running gcloud compute --help. The table below briefly outlines the changes from popular gcutil commands.

gcutil command gcloud compute command
gcutil addinstance INSTANCE
gcloud compute instances create INSTANCE
Notes

Creates an instance.

  • Default zone/region can be set, otherwise `gcloud compute` prompts for a zone/region.
  • Creates virtual machines with default properties, such as:
    • machine-type: n1-standard-1
    • image: debian-9

See Creating and starting an instance.

gcutil command gcloud compute command
gcutil deleteinstance INSTANCE
gcloud compute instances delete INSTANCE \
       [--keep-disks {boot,all,none}]
Notes

Deletes instances. See Stopping or Deleting an Instance.

gcutil command gcloud compute command
gcutil ... --cache_flag_values
gcloud configs set project PROJECT
gcloud configs set compute/zone ZONE
gcloud configs set compute/region REGION
Notes

Sets the default values for project, zone, and region. See Setting a default zone and region.

gcutil command gcloud compute command
gcutil push/pull
gcloud compute scp
Notes

Copies files between a local computer and a virtual machine. See Copying files between an instance and local computer.

gcutil command gcloud compute command
gcutil deleteRESOURCE
gcloud compute RESOURCES delete
Notes

Deletes resources, for example:

gcloud compute instances delete example-instance
gcutil command gcloud compute command
gcutil getRESOURCES
gcloud compute RESOURCES describe
Notes

Describes a single resource, for example:

gcloud compute instances describe example-instance

gcutil command gcloud compute command
gcutil listRESOURCES
gcloud compute RESOURCES list
Notes

List all resources of that type. For example, to list instances:

gcloud compute instances list

gcutil command gcloud compute command
gcutil setmetadata
gcloud compute instances add-metadata
gcloud compute instances remove-metadata
gcloud compute project-info add-metadata
gcloud compute project-info remove-metadata
Notes

Optimistic locking is now done by the tool, so there is no need to specify a fingerprint manually. See Setting custom instance metadata.

gcutil command gcloud compute command
gcutil … --dump_request_response

Not yet available.

gcutil command gcloud compute command
gcutil … --log_level=DEBUG
gcloud … --verbosity debug
Notes

Also, logs are stored in files for every command in ~/.config/gcloud/logs.

gcutil command gcloud compute command
gcutil ssh INSTANCE --ssh_user
gcloud compute ssh USER@INSTANCE
Notes

See Connecting to an Instance.

gcutil command gcloud compute command
gcutil … \
--image=projects/project-id/global/images/image
gcloud compute … --image image-name \
       --image-project image-project
Notes

See Starting an instance from an image.

gcutil command gcloud compute command
gcutil deleteinstances --[no]delete_pd
gcutil deleteinstances --[no]delete_boot_pd
gcloud compute instances delete … \
       --delete-disks {all,none,boot}
gcloud compute instances delete … \
       --keep-disks {all,none,boot}
Notes

If a disk is marked to be auto-deleted, it will be automatically deleted unless specified using the --keep-disks flag.

Default instance settings

Creating an instance in gcloud compute now has several default values provided for the image and machine type of your virtual machine. You can choose to use these default values by omitting the --image and --machine-type flags, or you can override the settings by providing the appropriate flags. The default new virtual machine settings are:

  • Default image: latest debian-9 image
  • Default machine type: n1-standard-1

For example, you can simply run:

gcloud compute instances create example-instance --zone us-central1-a

And the gcloud compute will create the instance using the image and machine type described above.

Output formatting

The default output formatting has changed and differs depending on the command you run. For example, if you run the describe command to get information about a single resource, the response output is in YAML format. You can return the response in different output formats, like JSON or text, using the --format flag:

gcloud compute instances list --format {json,yaml,text}

Updating metadata is now additive

When setting or updating metadata, you no longer need to provide a fingerprint. By default, all metadata changes are considered additive. You can add single metadata entries or update entries without performing a batch update of all of the metadata. Only metadata keys that are passed in will be mutated.

gcloud compute instances add-metadata example-instance \
         --metadata cookies=chocolate

Specifying image projects

Previously, to specify an exact image, you needed to provide a partial image URI, which included the project name, like so:

gcutil addinstance example-instance \
         --image=projects/debian-cloud/global/images/debian-9

In gcloud compute, you must now specify the image project using a new --image-project flag:

gcloud compute instances create example-instance \
         --image debian-9-stretch-vYYYMMDD
         --image-project debian-cloud

You can also provide the full URI:

gcloud compute instances create example-instance \
         --image https://www.googleapis.com/compute/v1/projects/debian-cloud/global/images/debian-9-stretch-vYYYMMDD

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