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17.1.4 • Public • Published

balena CLI

The official balena Command Line Interface.

npm version dependencies


The balena CLI is a Command Line Interface for balenaCloud or openBalena. It is a software tool available for Windows, macOS and Linux, used through a command prompt / terminal window. It can be used interactively or invoked in scripts. The balena CLI builds on the balena API and the balena SDK, and can also be directly imported in Node.js applications. The balena CLI is an open-source project on GitHub, and your contribution is also welcome!


Check the balena CLI installation instructions on GitHub.

Choosing a shell (command prompt/terminal)

On Windows, the standard Command Prompt (cmd.exe) and PowerShell are supported. Alternative shells include:

  • MSYS2:

  • MSYS

  • Git for Windows

    • During the installation, you will be prompted to choose between "Use MinTTY" and "Use Windows' default console window". Choose the latter, because of the same MSYS2 bug mentioned above (Git for Windows actually uses MSYS2). For a screenshot, check this comment.
  • Microsoft's Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). In this case, a Linux distribution like Ubuntu is installed via the Microsoft Store, and a balena CLI release for Linux should be selected. See FAQ for using the balena CLI with WSL and Docker Desktop for Windows.

On macOS and Linux, the standard terminal window is supported. Optionally, bash command auto completion may be enabled by copying the balena_comp file to your system's bash_completion directory: check Docker's command completion guide for system setup instructions.

Logging in

Several CLI commands require access to your balenaCloud account, for example in order to push a new release to your fleet. Those commands require creating a CLI login session by running:

$ balena login

Proxy support

HTTP(S) proxies can be configured through any of the following methods, in precedence order (from higher to lower):

  • The BALENARC_PROXY environment variable in URL format, with protocol (http or https), host, port and optionally basic auth. Examples:

    • export BALENARC_PROXY=''
    • export BALENARC_PROXY='http://localhost:8000'
  • The proxy setting in the CLI config file. It may be:

    • A string in URL format, e.g. proxy: 'http://localhost:8000'
    • An object in the format:
          protocol: 'http'
          host: ''
          port: 12345
          proxyAuth: 'bob:secret'
  • The HTTPS_PROXY and/or HTTP_PROXY environment variables, in the same URL format as BALENARC_PROXY.

Proxy setup for balena ssh

In order to work behind a proxy server, the balena ssh command requires the proxytunnel package (command-line tool) to be installed. proxytunnel is available for Linux distributions like Ubuntu/Debian (apt install proxytunnel), and for macOS through Homebrew. Windows support is limited to the Windows Subsystem for Linux (e.g., by installing Ubuntu through the Microsoft App Store).

Ensure that the proxy server is configured to allow proxy requests to ssh port 22, using SSL encryption. For example, in the case of the Squid proxy server, it should be configured with the following rules in the squid.conf file:
acl SSL_ports port 22
acl Safe_ports port 22

Proxy exclusion

The BALENARC_NO_PROXY variable may be used to exclude specified destinations from proxying.

  • This feature requires CLI version 11.30.8 or later. In the case of the npm installation option, it also requires Node.js version 10.16.0 or later.
  • To exclude a balena ssh target from proxying (IP address or .local hostname), the --noproxy option should be specified in addition to the BALENARC_NO_PROXY variable.

By default (if BALENARC_NO_PROXY is not defined), all private IPv4 addresses and '*.local' hostnames are excluded from proxying. Other hostnames that resolve to private IPv4 addresses are not excluded by default, because matching takes place before name resolution.

localhost and are always excluded from proxying, regardless of the value of BALENARC_NO_PROXY.

The format of the BALENARC_NO_PROXY environment variable is a comma-separated list of patterns that are matched against hostnames or IP addresses. For example:

export BALENARC_NO_PROXY='*.local,dev*,192.168.*'

Matched patterns are excluded from proxying. Wildcard expressions are documented at matcher. Matching takes place before name resolution, so a pattern like '192.168.*' will not match a hostname that resolves to an IP address like

Command reference documentation

The full CLI command reference is available on the web or by running balena help --verbose.

Support, FAQ and troubleshooting

To learn more, troubleshoot issues, or to contact us for support:

For CLI bug reports or feature requests, check the CLI GitHub issues.

Deprecation policy

The balena CLI uses semver versioning, with the concepts of major, minor and patch version releases.

The latest release of a major version of the balena CLI will remain compatible with the balenaCloud backend services for at least one year from the date when the following major version is released. For example, balena CLI v11.36.0, as the latest v11 release, would remain compatible with the balenaCloud backend for one year from the date when v12.0.0 was released.

Half way through to that period (6 months after the release of the next major version), older major versions of the balena CLI will start printing a deprecation warning message when it is used interactively (when stderr is attached to a TTY device file). At the end of that period, older major versions will exit with an error message unless the --unsupported flag is used. This behavior was introduced in CLI version 12.47.0 and is also documented by balena help. To take advantage of the latest backend features and ensure compatibility, users are encouraged to regularly update the balena CLI to the latest version.

Contributing (including editing documentation files)

Please have a look at the file for some guidance before submitting a pull request or updating documentation (because some files are automatically generated). Thank you for your help and interest!


The project is licensed under the Apache 2.0 License. A copy is also available in the LICENSE file in this repository.

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