AWS Systems Manager Distributor - AWS Systems Manager

AWS Systems Manager Distributor

Distributor, a capability of AWS Systems Manager, helps you package your own software—and find AWS provided agent software packages, such as AmazonCloudWatchAgent, or third-party packages such as Trend Micro—to install on AWS Systems Manager managed instances. Distributor publishes resources, such as software packages, to Systems Manager managed instances. Publishing a package advertises specific versions of the package's document—a Systems Manager (SSM) document that you create when you add the package in Distributor—to managed instances that you identify by managed instance IDs, AWS account IDs, tags, or an AWS Region.

After you create a package in Distributor, which creates an SSM document, you can install the package in one of the following ways:


Distributor doesn't guarantee that the third-party packages you install are free of any potential malware. We encourage that you conduct your own additional due diligence to ensure compliance with your internal security controls. Security is a shared responsibility between AWS and you. This is described as the shared responsibility model. To learn more, see the shared responsibility model.

How can Distributor benefit my organization?

Distributor offers these benefits:

  • One package, many platforms

    One document can have attached .zip files that are installed on different operating systems (such as Windows, Ubuntu Server, Debian Server, or Red Hat Enterprise Linux). For more information about supported platforms, see Supported package platforms and architectures.

  • Control package access across groups of managed instances

    You can use Run Command or State Manager to control which of your managed instances get a package and which version of that package. Run Command and State Manager are capabilities of AWS Systems Manager. Managed instances can be grouped by instance IDs, AWS account numbers, tags, or AWS Regions. You can use State Manager associations to deliver different versions of a package to different groups of instances.

  • Many AWS agent packages included and ready to use

    Distributor includes many AWS agent packages that are ready for you to deploy to managed instances. Look for packages in the Distributor Packages list page that are published by Amazon. Examples include AmazonCloudWatchAgent and AWSPVDriver.

  • Automate deployment

    To keep your environment current, use State Manager to schedule packages for automatic deployment on target instances when those instances are first launched.

Who should use Distributor?

  • Any AWS customer who wants to create new or deploy existing software packages, including AWS published packages, to multiple Systems Manager managed instances at one time.

  • Software developers who create software packages.

  • Administrators who are responsible for keeping Systems Manager managed instances current with the most up-to-date software packages.

What are the features of Distributor?

  • Deployment of packages to both Windows and Linux instances

    With Distributor, you can deploy software packages to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances for Linux and Windows Server. For a list of supported instance operating system types, see Supported package platforms and architectures.


    Distributor isn't supported on the macOS operating system.

  • Deploy packages one time, or on an automated schedule

    You can choose to deploy packages one time, on a regular schedule, or whenever the default package version is changed to a different version.

  • Completely reinstall packages, or perform in-place updates

    To install a new package version, you can completely uninstall the current version and install a new one in its place, or only update the current version with new and updated components, according to an update script that you provide. Your package application is unavailable during a reinstallation, but can remain available during an in-place update. In-place updates are especially useful for security monitoring applications or other scenarios where you need to avoid application downtime.

  • Console, CLI, PowerShell, and SDK access to Distributor capabilities

    You can work with Distributor by using the Systems Manager console, AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI), AWS Tools for PowerShell, or the AWS SDK of your choice.

  • IAM access control

    By using AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) policies, you can control which members of your organization can create, update, deploy, or delete packages or package versions. For example, you might want to give an administrator permissions to deploy packages, but not to change packages or create new package versions.

  • Logging and auditing capability support

    You can audit and log Distributor user actions in your AWS account through integration with other AWS services. For more information, see Auditing and logging Distributor activity.

What is a package?

A package is a collection of installable software or assets that includes the following.

  • A .zip file of software per target operating system platform. Each .zip file must include the following.

    • An install and an uninstall script. Windows Server-based instances require PowerShell scripts (scripts named install.ps1 and uninstall.ps1). Linux-based instances require shell scripts (scripts named and AWS Systems Manager SSM Agent reads and carries out the instructions in the install and uninstall scripts.

    • An executable file. SSM Agent must find this executable to install the package on target instances.

  • A JSON-formatted manifest file that describes the package contents. The manifest isn't included in the .zip file, but it's stored in the same Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) bucket as the .zip files that form the package. The manifest identifies the package version and maps the .zip files in the package to target instance attributes, such as operating system version or architecture. For information about how to create the manifest, see Step 2: Create the JSON package manifest.

When you choose Simple package creation in the Distributor console, Distributor generates the installation and uninstallation scripts, file hashes, and the JSON package manifest for you, based on the software executable file name and target platforms and architectures.

Supported package platforms and architectures

Distributor supports package distribution to any release version of the following platforms that is supported as a Systems Manager managed instance. A version value must match the exact release version of the operating system Amazon Machine Image (AMI) that you're targeting. For more information about determining this version, see step 4 of Step 2: Create the JSON package manifest.

Platform Code value in manifest file Architecture

Windows Server


x86_64 or 386

Debian Server


x86_64 or 386

Ubuntu Server


x86_64 or 386

arm64 (Ubuntu Server 16 and later, A1 instance types)

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)


x86_64 or 386

arm64 (RHEL 7.6 and later, A1 instance types)



x86_64 or 386

Amazon Linux and Amazon Linux 2


x86_64 or 386

arm64 (Amazon Linux 2, A1 instance types)

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES)


x86_64 or 386



x86_64 or 386

openSUSE Leap


x86_64 or 386

Oracle Linux