Launching an AWS Instance

Reaching into the Cloud

We will be configuring a virtual server to provide data aggregation and visualization services. There will be many posts in this series, but we must begin by initializing our Amazon Web Services (AWS) instance. First choose to “Launch Instance” from the EC2 section of your AWS console.

Step 1: Choose AMI

We will be using the Ubuntu Server 12.04.3 LTS – ami-6aad335a (64-bit) Amazon Machine Image (AMI). Choose an appropriate image for your needs.

Step 2: Choose and Instance Type

As for the Instance Type, we will be launching a prototype for testing. If this is your first time using AWS, a micro instance should be available in the free tier. A micro instance will be sufficient for our testing needs.

Step 3: Configure Instance

The default settings should be sufficient for most needs. New AWS users may wish to check the “protect against accidental termination” box. Sometimes if one is unfamiliar with the AWS interface they may accidentally delete or terminate an instance. Checking this box requires the user to remove termination protection before this instance can be terminated.

Step 4: Add Storage

In most all cases web services will be accumulating, referencing, and manipulating, data. It is not wise to store this important data on the server itself for if the server crashes your data is lost as well. AWS provides a service called Elastic Block Storage designed to ameliorate this issue. In this step you can attach an arbitrarily sized storage space to your instance and later mount it wherever you need.

Step 5: Tag Instance

Tagging enables you to conveniently label your instance. This is most useful when you have many instances in different groups with different purposes. For your first instance a simple “Name” = “Webserver” key value pair should be sufficient.

Step 6: Configure Security Group

This is a very important step. The security group controls which ports should be open to the public. You can consider it a watered down iptable. Each case will have different needs, but in general you’ll want to have ports 22, 80, and 443 available. These will provide you with access to SSH (22), HTTP (80), and HTTPS (443).

Step 7: Review Instance Launch

Now just review your configurations and when you’re ready launch your new instance. At the launch of your new instance, you will be asked to use or create a security key-pair. You will need this to access your device, make sure you download it to a safe place.

Connecting to your new Instance

Now to connect to your new instance you’ll need to use an SSH client that can employ RSA key value authentication. Linux users can just use the ssh command with the -i flag to specify the local key downloaded in the previous step. Each instance will have a default root account that you must log into before you can create any users. For our instance it is ubuntu. Lastly you must get the public ip address of your instance. You can see what this is by clicking on the “instances” tab of the EC2 section within your AWS console. For example, if my key were located at “/path/to/key.pem”, I were using the ubuntu instance, and my new instance’s ip address was, I would connect to it with the following command.

ssh -i /path/to/key.pem ubuntu@

Check out the next post

Configuring an AWS Ubuntu Server

to learn how to create accounts, edit privileges, and configure your new instance.

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