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AWS Marketplace: harness the value of free Amazon Machine Images


You can usually find something that will work well for you on the AWS Marketplace… for free!

An Amazon Machine Image (AMI) is a template that contains the software stack (operating system, application server, and applications) required to launch your instance. You can select an AMI supported directly by AWS, an AMI you built yourself, or one you choose from the AWS Marketplace.
The AWS marketplace can actually be a terrific source of AMIs. If your project isn’t too far off the beaten path, you can usually find one that will work for you right out of the box…and often for free. I’m going to show you the kinds of packages that are available, and how you go about finding and installing free stuff from the Marketplace.

Find free stuff on AWS Marketplace

If you don’t already know how to find AWS Marketplace AMIs, it is very simple. Just open your AWS console, click on the EC2 service icon, click on “Launch Instance” and then in the left hand column select “AWS Marketplace”. You should now be greeted with…

Find and buy software that runs in the AWS Cloud, software from trusted vendors like SAP, Zend, Microsoft, as well as many open source offerings. You can now find and launch software directly within EC2 for all AWS Marketplace AMI products. View Marketplace products you are currently subscribed to by visiting Your Software in the AWS Marketplace.

Currently, I see that there are 1,082 Software Infrastructure products, 115 Developer Tool products, and 547 Business Software products listed.
Let’s try something out. Because it’s my personal favorite I will search for WordPress. “WordPress” returns 58 products. Browsing down the list, you will see some products described as $0.00/hr for software + AWS usage fees, while others go for rates like $0.03/hr for software + AWS usage fees.
Obviously, $0.00/hr means “this software is free.” Since this article is about free stuff, we’ll take one of those.
I also suggest that you choose HVM. Amazon Machine Images use one of two types of virtualization: paravirtual (PV) or hardware virtual machine (HVM). The main difference between PV and HVM is the way in which they boot and whether they can take advantage of special hardware extensions (CPU, network, and storage) for better performance. AWS recommends that, for the best performance, you use current-generation instance types and HVM AMIs when you launch new instances. I am also going to choose the one supplied by Bitnami as I have used them before and they seem solid. And who could say no to Ubuntu?
So here’s what we selected:

  • WordPress powered by Bitnami (HVM)
  • 4.2.2-0 on Ubuntu 14.04.1 
  • $0.00/hr for software + AWS usage fees
  • Linux/Unix, Ubuntu 14.04.1 | 64-bit Amazon Machine Image (AMI) | Updated: 5/12/15

Working with your new AMI

Next, hit the Select button on the right and then choose some appropriate variation of these settings:

  1. Choose AMI – We have already chosen our AMI.
  2. Choose Instance Type – t2.micro
  3. Configure Instance – choose defaults
  4. Add Storage – 10 GB
  5. Tag Instance – Key is Name and Value is WordPress Bitnami (HVM)
  6. Configure a Security Group – Use the group they pick but change the source of your SSH connection to MY IP
  7. Review and Launch
  8. Choose a key pair or create a new one
  9. Launch

If all goes well you should eventually see the following:

Your instances are now launching

And then:

The following instance launches have been initiated: i-xxxxxxx View launch log

If you now go to your EC2 Dashboard you should see a new instance running. Look for your Public DNS among your instance details. Now all you need to do is cut/paste the Public DNS into your favorite browser and, voilà, you should hopefully something similar to this:
aws marketplace

Wow! That was easy but where’s my admin password?
Glad you asked. For a bitnami wordpress installation the the Username is user.
To get your Password you need to check the ‘Get system log’ of your instance under Instance Settings. Scroll down to near the bottom and you should see something like the screenshot below.
aws marketplace
In my case the password is 79fCKADfCixI – which will be deleted by the time anyone reads this article!
One more thing. If you intend to make this a real production website, I suggest that you consider purchasing a reserved instance. I was a little confused when I purchased my first reserved instance, as you don’t actually tie the reserved instance to the one you have just launched. But it’s much simpler than I though. Just follow the steps below and your reserved instance should magically tie itself to the AMI you have launched.

  1. Choose the same instance type.
  2. Make sure you are in the same region when you choose it.
  3. Choose the same Availability Zone

Written by

I have been UNIX/Linux System Administrator for the past 15 years and am slowly moving those skills into the AWS Cloud arena. I am passionate about AWS and Cloud Technologies and the exciting future that it promises to bring.

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