Amazon Lightsail: How To Set Up Your First Instance

In 2016, Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched a new service called Amazon Lightsail. Amazon Lightsail is a flat-rate, low-cost computing solution with easy setup and low maintenance. In the server hosting world, these systems are known as Virtual Private Servers (VPS).

Amazon Lightsail VPS is a scaled-down version of its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). For production workloads, EC2 instances require a range of fine-tuning like choosing the right Amazon Machine Image (AMI), placement in a virtual private cloud (VPC), assigning security groups, configuring network interfaces, and so on.

Amazon Lightsail instances don’t need any of these. This ease of set up and operation means that Lightsail instances don’t need to be maintained by dedicated server teams. They are ideal for developers, enthusiasts, and small teams.

In this post, I will show you how to set up an Amazon Lightsail instance and we’ll talk about why Amazon decided to get into the VPS market. In part two of this series, we will compare Amazon Lightsail to an established VPS provider like DigitalOcean.

Amazon Lightsail: Setting up your first instance

Setting up a Lightsail VPS is fairly straightforward. The Lightsail website can be accessed from the AWS console.
AWS Compute Solutions
In the following images, we are setting up a bare metal Ubuntu server from the main Lightsail console.
Creating an AWS Lightsail Instance
Choosing AWS Lightsail Instance Base OS
There is also an option to create servers from one of the base images. These images provide applications bundled with an operating system so you don’t have to install them manually:
Amazon Lightsail Application Images
We are not using any launch scripts:
AWS Lightsail Instance Launch Script
Note that if you want Lightsail to create the SSH key for the instance, you can download the private key only once. You can also upload the public part of an existing SSH key, and Lightsail assumes that you have access to the private key.
Generating SSH Key
Downloading SSH Key
We also chose to assign our server 1 GB of RAM, 1 vCPU, and a 30 GB SSD disk with a monthly data transfer rate of 2 TB. The instance will cost is $10 per month (USD). We have named our instance “Test_Ubuntu”:
Choosing AWS Lightsail Instance Size, Location, and Name

It takes less than a minute to provision the server, and it will also be assigned a public IP address. Clicking on the three vertical dots on the instance resource will open a menu from where we can stop, restart, delete, connect to, or manage the instance:
Popup Menu for AWS Lightsail Instance
The connect option will open a new browser window with SSH access, as shown below:
AWS Lightsail Instance Direct_SSH Access

Selecting Manage from the menu or clicking on the instance name in the dashboard will take us to a different screen:
Managing AWS Lightsail Instance
Clicking on “Connect using SSH” will again open the separate SSH screen in the browser. Most users would want to access the instance with a terminal program like PuTTy or from the OS command prompt. Other tabs of the instance’s property page are used for different purposes:

  • Metrics: The performance metrics for Lightsail instances are the same as those available for EC2, only fewer in number. As with CloudWatch metrics, these are available for up to two weeks. The metrics include:
    • CPU Utilization (%)
    • NetworkIn (incoming bytes received by all network interfaces)
    • NetworkOut (outgoing bytes sent by all network interfaces)
    • StausCheckFailed_Instance (if the instance VM itself failed AWS connectivity tests)
    • StatusCheckFailed_System (if the host containing the instance has a failure)
    • StatsuCheckFailed (a combination of StausCheckFailed_Instance and StatusCheckFailed_System)
  • Networking: From here, you can check the public and private IP addresses of the instance. As with EC2, rebooting the instance will assign it a new public IP. You can also assign a static IP to the instance.
Public and Private IP Addresses of AWS Lightsail Instance

Creating a Static IP for AWS Lightsail
Users can also create firewall rules for the instance from the Networking tab:
Firewall Rules can be Enabled for AWS Lightsail Instances

  • Snapshot: For virtual servers, snapshots are like a “point in time” copy of the entire instance. This is a common feature in all virtual server environments and Lightsail is no exception. Users can create snapshots of their Lightsail instance from this tab.  Snapshots are available even after an instance has been terminated, so you can also recreate the instance later. The Snapshots tab lists the last five snapshots of the instance.Creating Snapshots of AWS Lightsail Instances is easy
    The List of Snapshots of AWS Lightsail Instances
  • History: This displays all of the events associated with the Lightsail instance. The image below shows five events: the instance was created, it was assigned a static IP address, and then a snapshot was made. After that, the instance was stopped and started:AWS Lightsail Instance History
  • Delete: This tab allows you to delete the instance.

Advanced Features

There are several advanced features available in Lightsail, including the ability to create static IP addresses and DNS zone records.
Static IPs are fixed public IP addresses attached to an instance. The instance keeps the IP even if it’s rebooted. This is ideal for internet facing servers. Static IPs can be detached from an instance and reassigned to another.
For DNS, Lightsail enables you to create A, CNAME, MX, and TXT resource type records for registered domains:
Creating DNS Zone Record for AWS Lightsail Instance
Creating DNS Records for AWS Lightsail Instance
This means that Lightsail customers can take advantage of the AWS Route 53 service to register a domain name and use that for an instance without having to go to a separate provider.

We created a static IP for our Test_Ubuntu server and configured DNS zone records for a domain name. The zone record (A) points to the static IP. The resource screen in Lightsail now looks like this:
AWS Lightsail Resources

Amazon Lightsail instances can connect to other AWS resources. This is made possible when we enable the VPC peering option from the account properties:
AWS Lightsail Advanced Properties

Conclusion

This was a very brief introduction to Amazon Lightsail. We find it to be a cheap, user-friendly platform that allows you to rapidly set up infrastructure and deploy applications. However, if you are looking for some extra features from your VPS provider, you may want to shop around to see what other vendors have to offer. This is what we will do in the second part of this series, so stay tuned for Amazon Lightsail, part two.

Avatar

Written by

Sadequl Hussain

Sadequl Hussain is an IT pro based in Sydney, Australia. He comes from a strong database administration backround and has more than 15 years of experience in development, database management, training, and technical writing. Sadequl also holds a number of vendor certifications, including one from AWS. He loves working with cloud technologies, NoSQL / Big Data databases, automation toolsets, open source technologies and Windows / Linux system administration. When he is not doing any of these, Sadequl loves to spend time with his young family.


Related Posts

Amanda Cross
Amanda Cross
— January 7, 2021

New Content: AWS Terraform, Java Programming Lab Challenges, Azure DP-900 & DP-300 Certification Exam Prep, Plus Plenty More Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Big Data Courses

This month our Content Team continues building the catalog of courses for everyone learning about AWS, GCP, and Microsoft Azure. In addition, this month’s updates include several Java programming lab challenges and a couple of courses on big data. In total, we released five new learning...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Avatar
Stuart Scott
— December 17, 2020

Where Should You Be Focusing Your AWS Security Efforts?

Another day, another re:Invent session! This time I listened to Stephen Schmidt’s session, “AWS Security: Where we've been, where we're going.” Amongst covering the highlights of AWS security during 2020, a number of newly added AWS features/services were discussed, including: AWS Audit...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS re:Invent
  • cloud security
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— December 4, 2020

AWS re:Invent: 2020 Keynote Top Highlights and More

We’ve gotten through the first five days of the special all-virtual 2020 edition of AWS re:Invent. It’s always a really exciting time for practitioners in the field to see what features and services AWS has cooked up for the year ahead.  This year’s conference is a marathon and not a...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Glue Elastic Views
  • AWS re:Invent
Bryony Harrower
Bryony Harrower
— November 6, 2020

WARNING: Great Cloud Content Ahead

At Cloud Academy, content is at the heart of what we do. We work with the world’s leading cloud and operations teams to develop video courses and learning paths that accelerate teams and drive digital transformation. First and foremost, we listen to our customers’ needs and we stay ahea...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • content roadmap
  • GCP
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— October 25, 2020

Excelling in AWS, Azure, and Beyond – How Danut Prisacaru Prepares for the Future

Meet Danut Prisacaru. Danut has been a Software Architect for the past 10 years and has been involved in Software Engineering for 30 years. He’s passionate about software and learning, and jokes that coding is basically the only thing he can do well (!). We think his enthusiasm shines t...

Read more
  • AWS
  • careers
  • champions
  • upskilling
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— October 14, 2020

New Content: AWS Data Analytics – Specialty Certification, Azure AI-900 Certification, Plus New Learning Paths, Courses, Labs, and More

This month our Content Team released two big certification Learning Paths: the AWS Certified Data Analytics - Speciality, and the Azure AI Fundamentals AI-900. In total, we released four new Learning Paths, 16 courses, 24 assessments, and 11 labs.  New content on Cloud Academy At any ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— September 15, 2020

New Content: Azure DP-100 Certification, Alibaba Cloud Certified Associate Prep, 13 Security Labs, and Much More

This past month our Content Team served up a heaping spoonful of new and updated content. Not only did our experts release the brand new Azure DP-100 Certification Learning Path, but they also created 18 new hands-on labs — and so much more! New content on Cloud Academy At any time, y...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— August 28, 2020

AWS Certification Practice Exam: What to Expect from Test Questions

If you’re building applications on the AWS cloud or looking to get started in cloud computing, certification is a way to build deep knowledge in key services unique to the AWS platform. AWS currently offers 12 certifications that cover major cloud roles including Solutions Architect, De...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
Patrick Navarro
Patrick Navarro
— August 25, 2020

Overcoming Unprecedented Business Challenges with AWS

From auto-scaling applications with high availability to video conferencing that’s used by everyone, every day —  cloud technology has never been more popular or in-demand. But what does this mean for experienced cloud professionals and the challenges they face as they carve out a new p...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Cloud Adoption
  • digital transformation
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— August 18, 2020

Constant Content: Cloud Academy’s Q3 2020 Roadmap

Hello —  Andy Larkin here, VP of Content at Cloud Academy. I am pleased to release our roadmap for the next three months of 2020 — August through October. Let me walk you through the content we have planned for you and how this content can help you gain skills, get certified, and...

Read more
  • alibaba
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • content roadmap
  • Content updates
  • DevOps
  • GCP
  • Google Cloud
  • New content
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— August 5, 2020

New Content: Alibaba, Azure AZ-303 and AZ-304, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) Foundation, Python 3 Programming, 16 Hands-on Labs, and Much More

This month our Content Team did an amazing job at publishing and updating a ton of new content. Not only did our experts release the brand new AZ-303 and AZ-304 Certification Learning Paths, but they also created 16 new hands-on labs — and so much more! New content on Cloud Academy At...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— July 16, 2020

Blog Digest: Which Certifications Should I Get?, The 12 Microsoft Azure Certifications, 6 Ways to Prevent a Data Breach, and More

This month, we were excited to announce that Cloud Academy was recognized in the G2 Summer 2020 reports! These reports highlight the top-rated solutions in the industry, as chosen by the source that matters most: customers. We're grateful to have been nominated as a High Performer in se...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • OWASP
  • OWASP Top 10
  • Security
  • VPCs