Deploying Enterprise Linux in AWS

In a previous post I discussed installing Enterprise Linux in VMWare, this time I wanted to write about deploying a server to the cloud.

Cloud Computing platforms like Amazon’s AWS allow you to build and run all kinds of Infrastructure and services on-demand without having to purchase and maintain expensive physical computing hardware. You can deploy a server in minutes and have the capability to scale your workload as much as you need. I’ve been running production servers in AWS for a few years now and of all the cloud platforms, it’s the one I’m most familiar with.

I assume you’ve registered for an AWS account already, if not, head over to and set one up.

AWS is huge. There’s services and infrastructure available for pretty much anything you can imagine, from basic Linux and Windows servers, to Machine Learning and AI and everything in between. It can be quite overwhelming the first time you log into the AWS console, however for this post we can safely ignore pretty much all of that.

Amazon’s EC2 is a service that lets us deploy server images, whether those are images that AWS have supplied, community contributed images, or something that we’ve built ourselves. Basically, an image is almost like what we built previously when installing Linux in VMWare. An image is a preconfigured Operating System that we can deploy from the AWS console.

From the Services menu, or the list of All Services above, select EC2.

You should see a dashboard that looks like the following.

Again, for the most part you can ignore everything there for now.

Click on the big orange button that says ‘Launch Instance’.

Here you get to select the Operating System you want to deploy. Depending on what you want, you can feel free to select any of the Quick Start OS images, most of them are self-explanatory, such as Windows, MacOS X or Ubuntu. Amazon Linux is a variant of Linux based closely on Red Hat / CentOS and has been tuned to work well with AWS. However, in this case I’m going to select ‘Browse more AMIs’.

I’m going to select ‘AWS Marketplace AMIs’ from below the search box and look for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.

I’m going to use the first one on the list. Click the orange Select button, followed by the ‘Continue’ button on the popup window that appears.

Give your instance a name. For this example I’ll just call mine ‘RHEL Server’, but you should give your server a name that matches its purpose or another easily identifiable name.

Next you’ll want to select the Instance type. This is basically the size of the server you want. AWS has a huge range of different instance types you can choose from depending on the purpose of the server you’re building. However, you need to be careful because the instance type dictates much of the price you’ll pay each month so don’t spin up massive servers unless you know you can pay for them.

In this example I’m going to deploy a t2.micro instance which is Free Tier eligible, which is perfect because it means I can deploy and play around for a bit and then shut it down when I’m ready without paying for it.

Below the instance type you want to select the key pair you’ll use to connect to the instance. The key pair allows you to securely connect to the instance using SSH without having to use passwords and is required by AWS. If you haven’t already set one up do so now by clicking the link next to the dropdown. Make sure you download the key you create and store it somewhere safe.

Further down in the Network settings, I’m going to select ‘Allow SSH traffic from’ and select ‘My IP’ from the dropdown. This just restricts access to the server from the Internet to only the IP address you’re connecting to the console from.

If you’re setting this up from your home you likely have an IP address assigned from your ISP dynamically. For the most part for home Internet access this is great, but can cause issues when setting AWS server access. If your ISP changes your home IP address you can be locked out of your server. For this example, this is fine.

I’ve deselected the ‘Allow HTTP traffic from the Internet’ checkbox as I wont be setting up a web server at the moment.

That should be it for the basic configuration. If everything looks Ok, you can click the orange ‘Launch Instance’ button.

After a few seconds you should see your running instance appear.

Your server is now ready for use. The base images only have the bare minimum software installed to give you a useful OS. From here you’ll need to configure the applications and services that you’ll be running.

To connect to the server, I’ll use the Solar-PuTTY tool to establish an SSH connection. Remember, we’ve restricted access to only our own IP address and we need to use the Key that was configured earlier. The default username that’s created with the image is ec2-user.

There’s much more to setting up and running production servers in AWS than just what I covered in this post, however this is a pretty good starting point for getting a server up and running quickly.