[talk] FreeBSD EC2 Crash Course?

Pete Wright pete at nomadlogic.org
Fri Aug 8 15:39:20 EDT 2014

On 8/8/14, 12:25 PM, Charles Sprickman wrote:
> Hello all,
> I recently setup my first EC2 instance, and that was my very first foray into “the cloud”.
> I am seeing a huge mound of documentation, I am not seeing a nice list of gotchas or a good overview of things like instance storage vs. EBS vs. ephemeral storage and such.
> I know there’s a few here that run things on a fairly large scale in Amazon’s cloud - I really only need a few cheap standalone instances.  My concerns boil down to:
> • How to never lose my public IPs

take a look at using elastic IP addresses:

> • How to safely backup the entire instance off-site (none are over 10G)
this is possible, although i'd suggest *not* doing this since the 
infrastructure to back and restore instances is actually counter 
intuitive.  with out getting into the nitty gritty details i'd suggest 
using tarsnap to backup your userland.

> • Swap (seriously - even something this simple has caveats and apparently if you use EBS you can rack up a huge bill if something spins out of control and hits swap hard)

i generally take as many steps as humanly possibly to not swap on ec2. 
if that is not an option i'd suggest the following:
-- install your instance on an ephemeral volume
- then -
-- create an EBS volume for your local userland and mount that
--- this gives you the added benefit of snapshotting this volume for 
backup and sharing fun b/w multiple instance

> • Any FreeBSD-specific gotchas beyond Colin’s notes here: http://www.daemonology.net/freebsd-on-ec2/
Colin's notes are great for FreeBSD specifics.  The AWS documentation is 
actually pretty great.

> In short, I really want to just treat this more like a simple VPS instead of a puppet-ified cloudfront sharknado monster, and I want a recovery path if I break something.
> Any pointers?

i currently approach aws and ec2 in two ways:
- spin up short lived instances on ephemeral disks for specific, 
short-term uses.  for example, running a proxy in ireland or acting as a 
temp R&D playground.

- build a VPC environment for longer-term development.  VPC allows you 
to own your private subnets and keep things more...well private than 
standard ec2 instances.  i usually do this on my companies dime since it 
had added costs.  it is helpful though for doing a full lab buildout for 
R&D (for example wanted to demo a new version of my web+db stack).

the last thing i'll note is that aside from spining up very short lived 
instances for personal use i tend to shy away from ec2 due to how easy 
it is to loose track of costs and get dinged by a bill if you are 
careless (like i often am :).

hope this helps!

Pete Wright
pete at nomadlogic.org
twitter => @nomadlogicLA

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