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I'm starting to test EC2 for a couple of new projects. I need to choose an AMI (Amazon Machine Image) and Amazon offered me as first option Fedora Core 8, which is a very old version of one of my favorites distributions. There is a lot of choices, but it's not clear for me which one is the better option. I have my own reasons in order to choice a distro and a version when I need to install a new server but I don't know If I can apply the same for EC2. I know there is a beta for RHEL, how stable is this beta?, How can I choose between all the CentOS AMIs in the list?

So this is my question: Do you recommend an AMI to start with EC2?


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up vote 1 down vote accepted

It's very easy to build your own AMI as well. RightScale provides a script to build a clean image and you can modify it to whatever you like. I've seen Ubuntu and CentOS from them.

We've modified their scripts for our own purposes but they are a good choice for starting out. Simply choose the one that's right for you (64bit or 32bit and which version).

Slightly old blog entry, but should lead you in the right direction.

If you're not going to build your own, I'd say pick one of theirs.

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Use the same decision making process you'd use for a normal server. EC2 is just a virtual server farm.

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I'll recommend using a cloud management software. They will allow you to create easily your own AMIs. RightScale is one solution, but I'll add enStratus and Scalr to the list (disclaimer: I work at Scalr).

RightScale provides ServerTemplates while at Scalr we handle things a bit differently. Basically we provides "roles", which are AMIs with a specific behaviour. For example, we provide MySQL+Centos, or MongoDB+ubuntu or whatever you want. If you want to launch a LAMP server for example, there is a role for this as well. Anyway, no matter the cloud management tool you'll use, it will solve the AMIs problem easily.

If you cannot afford a cloud management software, RightScale does provide a free account and Scalr is released under the Apache 2 License. You just have to download and install it yourself.

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