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I have a small, low-cost, VPS that I use for some "grey-beared-Unix-guy shell stuff": basically, hosting a Debian running a XMPP bot, keeping long lived shell sessions with tmux under intermittent connections, reading feeds with newsbeuter (so I can keep my reading synchronized between home and work machines without resorting to Google Reader, etc.), some random note-taking with vim, and tunnelling out some connections over SSH (I have sshd running on port 443 for this).

Since my subscription is about to expire, I'm thinking about migration this server to Amazon EC2 (as they have a free-tier now and I think I fit them).


  • I have zero experience with Amazon services or EC2; Never used any of them.
  • Can I run this environment on the VMs they provide?
  • The "micro" instance seems to fit my needs, running full time and still in the free tier for a year. It this ok?
  • Is there any hidden cost I failed to notice?
  • Is there someone using this approach?
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closed as not constructive by EEAA, mgorven, mdpc, Khaled, Ward Mar 3 '13 at 0:33

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

You can use an EC2 microinstance for this. I wrote an AWS tutorial for another user who had a slightly different problem, but most of it should apply to you.

You'd probably do best to use either Amazon Linux (effectively CentOS), or Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. Both are available on the micro tier instances.

As long as you stay within the micro tier allowance, there's no extra cost.

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Sure. EC2 is an IAAS provider: infrastructure as a service. You choose an AMI ID (e.g., I say with some bias, a Fedora cloud image from here, but you can use pretty much any distro you want) and launch it, and then you have a running system you can SSH to.

You can also prepare and upload your own AMIs with a moderate amount of work.

Be aware, though, that the free tier is only good for one year. EC2 isn't necessarily the most cost-effective for "static" services like this, and after a year you might be wanting to change to something else.

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You can easily fit all that into a "micro" EC2 instance. I recommend against Amazon Linux, though; it often has bizarre problems caused by a lack of quality control in packaging. Choose something more stable, such as CentOS, Debian, Fedora or Ubuntu, depending on your specific needs.

Also keep in mind that it's only free for a year. After that, you'll be paying around $17-$20 per month, give or take, depending on how much bandwidth you consume. (And remember they charge per gigabyte, so you could pay a lot more...) When your time is up, you may want to go shopping elsewhere. One of my favorite places is Low End Box.

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