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After doing research, I have found there are many advantages to boot from an EBS-backed AMI rather than instance storage. I have a few questions related to this:

  1. What is the optimal size for an Ubuntu (12.10.1) EBS-backed AMI. I know the default is 8GBs, If I want to boot as a root device, should I make it bigger? I cannot seem to find too many use cases of what people use.
  2. Once I make the AMI how do I use it as a root device (and not use the instance storage)
  3. What is the standard maintenance for this (snapshots)

Thanks for your help!

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2 Answers 2

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What is the optimal size for an Ubuntu (12.10.1) EBS-backed AMI. I know the default is 8GBs, If I want to boot as a root device, should I make it bigger? I cannot seem to find too many use cases of what people use.

There is no such thing, as it's completely dependent on your use case. I typically keep my root (/) partition at the default of 8GB, and then add additional EBS volumes (/var, /opt, /home, etc.) as necessary.

Once I make the AMI how do I use it as a root device (and not use the instance storage)

Right-click on a EBS root AMI and choose "Launch Instance", or select an EBS root AMI from the Launch Instance dialogue. Eric Hammond (also a SF user) maintains a convenient list of the most up-to-date Ubuntu AMIs for each region on his website. Top of the right sidebar.

What is the standard maintenance for this (snapshots)

This is a very nebulous question, but yes, taking periodic snapshots is likely a good idea. You need to be careful, though. Depending on what software is running on your system, taking snapshots without first flushing data to disk will likely cause the filesystem in the snapshot to be corrupt, requiring recovery/fsck on first boot.

For mysql data partitions, ESH's ec2-consistent-snapshot does a nice job.

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EEAA, Thank you, that makes things a lot clearer to me. I appreciate your swift and thorough response! –  Zach Russell Apr 4 '13 at 19:04
    
@ZachRussell - no problem. Since you're apparently new at this, I'll offer one more word of advice: deploy in a VPC. Again, deploy in a VPC. See my answer over here for a few reasons why... –  EEAA Apr 4 '13 at 19:07
    
Can you send me link that explains this a little more in depth? I'd appreciate it. Meaning how to specifically configure, I have a general idea what it is. –  Zach Russell Apr 4 '13 at 22:06
    
@ZachRussell - explains what? –  EEAA Apr 4 '13 at 23:14
    
Deployments in a VPC –  Zach Russell Apr 5 '13 at 12:47

I usually use the default size for the root device and put all my data and apps on additional EBS volumes. This way you can use ec2-consistent-snapshot with filesystem freeze for consistent backups of the instance (freezing the root fs often fail due to race conditions).

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