April 2009 Archives

The official Ubuntu images for EC2 do not allow ssh directly to the root account, but instead provide access through a normal “ubuntu” user account. This practice fits the standard Ubuntu security model available in other environments and, admittedly, can take a bit of getting used to if you are not familiar with it.

This document describes how to work inside this environment using the “ubuntu” user and the sudo utility to execute commands as the root user when necessary.

Canonical has released official Ubuntu images for EC2 for Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic.

The primary technical benefit brought by Canonical’s involvement in building official Ubuntu images is that custom kernels can be built for EC2 through a relationship with Amazon. This means that the Ubuntu images can now run on more modern Ubuntu kernels instead of on Amazon’s older, Fedora kernels.

Other differences are listed below:

Alestic.com Ubuntu images Canonical Ubuntu images
Kernel 2.6.21 Karmic: 2.6.31
Releases 9.04 Jaunty
8.10 Intrepid
8.04 Hardy (LTS)
7.10 Gutsy (obsolete)
7.04 Feisty (obsolete)
6.10 Edgy (obsolete)
6.06 Dapper (LTS)
9.10 Karmic
Flavors server
ssh access ssh to root ssh to “ubuntu” with sudo to root
Apt Sources main
Alestic PPA
Apt Mirror Jaunty, Intrepid, Hardy:
ec2-us-east-mirror.rightscale.com (load balanced with failover)
Others: us.archive.ubuntu.com
US: us.ec2.archive.ubuntu.com
EU: eu.ec2.archive.ubuntu.com
Default runlevel runlevel 4 runlevel 2
Tools Amazon EC2 AMI tools installed
runurl installed
euca2ools installed
Amazon tools available (multiverse)
runurl available through Alestic PPA

Items listed are likely to change as images are enhanced. This table may or may not be updated to match. Please leave comments if you notice or question other differences.

Note: There are some older (2009-04) Canonical AMIs floating around for Hardy and Intrepid. These have not been maintained and are not recommended at this point.

Updated 2009-06-15: Alestic.com Jaunty is using an Ubuntu mirror inside EC2. Alestic.com images using load balanced mirror with failover between EC2 availability zones.

Updated 2009-06-25: Alestic.com published Karmic (Alpha) but later withdrew.

Updated 2009-10-29: Canonical released Karmic. None of the image currently have RightScale support built in, but RightScale has their own Ubuntu AMIs.

As you may have heard, Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty has been officially released by Ubuntu today, right on schedule:


Matching updates have been released for the Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty AMIs listed on:


Please note that we are still defaulting to Amazon’s 2.6.21fc8 kernel which is getting older and older for each new release of Ubuntu. Please do let the group know if you find incompatibilities with Ubuntu Jaunty other than the known problem that AppArmor is not enabled.

You might be able to run the 9.04 Jaunty image with the official Ubuntu 2.6.27 kernel (for Intrepid) which is currently in release candidate state from Canonical.

For what it’s worth, I still run Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Hardy on Amazon EC2 personally and for my company.

New updates have been released for all* of the Ubuntu and Debian AMIs listed on:


The primary enhancements in this release are:

  • The images which were experiencing problems with XFS and the Amazon 2.6.21fc8 kernel have been fixed by installing an XFS kernel module which matches Amazon’s kernel. This includes Ubuntu Intrepid, Ubuntu Jaunty, Debian Lenny, and Debian Squeeze.

  • The Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty image is using release candidate software. The official Jaunty release is expected April 23.

  • At the request of the Amazon security folks, ssh PasswordAuthentication has been disabled by default on the server images. Even though the base images have passwords disabled on the root account, some folks may be creating accounts with poor passwords susceptible to attacks. The desktop images require password authentication for NX (as far as I know) so please use secure passwords.

  • The desktop images have been upgraded to a recent version of NX Free Edition software.

  • This is the last published image for Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy. This version has reached its end of life on April 18 and should not be used any more unless you really need to test something on Gutsy and you aren’t going to leave it running long (no security patches available).

All of the AMIs are available in both the US and European regions.


  • The Ubuntu 6.10 Edgy, 7.04 Feisty, and 7.10 Gutsy AMIs are obsolete and unsupported. Running these images introduces a security risk as no security patches are being produced any more by Ubuntu.

Ubuntu AMIs

Ubuntu AMIs for EC2: