New Releases of Ubuntu and Debian Images for Amazon EC2 2009-06-14 (Reliability and Security)

New updates have been released for the Ubuntu and Debian AMIs (EC2 images) published on:

The following improvements are included in this release:

  • Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty now uses an Ubuntu mirror inside of EC2 hosted by RightScale. This dramatically improves the performance of updates and upgrades. Hardy and Intrepid were already using the mirrors inside EC2.

  • The Hardy, Intrepid, and Jaunty images have been enhanced to add failover for Ubuntu archive mirror hosts across availability zones (data centers). This change lets an Ubuntu instance perform package updates and upgrades even if one or two of the EC2 availability zones are completely unavailable.

  • The denyhosts package is now installed on desktop images for improved security. The Amazon abuse team has identified the Ubuntu desktop images as a source of compromised systems. The cause for this is believed to be unsecure passwords set by users, since the desktop images have PasswordAuthentication enabled by default so that the NX client can connect. The denyhosts package blocks ssh attacks by adding remote systems to /etc/hosts.deny if they keep failing password logins.

The published Ubuntu and Debian server images continue to have PasswordAuthentication turned off by default for improved security. If you choose to turn this on, I recommend installing a package like denyhosts and using software like the following to generate secure passwords:

    sudo apt-get install pwgen
    pwgen -s 10 1
  • The EC2 AMI tools have been upgraded to version 1.3-31780.

  • All software packages have been updated to versions current as of 2009-06-14.

Community support for Ubuntu on EC2 is available in this group:

Community support for Debian on EC2 is available in this group:

The 32-bit Debian squeeze images and the 32-bit Debian etch desktop image have not been updated yet due to problems with initial package installation. Images will be released when these issues are resolved.

The following enhancements have been made to the ec2ubuntu-build-ami software which is used to build Ubuntu and Debian images for EC2.

  • New --kernel and --ramdisk options have been added to specify AKI and ARI. If you specify a different kernel, you should also specify kernel modules with --package or install them with the --script option.

  • Support has been removed for Ubuntu Edgy, Feisty, and Gutsy. These releases have reached their end of life. To improve the clarity of the code this software no longer supports building these images.

  • There has been a typo fix for $originaldir for folks who were using the --script option.

  • There has been a typo fix for /dev/ptmx though it apparently had no effect given how these images are built.

Thanks to Stephen Parkes and Paul Dowman for submitting patches.