Ubuntu Server Edition 9.10: No hardware required
In the 9.10 release of Ubuntu Server Edition, we introduced something new for people who are exploring cloud computing using Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).
If you haven’t tried it yet, EC2 is essentially an API for managing virtual servers. Using a command line tool or script, you request a new VM, and moments later, it is ready for you to ssh in, preconfigured with your ssh public key. When you’re finished, you shut it down, and receive a bill for only the time and Internet bandwidth you used (about $0.10 per hour and $0.10-$0.17 per gigabyte). There is no downloading, no installing, and no hardware required for you to set up a server. The first step is to boot it up.
Starting with release 9.10, every release of Ubuntu Server Edition is simultaneously available on EC2. This means you can have a new Ubuntu server up and running using your EC2 account with a single command. Ready-to-run Ubuntu machine images are published on EC2 whenever a new Ubuntu release or milestone is available. All you need to know is the AMI, a short string which uniquely identifies the image you want. The AMIs for the 9.10 release are on the download page, in 32- and 64-bit versions for US and Europe zones.
Similarly, all Server Edition development builds are available on EC2 as well. When the first builds of Lucid (Ubuntu 10.04) are created, there will be AMIs for those as well. If you want to test drive a new feature, or check compatibility with your application, just fire up a new instance on EC2, do your work, and then terminate it. The whole process can be completed in less than a minute. If you find a problem in our development builds, just run ubuntu-bug on the virtual machine as you normally would, and apport will automatically attach the relevant EC2 details to your bug report.
As I mentioned above, EC2 does charge for Internet bandwidth. It does not charge for local bandwidth within your EC2 zone. For this reason, Canonical has set up Ubuntu archive mirrors within EC2, so that you can download all Ubuntu packages and updates for free. Ubuntu virtual machines inside EC2 are automatically configured to use the appropriate mirror, so you don’t need to think about it.
This is an exciting step forward in making Ubuntu more convenient and powerful to use on EC2, and I encourage you to give it a try. If you’ve never used EC2 before, just follow our Starter’s Guide to get set up.