AWS Elastic Beanstalk
Developer Guide (API Version 2010-12-01)

Creating a Custom Amazon Machine Image (AMI)

When you create an AWS Elastic Beanstalk environment, you can specify an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) to use instead of the standard Elastic Beanstalk AMI included in your platform configuration's solution stack. A custom AMI can improve provisioning times when instances are launched in your environment if you need to install a lot of software that isn't included in the standard AMIs.

Using .ebextensions is great for configuring and customizing your environment quickly and consistently. Applying configurations, however, can start to take a long time during environment creation and updates. If you do a lot of server configuration in .ebextensions, you can reduce this time by making a custom AMI that already has the software and configuration that you need.

A custom AMI also allows you to make changes to low level components, such as the Linux kernel, that are difficult to implement or take a long time to apply in .ebextensions. To create a custom AMI, launch an Elastic Beanstalk platform AMI in Amazon EC2, customize the software and configuration to your needs, and then stop the instance and save an AMI from it.

To identify the base Elastic Beanstalk AMI

  1. Open the Elastic Beanstalk console.

  2. Create an Elastic Beanstalk environment running your application. For more information on how to launch an Elastic Beanstalk application, go to the Getting Started Using Elastic Beanstalk.

  3. Navigate to the management console for your environment.

  4. Choose Configuration

  5. Next to Instances, click Edit.

  6. Note the value in the Custom AMI ID box.

  7. Terminate the environment.

The value in the Custom AMI ID field is the stock Elastic Beanstalk AMI for the platform version, EC2 instance architecture and region in which you created your environment. If you need to create AMIs for multiple platforms, architectures or regions, repeat this process to identify the correct base AMI for each combination.


Do not create an AMI from an instance that has been launched in an Elastic Beanstalk environment. Elastic Beanstalk makes changes to instances during provisioning that can cause issues in the saved AMI. Saving an image from an instance in an Elastic Beanstalk environment will also bake in the version of your application that was deployed to the instance.

It is also possible to create a custom AMI from a community AMI that was not published by Elastic Beanstalk. You can use the latest Amazon Linux AMI as a starting point. When you launch an environment with a non-Beanstalk Linux AMI, Elastic Beanstalk attempts to install platform software (language, framework, proxy server, etc.) and additional components to support features such as Enhanced Health Reporting.


Non-Beanstalk AMIs are not supported for Elastic Beanstalk Windows Server platforms.

Although you can use a non-Beanstalk AMI with Elastic Beanstalk, the increase in provisioning time that results from Elastic Beanstalk installing missing components can reduce or eliminate the benefits of creating a custom AMI in the first place. Other Linux distributions may work with some troubleshooting but are not officially supported. If your application requires a specific Linux distribution, one alternative is to create a Docker image and run it on Elastic Beanstalk's single container Docker platform or multicontainer Docker platform.

To create a custom AMI

  1. Open the Amazon EC2 console at

  2. Click Launch Instance.

  3. Click Community AMIs

  4. Enter the AMI ID of the Elastic Beanstalk or community AMI that you will customize to create a custom AMI and press Enter.

  5. Click Select to select the AMI.

  6. Select an instance type and click Next: Configure Instance Details.

  7. Expand the Advanced Details section and paste the following text in the User Data field:

    repo_releasever: repository version number
    repo_upgrade: none

    The repository version number is the year and month version in the AMI name. For example, AMIs based on the March 2015 release of Amazon Linux have a repository version number 2015.03. For Elastic Beanstalk image, this matches the date shown in the solution stack name for your platform configuration.


    These settings configure the lock-on-launch feature, which causes the AMI to use a fixed, specific repository version when it launches, and disables the automatic installation of security updates. Both are required to use a custom AMI with Elastic Beanstalk.

  8. Proceed through the wizard to launch the EC2 instance. When prompted, select an SSH key that you have access to so that you can use SSH to connect to the instance for the next steps.


    For additional information on how to launch an Amazon EC2 instance, go to Running an Instance in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud User Guide.

  9. Connect to the instance. For more information on connecting to an Amazon EC2 instance, go to Connecting to Instances in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud User Guide.

  10. After customizing a Windows instance, you need to run the EC2Config service Sysprep. For information about EC2Config, go to Configuring a Windows Instance Using the EC2Config Service.

  11. If you are using an AMI with Apache and Tomcat, you will need to perform your customizations.

    Apache and Tomcat are not automatically started when you manually launch the Elastic Beanstalk AMI using the Amazon EC2 tab on the AWS Management Console. Enter the following commands at your Amazon EC2 instance's command prompt to start Apache and Tomcat.

    sudo -s
    cd /etc/init.d
    ./httpd start
    ./tomcat7 start
  12. Open the Amazon EC2 console at

  13. Stop the EC2 instance.

  14. Select the stopped instance that you've just modified and choose Create Image (EBS AMI) from the Instance Actions menu.

  15. To avoid incurring additional AWS charges, terminate the Amazon EC2 instance. For instructions on how to terminate an instance, go to Terminate Your Instance in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud User Guide.

  16. To use your custom AMI, specify your custom AMI ID in the Custom AMI ID text box in the Elastic Beanstalk Edit Configuration dialog box. Existing instances will be replaced with new instances launched from the new custom AMI.