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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 configuration files 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 configuration files, 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 configuration files. 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, choose 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.

Note

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.

Note

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

To use your custom AMI, specify your custom AMI ID in the Custom AMI ID field in Instances section of the Configuration page of the Elastic Beanstalk Environment Management Console. Existing instances will be replaced with new instances launched from the new custom AMI.

  1. Open the Amazon EC2 console at https://console.aws.amazon.com/ec2/.

  2. Choose Launch Instance.

  3. Choose 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. Choose Select to select the AMI.

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

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

    #cloud-config
    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.

    Note

    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 key pair that you have access to so that you can connect to the instance for the next steps.

  9. Connect to the instance with SSH or RDP.

  10. Perform any desired customizations.

  11. (Windows platforms) Run the EC2Config service Sysprep. For information about EC2Config, go to Configuring a Windows Instance Using the EC2Config Service. Ensure that Sysprep is configured to generate a random password that can be retrieved from the AWS Management Console.

  12. (Tomcat platforms) Start Apache and Tomcat:

    $ sudo -s
    $ cd /etc/init.d
    $ ./httpd start
    $ ./tomcat7 start
  13. In the Amazon EC2 console, stop the EC2 instance and then choose Create Image (EBS AMI) from the Instance Actions menu.

  14. To avoid incurring additional AWS charges, terminate the EC2 instance.