Using an Amazon EC2-compatible AMI on Snow Family devices - AWS Snowball Edge Developer Guide

Using an Amazon EC2-compatible AMI on Snow Family devices

To use an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) on your AWS Snow Family device, you must first add it to the device. You can add an AMI in the following ways:

  • Upload the AMI when you order the device.

  • Add the AMI when your device arrives at your site.

Amazon EC2 compute instances that come with your Snow Family devices are launched based on the Amazon EC2 AMIs that you add to your device. Amazon EC2-compatible AMIs support both Linux and Microsoft Windows operating systems.


The following Linux operating systems are supported:

As a best-practice for security, keep your Amazon Linux 2 AMIs up-to-date on Snow Family devices as new Amazon Linux 2 AMIs are released. See Updating your Amazon Linux 2 AMIs on Snow Family devices.


The following Windows operating systems are supported:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2

  • Windows Server 2016

  • Windows Server 2019

You can add Windows AMIs to your device by importing your Windows virtual machine (VM) image into AWS using VM Import/Export. Or, you can import the image into your device right after the device is deployed to your site. For more information, see Adding a Microsoft Windows AMI.


Windows AMIs that originated in AWS can't be added to your device.

AMIs imported locally must be in BIOS boot mode as UEFI is not supported.

Snow Family supports the Bring Your Own License (BYOL) model. For more information, see Adding a Microsoft Windows AMI.


AWS Snow Family EC2-compatible instances allow customers to use and manage Amazon EC2-compatible instances using a subset of EC2 APIs and a subset of AMIs.

Adding an AMI When Ordering Your Device

When you order your device, you can add AMIs to the device by choosing them in the Compute using EC2 instances - optional section in the AWS Snow Family Management Console. The Compute using EC2 instances - optional lists all of the AMIs that can be loaded onto your device. The AMIs fall into the following categories:

  • AMIs from AWS Marketplace — These are AMIs created from the list of supported AMIs. For information about creating an AMI from the supported AMIs from AWS Marketplace, see Adding an AMI from AWS Marketplace.

  • AMIs uploaded using VM Import/Export — When you order your device, the AMIs that were uploaded using VM Import/Export are listed in the console. For more information, see Importing a VM as an Image Using VM Import/Export in the VM Import/Export User Guide. For information about supported virtualization environments, see VM Import/Export Requirements.

Adding an AMI from AWS Marketplace

You can add many AMIs from AWS Marketplace to your Snow Family device by launching the AWS Marketplace instance, creating an AMI from it, and configuring the AMI in the same region from which you'll order the Snow device. Then, you can choose to include the AMI on the device when you create a job to order the device. When choosing an AMI from the Marketplace, make sure it has a supported product code and platform.

Checking product codes and platform details of AWS Marketplace AMIs

Before you begin the process to add an AMI from AWS Marketplace to your Snow Family device, ensure the product code and platform details of the AMI are supported in your AWS Region.

  1. Open the Amazon EC2 console at

  2. From the navigation bar, select the Region in which to launch your instances and from which you will create the job to order the Snow Family device. You can select any Region that is available to you, regardless of your location.

  3. In the navigation pane, choose AMIs.

  4. Use the filter and search options to scope the list of displayed AMIs to see only the AMIs that match your criteria. For example, AMIs provided by the AWS Marketplace, choose Public images. Then use the search options to further scope the list of displayed AMIs:

    • (New console) Choose the Search bar and, from the menu, choose Owner alias, then the = operator, and then the value amazon.

    • (Old console) Choose the Search bar and, from the menu, choose Owner and then the value Amazon images.


    AMIs from AWS Marketplace include aws-marketplace in the Source column.

  5. In the AMI ID column, choose the AMI ID of the AMI.

  6. In the Image summary of the AMI, ensure the Product codes are supported by your Region. For more information, see the table below.

    Supported AWS Marketplace AMI product codes
    AMI operating system Product code
    Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS b3dl4415quatdndl4qa6kcu45
    CentOS 7 (x86_64) aw0evgkw8e5c1q413zgy5pjce
    Ubuntu 16.04 LTS csv6h7oyg29b7epjzg7qdr7no
    Amazon Linux 2 avyfzznywektkgl5qv5f57ska
    Ubuntu 20.04 LTS a8jyynf4hjutohctm41o2z18m
    Ubuntu 22.04 LTS 47xbqns9xujfkkjt189a13aqe
  7. Then, also ensure the Platform details contains one of entries from the list below.

    • Amazon Linux, Ubuntu, or Debian

    • Red Hat Linux bring-your-own-license

    • Amazon RDS for Oracle bring-your-own-license

    • Windows bring-your-own-license

Determining the version of the Amazon Linux 2 AMI for Snow Family

Use the following procedure to determine the version of the Amazon Linux 2 AMI for Snow Family on the Snow Family device. Install the latest version of the AWS CLI before continuing. For more information, see Install or update to the latest version of the AWS CLI in the AWS Command Line Interface User Guide.

  • Use the describe-images AWS CLI command to see the description of the AMI. The version is contained in the description. Provide the public key certificate from the previous step. For more information, see describe-images in the AWS CLI Command Reference.

    aws ec2 describe-images --endpoint http://snow-device-ip:8008 --region snow
    Example of output of the describe-images command
    { "Images": [ { "CreationDate": "2024-02-12T23:24:45.705Z", "ImageId": "s.ami-02ba84cb87224e16e", "Public": false, "ProductCodes": [ { "ProductCodeId": "avyfzznywektkgl5qv5f57ska", "ProductCodeType": "marketplace" } ], "State": "AVAILABLE", "BlockDeviceMappings": [ { "DeviceName": "/dev/xvda", "Ebs": { "DeleteOnTermination": true, "Iops": 0, "SnapshotId": "s.snap-0efb49f2f726fde63", "VolumeSize": 8, "VolumeType": "sbp1" } } ], "Description": "Snow Family Amazon Linux 2 AMI 2.0.20240131.0 x86_64 HVM gp2", "EnaSupport": false, "Name": "amzn2-ami-snow-family-hvm-2.0.20240131.0-x86_64-gp2-b7e7f8d2-1b9e-4774-a374-120e0cd85d5a", "RootDeviceName": "/dev/xvda" } ] }

    In this example, the version of the Amazon Linux 2 AMI for Snow Family is 2.0.20240131.0. It is found in the value of the Description name.

Configure the AMI for the Snow Family device

  1. Open the Amazon EC2 console at

  2. Launch a new instance of a supported AMI in AWS Marketplace.


    When you launch your instance, make sure that the storage size you assign to the instance is appropriate for your use case. In the Amazon EC2 console, you do this in the Add storage step.

  3. Install and configure the applications that you want to run on the Snowball Edge, and make sure that they work as expected.

    • Only single volume AMIs are supported.

    • The EBS volume in your AMI should be 10 TB or less. We recommend that you provision the EBS volume size needed for the data in the AMI. This will help decrease the time it takes to export your AMI and load it into your device. You can resize or add more volumes to your instance after your device is deployed.

    • The EBS snapshot in your AMI must not be encrypted.

  4. Make a copy of the PEM or PPK file that you used for the SSH key pair when you created this instance. Save this file to the server that you plan to use to communicate with the Snowball Edge device. Make a note of the path to this file because you will need it when you use SSH to connect to the EC2-compatible instance on your device.


    If you don't follow this procedure, you can't connect to your instances with SSH when you receive your Snowball Edge device.

  5. Save the instance as an AMI. For more information, see Amazon EC2 User Guide for Linux Instances in the Amazon EC2 User Guide.

  6. Repeat steps 1–4 for each of the instances that you want to connect to using SSH. Be sure to make copies of each of the SSH key pairs, and keep track of the AMIs that they're associated with.

  7. Now, when you order your device, these AMIs are available to add to your device.

Adding an AMI Locally

When the device arrives on your site, you can add new AMIs to it. For instructions, see Importing a virtual machine image to a Snow Family device. Keep in mind that although all VMs are supported, only supported AMIs have been tested for full functionality.


When you use VM Import/Export to add AMIs to your device or import a VM after your device is deployed, you can add VMs that use any operating system. However, only supported operating systems have been tested and validated on Snow Family devices. You are responsible for adhering to the terms and conditions of any operating system or software that is in the virtual image that you import onto your device.


For AWS services to function properly on a Snowball Edge, you must allow the ports for the services. For details, see Ports Required to Use AWS Services on an AWS Snowball Edge Device.

Adding a Microsoft Windows AMI

For virtual machines (VMs) that use a supported Windows operating system, you can add the AMI by importing your Windows VM image into AWS using VM Import/Export, or by importing it into your device directly after it is deployed to your site.

Bring Your Own License (BYOL)

Snowball Edge supports importing Microsoft Windows AMIs onto your device with your own license. Bring Your Own License (BYOL) is the process of bringing an AMI that you own with its on-premises license to AWS. AWS provides both shared and dedicated deployment options for the BYOL option.

You can add your Windows VM image to your device by importing it into AWS using VM Import/Export or by importing it into your device directly after it is deployed to your site. You can't add Windows AMIs that originated in AWS. Therefore, you must create and import your own Windows VM image and bring your own license if you want to use the AMI on your Snow Family device. For more information about Windows licensing and BYOL, see Amazon Web Services and Microsoft: Frequently Asked Questions.

Creating a Windows VM Image to Import into Your Device

To create a Windows VM image, you need a virtualization environment, such as VirtualBox, which is supported for the Windows and macOS operating systems. When you create a VM for Snow devices, we recommend that you allocate at least two cores with at least 4 GB of RAM. When the VM is up and running, you must install your operating system (Windows Server 2012, 2016, or 2019). To install the required drivers for the Snow Family device, follow the instructions in this section.

For a Windows AMI to run on a Snow device, you must add the VirtIO, FLR, NetVCM, Vioinput, Viorng, Vioscsi, Vioserial, and VioStor drivers. You can download a Microsoft Software Installer (virtio-win-guest-tools-installer) for installing these drivers on Windows images from the virtio-win-pkg-scripts repository on GitHub.


If you plan to import your VM image directly to your deployed Snow device, the VM image file must be in the RAW format.

To create a Windows image
  1. On your Microsoft Windows computer, choose Start and enter devmgmt.msc to open Device Manager.

  2. In the main menu, choose Actions, and then choose Add legacy hardware.

  3. In the wizard, choose Next.

  4. Choose Install the hardware that I manually select from a list (advanced), and choose Next.

  5. Choose Show All Devices and choose Next.

  6. Choose Have Disk, open the Copy manufacturer’s files from list, and browse to the ISO file.

  7. In the ISO file, browse to the Driver\W2K8R2\amd64 directory, and then find the .INF file.

  8. Choose the .INF file, choose Open, and then choose OK.

  9. When you see the driver name, choose Next, and then choose Next two more times. Then choose Finish.

    This installs a device using the new driver. The actual hardware doesn't exist, so you will see a yellow exclamation mark that indicates an issue on the device. You must fix this issue.

To fix the hardware issue
  1. Open the context (right-click) menu for the device that has the exclamation mark.

  2. Choose Uninstall, clear Delete the driver software for this device, and choose OK.

    The driver is installed, and you are ready to launch the AMI on your device.

Importing a VM Image into Your Device

After you prepare your VM image, you can use one of the options to import the image to your device.

Exporting the latest Amazon Linux 2 AMI

To update your Amazon Linux 2 AMIs to the latest version, first export the latest Amazon Linux 2 VM image from AWS Marketplace, then import that VM image into the Snow device.

  1. Use the ssm get-parameters AWS CLI command to find the latest image ID of the Amazon Linux 2 AMI in the AWS Marketplace.

    aws ssm get-parameters --names /aws/service/ami-amazon-linux-latest/amzn2-ami-hvm-x86_64-gp2 --query 'Parameters[0].[Value]' --region your-region

    The command returns the latest image ID of the AMI. For example, ami-0ccb473bada910e74.

  2. Export the latest Amazon Linux 2 image. See Exporting a VM directly from an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) in the Amazon EC2 User Guide. Use the latest image ID of the Amazon Linux 2 AMI as the value of the image-id parameter of the ec2 export-image command.

  3. Import the VM image into the Snow device using the AWS CLI or AWS OpsHub.