Customizing a Photon OS Machine on EC2

You can upload an ami image of Photon OS to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and customize the Photon OS machine by using cloud-init with an EC2 data source. The Amazon machine image version of Photon OS is available as a free download on Bintray at the location

The cloud-init service is commonly used on EC2 to configure the cloud instance of a Linux image. On EC2, cloud-init sets the .ssh/authorized_keys file to let you log in with a private key from another computer, that is, a computer besides the workstation that you are already using to connect with the Amazon cloud.


The cloud-config user-data file that appears in the following example contains abridged SSH authorized keys to show you how to set them.



  1. Upload the Photon OS .ami image to the Amazon cloud and configure it with cloud-init. The correct virtualization type for Photon OS is hvm.

    $ mkdir bundled
     $ tar -zxvf ./photon-ami.tar.gz 
     $ ec2-bundle-image -c ec2-certificate.pem -k ec2-privatekey.pem -u <EC2 account id>  --arch x86_64 --image photon-ami.raw --destination ./bundled/
     $ aws s3 mb s3://<bucket-name>
     $ ec2-upload-bundle --manifest ./bundled/photon-ami.manifest.xml --bucket <bucket-name> --access-key <Account Access Key> --secret-key <Account Secret key>
     $ ec2-register <bucket-name>/photon-ami.manifest.xml --name photon-ami --architecture x86_64 --virtualization-type hvm
  2. Import the cloud-config data. In the following command, the --user-data-file option instructs cloud-init to import the cloud-config data in user-data.txt. The command assumes you have uploaded the user-data.txt file and created the keypair mykeypair and the security group photon-sg.

    $ ec2-run-instances <ami-ID> --instance-type m3.medium -g photon-sg --key mykeypair --user-data-file user-data.txt

    Describe the instance to see its ID:

    $ ec2-describe-instances
  3. Run the following command to obtain its public IP address, which you can use to connect to the instance with SSH:

    $ aws ec2 describe-instances --instance-ids <instance-id> --query 'Reservations[*].Instances[*].PublicIpAddress' --output=text
     $ ec2-describe-images
  4. Run the following commands to terminate the machine. It is important to shut down the machine because Amazon charges you while the host is running down.

    $ ec2-deregister <ami-image-identifier>
     $ ec2-terminate-instances <instance-id>


The following are the contents of the user-data.txt file that cloud-init applies to the machine the first time that it boots up in the cloud:

    hostname: photon-on-01
    - cloud-admins
    - cloud-users
    - default
    - name: photonadmin
       gecos: photon test admin user
       primary-group: cloud-admins
       groups: cloud-users
       lock-passwd: false
       passwd: vmware
    - name: photonuser
       gecos: photon test user
       primary-group: cloud-users
       groups: users
       passwd: vmware
    - vim
     - ssh-rsa MIIEogIBAAKCAQEAuvHKAjBhpwuomcUTpIzJWRJAe71JyBgAWrwqyN1Mk5N+c9X5

You can view the cloud-init output log file on EC2 at /var/log/cloud-init-output.log.

For more information on using cloud-init user data on EC2, see Running Commands on Your Linux Instance at Launch.

For more information on how to get Photon OS up and running on EC2 and run a containerized application in the Docker engine, see Running Photon OS on Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute.

With Photon OS, you can also build cloud images on Google Compute Engine and other cloud providers. For more information, see Compatible Cloud Images.

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