Get Started with the Bitnami Launchpad for AWS Cloud

Introduction

Amazon Web Services or AWS is one of the world's most popular and reliable cloud computing platforms. It includes a wide range of compute, storage and content delivery, database, mobile and other services, and it's a great way to host simple websites as well as complex web or mobile applications in the cloud.

If you're new to the cloud, the easiest way to get started with Amazon Web Services is with Bitnami. Bitnami provides pre-packaged application images for AWS Cloud servers, so that you can get productive with your new server immediately. You can access and launch these images in four ways:

In this tutorial, I'll walk you, step by step, through the process of using the Bitnami Launchpad for AWS Cloud to create and provision a new AWS Cloud server. And since AWS offers a Free Tier valid for 12 months, you'll have plenty of time to experiment with your server and Bitnami stacks without worrying about being billed for usage.

TIP: You can also learn about launching servers with the AWS Console, the AWS Marketplace or Amazon Lightsail.

Watch the following video to learn how to deploy other Bitnami applications like Redmine on AWS using the Bitnami Launchpad:

Overview

If you're interested in creating a personal or small business blog, chances are that you're going to use WordPress. WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms in the world, used on over 60 million websites (according to Wikipedia). And it is not hard to see why: WordPress is very easy to use, comes with thousands of extensions and themes, is completely free, and is open source.

In this tutorial, I'll launch a cloud server with the Bitnami WordPress Stack, which gives you a pre-configured WordPress blog that you can start using right way. But WordPress is just an example: there are hundreds of other Bitnami applications to choose from, and they're all equally easy to set up.

Here are the steps you'll follow in this tutorial:

  • Register with Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Generate an AWS Access Key and Secret
  • Register with Bitnami
  • Connect your AWS and Bitnami accounts
  • Deploy WordPress on an AWS cloud server
  • Log in and start using WordPress

The next sections will walk you through these steps in detail.

Step 1: Register with Amazon Web Services (AWS)

At the end of this step, you will have signed up for the Amazon Web Services free tier. If you already have an Amazon Web Services account, you may skip this step.

You will need an existing Amazon account to log in and sign up. To create it, follow these steps:

  • Browse to http://aws.amazon.com and click the "Create an AWS account" button at the top of the page.
  • In the resulting page, enter an email address, a password, and an AWS account name. Then, click "Continue" to start the registration process.

    Start the AWS account creation

  • Once you've signed in to Amazon, sign up for AWS by selecting the account type and providing some basic contact information and your mobile phone number.

    AWS account creation

  • Once that's done, proceed to the next stage by entering your credit card information. Click the "Secure Submit" button to continue with the account creation.

    Enter your credit card information

    If you're worried about how much you'll be billed for services, relax. When you first sign up for AWS, you get automatic access to the AWS Free Tier, which entitles you to 12 months of free usage up to certain limits. This includes 750 hours per month of free usage of Amazon EC2 micro servers, which are just right for development or low-traffic website hosting. So long as your usage falls within the limits of the free tier, your credit card will never be billed. However, Amazon still needs your credit card information for security purposes, to avoid service misuse and to confirm your identity.

    IMPORTANT: You should fully understand the limits of the AWS free tier to avoid being unduly charged for service usage.
  • Amazon will now verify your identity, by making an automated call to your mobile phone number and prompting you to enter the PIN number displayed on the screen.
  • Once your identity is verified, choose the "Basic" support plan (also free) and confirm your account.

The AWS account registration machine will churn away for a minute or so, and you will then be redirected to a welcome page, which includes a link to the AWS management console. You should also receive an account confirmation email, which tells you that your account is good to go.

Step 2: Generate an AWS Access Key and Secret

At the end of this step, you will have created an AWS IAM user account and generated an AWS Access Key and Secret.

Once your AWS account has been activated, the next step is to create an AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) user and generate an AWS Access Key and Secret. You will need this to connect your AWS account with Bitnami. To do this:

  • Log in to the AWS Console.
  • In the AWS services menu, scroll down until you see the "Security, Identity & Compliance" section. Select the IAM service.

    AWS credentials creation

  • Select the "Policies" section in the left navigation bar and click the "Get Started" button.
  • Click the "Create Policy" button.

    Create Policy

  • On the next page, select the JSON tab and enter the following content:

      {
        "Version": "2012-10-17",
        "Statement": [{
          "Effect": "Allow",
          "Action": [ "sts:GetFederationToken", "ec2:*", "cloudwatch:GetMetricStatistics", "cloudformation:*" ],
          "Resource": [ "*" ]
        }]
      }
    

    Click "Review Policy" to proceed.

    AWS credentials creation

  • Set the policy name to "BitnamiConsole" and click "Create Policy" to save the new policy.

    AWS credentials creation

  • Select the "Users" section in the left navigation bar and click the "Add user" button.

    AWS credentials creation

  • On the "Details" page, enter a user name for use with Bitnami. Ensure that the "Programmatic access" checkbox in the "Select AWS access type" section is selected. Click the "Next: Permissions" button to proceed.

    AWS credentials creation

  • On the "Permissions" page, select the option to "Attach existing policies directly". From the list of policies, find the new "BitnamiConsole" policy. Select it and click the "Next: Review" button.

    AWS credentials creation

  • On the "Review" page, review the selected options and click the "Create user" button.

    AWS credentials creation

  • A new user and corresponding key pair, consisting of an "Access Key ID" and "Secret Access Key", will be generated and displayed. The "Secret Access Key" value will not be displayed again, so it is important to accurately note down the "Access Key ID" and "Secret Access Key" values displayed on the screen at this point.

    AWS credentials creation

  • Log out of the AWS Console.

Your IAM user account and access keys are now ready for use.

Step 3: Register with Bitnami

At the end of this step, you will have created a Bitnami account.

The next step is to create a Bitnami account, so that you can launch a cloud server with the Bitnami WordPress Stack. If you have a Google, Facebook, Yahoo! or Github account, you can use your credentials from those services with OpenID to create your Bitnami account.

If you don't have accounts with those services (or you don't want to use them), you can use your email address and password to create a Bitnami account, as described below:

  • Head to the Bitnami sign-up page.
  • Enter your name and email address.
  • Choose a password.
  • Review the Bitnami terms of service.

Then, use the "Sign up" button to create your account.

Bitnami sign up

Bitnami will send you an email with a verification link which you'll need to click or browse to, to activate your account. This will also sign you in to your Bitnami account.

Bitnami confirmation

Step 4: Connect your AWS and Bitnami accounts

At the end of this step, your Bitnami Launchpad for AWS Cloud will be configured and you will be ready to provision an AWS cloud server.

The easiest way to set up your AWS cloud server with the Bitnami WordPress Stack is via the Bitnami Launchpad for AWS Cloud, which gives you a simple control panel to provision, start, stop, connect to and check status of your cloud servers. However, to use it, you must first connect your AWS cloud and Bitnami accounts.

To do this:

  • Log in to your Bitnami account if you're not already logged in.
  • Browse to https://aws.bitnami.com/.
  • Select the "Sign in with Bitnami" link in the top right corner.

    Bitnami login

The Launchpad will recognize your Bitnami credentials and automatically sign you in.

The next step is to set up an administrative password and connect your AWS cloud account with your Bitnami account. To do this:

  • Select "Virtual Machines" in the Launchpad menu.

    Since this is your first time, you'll be prompted to set up your Bitnami Vault password by entering an administrative password. Enter a hard-to-guess password.

    Bitnami Vault setup

    The Bitnami Vault password offers an additional level of protection against misuse: you'll need to enter it when performing certain operations, such as creating new cloud servers. Again, make sure you note it down for future reference.

    IMPORTANT: Your Bitnami Vault password is different from your Amazon Web Services password.
  • Once your password has been accepted, you'll be redirected back to the Launchpad page. Select "Accounts -> Cloud Accounts" in the Launchpad menu.

  • Click the "Add Cloud Account" button.

    Bitnami account connection

  • You'll be transferred to an authorization page, where you will need to enter the Access Key ID and Secure Access Key from Step 2. Enter this information and click "Continue" to proceed. An authorization check will now be performed.

    Bitnami account connection

    NOTE: If you are using a recently-created AWS account, you may need to wait until your account is verified by AWS before you can complete the process of connecting your AWS Cloud and Bitnami accounts.

Your AWS Cloud and Bitnami accounts will now be connected and you will see a success message, as shown below.

Bitnami account connection

You will now be able to launch new AWS cloud servers with Bitnami application stacks.

Step 5: Deploy WordPress on an AWS cloud server

At the end of this step, your WordPress blog will be running on an AWS cloud server.

The next step is to launch a cloud server and get WordPress running on it. The Bitnami WordPress Stack lets you do this in just a couple of clicks. Follow these steps:

  • Select "Library" in the Launchpad menu.

  • Look through the list of applications available in Bitnami until you find WordPress (it's usually the first item in the list).

  • Select it and click "Launch".

    Application launcher

  • Define a name, size and region for your cloud server. You can choose from a "medium" server, which uses 1 virtual CPU, to a "10xlarge" server, which has 40 virtual CPUs. For more information, refer to the AWS pricing sheet.

    TIP: A "medium" server will work just fine for a low-traffic WordPress blog or for WordPress development.

    Server configuration

  • Confirm your selection by hitting the "Create" button at the end of the page.

The Bitnami Launchpad will now begin spinning up the new server. The process usually takes a few minutes: a status indicator on the page provides a progress update.

Server initialization

Once the cloud server has been provisioned, the status indicator will show that it's "running", and the Bitnami Launchpad page will display the server details, including its IP address.

Server initialization

At this point, you should be able to browse to the cloud server, either by clicking the link in the Bitnami Launchpad (a new browser tab will open) or entering the cloud server IP address directly into your browser's address bar. You should now see your WordPress blog's home page with a sample post, as shown below.

Server with application

The Launchpad page also includes controls to reboot, shut down or delete the server. You can also download SSH keys for the server (in .pem and .ppk formats) if you'd like to connect to it directly with an SSH client (like PuTTY on Windows).

Server detail page

By default, the Bitnami Launchpad creates a user account named user and an auto-generated password when a new server is provisioned. You will need this password in order to use WordPress. To do this, go back to the Launchpad page containing the server information screen, look in the "Credentials" section, and make a note of the password.

Application password

Step 6: Log in and start using WordPress

At the end of this step, you will have logged in to WordPress and created a new blog post.

To log in to the WordPress dashboard, follow these steps:

  • Browse to the WordPress dashboard, usually at the URL http://SERVER-IP/wp-admin.

  • Log in with the administrator credentials from the previous step.

    WordPress credentials

You should now arrive at the WordPress dashboard, which allows you to manage posts, pages and comments; customize your blog with themes and plugins; import and export content; manage navigation menus; add or delete new user accounts; and much more.

WordPress credentials

You can now add a new post using the following steps:

  • Select the "Posts -> Add New" menu option to create a new post.

    Add new WordPress post

  • Enter a title and content for the post. You can use the formatting tools at the top of the content area to format your post and add hyperlinks or images.
  • Optionally, choose the format and category for your post.
  • Publish it immediately using the "Publish" button.

    Add new WordPress post

And now, when you visit your blog's front page, you should see your new post.

WordPress post publishing

Congratulations! You now have a working, fully-functional WordPress blog in the cloud.

You can keep your WordPress installation up-to-date with the WordPress automatic update feature. To access this:

  • Log in to WordPress using the administrator account.
  • Select the "Dashboard -> Updates" menu item.

    WordPress update

  • Review the resulting page to see if WordPress needs an update. If an update is available, you can install it by clicking the "Update Now" button. You can also re-install WordPress if needed with the "Re-install Now" button.

    WordPress update

To learn more about the topics discussed in this tutorial, use the links below:

aws

Bitnami Documentation