Get Started with Bitnami Cloud Hosting

Introduction

If you're new to the cloud, the easiest way to get started is with Bitnami Cloud Hosting. Bitnami Cloud Hosting's user-friendly interface lets you launch Bitnami's pre-packaged applications on Amazon's cloud servers in just a few clicks. It makes your cloud hosting experience simple and enjoyable, allowing you to get productive with your new server immediately.

In this tutorial, I'll walk you, step by step, through the process of using Bitnami Cloud Hosting to create and provision a new Amazon Web Services (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 applications without worrying about being billed for usage.

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, in use on over 60 million websites (according to Wikipedia). It's not hard to see why: WordPress is incredibly easy to use, comes with thousands of extensions and themes, and is completely free and 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 with Bitnami Cloud Hosting
  • 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.

Begin by creating an AWS account, by browsing to http://aws.amazon.com and clicking the "Sign Up" button at the top of the page. You will need an existing Amazon account to log in and sign up; if you don't have one, create one to proceed.

Once you've signed in to Amazon, sign up for AWS by 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.

AWS account creation

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.

AWS account creation

Once your identity is verified, choose the "Basic" support plan (also free) and confirm your account.

AWS account creation

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.

AWS account creation

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.

  • Click your name in the top right corner and then, in the resulting sub-menu, click the "My Account" link.

    AWS credentials creation

  • On the resulting page, note your Amazon Account Id.

    AWS credentials creation

  • Click your name in the top right corner and then, in the resulting sub-menu, click the "Security Credentials" link.

    AWS credentials creation

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

    AWS credentials creation

  • On the next page, select the option to "Create Your Own Policy".

    AWS credentials creation

  • Set the policy name to "BitnamiCloudHosting" and enter the following content in the "Policy Document" field. Replace the ACCOUNT_NUMBER placeholder with your Amazon Account ID obtained previously.

     {
       "Version":"2012-10-17",
       "Statement": [
         {
           "Effect": "Allow",
           "Action": "iam:*",
           "Resource": "arn:aws:iam::ACCOUNT_NUMBER:user/bitnami-hosting-operators/*"
         }, 
         {
           "Effect": "Allow",
           "Action": [ "sts:GetFederationToken", "ec2:*", "cloudwatch:GetMetricStatistics", "cloudformation:*" ],
           "Resource": "*" 
         }
       ]
     } 
    
  • Click "Create Policy" to save the new policy.

    AWS credentials creation

  • Select the "Users" section in the left navigation bar and click the "Create New Users" button.

    AWS credentials creation

  • On the "Enter User Names" page, enter a user name for use with Bitnami. Ensure that the "Generate an access key for each user" checkbox is selected. Click the "Create" button to proceed.

    AWS credentials creation

  • A new 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

  • From the list of users, select the new user and, on the user detail page, select the "Permissions" tab and click the "Attach Policy" button in the "Managed Policies" section.

    AWS credentials creation

  • From the list of policies, find the new "BitnamiCloudHosting" policy. Select it and click the "Attach Policy" button.

    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 Cloud Hosting account will be configured and you will be ready to provision a new cloud server.

The easiest way to set up your cloud server with the Bitnami WordPress Stack is with the Bitnami Cloud Hosting control panel. However, to do this, you must first connect your AWS and Bitnami accounts.

To do this:

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

The next step is to connect your AWS account with your Bitnami account. To do this:

  • Select "Clouds" in the left navigation menu.

    Bitnami account connection

  • Click the "New" button.

  • In the resulting dialog box, click the "I already have an AWS account" button.

    Bitnami account connection

  • Enter the "Access Key ID" and "Secure Access Key" from Step 2.

    Bitnami account connection

  • On the same page, enter an administrative password.

    Bitnami account connection

    This 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. Make sure you note it down for future reference.

    IMPORTANT: Your administrative password is different from your Amazon Web Services password.
  • Click "Save" to proceed.

Your AWS and Bitnami accounts will now be connected and you will see the new account in the list of cloud accounts, as shown below.

Bitnami account connection

You will now be able to launch new servers using Bitnami Cloud Hosting.

Step 5: Deploy WordPress with Bitnami Cloud Hosting

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. Bitnami Cloud Hosting lets you do this in just a couple of clicks. Follow these steps:

  • Select "Servers" in the left sidebar menu.

  • On the Server Management screen, click "New" and then "Launch Regular Server" to launch a new server.

Bitnami server creation

  • On the "New Server" screen, review the name and domain name for your server and change them if you wish. You can also change them after the server is launched.

Bitnami server creation

  • On the "New Server" screen, you should see the default server configuration. Typically, this will be a "Micro" server with Ubuntu and 10 GB EBS storage, which is eligible for the AWS free tier. Should you wish to pay for a more sophisticated server, you can choose from a "Small" server all the way up to an "Extra Large" server depending on the needs of your application. For more information, refer to the AWS pricing sheet.

Bitnami server creation

NOTE: The Bitnami Cloud Hosting dashboard does not yet have the ability to detect whether your AWS servers are in the free tier or not, as Amazon does not provide an API to retrieve this information from AWS. Therefore, it calculates and displays estimated charges for your AWS cloud server as per normal conventions. So long as your usage does not exceed the limits of the AWS free tier, nothing will actually be charged to your credit card and you can safely ignore the estimated charges shown in the Bitnami Cloud Hosting dashboard.
TIP: "Micro" servers work just fine for most PHP application development tasks.
  • On the "New Server" screen, click the "Add New Application" button. In the resulting list, select WordPress and click the "Ok" button to add it to the server configuration.

Bitnami server creation

TIP: By default, an auto-generated password will be set for WordPress. To set a custom password instead, refer to the FAQ.
  • Confirm your selection by hitting the "Build and Launch" button.

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

Bitnami server creation

Once the cloud server has been provisioned, the status indicator will show that it's "running", and the "Go to Application" button in the lower panel of the dashboard will become an active link.

Bitnami server creation

At this point, you should be able to browse to the cloud server, either by clicking the "Go to Application" button or entering the cloud server's domain name directly into your browser's address bar.

Bitnami server creation

This should transfer you to the Bitnami welcome page, shown below:

Bitnami server creation

Click the "Access my application" button and you should see a page with a link to WordPress, as shown below. Click the "Access" link.

Bitnami server creation

You should now see your WordPress blog's home page with a sample post, as shown below.

Bitnami server creation

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 Bitnami Cloud Hosting dashboard, select the new server and click the "Manage" button.

Bitnami server creation

On the "Manage Server" screen, look in the "Properties" tab in the lower panel, and display and make a note of the application password.

Bitnami application password

The Bitnami Cloud Hosting dashboard also includes controls to restart, 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.

Bitnami server management

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/wordpress/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: