Get Started with the Bitnami Launchpad on Google Cloud Platform

Introduction

You've probably heard about Google Cloud Platform, Google's cloud-based hosting, storage and services. Built on the same infrastructure used by Google, it's a great way to host simple websites as well as complex web applications in the cloud without worrying about security, scalability or performance.

If you're new to the cloud, the easiest way to get started with Google Cloud Platform is with Bitnami. Bitnami provides pre-packaged application images for Google cloud servers, so that you can get productive with your new server immediately. And to make things even easier, Bitnami also offers the free Bitnami Launchpad for Google Cloud Platform, which gives you an intuitive Web-based dashboard to create and manage your Google cloud servers.

In this tutorial, I'll walk you, step by step, through the process of using the Bitnami Launchpad for Google Cloud Platform to create and provision a new cloud server. And since Google Cloud Platform currently offers a 60-day free trial, you'll have plenty of time to experiment with your server and Bitnami stacks without worrying about being billed for usage.

Watch the following video to learn how to deploy other Bitnami applications like Moodle on the Google Cloud Platform 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 Google Cloud Platform
  • Enable the Google Compute Engine API
  • Register with Bitnami
  • Connect your Google Cloud Platform and Bitnami accounts
  • Deploy the Bitnami WordPress Stack on a Google Cloud server
  • Log in and start using WordPress

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

Step 1: Register with Google Cloud Platform

At the end of this step, you will have signed up for the Google Cloud Platform free trial. If you already have a Google Cloud Platform account, you may skip this step.

Begin by creating a Google Cloud Platform account, by browsing to https://cloud.google.com and choosing the "Start your free trial" option. You will need an existing Google account to log in and sign up for the free trial; if you don't have one, you can create one here (remember to keep track of your account username and password, because you'll need them in the next step).

Google account creation

Once you've signed in, provide Google with some personal information and your credit card details.

Google account creation

It's important to note that you're signing up for a free trial and your credit card won't be billed unless you migrate to a paid account. The trial includes $300 of free credit, valid for 60 days. Once the trial ends, your account will automatically be paused and you'll only be charged if you explicitly choose to upgrade to a paid account.

The Google elves will go away for a minute or so to verify your information and if all is well, you will be redirected to the Google Developers Console, which allows you to manage your billing account, create new projects and get support. You should see that your free trial is now active in the billing credits section.

Google account creation

You should also receive an account confirmation email, which tells you that your account is good to go.

Step 2: Enable the Google Compute Engine API

At the end of this step, you will have created a new project and enabled the Google Compute Engine API.

Bitnami uses the Google Compute Engine API in order to manage and launch cloud servers, so this is a good time to enable the API. Plus, new cloud servers always launch within a project, so you'll also need to create a project. Both these tasks are easy to do from the Google Developers Console. Follow these steps:

  • While you're logged in to the Google Developers Console, select the "Projects" menu item and click the "Create Project" button.

  • Enter a name for the project (such as "My Bitnami Project") and make a note of the auto-generated project ID.

    Google project creation

  • Click "Create" to create and activate the project. You should now see it in the project listing.

    Google project creation

  • Select the new project name in the project listing, and you'll be transferred to the project information page.

  • Select the "APIs" menu item in the left navigation bar.

  • Look through the list of APIs, or use the API search box to search for the term "compute engine". Find and turn on the Google Compute Engine API.

    Google API access

  • Verify that the Google Compute Engine API now appears in the list of enabled APIs.

    Google API access

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 Google Cloud Platform and Bitnami accounts

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

The easiest way to set up your Google cloud server with Bitnami's WordPress Stack is via the Bitnami Launchpad for Google Cloud Platform, 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 Google Cloud Platform and Bitnami accounts.

To do this:

  • Log in to your Bitnami account if you're not already logged in.

  • Browse to https://google.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 Google Cloud Platform 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 password vault by entering an administrative password. Enter a hard-to-guess password.

    Bitnami Vault configuration

    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 Google Account password.
  • Once your password has been accepted, you'll be redirected back to the Launchpad page. Select "Virtual Machines" again in the Launchpad menu.

  • You'll be transferred to an authorization page, where you can confirm that the Bitnami Launchpad is authorized to connect to your Google Cloud Platform account. Click the "Accept" button on the page to proceed.

    Bitnami account connection

  • You'll now be redirected back to the Bitnami Launchpad, and asked to select a project within which to launch new cloud servers. Enter the project ID you noted in Step 2.

    Bitnami account connection

Your Google Cloud Platform and Bitnami accounts are now connected, and you can launch new cloud servers with Bitnami application stacks.

Step 5: Deploy WordPress on a Google Cloud server

At the end of this step, your WordPress blog will be running on a Google 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 "micro" server, which uses a shared CPU to a "high CPU" server, which has 16 dedicated virtual cores. For more information, refer to the Google Compute Engine pricing sheet.

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

    Server configuration

  • Confirm your selection by hitting the "Create Virtual Machine" 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

If you'd like to connect to the server console directly:

  • Click the "Launch SSH Console" button on the Launchpad page for the server.

    Server detail page

  • This will launch a new browser window, and you'll be prompted to confirm your request.

    SSH browser access

  • An SSH session with the server will now begin in the browser window. You can interact with the server by typing commands into the window, just as if you were using a real console.

    SSH browser access

  • To exit the SSH session, simply close the new browser window.

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:

google

Bitnami Documentation