The StarCluster base AMIs are meant to be fairly minimal in terms of the software installed. If you’d like to customize the software installed on the AMI you can create a new AMI based on the StarCluster AMIs using the s3image and ebsimage commands.
In order to create a new AMI you must first launch an instance of an existing AMI that you wish to extend. This instance is referred to as an image host and is used to build a new AMI. The image host allows you to easily customize the software environment included in your new AMI simply by logging into the image host and making the necessary changes.
When launching a new image host it is recommended that you start a new cluster called imagehost using the following command:
$ starcluster start -o -s 1 -I <INSTANCE-TYPE> -m <BASE-AMI-ID> imagehost
Replace <INSTANCE-TYPE> with an instance type that is compatible with your <BASE-AMI-ID>. If you’re not creating a new Cluster/GPU Compute AMI, you can use m1.small (32bit) or m1.large (64bit) to minimize costs when creating the image. If you are creating a new Cluster/GPU Compute AMI the you’ll need to launch the image host with a Cluster/GPU Compute instance type.
This command will create a single node (-s 1) cluster called imagehost using the AMI you wish to customize (-m <BASE-AMI-ID>) and a compatible instance type (-I <INSTANCE-TYPE>). The -o option tells StarCluster to only create the instance(s) and not to setup and configure the instance(s) as a cluster. This way you start with a clean version of the AMI you’re extending.
You can also use a spot instance as the image host by passing --bid (-b) option:
$ starcluster start -o -s 1 -b 0.50 -I <INSTANCE-TYPE> -m <BASE-AMI-ID> imagehost
If you used the -o option you’ll need to periodically run the listclusters command to check whether or not the image host is up:
$ starcluster listclusters --show-ssh-status imagehost
Once the image host is up, login and customize the instance’s software environment to your liking:
$ starcluster sshmaster imagehost
The above command will log you in as root at which point you can install new software using either apt-get or by manually installing the software from source. Once you’ve customized the image host to your liking you’re ready to create a new AMI.
Of course you don’t have to use the above method for creating a new AMI. You can use any instance on EC2 as an image host. The image host also doesn’t have to be started with StarCluster. The only requirement is that you must have the keypair that was used to launch the instance defined in your StarCluster configuration file.
In previous versions it was strongly recommended not to use nodes launched by StarCluster as image hosts. This is no longer the case and you can now use any node/instance started by StarCluster as an image host.
After you’ve finished customizing the software environment on the image host you’re ready to create a new AMI. Before creating the image you must decide whether to create an instance-store (aka S3-backed) AMI or an EBS-backed AMI. Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using S3 vs EBS:
|Factor||EBS backed AMI’s||S3 backed AMI’s|
|Root Storage Size||1TB||10GB|
|Instances can be Stopped||Yes||No|
|Boot Time||Faster (~1min)||Slower (~5mins)|
|Data Persistence||EBS volume attached as root disk (persist)||Local root disk (doesn’t persist)|
|Charges||Volume Storage + Volume Usage + AMI Storage + Instance usage||AMI Storage + Instance usage|
|Customized AMI Storage Charges||Lower (charged only for the changes)||Higher (full storage charge)|
|Instance Usage Charge||No charge for stopped instances. Charged full instance hour for every transition from stopped to running state||Not Applicable|
(see Amazon’s summary of EBS vs S3 backed AMIs for more details)
If you’re in doubt about which type of AMI to create, choose an EBS-backed AMI. This will allow you to create clusters that you can start and stop repeatedly without losing data on the root disks in between launches. Using EBS-backed AMIs also allows you to snapshot the root volume of an instance for back-up purposes and to easily expand the root disk size of the AMI without paying full storage charges. In addition, EBS-backed AMIs usually have much faster start up time given that there’s no transferring of image files from S3 as is the case with S3-backed AMIs.
This section assumes you want to create an EBS-backed AMI. See the next section if you’d prefer to create an S3-backed AMI instead. To create a new EBS-backed AMI, use the ebsimage command:
$ starcluster ebsimage i-9999999 my-new-image
In the above example, i-99999999 is the instance id of the instance you wish to create a new image from. If the instance is a part of a cluster, such as imagehost in the sections above, you can get the instance id from the output of the listclusters command. Otherwise, you can get the instance id of any node, launched by StarCluster or not, via the listinstances command. The argument after the instance id is the name you wish to give to your new AMI.
After the ebsimage command completes successfully it will print out the new AMI id that you then can use in the node_image_id/master_image_id settings in your cluster templates.
This section assumes you want to create an S3-backed AMI. See the previous section if you’d prefer to create an EBS AMI instead. To create a new S3-backed AMI, use the s3image command:
$ starcluster s3image i-9999999 my-new-image mybucket
In the above example, i-99999999 is the instance id of the instance you wish to create a new image from. If the instance is a part of a cluster, such as imagehost in the sections above, you can get the instance id from the output of the listclusters command. The arguments after the instance id are the name you wish to give the AMI and the name of a bucket in S3 to store the new AMI’s files in. The bucket will be created if it doesn’t exist.
After the s3image command completes successfully it will print out the new AMI id that you can then use in the node_image_id/master_image_id settings in your cluster templates.