The various Amazon EC2 AMIs that I’ve built over the last few years are getting a bit long in the tooth. Most are based on Fedora 4 and nearly all are over-burdened with software I no longer use nor require. Time for some rationalisation.
I figure I need two ‘template’ AMIs, one containing the bare minimum of software, EC2 tools, Python, Perl and Java; the second loaded with the likes of Kettle, Talend, Hamachi VPN, OracleXE , Palo MOLAP Server and Palo ETL Server and a Gnome desktop accessible via VNC.
I’m deciding whether to use Centos or Ubuntu as the basis for one or both templates. I’m more familiar with Centos’s RedHat heritage but Ubuntu’s design goals of ease-of-use and ease-of-update appeal. Since I was in the process of re-evaluating my EC2 builds I decided to also check out NX as an alternative to VNC. I had tried to install NX Server on a Fedora 4 instance a few years back, but had abandoned the effort having spent the best part of a day on it, reverting back to my VNC comfort zone.
This time I was able to use one of Eric Hammond’s Ubuntu AMIs with NX pre-installed. Wow, what a difference! It’s much more responsive, even over my tempermental fixed wireless broadband connection. I also tried it using my backup ISDN line, again a huge improvement compared to using VNC. If you’re still using VNC to remotely access EC2 or any other remote server, you’ve got to check out NX.