If you have decided to launch a blog and looking for options on how to do it easily and for free you have come to the right place.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides just such a service. The resources afforded by AWS is sufficient to run a new blog for someone who just wants to get started without getting mired in the technicality and your blog is not expected to have high traffic. The AWS offers a free option in which you can run your blog free for an entire year. You can check out the free tier details and pricing here : https://aws.amazon.com/free/. (Note that you will be charged after one year from when you sign up. )
Before we get started on the actual installation, a few basic terms and concepts on AWS.
AWS provides what is known as the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) which essentially allows one to use computing capacity in the cloud. The term elastic refers to the fact that the computing resources scale as needed to service the applications running on the virtual machine. In simpler terms you can think of this as a computer that is sitting somewhere in the cloud, that you have access to and that you can use for your blog. The computer will adjust to the needs of the blog as required without requiring you to fiddle with it manually. Here is a link to the details in Amazon’s own words if you need further explanation : http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AWSEC2/latest/UserGuide/concepts.html
If you are familiar with creating servers and running applications on them, you can do that on EC2 servers and create your own virtual instances and then install WordPress on it. However the easiest way to do it would be to use an Amazon Machine Image(AMI). An AMI is a template that contains a ready software configuration for specific applications. For our purpose, think of an AMI as a computer that already has all the software and tools required on it, pre-configured and ready to install WordPress with minimal work from you.
The AMIs are available in what is called the Amazon Marketplace where all available AMIs are listed, some are free and some are charged. The one that we are using is provided by Bitnami and is free of charge. We will be using the Bitnami WordPress AMI which installs WordPress with a ‘1-click launch’.
Now that the basics are covered we can start installing WordPress.
1. Create an AWS account
Go to https://aws.amazon.com/free/ and create an clicking on ‘Create an AWS Account‘ shown on the screen. Follow the instructions and provide details as asked. Note that the account requires a valid credit card and also a verification process where they will either call your phone or sms a code to complete the verification process.
2. Install the AMI
Although we talked about creating EC2 instances, we don’t need to explicitly do it here. The AMI also sets up the EC2 prior to installing WordPress. So head on over to the Amazon Marketplace and search for ‘WordPress’. A scree like this one will show up.
Select the ‘WordPress Certified by Bitnami‘ option. You should see something similar to the two screens below.
First part of the screen
Second Part of the screen
Choose the latest version of Ubuntu, set the region as per your location. The default ‘Security group’ settings are fine, you don’t need to change it. By default it opens the ports 80(HTTP), 443(HTTPS) and 22(SSH). The most important part is to set the ‘EC2 Instance Type‘ to ‘t2.micro‘.
The next step is to create the keypair. The keypair is required to login to your instance via ssh once the installation is done. Although this step is optional, I recommend that you do it. Follow the instructions presented on screen and use any name for the keypair. Once the keypair is created you can go back to the previous page, refresh and choose the newly created keypair. Click on ‘Accept Terms and Launch with 1 Click’. This will install and launch the instance. That’s it for installation. You are now done installing the software required to setup your blog. You now just need to access your blog and start messing with it 🙂
To access your newly created wordpress site, you will need the IP address of your instance. You can access that from the AWS console. Select EC2 option and you will see a screen similar to this one.
Click on the ‘Running Instances‘ and you will see the IP address in the details of the running instance. This is the public IP address for your blog. Type it in the browser and you will be taken to your WordPress site.
Before you can start editing it, you will require credentials to login. The default user name is ‘user’ and the password is generated by the system. The password has to be retrieved from the System Log. You can access the System Log via the EC2 Dashboard as shown in the screen below. Click on Actions – Instance Settings – Get System Log.
Scroll down the Log file until you find an entry for the password as shown in the screen. Look for the line ‘Setting Bitnami application password to‘ (The scratched out green area below – you should see your password there)
Bitnami Password to login to WordPress
One last tip – to remove the Bitnami banner from the initial page of the blog, you can ssh into your EC2 instance and run the below command:
sudo /opt/bitnami/apps/wordpress/bnconfig –disable_banner 1
You can use the user/password to login to your blog and and that’s it, off you go on your blogging journey.
May the blogging force be with you!