rack server

In Part 1, we gave some background information.

In Part 2, we will use Amazon EC2 to get your web app online for free.

Amazon EC2 is part of Amazon’s cloud computing offering. It lets you pay for a virtual server on which to host your web app. You can specify hardware components of your server, what operating system it uses, and a bunch of other things.

We’ll go through setting up a LAMP environment on your virtual server.

First, you’ll need to sign up for an Amazon AWS account. This will require going through some security and downloading a .pem file containing your Amazon key pair. You’ll need this to create a new virtual server.

When you login, you’ll see the AWS console. Click on EC2. You won’t have any instances running yet (each virtual server is known as an instance, it is possible to have multiple instances running from the same account):

-> Launch Instance -> Amazon Linux AMI 2015.03 (HVM), SSD Volume Type -> t2.micro -> Review and Launch -> Launch

Now at the console hompage, you should see a link Running instances 1

Clicking brings up details of the instances you are running. This has useful information about your instance, e.g. its state, public DNS name, public IP address, id, type, geographical zone, etc.

It is also where you can set its configurations, e.g. Security Groups under Network & Security

Now that your instance is up and running, you can connect to it and use it the way that you’d use a computer sitting in front of you (with the caveat you’ll have to do everything by typing commands into a terminal interface).

You connect to the instance via something called SSH. On a Mac, if you type


into the terminal you’ll see it’s already installed.

Once you are connected to the instance via SSH, instead of seeing something like

localhost:~ joebloggs

you’ll see something like


The Amazon documentation on how to do this contains all the details.

The next (slightly long-winded) step is to set up LAMP on your instance. Again, the Amazon documentation on this is very good.

Once LAMP has been set up, time to transfer the app’s source files and database.

The source files can be transferred using SCP. Again, it comes pre-installed on a Mac. The tutorial on how to do this is on the same Amazon page describing how to use SSH.

There are a couple of things to note here:

  1. Copying whole directories using SCP.
  2. If you used Git version control on your local machine, you’ll probably want to exclude .git and other dot files/folders using SCP.

At some point you may also want to force remove protected files or edit files using Nano on the instance.

The database transfer is done by first exporting the relevant database stored on the local MySQL server to a dump .sql file on the local machine. Transfer this file using SCP to some location on the instance and then import that file into the MySQL server on the instance.

Along the way, there probably will be permissioning issues as generally the default settings of your instance do not allow any old machine to SSH or establish HTTP connections into it.

You may have to add a security group to your instance.

Finally, don’t forget to modify any absolute paths in your app’s source files accordingly. Once you’ve done that, your deployment to a production server should be good to go!

Edit: If you are only interested in doing file transfers, logging in via SFTP may be a better solution. As SCP commands are much longer (have to specify the key pair each time). With SFTP, you login once using the key pair, and this brings up the SFTP shell. From there, you use get and put to do file uploads and downloads. Terminal commands also work.

The main drawback of SFTP is that SCP is faster and there’s no easy way to transfer directories. Here is a comparison between SFTP and SCP.

You might also want to consider rsync if you have lots of files to transfer

rsync -rh --progress -e 'ssh -i <pathtokey>;' <pathtodirectory> <user>@<server>:<path>