Running Flatcar Linux on EC2

The current AMIs for all Flatcar Linux channels and EC2 regions are listed below and updated frequently. Using CloudFormation is the easiest way to launch a cluster, but it is also possible to follow the manual steps at the end of the article. Questions can be directed to the Flatcar Linux IRC channel or user mailing list.

Choosing a channel

Flatcar Linux is designed to be updated automatically with different schedules per channel. You can disable this feature, although we don't recommend it. Read the release notes for specific features and bug fixes.

The Alpha channel closely tracks master and is released frequently. The newest versions of system libraries and utilities will be available for testing. The current version is Flatcar Linux 2121.0.0.

View as json feed
EC2 Region AMI Type AMI ID CloudFormation
ap-northeast-1 PV ami-0f53088bdefc9893f Launch Stack
HVM ami-00ee7cdb9426f9d5c Launch Stack
ap-northeast-2 PV Launch Stack
HVM ami-0569a16476db4f524 Launch Stack
ap-south-1 PV Launch Stack
HVM ami-0cff4b437065f80ba Launch Stack
ap-southeast-1 PV ami-0d1edbbff9aa66487 Launch Stack
HVM ami-084946d40bbef8e18 Launch Stack
ap-southeast-2 PV ami-080231335ebd74473 Launch Stack
HVM ami-0eeb52e69b2b2688d Launch Stack
ca-central-1 PV Launch Stack
HVM ami-05c11b00d02765d2f Launch Stack
eu-central-1 PV ami-0d5607cbf92ac160c Launch Stack
HVM ami-0d2040c9d9f4c1d53 Launch Stack
eu-west-1 PV ami-01d1ab14b2440e14f Launch Stack
HVM ami-0d4220f9ed660920b Launch Stack
eu-west-2 PV Launch Stack
HVM ami-0219ad74b8dd2553e Launch Stack
eu-west-3 PV Launch Stack
HVM ami-0f0cc3fba99d94d93 Launch Stack
sa-east-1 PV ami-0155ae095677ab8db Launch Stack
HVM ami-008785ce5182fe4ac Launch Stack
us-east-1 PV ami-07be29a5362445e0c Launch Stack
HVM ami-065969be22491e0e5 Launch Stack
us-east-2 PV Launch Stack
HVM ami-037a04dc2fe1ddaf5 Launch Stack
us-west-1 PV ami-0c072296179d22388 Launch Stack
HVM ami-0673f5e0cde46d6c6 Launch Stack
us-west-2 PV ami-000d24b0b5de5e0f5 Launch Stack
HVM ami-0fd22ff57467801f6 Launch Stack

The Stable channel should be used by production clusters. Versions of Flatcar Linux are battle-tested within the Beta and Alpha channels before being promoted. The current version is Flatcar Linux 2079.3.1.

View as json feed
EC2 Region AMI Type AMI ID CloudFormation
ap-northeast-1 PV ami-05443ee98649cc4ad Launch Stack
HVM ami-0b352004dcd804711 Launch Stack
ap-northeast-2 PV Launch Stack
HVM ami-0c70564cd6e4aa4e2 Launch Stack
ap-south-1 PV Launch Stack
HVM ami-0c9ff7f1c5f33f389 Launch Stack
ap-southeast-1 PV ami-062caccf88aad0951 Launch Stack
HVM ami-03e61592cb38e9e9e Launch Stack
ap-southeast-2 PV ami-0f96e51824e940d03 Launch Stack
HVM ami-0caea35c07366e838 Launch Stack
ca-central-1 PV Launch Stack
HVM ami-0c55f10bc1a572419 Launch Stack
eu-central-1 PV ami-09d62b85cf076e560 Launch Stack
HVM ami-056c515f4c67f1aed Launch Stack
eu-west-1 PV ami-005f4288f672add5f Launch Stack
HVM ami-040883c04f4de31b9 Launch Stack
eu-west-2 PV Launch Stack
HVM ami-034620a49dd19cf53 Launch Stack
eu-west-3 PV Launch Stack
HVM ami-0905c45d178e70183 Launch Stack
sa-east-1 PV ami-033a4f0eb4efebb67 Launch Stack
HVM ami-0e841aacede5fc69d Launch Stack
us-east-1 PV ami-0838b649eb8faf3bb Launch Stack
HVM ami-009eeaa645facc9bd Launch Stack
us-east-2 PV Launch Stack
HVM ami-063fb9b001c7659c9 Launch Stack
us-west-1 PV ami-083964c86bae65f09 Launch Stack
HVM ami-00d37e658424e80a7 Launch Stack
us-west-2 PV ami-054aa0590dac9ea25 Launch Stack
HVM ami-00efa9483e3cf281c Launch Stack

CloudFormation will launch a cluster of Flatcar Linux machines with a security and autoscaling group.

Container Linux Configs

Flatcar Linux allows you to configure machine parameters, configure networking, launch systemd units on startup, and more via Container Linux Configs. These configs are then transpiled into Ignition configs and given to booting machines. Head over to the docs to learn about the supported features.

You can provide a raw Ignition config to Flatcar Linux via the Amazon web console or via the EC2 API.

As an example, this Container Linux Config will configure and start etcd:

etcd:
  # All options get passed as command line flags to etcd.
  # Any information inside curly braces comes from the machine at boot time.

  # multi_region and multi_cloud deployments need to use {PUBLIC_IPV4}
  advertise_client_urls:       "http://{PRIVATE_IPV4}:2379"
  initial_advertise_peer_urls: "http://{PRIVATE_IPV4}:2380"
  # listen on both the official ports and the legacy ports
  # legacy ports can be omitted if your application doesn't depend on them
  listen_client_urls:          "http://0.0.0.0:2379"
  listen_peer_urls:            "http://{PRIVATE_IPV4}:2380"
  # generate a new token for each unique cluster from https://discovery.etcd.io/new?size=3
  # specify the initial size of your cluster with ?size=X
  discovery:                   "https://discovery.etcd.io/<token>"

Instance storage

Ephemeral disks and additional EBS volumes attached to instances can be mounted with a .mount unit. Amazon's block storage devices are attached differently depending on the instance type. Here's the Container Linux Config to format and mount the first ephemeral disk, xvdb, on most instance types:

storage:
  filesystems:
    - mount:
        device: /dev/xvdb
        format: ext4
        wipe_filesystem: true

systemd:
  units:
    - name: media-ephemeral.mount
      enable: true
      contents: |
        [Mount]
        What=/dev/xvdb
        Where=/media/ephemeral
        Type=ext4

        [Install]
        RequiredBy=local-fs.target

For more information about mounting storage, Amazon's own documentation is the best source. You can also read about mounting storage on Flatcar Linux.

Adding more machines

To add more instances to the cluster, just launch more with the same Container Linux Config, the appropriate security group and the AMI for that region. New instances will join the cluster regardless of region if the security groups are configured correctly.

SSH to your instances

Flatcar Linux is set up to be a little more secure than other cloud images. By default, it uses the core user instead of root and doesn't use a password for authentication. You'll need to add an SSH key(s) via the AWS console or add keys/passwords via your Container Linux Config in order to log in.

To connect to an instance after it's created, run:

ssh core@<ip address>

Multiple clusters

If you would like to create multiple clusters you will need to change the "Stack Name". You can find the direct template file on S3.

Manual setup

TL;DR: launch three instances of ami-07be29a5362445e0c in us-east-1 with a security group that has open port 22, 2379, 2380, 4001, and 7001 and the same "User Data" of each host. SSH uses the core user and you have etcd and Docker to play with.

Creating the security group

You need open port 2379, 2380, 7001 and 4001 between servers in the etcd cluster. Step by step instructions below.

This step is only needed once

First we need to create a security group to allow Flatcar Linux instances to communicate with one another.

  1. Go to the security group page in the EC2 console.
  2. Click "Create Security Group"
    • Name: flatcar-testing
    • Description: Flatcar Linux instances
    • VPC: No VPC
    • Click: "Yes, Create"
  3. In the details of the security group, click the Inbound tab
  4. First, create a security group rule for SSH
    • Create a new rule: SSH
    • Source: 0.0.0.0/0
    • Click: "Add Rule"
  5. Add two security group rules for etcd communication
    • Create a new rule: Custom TCP rule
    • Port range: 2379
    • Source: type "flatcar-testing" until your security group auto-completes. Should be something like "sg-8d4feabc"
    • Click: "Add Rule"
    • Repeat this process for port range 2380, 4001 and 7001 as well
  6. Click "Apply Rule Changes"

Launching a test cluster

We will be launching three instances, with a few parameters in the User Data, and selecting our security group.

  1. Open the quick launch wizard to boot ami-07be29a5362445e0c.
  2. On the second page of the wizard, launch 3 servers to test our clustering
    • Number of instances: 3
    • Click "Continue"
  3. Next, we need to specify a discovery URL, which contains a unique token that allows us to find other hosts in our cluster. If you're launching your first machine, generate one at https://discovery.etcd.io/new?size=3, configure the `?size=` to your initial cluster size and add it to the metadata. You should re-use this key for each machine in the cluster.
  4. Use ct to convert the following configuration into an Ignition config, and back in the EC2 dashboard, paste it into the "User Data" field. wzxhzdk:3
    • Paste configuration into "User Data"
    • "Continue"
  5. Storage Configuration
    • "Continue"
  6. Tags
    • "Continue"
  7. Create Key Pair
    • Choose a key of your choice, it will be added in addition to the one in the gist.
    • "Continue"
  8. Choose one or more of your existing Security Groups
    • "flatcar-testing" as above.
    • "Continue"
  9. Launch!

We will be launching three instances, with a few parameters in the User Data, and selecting our security group.

  1. Open the quick launch wizard to boot ami-09a17196f4dffbf45.
  2. On the second page of the wizard, launch 3 servers to test our clustering
    • Number of instances: 3
    • Click "Continue"
  3. Next, we need to specify a discovery URL, which contains a unique token that allows us to find other hosts in our cluster. If you're launching your first machine, generate one at https://discovery.etcd.io/new?size=3, configure the `?size=` to your initial cluster size and add it to the metadata. You should re-use this key for each machine in the cluster.
  4. Use ct to convert the following configuration into an Ignition config, and back in the EC2 dashboard, paste it into the "User Data" field. wzxhzdk:4
    • Paste configuration into "User Data"
    • "Continue"
  5. Storage Configuration
    • "Continue"
  6. Tags
    • "Continue"
  7. Create Key Pair
    • Choose a key of your choice, it will be added in addition to the one in the gist.
    • "Continue"
  8. Choose one or more of your existing Security Groups
    • "flatcar-testing" as above.
    • "Continue"
  9. Launch!

We will be launching three instances, with a few parameters in the User Data, and selecting our security group.

  1. Open the quick launch wizard to boot ami-0838b649eb8faf3bb.
  2. On the second page of the wizard, launch 3 servers to test our clustering
    • Number of instances: 3
    • Click "Continue"
  3. Next, we need to specify a discovery URL, which contains a unique token that allows us to find other hosts in our cluster. If you're launching your first machine, generate one at https://discovery.etcd.io/new?size=3, configure the `?size=` to your initial cluster size and add it to the metadata. You should re-use this key for each machine in the cluster.
  4. Use ct to convert the following configuration into an Ignition config, and back in the EC2 dashboard, paste it into the "User Data" field. wzxhzdk:5
    • Paste configuration into "User Data"
    • "Continue"
  5. Storage Configuration
    • "Continue"
  6. Tags
    • "Continue"
  7. Create Key Pair
    • Choose a key of your choice, it will be added in addition to the one in the gist.
    • "Continue"
  8. Choose one or more of your existing Security Groups
    • "flatcar-testing" as above.
    • "Continue"
  9. Launch!

Installation from a VMDK image

One of the possible ways of installation is to import the generated VMDK Flatcar image as a snapshot. The image file will be in https://${CHANNEL}.release.flatcar-linux.net/amd64-usr/${VERSION}/flatcar_production_ami_vmdk_image.vmdk.bz2. Make sure you download the signature (it's available in https://${CHANNEL}.release.flatcar-linux.net/amd64-usr/${VERSION}/flatcar_production_ami_vmdk_image.vmdk.bz2.sig) and check it before proceeding.

$ wget https://alpha.release.flatcar-linux.net/amd64-usr/current/flatcar_production_ami_vmdk_image.vmdk.bz2
$ wget https://alpha.release.flatcar-linux.net/amd64-usr/current/flatcar_production_ami_vmdk_image.vmdk.bz2.sig
$ gpg --verify flatcar_production_ami_vmdk_image.vmdk.bz2.sig
gpg: assuming signed data in 'flatcar_production_ami_vmdk_image.vmdk.bz2'
gpg: Signature made Thu 15 Mar 2018 10:27:57 AM CET
gpg:                using RSA key A621F1DA96C93C639506832D603443A1D0FC498C
gpg: Good signature from "Flatcar Buildbot (Official Builds) <buildbot@flatcar-linux.org>" [ultimate]

Then, follow the instructions in Importing a Disk as a Snapshot Using VM Import/Export. You'll need to upload the uncompressed vmdk file to S3.

After the snapshot is imported, you can go to "Snapshots" in the EC2 dashboard, and generate an AMI image from it. To make it work, use /dev/sda2 as the "Root device name" and you probably want to select "Hardware-assisted virtualization" as "Virtualization type".

In the future we'll upload AMIs directly during the build process so this will be much easier.

Using Flatcar Linux

Now that you have a machine booted it is time to play around. Check out the Flatcar Linux Quickstart guide or dig into more specific topics.