Review of publicly available Drupal stack Amazon AMIs

Until Pantheon Mercury 1.1 or 1.2 comes out publicly, I wanted to setup a plain vanilla Drupal server for development on Amazon’s EC2 environment.

I wanted the server to have:

  • Ubuntu 10.04
  • Apache
  • MySQL
  • PHP
  • Drupal
  • Drush
  • Webmin
  • PhpMyAdmin

There are a ton of AMIs out there, so I wanted to find one that was already available and easy to spin up and configure with my server name and database name/users.

NOTE: The preferred method for me, is still going to be to use Pantheon. I was only looking for a short term, temporary image for a development server while we wait for Pantheon to go public/live.

The final result for me was that I spun up a Ubuntu 10.04 LTS server. The latest official Canonical Ubuntu AMIs are are all listed at for each region. The list is automatically updated with the latest images.
From there, I installed LAMP all in one go with one command, then added Mail servers, PhpMyAdmin, Webmin, Drupal, and finally Drush.

It actually wouldn’t have taken me less time to just do that instead of going out and looking for other AMIs and trying out the ones I found.

Here’s the command to get you started:

$ sudo tasksel install lamp-server

I found 3 main public AMIs for Drupal. Here’s what I thought about each one of them.

Bitnami (

I tried spinning up one of the free Bitnami AMIs on a micro instance. I decided that it was not a viable solution due to poor documentation and non-standard, non-Ubuntu way software is installed such as Apache and Drupal.

If you run on the Bitnami cloud, it’s easy to spin up an instance and backup your instance. There is a flat fee for using their system. For a single server, it’s not worth it ($49/month up to 3 servers, on top of Amazon charges) –


  • Up-to-date versions of Drupal 6.20 and 7 available.
  • Can run on micro instance.
  • AMIs are EBS boot.
  • Have a free AMI that you can use in addition to the cloud hosted version with a backup that is similar to Turnkey Linux’s Hub setup.


  • I found the Bitnami stack unusuable because of the customized installation of Apache.
  • It is installed in /opt/bitnami/apache2
  • sudo service apache2 restart didn’t work – there is a bitnami specific command to restart it
  • Drupal was installed in a non-tradtional way /opt/bitnami/apps/drupal
  • By defualt apache was setup such that was a bitnami splash page, whereas to get to Drupal, I had to go to
  • Changing the default apache root was not-inuitive (I couldn’t figure it out).
  • No username/password supplied for PhpMyAdmin.
  • Poor documentation

Turnkey Linux(

I run another, non-Drupal turnkey linux appliance and it works pretty well, so I was familiar with how their AMIs and general setup works. Their software images are open source and you can download and install on your own hardware. They do not offer a free public Amazon AMI. If you use their Amazon AMI, you kick it off from their Hub. After logging into, you can spin up an instance, and configure automatic backups, similar to Bitnami’s cloud backup feature. They charge 10% on top of the Amazon charges, so it’s pretty affordable for a single server.

I decided against the Drupal AMI without installing it because of the following two cons.


  • No free AMI version to try like Bitnami has.
  • The AMI is an instance boot.
  • The AMIs do not support micro instance, so you have to run a small instance at a minimum.
  • The AMI was built on a much older version of Drupal 6.16 (not really a big issue).
  • The following statement is on their page:

Note: Drupal 6 includes a built-in update status module.
* When enabled could produce confusing/annoying version notifications.
* This is due to drupal6 being installed and updated via the APT package manager, instead of manually from the upstream source code.

I didn’t want to deal with having Ubuntu’s apt-get manage my Drupal updates, I would rather use Drush.

Jumpbox (

They didn’t have a free version to try, so I didn’t try their service. It looks similar in setup and price to Bitnami.

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