7 Minute Miles

The Transition to AWS Lightsail

Posted Sunday, July 26th, 2020 12:00 am GMT -5 in Housekeeping, Technology

After nine plus years of running this site on a Mac mini in a Las Vegas data center, I decided it was time to transition to the big leagues of cloud infrastructure. This world is dominated by Amazon, Microsoft and Google, all of which have a dizzying array of available services at various price points. I messed around with Amazon Web Services (AWS EC2) last year, when they were promoting a limited free tier for nerds to experiment and evaluate. This year I decided to give Lightsail a try, which is basically an easier-to-use, fixed-priced version of AWS that gives you a virtual cloud-based server.

As you can see in the screenshot of the Lightsail console above, I created an instance with 4GB of RAM, two virtual CPUs and 80GB of storage running in Virginia Zone A. I was tempted to just pick a version of Linux and manually compile and install the various components I wanted. In the end, though, I decided to go with the Bitnami WordPress stack (version 5.3.2-3), which gave me Ubuntu Linux 16.04.6, Apache 2.4.31, MySQL 8.0.18 and PHP 7.3.14 (i.e., the LAMP stack). Throw in phpMyAdmin and certbot and you have a good preinstalled foundation on which to built and troubleshoot. I also decided to switch my DNS management from DNS Made Easy to Amazon’s Route 53, but kept domain registration and management at Hover.

I’ve owned a Tenacious D themed domain name for some time now that I use for testing and initially used that when I signed up for Lightsail (“All of a sudden, there shined a shiny demon in the middle of the road.”). Amazon and Bitnami both have great tutorial and support pages and I also need to give a shoutout to Sanjeev at MetaBlogue, who wrote two very useful posts. Also found this post from Amazon to be very helpful for setting up new certs from Let’s Encrypt (who I love). Speaking of certs, I spent some time adjusting the Apache TLS settings to get an “A” rating from Qualys on their cool SSL test site.

It took a while to transfer 15 years worth of site files from the old server to my iMac, then on to the new instance. The database files were also quite large, requiring an increase in the file upload settings in PHP. Switching from the test domain to 7minutemiles.com seemed to go smoothly at first, but I had a problem with my theme files that took longer than I wanted to troubleshoot (it was a case-sensitive URL thing). All seems well now, though, and even my stupid emoji issue from December 2018 seems to have been resolved on the new server. Lightsail offers the ability to create snapshots of the instance (yay!) and it appears that Vaultpress is successfully backing up from the new server too.

Now on to those elusive mobile theme enhancements and new data entry screens…

Originally published by DK on July 26, 2020 at 12:00 am
 

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