Once you have an Amazon Web Services account (requires credit card details), Amazon EC2 images are very easy to launch. You could simply search for and launch Academic AMIs using the AWS Management Console, but beginners might like some more detailed instructions:


If you haven’t already got an Amazon AWS account, you need to do 3 things to get an AMI going:

  • Create an Amazon Web Services (AWS) account.
  • Launch the AMI from
  • Enter the correct URL into your browser, combining information from your Amazon AWS / EC2 console and the ReadMe file on

You’ll then be able to log in to your chosen application, using the username and password provided in the ReadMe filefrom


  1. Create an Amazon Web Services account. As well as a credit card, this will involve an automated phone call from Amazon that requires you to enter a pin number they provide. You’ll get an email telling you about some advanced features on offer, and how billing works, but you won’t need those advanced features for your Academic AMI and your micro instance should be free for 750 hours per month for 1 year.
  2. Go back to, log in, launch the AWS Management Console and have a poke around. AWS offers a lot of services these days, but you’ll be using ‘Amazon EC2‘.
  3. Navigate back to, choose your AMI and click Launch AMI.
  4. Click Configure Instance Details.
  5. Click Add Storage.
  6. Click Tag Instance.
  7. Enter a name for your Amazon instance and click Configure Security Group.
  8. Create a new Security Group, add ports 22 (SSH) and 80 (HTTP), as well as 8080 if you’d like to connect to a Geoserver, and click Review and Launch.
  9. You’ll see a scary warning message here, which should remind you this is only going to be a sandpit server: Click Launch.
  10. Create a new key pair and download the key. This will only be used if you are connecting via SSH, which won’t be necessary for basic use of the web application. If you are intending to connect using SSH, remember to change the permissions of the key file as instructed.
  11. Click Launch Instance.
  12. Click View Instances. If you miss this step you can find your running instance by going to, logging in, launching the AWS Management Console, and selecting Amazon EC2.
  13. Scroll to the right of the screen and copy the public IP of your instance. (For those of you used to the older version of AWS, the public DNS will also work.)
  14. Add the public IP noted above to the access URL in the Academic AMI ReadMe file and paste it into a web browser. It will look something like ‘http://NN.NN.NNN.NNN/omeka-x.x.x/admin’ (where ‘N’ is a number). It sometimes takes a while for all the cogs to crank into gear, but it’s often available within seconds.
  15. Log into your web application using the details in the Academic AMI ReadMe file and start work!

23 Responses to “Instructions”

  1. Great tutorial, but I seem to be stuck. I follow you up until step 14. When add the public DNS to the access URL and then select “launch SSH client” A console pops up called “MindTerm” that keeps telling me “Authentication Failed, permission denied.”

    I’ve tried using the username and password from the ReadMe file but that doesn’t seem to work. Am I missing something?

    • James Smithies Says:

      Hi Ryan. Just copy and paste the public DNS into a web browser (Chrome, Firefox etc) address bar, then add the rest of the url outlined in the ReadMe. So the address for a Geoserver instance would be The ‘Launch SSH client’ option is to give you access to the server via the command line. That’s really useful, but not necessary if you just want to use the web application as-is. I might add a tutorial about using that feature if I get time. Basically, though, once it’s started you just access it using a web browser. Update: I’ve updated step 14 to make this clearer.

  2. brekhusr Says:

    I’m stuck at Step 3, unfortunately. Got myself an AWS account, logged into it, and then tried to follow these steps. When I hit “Launch AMI,” a window pops up, but I hit “Continue” and nothing happened. All the information fields in that popup window appeared to be blank, too. In case this is relevant, what I am trying to launch is

    • James Smithies Says:

      I’ve just booted up that Omeka instance following the same process and it worked fine. Sometimes new accounts take 24 hours or so to ‘take’, but usually they work really quickly. If you do have a new account it might be that. I have found that, in the hundreds of times I’ve started them, a step will very occasionally take a long time to load, or there’ll be blank information. If that happens I tend to just start over. If that doesn’t work I’ll restart my browser, perhaps clear the cache, or try another browser. Sometimes it’ll start working if you just give it time too. I’ve never worked out exactly what causes these transitory issues, but from forum comments it appears it sometimes happens to professionals using the service too.

      • brekhusr Says:

        Thank you for this information. I do have a new amazon AWS account (and I also got the EC2 console), so that may be the trouble. This morning, I’m still getting the blanked-out information on the first screen, with nothing happening at the first “continue” (except that a “back” button appears).

      • James Smithies Says:

        That’s strange. I’ve never seen things not come right like that. The wizard page at Step 5 often takes a while to load, but at Step 3 I’ve only ever had to click the Continue button. I’ve retested the AMI and it’s working for me, so I’m afraid that’s the best I can do from afar. The only other advice I can give you is to search online for other people with this particular issue. If anyone else has the same issue, or a solution to it, please leave a comment.

  3. brekhusr Says:

    Maybe I’m missing some component I need. I have AWS, I have EC2. Do I need something else? The beginning part talks about “EBS” and “S3” services, but the Bitnami tutorial linked says that all three should now come bundled together.

  4. brekhusr Says:

    I didn’t try to install the Ubuntu server AMI but it did give me a filled-in first page, not a blanked out one, so my guess is that it will work.

  5. brekhusr Says:

    It’s working. But now I’m at Step 8, trying to add a new security group. What do I do in the box that appears under Inbound Groups? Should I leave it at the default, which is “Custom TCP rule,” or is this something else? How do I add more than one port? I tried typing 80, 22 in the Port Range field, but these are 2 ports, and it seems to want either a single port or a range. And do I do anything in the Source field? (Apologies, but I’ve never done anything but write simple HTML and a smattering of CSS before – this whole Server thing is new to me. – I just want to learn Omeka and Neatline.)

    • James Smithies Says:

      No worries – it’ll be a useful thread for other users. Just type 80 in the Port Range field, click Add Rule, then click Apply Rule Changes. You do them one at a time. You won’t need SSH access, so won’t need to add 22 as well. 80 should work fine on its own.

  6. brekhusr Says:

    Do I have to wait for the instance to finish launching before I hit “close?”

    • James Smithies Says:

      It’s best to wait until you get green lights on the State and Status Checks, but then you should be able to paste the url (in your case into your browser or a new tab, and log into Omeka. Once the AMI is going you can log out of your AWS account, close the browser etc. Just remember that it will keep going even when you’re not using it unless you stop it in the AWS console, and that will cost you after you’ve had an AWS account for 1 year. In rare cases I’ve found it’ll take 20 minutes or so to start but this hasn’t happened to me for a while. In other cases you might get an error message, in which case I probably need to update the AMI.

  7. brekhusr Says:

    Also, is it obvious how to “stop or terminate” my instance? I see that I’m being charged for every minute it’s running, and sometime soon I want to go to lunch and get back to it later. Will I have to go through steps 1-15 every time I want to start playing with Omeka, or is there an easy way to just turn it on and off once I’ve done this once?

  8. brekhusr Says:

    Thanks! I’m going to have to get back to this another time. But I did go to the console and try to connect, but it really seemed to want that Port 22 and so I’ll have to figure out how to reconfigure the instance and add that port. I have now “stopped” the instance. Should I “terminate” it instead and follow the steps again, this time adding both Port 80 and Port 22?

    • James Smithies Says:

      Nup, you shouldn’t need port 22. Some people forget that they need just paste a url into their browser at this point. You don’t connect through the AWS console, but through a web browser. Apparently you do need Port 22! Go figure, AWS updated their connection console. You can do this while your instance is running – just go to Security Groups, select the Inbound tab, and add the port as before.

  9. […] scale. I’ve started by setting up an Omeka site with the help of a fantastic tutorial on Academic AMIs. The project can be found here. I’m also experimenting with app creation services to create […]

  10. Shawn Says:

    Hi James,
    I follow the instructions, but when I go to my installation (public dns), it won’t load. I ping it, but 100% failure. As I look at my EC2 Dashboard, and select my instance, my security groups might be the problem. Though I associated it with a security group (with ports 80 and 22, as per instructions), when I click on ‘view rules’, the popup says ‘no rules were found in the associated security groups’.

    But if I go to ‘security groups’ under ‘network and security’ on the left sidebar, my security group seems to be fine.

    Any suggestions?

    Thank you,

    • James Smithies Says:

      Hi Shawn,
      Before I offer any advice, I’d suggest you could consider starting again. I do it myself sometimes – figure I’ve missed a step and give it another go. You could also play around with another AMI entirely, perhaps one from Ubuntu ( so you can sure it isn’t something to do with this particular AMI (although I’ve tested it just now and it’s working for me). I’ve waited 20 minutes for AMIs to boot up before, but it hasn’t happened for ages – as long as the 2 status checks are green it should be working. Sounds like you’ve got it sussed, but for other people reading this, be sure to use the entire url (something like when accessing the instance, too. The basic public DNS (something like should bring up the Apache test page.

      Also, see ‘Ping uses ICMP ECHO, which by default is blocked by your firewall. You’ll need to grant ICMP access to your instances by updating the firewall restrictions that are tied to your security group.’ I haven’t configured this in the default AMIs on this site, so Ping doesn’t work. I’ve considered setting configs like this but figure it’s best to offer a very basic instance and let people add functionality as they need it.

      Still, it sounds like this is a security group issue. When I ‘View Rules’ on the instance I just booted I get the correct info. I often miss the ‘Inbound’ tab under Security Groups settings, which is where you set the ports, so be sure you’re seeing all the port info, and the Add Rule button etc. If you don’t see your ports listed under the blue table to the right, they’re not set up (so, Security Groups -> Select correct group at the top of the page -> Select Inbound tab at the bottom of the page). Other than that I can’t help much, sorry. I’ve set up a ‘Basic’ security group that I use blindly for any of the AMIs on this site, btw. It has ports 80, 8080 and 22 open, and I just always select it. Sorry I can’t be of more help.
      – James

  11. Shawn Says:

    Hi James,

    I left it alone for an hour, and suddenly the rules were visible. It still wouldn’t load up- but I added 8080 to the ports, and voila! All is right with the world! Thank you for setting all this up, your tutorial, and for responding so quickly to questions!

    • James Smithies Says:

      Good to hear. I take it you were using the Geoserver AMI, which runs on Tomcat (requires 8080). AWS can be a bit funny like that – transitory outages and suchlike, often only confined to one of their areas. Glad to hear you’re up and going! One of these days we’ll have covered all the gotchas in these comments :)

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