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TurnKey 11.2, free micro instances, EBS backed cloud servers

TurnKey 11.2: micro instances, EBS support, built-in TurnKey DNS, security updates

We just updated the web site and the TurnKey Hub with the new TurnKey 11.2 maintenance release, which includes:

  1. TurnKey Hub support for micro instances, Amazon’s free tier and cloud servers backed by persistent network-attached storage volumes (AKA EBS backed instances).
  2. Built-in support for TurnKey’s new dynamic DNS service.
  3. The latest security updates.

 

TurnKey Micro instances: 2 cents/hour or 0 cents/hour for a year with the free tier

We’ve added support for micro instances (613 MB RAM), Amazon EC2’s smallest cloud server type which costs just 2 cents an hour to run, which is less than $15/month if you run a server 24×7. If that isn’t close enough to free for you, Amazon is giving away a year’s worth of micro instance usage to new users as part of their free tierprogram.This means many of you will now be able to try out TurnKey in the cloud free for a year. Yay!

We would have added support for micro instances as soon as they came out except Amazon designed them to work differently from other instance types we already supported. In particular, we had to add support for EBS backed instances…

EBS backed instances: cloud servers that can be turned off any time

Up until now the TurnKey Hub only supported S3 backed instances. These are non-persistent cloud servers with temporary storage that is lost once you destroy the server. This means you can’t just turn off an S3 backed instance to save usage fees when you are not using it, though you could work around this limitation by using TKLBAM to backup a cloud server before destroying it and later restoring its state into a new cloud server.

With the support we’ve added for EBS backed instances, this limitation has been removed. EBS is what Amazon calls its on-demand Network Attached Storage service. The catch is that the Hub has to pre-allocate a fixed size EBS volume for your cloud server to boot from. Unless you are in the free usage tier you’ll have to pay an additional $0.10/GB per month in EBS storage fees for the convenience (e.g., 50GB EBS volume == extra $5/monthly). The ability to turn off servers when not in use may make up for this extra cost though.

Speaking of costs, the pricing structure on the TurnKey side is a bit different for EBS backed instances as Amazon doesn’t allow vendors to add a 10% markup to hourly usage fees like we’ve been doing with S3 backed instances. So instead, we’re probably going to be experimenting with a global fixed monthly fee for this feature. After the trial period ends (in a month or so). Currently there is no extra charge.

Note that this future extra monthly charge will not apply to micro instances.

A word of warning: EBS is not a backup replacement and EBS-backed instances still need to be backed up by TKLBAM. EBS volumes just provides data persistence. It’s a network hard drive that lives in a specific Amazon datacenter. It is not a replacement for backups. For example, if the data on your EBS volume gets accidentally deleted or corrupted, without a backup system to restore from you will be out of luck. TKLBAM on the other hand provides true incremental backups, so good data can’t be accidentally overwritten by bad. Also, TKLBAM uses S3, which is designed by default to provide 11 nines (99.999999999%) of storage reliability, much higher than EBS.

Security updates

As most of you know security updates are already installed automatically on first boot and nightly  (by default). If you’re using an older version of TurnKey this means you don’t need to do anything to get the latest security fixes. But for new deployments pulling a large number of security updates over the network can take considerable time, so occasional maintenance releases that already include them are a good idea.

We’re in the process of upgrading our development process so this sort of update will be easier to do in the future and can be done as frequently as necessary.

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