Lab 08: User Data


You can use AWS CloudFormation to automatically install, configure, and start applications on Amazon EC2 instances. Doing so enables you to easily replicate deployments and update existing installations without connecting directly to the instance, which can save you a lot of time and effort.

Topics Covered

In this lab you will deploy an Apache Web server with a simple PHP application via UserData property.

  • First, you will bootstrap EC2 instance to install web server and content.
  • Then you will create an EC2 Security Group and allow access on port 80 to the instance.
  • Finally, you will view the content served by the web server.

The following diagram provides a high-level overview of the architecture you will implement.


Start Lab

  1. Go to the code/30-launching-ec2/ directory.
  2. Open the 05-lab08-UserData.yaml file.
  3. Copy the code as you go through the topics below.

1. Create Security Group

Begin by creating a Security Group.

    Type: AWS::EC2::SecurityGroup
      GroupDescription: 'Enable HTTP access via port 80'

As the Apache web server will serve content on port 80, you will need to create an ingress rule SecurityGroupIngress in the security group to allow access from the Internet.

    Type: AWS::EC2::SecurityGroup
      GroupDescription: 'Enable HTTP access via port 80'
        - IpProtocol: tcp
          FromPort: 80
          ToPort: 80

Finally, associate the security group with the EC2 instance.

    Type: AWS::EC2::Instance
      IamInstanceProfile: !Ref EC2InstanceProfile
      ImageId: !Ref AmiID
      InstanceType: !FindInMap [Environment, InstanceType, !Ref EnvType]
        - !Ref WebServerSecurityGroup
        - Key: Name
          Value: !Join [ '-', [ !Ref EnvironmentType, webserver ] ]

The EC2 instance in the CloudFormation stack will be replaced as a result of modifying the Security Group property. You can find the properties where updates require Replacement of EC2 instances here.

2. Install Apache web server on the instance

Now, let’s write a bash script to install the Apache and the PHP application.

User data scripts are executed as the root user, so there is no need to use sudo commands in the script.
UserData must be Base64 encoded when passed from CloudFormation to EC2 instance. Use Fn::Base64 intrinsic function to encode the input string.

        Fn::Base64: |
          yum update -y
          yum install -y httpd php
          systemctl start httpd
          systemctl enable httpd
          usermod -a -G apache ec2-user
          chown -R ec2-user:apache /var/www
          chmod 2775 /var/www
          find /var/www -type d -exec chmod 2775 {} \;
          find /var/www -type f -exec chmod 0664 {} \;

          # PHP script to display Instance ID and Availability Zone
          cat << 'EOF' > /var/www/html/index.php
            <!DOCTYPE html>

                # Get the instance ID from meta-data and store it in the $instance_id variable
                $url = "";
                $instance_id = file_get_contents($url);
                # Get the instance's availability zone from metadata and store it in the $zone variable
                $url = "";
                $zone = file_get_contents($url);

                <h2>EC2 Instance ID: <?php echo $instance_id ?></h2>
                <h2>Availability Zone: <?php echo $zone ?></h2>


3. Add the WebsiteURL to CloudFormation Outputs

Copy and paste the code below to the Outputs section of the CloudFormation template.

    Value: !Sub http://${WebServerEIP}
    Description: Application URL

4. Update the Stack

Similar to previous labs, update the stack with the updated template. Once CloudFormation completes updating the stack, you can then check to see that your script has set up a web server on the EC2 instance.

  1. Open the AWS CloudFormation link in a new tab and log in to your AWS account.
  2. Click on the stack name, for example cfn-workshop-ec2.
  3. In the top right corner click on Update.
  4. In Prepare template, choose Replace current template.
  5. In Template source, choose Upload a template file.
  6. Click on Choose file button and navigate to your workshop directory.
  7. Select the file 05-lab08-UserData.yaml and click Next.
  8. For Amazon Machine Image ID leave the default value in.
  9. For EnvironmentType leave the selected environment in.
  10. You can leave Configure stack options default, click Next.
  11. On the Review <stack_name> page, scroll down to the bottom and tick I acknowledge that AWS CloudFormation might create IAM resources check box, then click on Update stack.
  12. You can click the refresh button a few times until you see in the status UPDATE_COMPLETE.

In a web browser, enter the WebsiteURL (you can get the WebsiteURL from the Outputs tab of the CloudFormation console).


You should see a page similar to the picture below:



Congratulations, you have successfully bootstrapped an EC2 instance! In the next section you will learn a different way to install software and start services on Amazon EC2 - CloudFormation Helper Scripts.