I have been playing with Modern Technology. As a freebie from attending the Kiwi PyCon in Waitangi in November, I was given a $50 credit for Amazon Web Services. The timing was perfect because I’ve been needing to play with it for ages anyway. About six months ago I had a crack at setting up a pilot Ubuntu Private Enterprise Cloud on some old hardware, with pretty much zero success. The learning curve is pretty high just on the side of using cloud virtualisation, much less having to administer it yourself without prior experience.
So using Amazon I can get a feel for running virtual machines using the EC2 interface before having to learn how to administer the host machines myself. Which is handy.
This also means I can finally decommission the poor little old Pentium 3 that has been sitting in my basement, humming forlornly to itself, for almost nine years. It has served me very well, and I think it deserves the right to finally die in peace.
So, now what I have is eastman.net.nz, a virtual machine running on Amazon’s EC2 network using the cheapest available configuration. And I’ve also enabled Google Apps to handle the email side of things, so I no longer need to run my own mail server in my basement, limited by my crappy New Zealand DSL connection.
I’m also trying to put all the clever system-administration tricks I’ve learned over the last 10 years or so into practice here. The idea will be to automate as much as I possibly can, so that the system will basically administer itself. I’m using a combination of Fabric and Puppet to automatically provision and configure the server. Basically so that I never have to log in personally and issue a single management command. In practice, I’ll have to cheat, but not very often. I’ll write more about that setup in another post sometime. Honestly it’s pretty cool, if you’re in to that sort of thing.