Amazon Web Services (AWS) EC2 example

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Follow along with this example to create a Dockerized Amazon Web Services (AWS) EC2 instance.

Step 1. Sign up for AWS and configure credentials

  1. If you are not already an AWS user, sign up for AWS to create an account and get root access to EC2 cloud computers.

    If you have an Amazon account, you can use it as your root user account.

  2. Create an IAM (Identity and Access Management) administrator user, an admin group, and a key pair associated with a region.

    From the AWS menus, select Services > IAM to get started.

    To create machines on AWS, you must supply two parameters:

    • an AWS Access Key ID

    • an AWS Secret Access Key

    See the AWS documentation on Setting Up with Amazon EC2. Follow the steps for “Create an IAM User” and “Create a Key Pair”.

Step 2. Use Machine to create the instance

  1. Optionally, create an AWS credential file.

    You can create an ~/.aws/credentials file to hold your AWS keys so that you don’t have to type them every time you run the docker-machine create command. Here is an example of a credentials file.

         aws_access_key_id = AKID1234567890
         aws_secret_access_key = MY-SECRET-KEY
  2. Run docker-machine create with the amazonec2 driver, your keys, and a name for the new instance.

    Using a credentials file

    If you specified your keys in a credentials file, this command looks like this to create an instance called aws-sandbox:

         docker-machine create --driver amazonec2 aws-sandbox

    Specifying keys at the command line

    If you don’t have a credentials file, you can use the flags --amazonec2-access-key and --amazonec2-secret-key on the command line:

         $ docker-machine create --driver amazonec2 --amazonec2-access-key AKI******* --amazonec2-secret-key 8T93C*******  aws-sandbox

    Specifying a region

    By default, the driver creates new instances in region us-east-1 (North Virginia). You can specify a different region by using the --amazonec2-region flag. For example, this command creates a machine called “aws-01” in us-west-1 (Northern California).

         $ docker-machine create --driver amazonec2 --amazonec2-region us-west-1 aws-01
  3. Go to the AWS EC2 Dashboard to view the new instance.

    Log into AWS with your IAM credentials, and navigate to your EC2 Running Instances.

    instance on AWS EC2 Dashboard

    Note: Make sure you set the region appropriately from the menu in the upper right; otherwise, you won’t see the new instance. If you did not specify a region as part of docker-machine create (with the optional --amazonec2-region flag), then the region will be US East, which is the default.

  4. At the command terminal, run docker-machine ls.

     $ docker-machine ls
     NAME             ACTIVE   DRIVER         STATE     URL                         SWARM   DOCKER        ERRORS
     aws-sandbox      *        amazonec2      Running   tcp://            v1.10.0
     default          -        virtualbox     Running   tcp://           v1.10.0-rc4
     aws-sandbox   -        digitalocean   Running   tcp://           v1.9.1

    The new aws-sandbox instance is running, and it is the active host as indicated by the asterisk (*). When you create a new machine, your command shell automatically connects to it. If for some reason your new machine is not the active host, you’ll need to run docker-machine env aws-sandbox, followed by eval $(docker-machine env aws-sandbox) to connect to it.

Step 3. Run Docker commands on the instance

  1. Run some docker-machine commands to inspect the remote host. For example, docker-machine ip <machine> gets the host IP address and docker-machine inspect <machine> lists all the details.

       $ docker-machine ip
       $ docker-machine inspect aws-sandbox
           "ConfigVersion": 3,
           "Driver": {
               "IPAddress": "",
               "MachineName": "aws-sandbox",
               "SSHUser": "ubuntu",
               "SSHPort": 22,
  2. Verify Docker Engine is installed correctly by running docker commands.

    Start with something basic like docker run hello-world, or for a more interesting test, run a Dockerized webserver on your new remote machine.

    In this example, the -p option is used to expose port 80 from the nginx container and make it accessible on port 8000 of the aws-sandbox host.

     $ docker run -d -p 8000:80 --name webserver kitematic/hello-world-nginx
     Unable to find image 'kitematic/hello-world-nginx:latest' locally
     latest: Pulling from kitematic/hello-world-nginx
     a285d7f063ea: Pull complete
     2d7baf27389b: Pull complete
     Digest: sha256:ec0ca6dcb034916784c988b4f2432716e2e92b995ac606e080c7a54b52b87066
     Status: Downloaded newer image for kitematic/hello-world-nginx:latest

    In a web browser, go to http://<host_ip>:8000 to bring up the webserver home page. You got the <host_ip> from the output of the docker-machine ip <machine> command you ran in a previous step. Use the port you exposed in the docker run command.

    nginx webserver

Step 4. Use Machine to remove the instance

To remove an instance and all of its containers and images, first stop the machine, then use docker-machine rm:

  $ docker-machine stop aws-sandbox
  $ docker-machine rm aws-sandbox
  Do you really want to remove "aws-sandbox"? (y/n): y
  Successfully removed aws-sandbox ## Where to go next
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