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Debian on AWS Lightsail

This is a setup of several items, starting with Debian 9 on Amazon AWS Lightsail. This has server basics and apt, and then follows with links to additional articles. In general, after several years of running CentOS on Linode, and then Amazon Linux AMI on EC2 and Lightsail, I find that Debian 9 is simply faster, just as secure, and at least slightly easier to use.

Note: as of Sep 2020, Debian 10 is now available on Lightsail

I will update this soon (mid-2020) to Debian 10 - Bullseye (stable) on AWS and Debian testing on the desktop. I consider this combination to be very good for intermediate users as it keeps them up-to-date on the latest testing build (when things break, that is a learning opportunity), as well as having access to most recent versions of applications, utilities and support libraries. Debian is a huge linux ecosystem which is generally well-supported by a very large community. For one's production desktop environment, Debian testing is an excellent balance of up-to-date application availability and community supportiveness. Together with the extremely stable desktop environment using Openbox/LXDE, very low system requirements are needed.

To be honest, once getting the hang of Openbox/LXDE, I do not see any advantage to Linux Mint or Ubuntu, for that matter (besides the personal repositories). Cinnamon (available on other distributions than Mint) is buggy, memory hungry, and requires a bit of customization. Openbox/LXDE offers nearly the same kind of required customizations, but demands many fewer resources and is nearly crashproof. In my opinion, the good parts of Mint do not include cinnamon, rather applications such as Nemo and Pix, which can of course be installed and run without Mint or Cinnamon.

While there are many flavors of linux, clearly two particular lineages predominate: RHEL/CentOS/AMI and Debian/Ubuntu/Mint. Either are just as valid, though of course niche requirements may make one or the other more attractive. Android and ChromeOS are even more popular, but we are dealing with server OS here. For me, Debian on the desktop via LMDE3 (Linux Mint Debian Edition) is currently a favorite.

AWS Lightsail is a decently priced VPS package. Equivalents can be found in various first and second tier cloud providers such as Digital Ocean, Vultr, Linode, and perhaps even Azure and Google Cloud, who knows? Anyone with any experience with AWS can leverage this with Lightsail, though the main web interface is a bit different. Lightsail instances can be migrated to EC2, though not the reverse.

Related Artices in Debian Services and Applications

Choose Debian Distribution

On Lightsail as of late 2018 Debian 9.5 is an option. - Install PHP from special repository sources (found in the Running PHP on Debian article) - Install special packages from Backports when needed (such as certbot) - Use apt install PACKAGE -y -t buster-backports


sudo apt install -y python-certbot-nginx -t buster-backports

Packages available from Distributions

Update Debian

sudo apt update -y
sudo apt update -y -t buster-backports

Upgrade Debian

Do some checks and then execute upgrade and dist-upgrade: Note: accept the locally modified files for upgrading when asked.

sudo apt upgrade -y
sudo apt upgrade -y -t buster-backports

Note: can have system service restarts be done automatically, when asked.

Upgrade Debian Distribution

This will change from one release to the next if there is a next one for the version being run (e.g., stable).

sudo apt dist-upgrade -y

Next, run the command to reload the terminal session:

hash -r

Steps in Configuration

Server Basics Steps

  • Configure servername, ip addresses
  • Apt, Configure repositories, Update, Upgrade, Clean, etc.

Servername, IP Addresses

For private IP Addresses

ip addr show eth0 | grep inet | awk '{ print $2; }' | sed 's/\/.*$//'

For a public IP address (esp. Amazon AWS Elastic IP)

curl -4

Apt Sources List

ls -la /etc/apt

and see what is in subdirectories

See especially the apt article with much more detail.

Installed packages

dpkg-query -l

apt-get commands

Note, this is largely obsolete with the apt command set -- need to UPDATE this section below

apt-get clean
apt-get autoclean
apt-get dist-upgrade
apt-get clean
apt-get check
apt-get autoremove
  • autoclean deletes .deb files from local cache
  • clean deletes .deb files from distribution installation
  • autoremove removes previous, but no longer needed dependencies
  • dist-upgrade deals with dependencies, not just applications, and will add/remove/upgrade them
  • apt-get check will check for dependencies missing

note: difference between apt-get remove xyz vs. apt-get purge xyz, as the first preserves configuration files (for possible later use)

Completely Remove Packages

sudo apt-get --purge remove package-name