FreeBSD/EC2: Community vs. Marketplace AMIs

FreeBSD has been available in Amazon EC2 since FreeBSD 9.0 (January 2012), and from FreeBSD 10.2 (August 2015) AMIs have been built by the FreeBSD release enginering team as part of the regular release process. Release announcements go out with a block of text about where to find FreeBSD in EC2, for example (taken from the FreeBSD 11.1 release announcement):
   FreeBSD 11.1-RELEASE amd64 is also available on these cloud hosting

     * Amazon(R) EC2(TM):
       AMIs are available in the following regions:

         ap-south-1 region: ami-8a760ee5
         eu-west-2 region: ami-f2425396
         eu-west-1 region: ami-5302ec2a
         ap-northeast-2 region: ami-f575ab9b
         ap-northeast-1 region: ami-0a50b66c
         sa-east-1 region: ami-9ad8acf6
         ca-central-1 region: ami-622e9106
         ap-southeast-1 region: ami-6d75e50e
         ap-southeast-2 region: ami-bda2bede
         eu-central-1 region: ami-7588251a
         us-east-1 region: ami-70504266
         us-east-2 region: ami-0d725268
         us-west-1 region: ami-8b0128eb
         us-west-2 region: ami-dda7bea4

       AMIs will also available in the Amazon(R) Marketplace once they have
       completed third-party specific validation at:
This leads to a question I am frequently asked: Which way should FreeBSD users launch their instances? The answer, as usual, is "it depends". Here are some of the advantages of each option, to help you decide which to use.

"Community" AMIs

These are the AMIs with numbers listed in the release announcement. If you want to launch FreeBSD 11.1-RELEASE in us-west-2, find the line which says 'us-west-2' in the FreeBSD 11.1-RELEASE announcement, and there's the number of the AMI you want to launch. (In this case, ami-dda7bea4.) You can then put that into your aws ec2 run-instances command line; or if you're using the EC2 Management Console you can click on 'Launch Instance', 'Community AMIs', then enter the AMI number into the box labelled 'Search Community AMIs'.

Benfits of using the Community AMIs:

Disadvantages of using the Community AMIs:

"Marketplace" AMIs

The AWS Marketplace is designed as a sales channel for products based on AWS, replacing a previous mechanism called "paid AMIs". This aspect of it is entirely irrelevant to FreeBSD — FreeBSD, as the name suggests, is free — but its design as a sales channel gives it some other advantages:

Using the Marketplace images has some disadvantages, however — again arising out of its nature as a product catalogue built on top of the lower level AWS infrastructure:

In general, I'd say that for "regular users" the AWS Marketplace is probably the better option, while for developers the "Community" images — with all the snapshots and pre-release images, and the ability to swap disks around more easily — is likely to be more convenient. Of course, there's no need to lock yourself into just one or the other; be aware of both and use whichever suits your needs the most at any particular time.

Posted at 2017-10-21 00:45 | Permanent link | Comments
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