OpenGeo Suite 3.0 on a micro AWS

The Problem: I want to run the latest 3.0 version of OpenGeo Suite on a free (or really cheap) micro instance on Amazon Web Services

OpenGeo announced the release of version 3 of the OpenGeo Suite Monday (Oct.3). I’ve been using the 3.0-beta1 Linux version since it was announced on July 27. There are some interesting improvements to the Suite, which is one reason I made the jump before the final release came out. It now includes PostgreSQL 9.2 and PostGIS 2.0, both of which I wanted to look into.

I had been using previous versions of OpenGeo Suite on a micro instance AWS ubuntu server. This configuration was obviously not optimal. Redraws in GeoExplorer where slow, and I could tell the system was struggling at times. CPU usage went up to 100% quite often, but it did work. Performance was acceptable enough for the kind of experimenting and testing I wanted to do.

With the 3.0 upgrade, however, something pushed it over the edge. Everything installed OK. I was able to upload my usual test data, and get a website with a web-map up and running. However, it would not last. It just wasn’t as stable as previous versions. Zooming and panning the map would crash the tomcat servlet within minutes. Even just letting it run with no interaction would lead to a crash within a few hours.

A few pointers from the folks at OpenGeo, and some investigation of the logs, led me to believe it was a memory issue. AWS Micro instances only have 613MB of memory.

The Answer: Add a swap file to overcome the memory limitations of a micro instance

AWS micro instance Ubuntu servers do not come set up with any swap space. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to add a swap file to the server, and use that as your swap space. Here are the steps:

1. Create a storage file (Adjust the “count=” line to your liking. This example will make a 1 GB swap file)

sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile bs=1024 count=1048576

2. Turn this new file into a swap area

sudo mkswap /swapfile

3. Set the file permissions appropriately

sudo chown root:root /swapfile

sudo chmod 0600 /swapfile

4. Activate the swap area every time the system reboots by adding the following line to the end of the “/etc/fstab” file:
(use your text editor of choice. vi works for me.)

/swapfile swap swap defaults 0 0

5. Reboot the server

6. Verify the swap file is activated

free –m


I’ve had my OpenGeo Suite test box running 24/7 for nearly two months now, with nary a crash. And I can honestly say, it is surprisingly perky.

Reader Comments

  1. Very nice, thanks for posting. Have you noticed a significant increase in charges for disk read/writes as a result of paging activity? Thanks again.

    1. Hi Joe –
      My usage varies wildly from one month to the next, so it’s hard to compare, but no, I have not noticed a huge difference in charges. Even for my busiest month, disk read/write charges amounted to pennies.

  2. Hi Don,
    I am trying to install OpenGeo 4.1.1 in an AWS Micro-Instance (Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS 64 bits), and I can not get it installed, not even following your notes.
    Is it because OpenGEO is not yet ready for Ubuntu’s 14.04 version?. If that is the case, could you give some advise on how to get a free/cheap AWS Instance with OpenGeo installed.
    Many thanks!

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