Running total hack time: 71.5
Topics: AWS, EC2, server configuration, nginx
Resources: EmilyErin, Kronda

Ya’ll. If you plan on setting up a website? EC2 is pretty much the most labor intensive way you can do it. Seriously, I’m coming up on about ten hours worth of setting up the instance, configuring the instance, adding myself as a user in a non-irritating-to-use way, installing nginx and configuring it, installing MySQL and configuring it, and installing WordPress and configuring it. Actually, listing it out makes me feel a bit better about it. Apparently, a lot has gone into this.

I have to say a huge thank you to all the people listed in my resources, because they all sacrificed hours of their time helping me get up and running. I could’ve put a hundred hours into this on my own and not gotten to the place I am now. Emily especially is the EC2 instance goddess. She will straighten you out, come hell or high water. Although, this was all her idea in the first place. She just had to tell me that AWS was free for the first year. I am nothing if not penny-pinching!

This is quite a few topics to cram into one post, but while I learned a lot, I honestly couldn’t reproduce these results on my own. A step-by-step tutorial this is not. I did solidify some broad-stroke concepts, though, so let’s talk about those. This will probably seem silly to a lot of you, but I’ve committed to an honest description of my learning, so you’re gonna get it, warts and all:

  • The concept that a server is just a computer I can’t touch had never really clicked in a visceral way for me. Sure, conceptually I understood that, but now, having SSHed in and played around for a bit, I get it in a more concrete way.
  • I’m beginning to get a handle on the concept of a database as well. Again, makes sense on an intellectual level, but I’m getting close to that visceral understanding, too.
  • Using the command line as much as was required for this has helped me feel more like I’m doing things with it intentionally and with an understanding of the consequences, rather than just regurgitating something someone told me to type. Although, believe me, I did a lot of that in this process!
  • I used vim a decent bit during this project. I will no longer get stuck in my own terminal! I’m by no means efficient wile using vim, but I can add, delete, save, and (most importantly) quit. I doubt vim will become my one true love as far as text editors go, but I can navigate it without fear when necessary. That’s pretty flippin’ sweet, in my opinion.

All in all, I can’t say I would recommend this method of setting up your own hosting for a beginner (and if you don’t have someone in your life with prodigious knowledge of EC2 and time to spend with you, I would actively lobby against it), but I can say that I learned quite a lot, and am excited to see it all coming together. Still have a lot of work to do to make this a site I can be boast about, but for now, I’m pleased as punch that it all actually works!