For New Users|Set Up First Debian 9 Server and 3 Ways to Set Up a Linux Server on Alibaba Cloud

3 Ways to Set Up a Linux Server on Alibaba Cloud

If you are new to Alibaba Cloud, you might wonder, "How can I purchase and set up a server on Alibaba Cloud?" Well, then this article is for you!

In this tutorial, I will be showing you three different ways that you can get a Linux server on Alibaba Cloud. Why Linux? Well, it's just my favorite operating system (OS). You can also refer these steps to purchase a Windows server as they are almost identical. Below is a table that summarizes the different methods as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

Alibaba Cloud MarketplaceFastest way to get a functional stack.Less customizable.
ECS Starter PackageCost-effective for large data transfers.Fixed billing method.
ECS ConsoleEverything is customizable.Can be difficult for beginners.

Method 1: Alibaba Cloud Marketplace
This is by far the easiest and fastest way to get not only a Linux server but also a fully functional software stack. All you need to do is visit the Alibaba Cloud Marketplace, find your desired product, click on it, and complete your purchase. That's it!

Method 2: ECS Starter Package
If you are planning to host a dynamic website, and you have specific bandwidth requirements, then the ECS Starter Package is your answer! Just select your favorite package and select your desired configurations. I will not cover the steps here, but if you are interested to know more, you can check out the Starter Package Tutorial.

Method 3: ECS Console
This method can be a little intimidating for new users, but it is not as complicated as you would expect. You are not required to have any background in cloud computing, but if you have used products from other cloud providers, the steps should be pretty similar.
$300 Free Trial
A huge bonus of manually setting up your server is that you can take advantage of the $300 worth in Free Trial for new Alibaba Cloud users. This is a great option for users who want to try out the various configurations or regions of Alibaba Cloud ECS instances.

ECS Console
Once you get your account set up, log into the Alibaba Cloud console. Then, head on to the ECS console by navigating through the Products tab on the top left corner. Proceed to the ECS purchase page by clicking on a cart icon. For now, just click on any cart icons as we will be able to change the region in the purchase page.


You will then be able to see this screen.


Basic Configurations
There are a few things that you should consider when setting up your ECS server.

Billing MethodThere are two billing methods: Subscription (prepaid) and Pay-As-You-Go (post-paid). PAYG is a great option for those who want to experiment on ECS servers.
RegionEach region is a separate geographic area. The choice of region affects network latency. Your server is also subject to the necessary security and compliance laws according to its jurisdiction.
Instance TypeBasically how powerful you want your server to be (depends on your application).
ImageThe operating system (OS), which in our case would be Linux.
StorageSystem storage. Note that if you want to store large files such as multimedia files, then you should look at Object Storage Service (OSS) instead.
Note: Please refer to this page for a list of regions. Not all features are services are available across all regions.

Since we are selecting Linux, let us explore some of the options provided by Alibaba Cloud. ECS supports most traditional Linux distributions: in the deb family, it supports Debian and Ubuntu; in the rpm family, it supports Open Suse and CentOs. However, Fedora and RHEL are not supported at the moment. There is also a so-called container Linux such as CoreOs, which is Gentoo based. Last but not least, there is the Alibaba Cloud developed Aliyun Linux. Each distribution has its own advantages, but I have to explore them in further detail to know more.

The choice of distribution is mostly dependent on lots of factors, such as legacy product environment, commercial support vs community support, application architecture (coreOS is a good chooice if you structure your applications as containers). In our case, it doesn't really matters and we will choose Ubuntu version 14.04.

In this section, you can customize your network according to your needs. For VPC, we can just stick with the default. In every VPC, there is a virtual device called a VSwitch. VSwitches are used for connecting different cloud product instances (or subnets) in a VPC.

In the Network Billing Method item, select Assign Public IP if you want your instance to connect to the internet. Select your desired bandwidth. If you have high traffic requirements, consider purchasing the ECS Starter Package.

Security Groups are just a way to control connection requests to your server, similar to a firewall. Just go with the default one, which allows access to port 22 (required by SSH protocol) since we need it to connect to the instance. You can always reconfigure this after completing your purchase.

System Configurations
In this section, you will be setting up the ways that you will be connecting to your instance. There are two options: Key Pair and Password. The password option is pretty straightforward but might not be the most secure way.
If you're comfortable with using SSH, then you should definitely try using key pairs. You would need to create a key pair first by clicking on the link on the console.


You can also do this later by choosing Set Later, but why wait?

Give your key a name, say "myaliKey". The console will create a key pair and automatically download a file “myaliKey.pem” to your local host. Save it for late use. Go back to the instance creating page, click the refresh icon, and find the SSH key in the drop-down list.

Server Name, Description, and Host are a few places you can provide more information to distinguish the instances. It is worth noting that the Host will be the host name after we SSH to the instance. Let’s call it "myalihost" and connect to it later.

There is Item called Advanced (based on instance RAM roles or cloud-init). This is the place you can set the instance bootstrap code, but we won't be using it for now.

You can optionally tag your instance for easy management here. We can safely ignore this steps for now.

Review and Launch
If you're satisfied, agree to the Terms of Service and select Create Instance. A pop up will show, telling you the instance is activated. You can either continue creating more instance or go to the instance console (or dashboard).

Connecting to ECS
Find out the public IP of the instance from the instance console. My instance IP is Locate the SSH key downloaded previously, and set the correct permission for the SSH key.

$ chmod 600 myaliKey.pem
If you don't set the correct permissions, you will receive the following error message.

$ ssh -i myaliKey.pem root@
Permissions 0644 for 'myaliKey.pem' are too open.
It is required that your private key files are NOT accessible by others.

This private key will be ignored.

bad permissions: ignore key: myaliKey.pem

After setting the right permissions, you are all good to go. Congratulations, you have just created a Linux (Ubuntu) instance on Alibaba Cloud! You are now able to connect to it securely using SSH from your local host. You should be able to see something like this after logging in.

$ ssh -i myaliKey.pem root@
Welcome to Ubuntu 14.04.5 LTS (GNU/Linux 4.4.0-93-generic x86_64)

* Documentation:
Welcome to Alibaba Cloud Elastic Compute Service !

root@myalihost:~# ls

Please check this blog for more operation.

How to Set Up Your First Debian 9 Server on Alibaba Cloud

Alibaba Cloud Elastic Compute Service (ECS) provides a faster and more powerful way to run your cloud applications as compared with traditional physical servers. You can achieve great results on your cloud needs. With ECS, you can achieve more with the latest generation of CPUs as well as protect your instance from DDoS and Trojan attacks.

In this guide, we will talk about the best practices for provisioning your Debian 9 server hosted on an Alibaba Cloud Elastic Compute Service (ECS) instance.

A valid Alibaba Cloud account. If you don't have one already, sign up to the Free Trial to enjoy up to $300 worth in Alibaba Cloud products.
An ECS instance running Debian 9. You can select your preferred region and configurations; this will not affect the outcome of the server setup.
A root password for your server.
Step 1: Connect to Your Alibaba Cloud Debian 9 Server
Locate the Internet IP address (Public IP address) associated with your Alibaba Cloud ECS Instance.

If you are running Linux or Mac, use a terminal application to connect to the instance via SSH. If you are on Windows, you can use PuTTy (download here) to connect to your server. You will have to provide the IP address, username and password that you set up when creating your Alibaba Cloud ECS instance to log in via SSH.

There are other ways to connect to your ECS instance as well. Visit the official ECS documentation to learn more. 

Step 2: Change the Hostname on Your Debian 9 Server
The hostname is a default identifier when you communicate to a Linux server. It is like a computer name that is associated with your home PC or laptop. Naming your Debian 9 server with a descriptive hostname helps you to differentiate your machines especially if you are running a bunch of them.

To begin, ensure your Debian 9 system is up-to-date by typing the command below:

$ sudo apt-get update

$ sudo apt-get upgrade -y
To check your hostname, type the command below on a terminal window:

$ hostname
To change your hostname, first edit the /etc/cloud/cloud.cfg file and find the entry preserve_hostname and change its value from false to true.

$ sudo nano /etc/cloud/cloud.cfg
preserve_hostname true
Press CTRL + X, Y then Enter to save the changes.

Then, edit the /etc/hostname file using a nano editor by typing the command below:

$ sudo nano /etc/hostname
Overwrite the current hostname written at the very top of the file and press CTRL + X, Y then Enter to save the changes.

You will also need to add some entries on the Linux hosts file. Open the file using a text editor:

$ sudo nano /etc/hosts
You will need to add two entries on this file just below the localhost entry. The first entry you are adding uses the loopback interface address, please note this is different from the address which have a 'localhost' value in the same file.

So assuming your servers public IP address is and your hostname is Miami, your /etc/hosts file should have the below entries at the very top: localhost miami miami
Reboot your Debian 9 server for the changes to take effect by typing the command below:

$ sudo reboot
Step 3: Configure Time Zone on Your Debian 9 Server
You can check the default date and time zone on your Debian 9 server by typing the command below:

$ timedatectl
You must set the correct time zone especially if you are running cron jobs on your server because they rely heavily on date/time. To change the time zone, use the command below:

$ sudo timedatectl set-timezone
For instance to set your server time zone to London use the command below

$ sudo timedatectl set-timezone Europe/London
You can run the date command to check if the changes were effected successfully:

$ date

Please check this blog for more operation.

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