AWS News Blog

VM Import / Export for Linux

If you have invested in the creation of “golden” Linux images suitable for your on-premises environment, I have some good news for you.

We have extended our popular VM Import/Export feature with support for multiple Linux distributions and virtualization formats. You can import the golden images that you currently run in VMware, Xen, and Microsoft Hyper-V environments and launch the resulting AMIs (Amazon Machine Images). You can also export Linux images, just like you can do with Windows instances today.

Why Import?
You can use this feature in a couple of different ways. If you have invested a lot of time and energy in the creation of a process for the generation, certification, and tracking of golden images, you can now leverage that effort as part of a full or partial migration to the AWS cloud.

You can also import images to the cloud as part of your disaster recovery plan, preferably before disaster strikes (there’s a lot of data transfer involved, so advance planning will pay off in a shorter recovery time).

If you are planning to migrate existing applications and workloads to AWS, you can use VM Import to create Amazon EC2 instances from your VMs, leaving the existing software and setings within the VMs intact.

The Details
We are launching with support for 64-bit Linux images in the following formats:

  • VMware – ESX and VMware Workstation VMDK.
  • Citrix Xen – VHD
  • Microsoft Hyper-V VHD

The images must use the Grub bootloader (the legacy version or the newer Grub 2) and a stock kernel. You should make sure that DHCP is enabled, and that any firewall rules (iptables or otherwise) will allow access to the instance once it is imported. The root filesystem must be in ext2, ext3, ext4, Btrfs, JFS, or XFS format; you can have /boot on a separate partition from /, but both must be located on the same disk.

We are supporting the following distributions and versions:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.1 – 6.5
  • Centos 5.1 – 6.5
  • Ubuntu 12.04, 12.10, 13.04, 13.10
  • Debian 6.0.0 – 6.0.8, 7.0.0 – 7.2.0

The import process produces an AMI in HVM format. It can be launched on the following EC2 instance types:

  • cc1.4xlarge
  • cc2.8xlarge
  • cg1.4xlarge
  • cr1.8xlarge
  • hi1.4xlarge
  • hs1.8xlarge
  • m3.2xlarge
  • m3.xlarge

Once imported, the AMI resides in a particular AWS Region. You can use the Cross-Region AMI Copy feature to make copies in other Regions as needed.

You can use your existing EC2 AMI tools to import Linux images by specifying Linux as the platform when you invoke ec2-import-instance. If you are using the VM Import Connector for VMware vCenter, you need to upgrade to the latest version in order to be able to import Linux images.

Learn More
Here are some resources to help you get started with VM Import for Linux:

Talk to Us
As is the case with every new AWS feature, we are looking forward to your suggestions and your feedback in order to help us prioritize further development. Please feel free to leave comments on this blog post or in the EC2 forum.

— Jeff;


Jeff Barr

Jeff Barr

Jeff Barr is Chief Evangelist for AWS. He started this blog in 2004 and has been writing posts just about non-stop ever since.