Fixing a Bad SSH authorized_keys under Amazon EC2

I was doing some maintenance on the Amazon EC2 instance that underpins DLTJ and in the process managed to mess up the .ssh/authorized_keys file. (Specifically, I changed the permissions so it was group- and world-readable, which causes `sshd` to not allow users to log in using those private keys.) Unfortunately, there is only one user on this server, so effectively I just locked myself out of the box.

$ ssh -i .ssh/EC2-dltj.pem me@dltj.org
Identity added: .ssh/EC2-dltj.pem (.ssh/EC2-dltj.pem)
Permission denied (publickey).

After browsing the Amazon support forums I managed to puzzle this one out. Since I didn’t see this exact solution written up anywhere, I’m posting it here hoping that someone else will find it useful. And since you are reading this, you know that they worked.

First Bill for DLTJ Hosting on Amazon Web Services

I just got the bill for the first month of hosting this blog on Amazon Web Services. The total for the month was $23.60, and includes:

  • data transfer charges for all in-bound and out-bound content;
  • a full-time use of a LINUX micro-sized Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instance (with backup to the Elastic Block Store (EBS));
  • a Simple Storage Service (S3) bucket for static files (Cascading Style Sheet and JavaScript files, images, and other media); and
  • use of the Amazon CloudFront content distribution network.

All told, I’m pretty pleased with the costs — particularly as I was considering the amortized cost of buying a new server to replace the one I had been using for the past five years. The itemized bill is included below.

DLTJ In a State of Flux

DLTJ is in a bit of flux now. After updating some underlying packages on my 9-year-old Gentoo-based personal server, I’m finding that I can’t start the web server process without the 1-minute load average climbing to roughly 60 in the span of about 5 minutes. (Translation: the machine is working very hard but getting nowhere fast.) Increasingly, the server has also been hard to update — lots of strange errors, etc. — so after 9 years, it is clearly time to rebuild it. In the interim, I’m in the process of moving the blog over to an Amazon EC2 cloud computing instance. If you see this post, you are reading it on that virtual server. The DNS entries should catch up with the migration in a couple of hours.

Long-term Preservation Storage: OCLC Digital Archive versus Amazon S3

Last month OCLC announced a new service offering for long-term storage of libraries’ digital collections. Called Digital Archive™, it provides “a secure storage environment for you to easily manage and monitor the health of your master files and digital originals.” Barbara Quint has an article in Information Today called “OCLC Introduces High-Priced Digital Archive Service” in which she makes a comparison to Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (or “S3″) from primarily a cost perspective: “The price for S3 storage at Amazon Web Services is 15 cents a gigabyte a month or $1.80 a year, in comparison to OCLC’s $7.50 a gig.” Barbara also goes into some of the technical differences, but I think it might be worthwhile to go a little more into depth on them.