How to enable ephemeral storage on Amazon Beanstalk instance.

Amazon's Beanstalk is a great deployment environment for startup like us. Occasionally, we see issue on the beanstalk but lucky beanstalk allow us to use custom AMI for the beanstalk instances.

One of the issue we seen is that beanstalk only comes with 8GB ESB storage. But in fact, each EC2 instance comes with ephemeral(local) storages.(the size varies based on the instance type).

Our goal is to enable these missing ephemeral storage for the tomcat application. To do create a custom AMI with ephemeral storage.

I. Disable Auto Mount

Due to the default setting in CloudInit, it always mounts the first ephemeral drive on /media/ephemeral. To make the mountpoint customizable, we have to disable automount ephemeral0 first.

To do so, you have to launch a new instance with the beanstalk AMI first.
ec2-run-instances ami-b8c539d1 -t m1.large

Log in to the server
Edit /etc/sysconfig/cloudinit, and set CONFIG_MOUNTS=no.
Edit the /etc/fstab

/dev/sdb /var/cache/tomcat6 auto defaults 0 2
  /dev/sdc /tmp auto defaults 0 2
And then delete everything in /var/cache/tomcat6.

rm -rf /var/cache/tomcat6/*

II. Create a Temporary AMI

Log in to and create a new AMI based on the instance we just used.

III. Create the Cloud Init Script

Open your text editor and create a tomcat.init script on your local machine


chown root:root /var/cache/tomcat6
chmod 755 /var/cache/tomcat6
chmod 1777 /tmp

if [ ! -d  /var/cache/tomcat6/temp ]
  mkdir /var/cache/tomcat6/temp
  chmod 775 /var/cache/tomcat6/temp
  chown tomcat:root /var/cache/tomcat6/temp
if [ ! -d  /var/cache/tomcat6/work ]
  mkdir /var/cache/tomcat6/work
  chmod 775 /var/cache/tomcat6/work
  chown tomcat:root /var/cache/tomcat6/work

IV. Create a New Instance with Ephemeral Storage

ec2-run-instances ami-xxxxxxx --user-data-file tomcat.init -b /dev/sdb=ephemeral0 -b /dev/sdc=ephemeral1 -t m1.large 

V. Create Beanstalk AMI

Log in to and create a new AMI based on the instance we just initiated. This AMI is the AMI you can use in your beanstalk environment.


  1. Great post! I had the same basic need. All I wanted to do was be able to add an ephemeral storage to my beanstalk instance. So I ended up creating a custom ami (more or less identically to what you've described). After launching the environment with the custom ami, the instance comes up fine and I can log in to it and see the new ephemeral storage. But the problem is that Beanstalk complains that it can't check the status of the instance and eventually terminates the instance. I've also noticed that none of the services (apache, tomcat) were running on the instance. Any idea what might be causing this?

    Thank you in advance!


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