pv-grub-ebs amazon instances
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==Overview of Steps==

# create build instance
# create build target volume
# build custom OS
# detach volume
# create snapshot
# create AMI

Done!  That was easy!  Would you like examples?  Ok...well for now, I'll
 reference ec2-api-tools commands, until I clean up my own (boto) tools for
 external use.  That's right, I have some sensitive stuff hard-coded in my
 tools.  I'm a bad person.

==create build instance==

This doesn't need to be it's own instance.  It can be an instance you already
 have.  It can be anything; for my own purposes I needed something that
 supported ext4.  Will need to be the same sizeof(int) as the target.

==create build target volume==

This is the volume the new OS will be installed upon, and of which a snapshot
 will be created.  Make it, attach it to the build host - note the below script
 has "/dev/sdf" as the target, so it might be easiest to just attach there.

==build custom OS==

I have an early "createfedora13bootebs.sh" script; that will do everything to
 build a fed13 OS on the target volume.  Feel free to replace it with a much
 more reasonable kickstart config, and have anaconda go to town.  Or, gleening
 the important details from that script, install freebsd (or whatever else) 
 instead of fedora13. Anything you can either install inside a chroot, or simply
 upload the image of, is doable.

The *trick* in the end was the /boot directory contents; using the "hd0" image
 means that pv-grub is expecting /dev/xvda1 to be a partitionless target; the
 other option, hd0, is "root (hd0,0)" in a standard grub file - meaning, it's
 pointing to the first partition on the first drive (instead of hd0, the whole
 drive).  Nothing other than menu.lst matters in the /boot/grub/ directory; for
 many linux distros, link up grub.conf to menu.lst so that packages don't
 get confused.  The purpose is to allow you to later do a kernel update and
 not have to do anything special, after all; let the kernel rpm update your
 grub.conf/menu.lst for you.  Or, don't; really your call.  Things like "stage1"
 and such are irrelevant though.  I'll be getting to the bottom of the hd0/hd00
 stuff soon; ec2-api-tools has a "--root-device-name" option that I haven't
 made helpful, but I'm sure the answer to the riddle lies with an attribute
 like that.

Also note the root= kernel line, and the / device in fstab; still that xvda1
 device.  As a person who didn't come from a vm background (you want your own
 environment?  ok, here's your chroot...) that was less obvious to me than
 it may be to almost everyone else.  The fact that amazon is claiming the
 device is mounted at /dev/sda1 is meaningless, apparently.  It's /dev/xvda1

==Detach volume==

This is simple enough; just run
 ec2-detach-volume --region region_name volume_id

==create snapshot==

 ec2-create-snapshot --region region_name --description "description" volume_id

Many guides on the inter-tubes will tell you to stop mysql, run rsync, wash your
 dishes, order some pizza, etc.  None of that is necessary here though, because
 we're not doing the dangerous activity of making a snapshot of a running OS and
 calling it blessed; we're making a snapshot of an OS that was build inside a
 chroot environment, which was then unmounted.  The filesystems are in a pure,
 clean, unmounted, happy state.  Besides, pizza is bad for you.  I've seen this
 step take between 2 and 45 seconds for my installs.

==create AMI==

First, you'll need to know what pv-grub AKI to use.  If your local tools are set
 up correctly, you should be able to run something like this (note despite
 "Enabling User Provided Kernels in Amazon EC2" I am using hd0 not hd00, because
 I haven't spent the extra time to get segregated partitions to work yet).

 ec2-describe-images -H --region us-west-1 -x all|grep "pv-grub-hd0"

So now you have your snapshot, your AKI...what else do you need?  Nothing!

 ec2-register --region region_name -n "ShortName" -d "Long Desc" \
 --block-device-mapping /dev/sdc=ephemeral0 --snapshot snap-id \
 --architecture i386 --kernel aki-id

now just start an instance using that AMI and all the defaults, et viola!

Oh hey, amazon wasn't the first to do this pv-grub thing.  Maybe the problem is
 already solved elsewhere?


Too bad I didn't see (think of) that until the end of my second day.  Oh well,
 learning experience.  Also found these helpful: