Cluster customisation: AWS

An Alces Flight Compute environment contains many useful configurations and tools, however there are cases where your environment may require customisation - this may include things such as;

  • Distribution package installation
  • External storage mounts

The Alces customiser tool requires some setup tasks in order to appropriately work with your AWS account and deployed Alces Flight Compute environments.

Setup tasks

To begin setting up the Alces customiser tool - log in to your Alces Flight Compute environment as the administrator user. From there, run the alces about node command - this will display information about your environment:

[[email protected](alces-cluster) ~]$ alces about node
Clusterware release: 2016.2
Customizer bucket prefix: s3://alces-flight-a1i0ytdmvzv3ztv3/customizer/default
Platform host name:
Public IP address:
Account hash: a1i0ytdmvzv3ztv3

Using the information provided - a new S3 bucket must be created using the prefix provided. Using one of the available tools, such as alces storage or s3cmd or the S3 web console - create a new bucket, for instance in the example the bucket would be called:


Once the bucket is created - create a “folder” within the bucket named:


Now, from within the customizer folder - create another folder named default, this sets up the default customiser profile.

From within the default folder - create the configuration folder - this is where all customisation scripts should be placed. Create a new folder within the default folder named:



It is important that the bucket and folders are created with the correct names - failing to create the bucket and folders with the correct names will mean the Alces customiser will not run

Your AWS account is now ready for use with the Alces customiser tool.

Using custom S3 buckets

You may also wish to use a custom S3 bucket rather than the automatically generated Flight bucket name. To do so, simply follow the above steps - by creating a bucket or using an existing bucket of choice, then creating the appropriate folders within the bucket.

To use custom S3 buckets with the Alces Flight Compute 2016.2 release, enter your S3 bucket URL in the FlightCustomBuckets CloudFormation parameter.

Setting up customisation scripts

Customisation scripts are run on each node in your environment upon entering the cluster ring - example customisation scripts include distribution package installations and external storage mounts. The Alces customiser supports any executable file type.

The following simple example customisation shell script would install the emacs editor on each node within your environment:

yum -y install emacs

Once the bash script has been created - upload it to your S3 bucket into the configure.d folder previously created, for example:

s3://alces-flight-<account hash>/customizer/default/configure.d/

You can upload multiple customisation scripts to the default folder - each of the scripts will be run.

The output of each customiser script run is sent to /var/log/clusterware/instance.log on each of the nodes. Each subsequently deployed Alces Flight Compute environment will run each of the customise scripts included in the default folder.

Using alternate customisation profiles

Alternate customisation profiles can be set up and used with the Alces customiser tool. To set up another profile, from your S3 bucket in the customizer folder - create another profile folder, for example foo

Within the foo folder - create the configure.d folder. Place any customisation scripts for the foo profile within the configure.d folder.

To use custom profiles when launching the Alces Flight Compute 2016.2 CloudFormation templates, enter the profile name(s) in the FlightCustomProfiles parameter - the customiser tool will then run each of the scripts in the foo profile.