AWS docs, day 2
by Dave Winer Thursday, June 30, 2016

I want to try to zoom in on what I need from AWS tech docs that I'm not getting, using as an example a problem I have now.

I am using Dropbox to manage a few of my servers. I want to know if I can use Elastic File System as a replacement. 

I have a folder for each server. And within it a sub-folder for each of the apps I'm running on a server. When I want to update an app, or add some data to it, I edit files in its folder. Pretty quickly they flow up to the server, and if necessary I relaunch the app using the Terminal app on my Mac, and go on. The loop happens in seconds. 

The flow goes the other way. If I want to see how an app is running, I can open their stats files or other data files on my desktop using the Mac Finder, using Dropbox to bridge the two.

It's great until Dropbox stops working. Usually on the server. Then I have to restart the Dropbox daemon and wait a few minutes until it catches up. Sometimes it's a lot more than a few minutes. And once the Dropbox never came back. Re-installing the software doesn't help and rebooting the server doesn't. All magic incantations fail to get Dropbox to do anything useful. That's what I'm dealing with now.

So I think, since this server happens to be on EC2, wouldn't it be interesting to use EFS to connect it to my desktop. This leads me to read the EFS docs. I need to quickly find out if it does what I want, and then I need quick instructions to give it a try. I emphasize the need for speed. I'm doing grunt work that wasn't in my plan for the day. I'm rapidly falling behind. I need a way forward that will work. But first I need to know if this way forward works.

That's why all extraneous information makes it harder, and nine times out of ten when it's an AWS technology that could possibly save my ass, I don't end up using it, because I can't do the evaluation quickly enough and I find something else sooner and can get my project back on track.


I'm still there with Elastic File System. Dropbox has failed on one of my EC2 instances. I either must find a way to hook it up to my EC2 instance and to the Finder on my desktop, or I'll provision a new server and start moving the apps to that server, and stick with Dropbox for another go-around, even though (key point) I don't want to.

In summary, my questions about EFS are:

1. Is there a way to mount an EFS volume on my Mac desktop?

2. How can I quickly attach it to an existing Ubuntu server running on EC2. 

I don't care about any options or hugely scalable features. I don't have a VPN. Right now I just need to get to Hello World to see if this is a possible approach for me to use. The next-level stuff will come later. 

I suspect, btw, that this is fairly normal for developers. Users of my server software have even less attention to give the startup process. If it isn't straight 1-2-3 with no curveballs, the software will never get used. I'm okay with that because I totally understand the mindset.