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How to transfer AMI from one region to another

June 30, 2012

This is not the best or perfect way, however this works for me and I was asked to share. This is going to be my first post. The AMI I am using is Instance Store backed. You could use the same for EBS backed AMI though I have not tried.

Let’s assume you are creating the original AMI in US-East and you want to put a copy in US-WEST.

  • When you create AMI simply upload bundle to US-WEST bucket as well.
  • Proceed to register AMI in US-East to ensure it works there. If it already works then try to register in US-WEST.
  • You can at this point simply register the AMI from the bucket Manifest URL or it will fail complaining about Kernel.
  • When this happens you need to fix the kernel-id. The rest of the steps are only done on the Target region US-West.
  • In US-West you will find the OS of your choice in the publicly avalable AMIs and then proceed launch it. However you don’t need to start an instance.
  • Assuming you used the AWS web console, in the following screens you can see a dropdown list of Kernel ID. Simply select the dropdown list and choose one.
  • For e.g. my original AMI is based on CentOS 5.5 so in US-West I looked for CentOS5.5 and found a kernel ID.
  • Note down a bunch of kernel ID from the list. the kernel ids start with aki-xxxx
  • Go to the US-West S3 bucket where you uploaded the AMI bundle files you wanted to migrate and find the xxxx-Manifest.xml. Download and open it in an editor of your choice.
  • Let us fix our AMI’s xxxx-Manifest.xml. Look for the section of XML about machine configuration. Something like this…

[prettify] x86_64 ami /dev/sda1 root /dev/sda1 aki-9ba0f1de [/prettify] You will note there is a kernel_id element there. So edit it and replace the kernel id with the one we got in US-WEST.

  • Remember to make a copy of the original Manifest.xml in case you make a mistake. Save it somewhere for future reference or rename the manifest.xml name if you are saving in the same bucket as the orignal manifest to avoid confusion.
  • Upload your edited xxxx-Manifest.xml back to your AMI bucket replacing the one that is already there.
  • Try to register the AMI again. If that fails try another kernel-id following the same process as above

That’s about it. Pretty simple and straightforward. I am sure Tech team at AWS are working on a better solution for this.

You are welcome to connect with me. Abhishek Dujari
This is my archived blog where you will find content about early days of Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, Development and Sysadmin.