I bet you didn’t know that Amazon sell computing time. Well they do. After having to build massive data centres full of web servers to handle the largest book store website in the world, they discovered that they had to have lots of extra computers standing by just to handle Christmas and the new year shopping rush. The logical conclusion? Rent out space on those servers to other people when Amazon don’t need them. That has now expanded massively and Amazon are one of the biggest resellers of virtual private servers. (VPS) A VPS is basically a complete computer contained within another computer. The physical computers can pretend to be many smaller virtual computers, which the customer can have complete control of without affecting anyone else.
The most intriguing part is that Amazon bill for these services in tiny increments, so that if you like, you could rent a massive server with 13 processors and 23GB of memory, but just for ten minutes. Indeed, you can rent an entire supercomputer for a day. The service is called the Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2 for short. You can also rent a tiny little server with 1 processor and 613MB of RAM. In fact, at the moment, you can have that server completely free for a year! You will only pay if you use extra disk space or more than 15GB of data transfer. The service is really aimed at web servers, but it can also be used to run a game server, and I will show you how. Using Amazon EC2 is quite complex and not for the non technical, but hopefully this guide will get you running.
I will write another article later and tell you how to set up a Source (SRCDS) server for games from Valve such as Team Fortress 2 (TF2) and Half Life 2:Deathmatch. (HL2:DM, HL2MP) For now, here is how to get started with a free Linux server on Amazon EC2. [Read more...]