Getting Started with ECS on Alibaba Cloud

Okay, so I have been away for a bit. Okay quite a bit. I was in the middle of a lot of change and over the past month and a half quite a few things have changed in my life and hopefully they are for the better. The good news is I AM Back :D. I have shifted gears a bit as you will see soon. However I am still very much in a love affair with cloud and everything around it. 

As always, I love to write about my experience with tech and well what follows is what I have been doing for the past month and a half. Hope you guys are going to enjoy it. Unlike, my previous posts (where I claimed that I was NOT associated with the company who’s tech was under discussion), I am actually associated with Alibaba Cloud. It is a very exciting time for me as I explore the ins and outs of tech that has been built by Alibaba, and I want to take you all along with me. So without further ado here goes.

This is hopefully the beginning of a number of very simple how-to(s), that cover the basics of getting started with Alibaba Cloud. The idea of this set of posts is for someone completely new to Alibaba Cloud, to just pickup a service and start having fun with it and as always we will attempt to do the same as we go through this journey together.

In this first how-to we will cover the Elastic Compute Service also known as ECS for short. What is the Elastic Compute Service? Lets say you wanted a server or two with a particular specification and specific Operating System Requirements, however you don’t have your own infrastructure to run this server on. The Elastic Compute Service will allow you to run your server(s) in Alibaba Cloud Datacenters. This how-to assumes that you already have a working Alibaba Cloud Account and that you know how to access the Alibaba Cloud console. If you don’t then I would suggest that you head to and make an account ASAP.

Exploring the Console

Now that you have an account (I hope,) lets get started with ECS. When you login to the console, one of the first screens that you see should look like the one below:


Yep, I know, the Avatar has a beard, and so do I :D. What you need to be looking at now is the Elastic Compute Service. So go ahead and click the one highlighted above.

This should bring you to the ECS management console as shown below:


This is the overview screen that would tell you what all you have deployed in which Region in ECS. What is a Region? Lets leave that to a bit later, but I promise we will cover that too. For now you want to click on Instances as highlighted above.

This should bring you to the next screen, which will show you what ECS instances, (just a fancy way of saying Virtual Servers,) have you deployed in which Region.


Woah! Region again. Let me explain this now. So you see all the names highlighted above, these represent the locations where Alibaba Cloud hosts its datacenters. Just to confuse you further, each region can have one or more datacenter, and each datacenter is called a zone. But don’t worry about zones for now. We will look at them much later. So now that you have wasted enough time loitering around the console, lets get some real work done.

Deploying an ECS instance

Look at the screen below, which as the same one as I showed you previously, however this time, click on the Create Instance button as highlighted below:


This will kick start the instance creation process for you on ECS. Follow the sequence of screens show below to successfully launch your very first ECS instance.


  • Pricing Model: Subscription or Pay As You Go (I choose to go with Pay As you go,) but you can select either.
  • Datacenter Region and Zone: Select the Region closest to you (or the cheapest :D) and let select the default Zone
  • Keep scrolling.


  • Instance Type: Select the instance that fulfills your desire (I mean requirements. Note that there is Generation 1, 2 and 3 so make sure you look under each of them to find the flavor that suits your needs.
  • Network Type: Leave these as shown above. If I get in to the detail of these, it will just confuse you further for now. So take my word for it. We will look at these much later
  • Network Billing Type: Leave it as Data Transfer. This means that the more network you use the more you will get billed. You can look at the Internet traffic fee shown at the bottom of the page to get a feel of the charges.
  • Network Bandwidth Peak: This refers to the maximum Network bandwidth you want on your Internet facing network interface on the instance. Yes you will need an internet facing network interface on your instance to access it from your location, and also for the instance to access the internet. Since this is your first instance, lets select 1 Mbps.

Note that if you select this as 0 Mbps, your instance will neither be accessible/nor will have access to/from the Internet. It will be like a private instance and that also has certain use cases.

  • Scroll please.


  • Operating System: Alibaba cloud provides a number of public images that you can choose from. I am a Ubuntu kind of person, but you can select what you want. Also feel free to explore the Marketplace Image section. The remaining two we will deal with much later.
  • Storage: Here you can select your Primary Disk on the instance. There are mainly two options, Ultra Cloud Disk and SSD. The later being much high performance. I choose to go with the Ultra Cloud Disk for now.
  • Keep scrolling now.


  • Security Setup: This option allows you to Set a Password to your instance, or Attach an ssh key to the same. Note that you can do this later as well, so I have left it empty for now.
  • User Data: This section allows you to add things like custom parameters and scripts that you would like to pass on to your launched instance. We will leave this for a further advanced how-to.
  • Purchase Plan
    • Instance name: Give the instance a name if you want.
    • Number of instances: You can launch multiple instances at a time. For now just choose 1.
  • Now click on the Bright Orange Buy Now This will lead you to a summary of your purchase as shown below:


Review the summary and then click on the Activate button to finish your purchase. This will lead you to a confirmation page.

Click the Blue Console button shown below to go back to your Alibaba Cloud Console and start playing with your first cloud instance.


Accessing your first Alibaba Cloud Instance

If all has gone well, you should now be on the follow screen:


If you are feeling kind of lost and not on the above screen, then make sure that:

  • You have clicked on Instances in the left column.
  • You have selected the same Region on top, as the one you choose when you were deploying the instance.

You should see your instance in the instance list. If it is currently not in Running state then refresh the browser until you see it as Running.


On the above screen look to the very right on the instance list.

  • Select
  • Select Reset Password as highlighted above.

Remember that we did not set the instance password. How will you login in to the machine? So that is what we are doing here. This should lead you to the following screen:


  • In the pop-up that you receive set the root password for your instance. I say root because it’s a Linux instance. Then press the Submit button as highlighted above. This should lead you back to the instance list.


On the instance list page:

  • Go to
  • Click on Restart as highlighted above.

Now why are we restarting a fresh machine? If you look closer to the password reset pop-up screen, there is a message there, which tells you that password changes only get applied after you restart the machine from the console. Note this for future as well. Even if you have access to the machine, if you reset the instance password from the console you will need to restart the machine from the console. Restarting from within the OS itself will NOT reset the password.


Locate the Internet IP of your instance as highlighted above.

  • Use a terminal client on mac or linux to ssh in to the newly created instance. On windows you will need to use the likes of putty.
  • On mac or linux, use the following format to ssh in to the machine:
    • $ ssh root@INTERNET-IP

Replace INTERNET-IP with the Internet IP of your instance.

  • When prompted for a password, enter the password you set above when you did the reset password.


If all goes well you should have logged in with root credentials to your very own ECS instance. Run a $ping to make sure you can access the Internet. There you go, your very first ECS instance :D.

Thank you for reading. I hope the articles are fun to read. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to share below in the comments. It is my intention to continue to add content. So don’t forget to check back.

For my latest posts please visit WhatCloud


*Please note that the content/views expressed in this post are solely my own and do not reflect on or represent the official standing/content and views of the Alibaba Cloud organization.

*The logos used in the diagrams above are registered logs for Alibaba Cloud and Ubuntu Canonical respectively.




11 thoughts on “Getting Started with ECS on Alibaba Cloud

Add yours

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for your article. I followed all the steps and created an Ubuntu instance, reseted the password and restarted the instance. I see my instance with status running. I connect via the ‘connect’ link in the console. I get the login screen and type user root and password “the password I just set”. But when I login like this I get an error message (invalide password). I tried several time with new password and restart again and again. I don’t know why it’s not working for me. Any hints?

    1. Hi Miax,

      Thank you for reading. Now there a couple of things to note:

      1. Make sure you are not mixing the console Vnc password with the root password. The console password is used in the popup right before you get the black screen with the login prompt. The root password is the one you set by selecting the Change / Reset password option from the console.

      2. If you are using the correct password then make sure that you reboot the machine from the Console option to reboot and not from the OS.

      Let me know how it goes..


      1. Thanks for answering but these are not the problems. I’m aware of the difference of the console pw and the root pw and use them at the right places. And I rebooted the machine from the console option. But still “invalide password”

      2. Well then I am guessing for some reason your password is not being reset from the console. I would open a trouble ticket at this point if its a subscription based machine or just launch a new PAYG instance.

  2. Well, it took a while for me to figure out the problem. The problem was the keyboard layout. When login via the web VNC console my local keyboard layout is not supported correctly. Therefore the special characters I used in the password caused problems. Now it works fine. Thank you!

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