Quick Start Guide - Your First Site on Cloud Servers

The Rackspace Cloud can save you both time and money. This guide shows you how to do both by exlaining the basic process of turning your idea into a working site in three basic steps:

  1. Build the infrastructure
  2. Upload your code
  3. Test

The project that you're bringing to the cloud is probably much more complicated than what this guide covers. However, the process that this guide uses applies to the successful deployment of any web site or application.

This guide is not a comprehensive tour of Cloud Servers. However, by following these instructions, you will be establishing the fundamentals that you can build on by reading future articles and guides.

What You Need

The information in this guide is very practical. You should follow along step by step. To do so, you might need to install the following software:

Mac OS X

  • Mac OS X already has Terminal.app, but you can download iTerm if you prefer
  • Cyberduck SFTP has built-in support for Rackspace Cloud Files


  • If you don't already have an SSH client, download PuTTY
  • If you don't already have an SFTP client that supports SFTP, download FileZilla

You also will need a website to upload to your Cloud Server. To save you time you can use an HTML file created for this exercise. Download it here (right-click to save the file).

Get Started

Some of the topics covered in this article might be new to you. The following short video provides an overview of the process.


Step 1: Build the Infrastructure

1. Log in to the Cloud Control Panel

The control panel for Cloud Servers is located at mycloud.rackspace.com. To log in, use the user name and password that you entered when your created you account.

If this is your first time logging into the control panel, take a moment to watch the welcome video.

The control panel supports many Rackspace products and services. Each component of this interface, and all of our products and services, are explained in other articles and videos (for example, Introducing the Cloud Control Panel). This guide focuses on deploying your first Cloud Server.

2. Click Create Server

In most cases, you can deploy the right infrastructure with just a few clicks. You can start deploying a Cloud Server by clicking Create Server.

You have a lot of control when creating a new Cloud Server, but to keep things simple this guide focuses on the three required parts:

3. Name your Cloud Server

The name you give your Cloud Server should always communicate its role (for example, web server or database) and what it's hosting. For this Cloud Server, use web.quickstart.com because that server will host a quick start page.

4. Select an Image

The image that you select contains both the OS and preselected software. For this server, use Ubuntu 12.04.

5. Select a Flavor

Flavor refers to the Cloud Server's capacity for CPU, RAM, and hard drive. You can think of flavor as the "size" of the Cloud Server. When you need more power, you want to select a "bigger" Cloud Server, so you select a higher capacity flavor. Because this is a test server, save some money and select the 1 GB Performance flavor.

Use the slider to select the flavor.

6. Click Create Server

When you click Create Server, a pop-up window is displayed with your Cloud Server's Root Admin Password. You need this password to connect to the server later in this guide, so copy it before clicking Dismiss Password.

7. Verify That the Build Is Complete

The time it takes for your Cloud Server to build depends on the image and flavor you selected.

The Cloud Server is finished building and is ready for a connection when the Server Status shows as Active.

8. Copy the Public IP Address

Now that you have an active Cloud Server, you need to make it a web server. You do this by connecting to it and installing the Apache web server package. You use the Cloud Server's IPv4 address (PublicNet), which you can find in the Networks section of the Cloud Server's detail view. Copy it for later use.

9. Connect to your Cloud Server

There are several ways to connect to a server, but the standard and most secure method is called Secure Shell, or SSH. It allows you to send information to and from your server in a secure fashion.


You can connect to your Cloud Server on Mac OS X by running the SSH command in Terminal.app or iTerm (if you downloaded that at the beginning of the guide). You can find the command to SSH in the right-side bar of the Cloud Server detail screen.

You can copy and paste this command into your terminal, or click it and Terminal.app opens for you.

You can use the PuTTY SSH client to connect to your Cloud Server. See this article for more information about how to use PuTTY.

The first time you connect to a Cloud Server, your computer asks you to verify that this is something you want to do. Type yes and press Enter.

Type or paste the password you copied in step 6.

If the password is correct, you connect to your Cloud Server. You will see a screen similar to the following one.

10. Install Apache

Apache is the web server you will install on your Cloud Server. To install Apache, you enter just one command:

apt-get install apache2 -y

You'll see some information scroll by in your terminal. This is your Cloud Server downloading and installing Apache as well as any other software Apache might need to operate correctly.

11. Test Apache with Your Web Browser

After the command is finished running, ensure that Apache is installed and turned on. There's an easy test for this: put the (PublicNet) IP address of your Cloud Server into a web browser. If you see a page that says, "It works!" you now have a web server installed on your Cloud Server.

The next step is to upload your site.

Step 2: Upload your code

You might be familiar with File Transfer Protocol (FTP) as a way to upload and download files from another computer. Rackspace Cloud Servers user SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) for added security, so you need an FTP client that will support an SFTP connection. Fortunately, many of the popular and free FTP clients do this.

1. Establish an SFTP Connection with Cyberduck

You establish an SFTP connection with a Cloud Server by clicking Open Connection in Cyberduck and performing the following steps:

  1. Select SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol).
  2. For Server, type the IP address of the Cloud Server.
  3. For Ssername, enter root.
  4. For Password, enter the root user's password.
  5. Click Connect.

2. Upload Your Site

If you haven't already downloaded the sample HTML file, download it here.

You cannot upload your HTML file just anywhere on the Cloud Server. Apache is configured to look in a specific directory for content to serve on the web. This special directory is referred to as the DocumentRoot.

On an Ubuntu server, the DocumentRoot is located at /var/www, so that's where you need to upload your file. Navigate to that directory in Cyberduck by using the following steps:

A. Select the "/" directory by using the drop-down menu at the top of the window.

B. Double-click the var directory.

C. Double-click the www directory.

You're now in the DocumentRoot.

You should see an index.html file already in the directory. This is the "It works!" file that you saw when you tested Apache in your browser earlier. Replace it with your own file by dragging the new index.html file into Cyberduck. When Cyberduck asks if you want to overwrite the existing file, click Continue.

Step 3: Test

Now that the correct HTML file is uploaded to the correct directory, you should see your site when you refresh your browser.

Congratulations! In a short period of time, you deployed a Cloud Server, connected to it via SSH, installed the Apache web server, uploaded a new HTML file to the server's DocumentRoot, and tested the site in a web browser.

As mentioned before, your real-world needs are probably much more complex, but regardless of complexity, you will still follow the three fundamental steps in this guide:

  1. Build the infrastructure
  2. Upload your code
  3. Test

What's next?

Several resources are available to help you progress:

If you found this guide helpful, tell us. We think that helping our customers get started is one of the best ways to ensure your success, while establishing a strong partnership with the Rackers here to support you.


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