TurnKeyLinux: an easy Moodle server setup in the Amazon Cloud


I’m not a programmer and I’m definitely not a server administrator, which is why I always either find someone who is or find an easy way (i.e. cPanel) to setup a Moodle site.  That being said, there’s a new service out, in private beta, which I had to give a go.  The service is called Turnkeylinux.org and it’s a quick and simple way to tap into Amazon’s EC² server space through the web.  It’s also free to use (though you will pay the cost of hosting and server hours through Amazon).

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If you’re not familiar with EC², it’s basically server space you can purchase (but you only pay for what you use).  Bills tend to be quite low.

Here’s how I created a Moodle in about 10 minutes using TurnKeyLinux (note that the site provides step by step guidance which I will not replicate in full here),

  1. The service is in private beta so I requested an account and had it approved in about 3 minutes (https://hub.turnkeylinux.org/ to request a free signup)
  2. Once signed up, the site will run you through the process of setting up and enabling your EC² account through Amazon (note that you can link it to an existing Amazon stores account).
  3. Once EC² was enabled through my Amazon account I just needed to link up some private keys (to connect the accounts)
  4. After the accounts were linked, I was able to create a new server with any number of programs (Moodle being the program I was most interested that’s what I chose)
  5. In just a few minutes my Moodle was running and accessible through the IP address.

Overall the process was very easy.  Not necessarily as intuitive and easy as setting up a site through KeytoSchool or a cPanel, but nevertheless simple.  Not to mention that the documentation to help you setup the account was no fail and easy to follow.


Amazon has very low cost computing on the web and if you’re looking for a fully customizable, web-accessible setup for a Moodle site this might be it.  Better even is the ability to have a client link their Amazon account to the service in order to automate billing and hosting through Amazon.

It’s not for everyone, but it’s pretty nifty and I’m certain that more and more services will help the lay person like me put a site up on the cloud as easily.

For more information

Update: Note that while easy to setup, Turnkey’s service through Amazon can get pretty pricey (even if you’re not using the service).  My 15 day cost of running a Moodle server?  $31.  Cost of running Moodle through Bluehost.com? $80 a year.  Moodle through KeytoSchool.com: Free.