» EBS Volume Builder

Type: amazon-ebsvolume

The amazon-ebsvolume Packer builder is able to create Amazon Elastic Block Store volumes which are prepopulated with filesystems or data.

This builder builds EBS volumes by launching an EC2 instance from a source AMI, provisioning that running machine, and then destroying the source machine, keeping the volumes intact.

This is all done in your own AWS account. The builder will create temporary key pairs, security group rules, etc. that provide it temporary access to the instance while the image is being created.

The builder does not manage EBS Volumes. Once it creates volumes and stores it in your account, it is up to you to use, delete, etc. the volumes.

» Configuration Reference

There are many configuration options available for the builder. They are segmented below into two categories: required and optional parameters. Within each category, the available configuration keys are alphabetized.

In addition to the options listed here, a communicator can be configured for this builder.

» Required:

  • access_key (string) - The access key used to communicate with AWS. Learn how to set this.

  • instance_type (string) - The EC2 instance type to use while building the AMI, such as m1.small.

  • region (string) - The name of the region, such as us-east-1, in which to launch the EC2 instance to create the AMI.

  • secret_key (string) - The secret key used to communicate with AWS. Learn how to set this.

  • source_ami (string) - The initial AMI used as a base for the newly created machine. source_ami_filter may be used instead to populate this automatically.

» Optional:

  • ebs_volumes (array of block device mappings) - Add the block device mappings to the AMI. The block device mappings allow for keys:

    • device_name (string) - The device name exposed to the instance (for example, /dev/sdh or xvdh). Required for every device in the block device mapping.
    • delete_on_termination (boolean) - Indicates whether the EBS volume is deleted on instance termination.
    • encrypted (boolean) - Indicates whether or not to encrypt the volume. By default, Packer will keep the encryption setting to what it was in the source image. Setting false will result in an unencrypted device, and true will result in an encrypted one.
    • kms_key_id (string) - The ARN for the KMS encryption key. When specifying kms_key_id, encrypted needs to be set to true. For valid formats see KmsKeyId in the AWS API docs - CopyImage.
    • iops (number) - The number of I/O operations per second (IOPS) that the volume supports. See the documentation on IOPs for more information
    • no_device (boolean) - Suppresses the specified device included in the block device mapping of the AMI
    • snapshot_id (string) - The ID of the snapshot
    • virtual_name (string) - The virtual device name. See the documentation on Block Device Mapping for more information
    • volume_size (number) - The size of the volume, in GiB. Required if not specifying a snapshot_id
    • volume_type (string) - The volume type. gp2 for General Purpose (SSD) volumes, io1 for Provisioned IOPS (SSD) volumes, and standard for Magnetic volumes
    • tags (map) - Tags to apply to the volume. These are retained after the builder completes. This is a template engine, see Build template data for more information.
  • associate_public_ip_address (boolean) - If using a non-default VPC, public IP addresses are not provided by default. If this is true, your new instance will get a Public IP. default: false

  • availability_zone (string) - Destination availability zone to launch instance in. Leave this empty to allow Amazon to auto-assign.

  • block_duration_minutes (int64) - Requires spot_price to be set. The required duration for the Spot Instances (also known as Spot blocks). This value must be a multiple of 60 (60, 120, 180, 240, 300, or 360). You can't specify an Availability Zone group or a launch group if you specify a duration.

  • custom_endpoint_ec2 (string) - This option is useful if you use a cloud provider whose API is compatible with aws EC2. Specify another endpoint like this https://ec2.custom.endpoint.com.

  • disable_stop_instance (boolean) - Packer normally stops the build instance after all provisioners have run. For Windows instances, it is sometimes desirable to run Sysprep which will stop the instance for you. If this is set to true, Packer will not stop the instance but will assume that you will send the stop signal yourself through your final provisioner. You can do this with a windows-shell provisioner.

    Note that Packer will still wait for the instance to be stopped, and failing to send the stop signal yourself, when you have set this flag to true, will cause a timeout.

    Example of a valid shutdown command:

      "type": "windows-shell",
      "inline": ["\"c:\\Program Files\\Amazon\\Ec2ConfigService\\ec2config.exe\" -sysprep"]
  • decode_authorization_messages (boolean) - Enable automatic decoding of any encoded authorization (error) messages using the sts:DecodeAuthorizationMessage API. Note: requires that the effective user/role have permissions to sts:DecodeAuthorizationMessage on resource *. Default false.

  • ebs_optimized (boolean) - Mark instance as EBS Optimized. Default false.

  • ena_support (boolean) - Enable enhanced networking (ENA but not SriovNetSupport) on HVM-compatible AMIs. If set, add ec2:ModifyInstanceAttribute to your AWS IAM policy. If false, this will disable enhanced networking in the final AMI as opposed to passing the setting through unchanged from the source. Note: you must make sure enhanced networking is enabled on your instance. See Amazon's documentation on enabling enhanced networking.

  • enable_t2_unlimited (boolean) - Enabling T2 Unlimited allows the source instance to burst additional CPU beyond its available CPU Credits for as long as the demand exists. This is in contrast to the standard configuration that only allows an instance to consume up to its available CPU Credits. See the AWS documentation for T2 Unlimited and the T2 Unlimited Pricing section of the Amazon EC2 On-Demand Pricing document for more information. By default this option is disabled and Packer will set up a T2 Standard instance instead.

    To use T2 Unlimited you must use a T2 instance type, e.g. t2.micro. Additionally, T2 Unlimited cannot be used in conjunction with Spot Instances, e.g. when the spot_price option has been configured. Attempting to do so will cause an error.

  • iam_instance_profile (string) - The name of an IAM instance profile to launch the EC2 instance with.

  • insecure_skip_tls_verify (boolean) - This allows skipping TLS verification of the AWS EC2 endpoint. The default is false.

  • mfa_code (string) - The MFA TOTP code. This should probably be a user variable since it changes all the time.

  • profile (string) - The profile to use in the shared credentials file for AWS. See Amazon's documentation on specifying profiles for more details.

  • run_tags (object of key/value strings) - Tags to apply to the instance that is launched to create the AMI. These tags are not applied to the resulting AMI unless they're duplicated in tags. This is a template engine, see Build template data for more information.

  • security_group_id (string) - The ID (not the name) of the security group to assign to the instance. By default this is not set and Packer will automatically create a new temporary security group to allow SSH access. Note that if this is specified, you must be sure the security group allows access to the ssh_port given below.

  • security_group_ids (array of strings) - A list of security groups as described above. Note that if this is specified, you must omit the security_group_id.

  • security_group_filter (object) - Filters used to populate the security_group_ids field. Example:

      "security_group_filter": {
        "filters": {
          "tag:Class": "packer"

    This selects the SG's with tag Class with the value packer.

    • filters (map of strings) - filters used to select a security_group_ids. Any filter described in the docs for DescribeSecurityGroups is valid.

    security_group_ids take precedence over this.

  • shutdown_behavior (string) - Automatically terminate instances on shutdown in case Packer exits ungracefully. Possible values are stop and terminate. Defaults to stop.

  • skip_region_validation (boolean) - Set to true if you want to skip validation of the region configuration option. Defaults to false.

  • snapshot_groups (array of strings) - A list of groups that have access to create volumes from the snapshot(s). By default no groups have permission to create volumes from the snapshot(s). all will make the snapshot publicly accessible.

  • snapshot_users (array of strings) - A list of account IDs that have access to create volumes from the snapshot(s). By default no additional users other than the user creating the AMI has permissions to create volumes from the backing snapshot(s).

  • source_ami_filter (object) - Filters used to populate the source_ami field. Example:

      "source_ami_filter": {
        "filters": {
          "virtualization-type": "hvm",
          "name": "ubuntu/images/*ubuntu-xenial-16.04-amd64-server-*",
          "root-device-type": "ebs"
        "owners": ["099720109477"],
        "most_recent": true

    This selects the most recent Ubuntu 16.04 HVM EBS AMI from Canonical. NOTE: This will fail unless exactly one AMI is returned. In the above example, most_recent will cause this to succeed by selecting the newest image.

    • filters (map of strings) - filters used to select a source_ami. NOTE: This will fail unless exactly one AMI is returned. Any filter described in the docs for DescribeImages is valid.
    • owners (array of strings) - Filters the images by their owner. You may specify one or more AWS account IDs, "self" (which will use the account whose credentials you are using to run Packer), or an AWS owner alias: for example, "amazon", "aws-marketplace", or "microsoft". This option is required for security reasons.
    • most_recent (boolean) - Selects the newest created image when true. This is most useful for selecting a daily distro build.

    You may set this in place of source_ami or in conjunction with it. If you set this in conjunction with source_ami, the source_ami will be added to the filter. The provided source_ami must meet all of the filtering criteria provided in source_ami_filter; this pins the AMI returned by the filter, but will cause Packer to fail if the source_ami does not exist.

  • spot_instance_types (array of strings) - a list of acceptable instance types to run your build on. We will request a spot instance using the max price of spot_price and the allocation strategy of "lowest price". Your instance will be launched on an instance type of the lowest available price that you have in your list. This is used in place of instance_type. You may only set either spot_instance_types or instance_type, not both. This feature exists to help prevent situations where a Packer build fails because a particular availability zone does not have capacity for the specific instance_type requested in instance_type.

  • spot_price (string) - The maximum hourly price to pay for a spot instance to create the AMI. Spot instances are a type of instance that EC2 starts when the current spot price is less than the maximum price you specify. Spot price will be updated based on available spot instance capacity and current spot instance requests. It may save you some costs. You can set this to auto for Packer to automatically discover the best spot price or to "0" to use an on demand instance (default).

  • spot_price_auto_product (string) - Deprecated. Prior to v1.4.3, was required if spot_price is set to auto.

    If you are using Packer v1.4.3 or later, simply remove this from your template; it is no longer necessary based on recent changes to how Amazon calculates spot prices.

    Prior to version 1.4.3, This told Packer what sort of AMI you're launching to find the best spot price. This must be one of: Linux/UNIX, SUSE Linux, Windows, Linux/UNIX (Amazon VPC), SUSE Linux (Amazon VPC), Windows (Amazon VPC)

  • spot_tags (object of key/value strings) - Requires spot_price to be set. This tells Packer to apply tags to the spot request that is issued.

  • sriov_support (boolean) - Enable enhanced networking (SriovNetSupport but not ENA) on HVM-compatible AMIs. If true, add ec2:ModifyInstanceAttribute to your AWS IAM policy. Note: you must make sure enhanced networking is enabled on your instance. See Amazon's documentation on enabling enhanced networking. Default false.

  • ssh_keypair_name (string) - If specified, this is the key that will be used for SSH with the machine. By default, this is blank, and Packer will generate a temporary key pair unless ssh_password is used. ssh_private_key_file must be specified with this.

  • ssh_private_ip (boolean) - No longer supported. See ssh_interface. A fixer exists to migrate.

  • ssh_interface (string) - One of public_ip, private_ip, public_dns or private_dns. If set, either the public IP address, private IP address, public DNS name or private DNS name will used as the host for SSH. The default behaviour if inside a VPC is to use the public IP address if available, otherwise the private IP address will be used. If not in a VPC the public DNS name will be used. Also works for WinRM.

    Where Packer is configured for an outbound proxy but WinRM traffic should be direct, ssh_interface must be set to private_dns and <region>.compute.internal included in the NO_PROXY environment variable.

  • subnet_id (string) - If using VPC, the ID of the subnet, such as subnet-12345def, where Packer will launch the EC2 instance. This field is required if you are using an non-default VPC.

  • subnet_filter (object) - Filters used to populate the subnet_id field. Example:

      "subnet_filter": {
        "filters": {
          "tag:Class": "build"
        "most_free": true,
        "random": false

    This selects the Subnet with tag Class with the value build, which has the most free IP addresses. NOTE: This will fail unless exactly one Subnet is returned. By using most_free or random one will be selected from those matching the filter.

    • filters (map of strings) - filters used to select a subnet_id. NOTE: This will fail unless exactly one Subnet is returned. Any filter described in the docs for DescribeSubnets is valid.
    • most_free (boolean) - The Subnet with the most free IPv4 addresses will be used if multiple Subnets matches the filter.
    • random (boolean) - A random Subnet will be used if multiple Subnets matches the filter. most_free have precendence over this.

    subnet_id take precedence over this.

  • temporary_key_pair_name (string) - The name of the temporary key pair to generate. By default, Packer generates a name that looks like packer_<UUID>, where <UUID> is a 36 character unique identifier.

  • temporary_security_group_source_cidrs (list of string) - A list of IPv4 CIDR blocks to be authorized access to the instance, when packer is creating a temporary security group.

    The default is This is only used when security_group_id or security_group_ids is not specified.

  • token (string) - The access token to use. This is different from the access key and secret key. If you're not sure what this is, then you probably don't need it. This will also be read from the AWS_SESSION_TOKEN environmental variable.

  • user_data (string) - User data to apply when launching the instance. Note that you need to be careful about escaping characters due to the templates being JSON. It is often more convenient to use user_data_file, instead. Packer will not automatically wait for a user script to finish before shutting down the instance this must be handled in a provisioner.

  • user_data_file (string) - Path to a file that will be used for the user data when launching the instance.

  • vault_aws_engine (object) - Get credentials from Hashicorp Vault's aws secrets engine. You must already have created a role to use. For more information about generating credentials via the Vault engine, see the Vault docs. If you set this flag, you must also set the below options:

    • name (string) - Required. Specifies the name of the role to generate credentials against. This is part of the request URL.
    • engine_name (string) - The name of the aws secrets engine. In the Vault docs, this is normally referred to as "aws", and Packer will default to "aws" if engine_name is not set.
    • role_arn (string)- The ARN of the role to assume if credential_type on the Vault role is assumed_role. Must match one of the allowed role ARNs in the Vault role. Optional if the Vault role only allows a single AWS role ARN; required otherwise.
    • ttl (string) - Specifies the TTL for the use of the STS token. This is specified as a string with a duration suffix. Valid only when credential_type is assumed_role or federation_token. When not specified, the default_sts_ttl set for the role will be used. If that is also not set, then the default value of 3600s will be used. AWS places limits on the maximum TTL allowed. See the AWS documentation on the DurationSeconds parameter for AssumeRole (for assumed_role credential types) and GetFederationToken (for federation_token credential types) for more details.

    Example: json { "vault_aws_engine": { "name": "myrole", "role_arn": "myarn", "ttl": "3600s" } }

  • vpc_id (string) - If launching into a VPC subnet, Packer needs the VPC ID in order to create a temporary security group within the VPC. Requires subnet_id to be set. If this field is left blank, Packer will try to get the VPC ID from the subnet_id.

  • vpc_filter (object) - Filters used to populate the vpc_id field. Example:

      "vpc_filter": {
        "filters": {
          "tag:Class": "build",
          "isDefault": "false",
          "cidr": "/24"

    This selects the VPC with tag Class with the value build, which is not the default VPC, and have a IPv4 CIDR block of /24. NOTE: This will fail unless exactly one VPC is returned.

    • filters (map of strings) - filters used to select a vpc_id. NOTE: This will fail unless exactly one VPC is returned. Any filter described in the docs for DescribeVpcs is valid.

    vpc_id take precedence over this.

  • windows_password_timeout (string) - The timeout for waiting for a Windows password for Windows instances. Defaults to 20 minutes. Example value: 10m

» Basic Example

  "type" : "amazon-ebsvolume",
  "secret_key" : "YOUR SECRET KEY HERE",
  "access_key" : "YOUR KEY HERE",
  "region" : "us-east-1",
  "ssh_username" : "ubuntu",
  "instance_type" : "t2.medium",
  "source_ami" : "ami-40d28157",
  "ebs_volumes" : [
      "volume_type" : "gp2",
      "device_name" : "/dev/xvdf",
      "delete_on_termination" : false,
      "tags" : {
        "zpool" : "data",
        "Name" : "Data1"
      "volume_size" : 10
      "volume_type" : "gp2",
      "device_name" : "/dev/xvdg",
      "tags" : {
        "zpool" : "data",
        "Name" : "Data2"
      "delete_on_termination" : false,
      "volume_size" : 10
      "volume_size" : 10,
      "tags" : {
        "Name" : "Data3",
        "zpool" : "data"
      "delete_on_termination" : false,
      "device_name" : "/dev/xvdh",
      "volume_type" : "gp2"

Further information on locating AMI IDs and their relationship to instance types and regions can be found in the AWS EC2 Documentation for Linux or for Windows.

» Accessing the Instance to Debug

If you need to access the instance to debug for some reason, run the builder with the -debug flag. In debug mode, the Amazon builder will save the private key in the current directory and will output the DNS or IP information as well. You can use this information to access the instance as it is running.

» Build template data

In configuration directives marked as a template engine above, the following variables are available:

  • BuildRegion - The region (for example eu-central-1) where Packer is building the AMI.
  • SourceAMI - The source AMI ID (for example ami-a2412fcd) used to build the AMI.
  • SourceAMIName - The source AMI Name (for example ubuntu/images/ebs-ssd/ubuntu-xenial-16.04-amd64-server-20180306) used to build the AMI.
  • SourceAMITags - The source AMI Tags, as a map[string]string object.

» Which SSH Options to use:

This chart breaks down what Packer does if you set any of the below SSH options:

ssh_password ssh_private_key_file ssh_keypair_name temporary_key_pair_name Packer will...
X - - - ssh authenticating with username and given password
- X - - ssh authenticating with private key file
- X X - ssh authenticating with given private key file and "attaching" the keypair to the instance
- - - X Create a temporary ssh keypair with a particular name, clean it up
- - - - Create a temporary ssh keypair with a default name, clean it up