Jenkins Dynamic EC2 Slaves

There is a nice plugin for Jenkins that lets you dynamically add capacity by spinning up EC2 instances on demand and then terminating them when the job queue expires. This is a great way to save money on an AWS based build infrastructure.

Unfortunately, the plugin documentation is really light and there are a few gotchas to look out for.

Security Groups

This field only accepts comma separated security group IDs, not names. This is frustrating because other fields in the plugin take a space separated list (e.g. labels)

Running in VPC

If you’re a sane person you’re going to want to run these instances in a private VPC. This is entirely possible but is hidden in the advanced settings. If you expand the advanced settings you’ll see a field to enter your desired subnet ID. Set this to the ID of the private subnet in your VPC you want the instances to run in.

Don’t Rely On the User Data/Init Scrip to Install Dependencies

This adds a lot of time to the instance coming on line and being usable by Jenkins. A better approach is to make an AMI with all the build dependencies you need. The only delay is then the instance boot time.

This is far from an exhaustive walkthrough but highlights the issues I ran into setting it up.

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