Scott's picture

Greetings - 

We have recently recieved an email saying our TurnKey OpenVPN subscription AMI will be moving to a paid type as of November 1st.

Since it is now 11/1/16 - I see, unsder the AWS Marketplace, three TurnKey OpenVPN AMIs available - two are paid, and one is free.

(the one that is free is HVM).

Will the free one be going away?

Will be start to incur charges on the instances we set up earlier?

And on your FAQ (questions & answers section), it appears that the license says that it is free.  Is it safe to say that if you choose to use an AMI, you will get a subscription fee?  And that if you just get the code from say GitHub and/or set up the TurnKey software yourself, it would continue to be free?

Is there documentation for setting up on AWS outside of using an AMI?


Jeremy Davis's picture

I'm not sure where you found our appliance on the AWS Marketplace free of charge? There are currently 3 builds. I just double checked and what I see is our 3 builds (the 2 legacy PV builds in 32 & 64 bit and the 64 bit HVM) and they all have the $0.01/hr charge. The exception is the new HVM t2.nano size. That is free of charge (we have no plans to start charging for that.).

Here's links:
PV (legacy 32bit):
PV (legacy 64bit):
HVM (current):

The bad news: Unfortunately Amazon don't support just charging for the newer versions. Pricing is done by product so it's either everybody or nobody. So yes, these new fees apply to everybody running TurnKey on AWS MP. :(

The good news: As should be noted in the email, the new pricing bundles free (of charge) TKLBAM "standard" (which we normally charge $10/mth for). If you register for that then you can use it to migrate your data to the new HVM equivalent of your existing server. In most scenarios, that alone will offset the new charges. E.g. compare the price and specs of a m1.small - PV server to a t2.small HVM server (see links above). Even with the additional $0.01/hr charges from us, a new t2.small should be cheaper to run than an old m1.small.

Note that the new version (v14.1) of TurnKey PV builds are not available as a m1.small currently. That is due to an Amazon bug which we suspect will never be fixed. Regardless, it's a fair comparison between an old v13.x PV m1.small against a new HVM t2.small.

With regard to TurnKey being free. Yes, we use 100% free software as noted in the license doc and in our FAQ. As clearly noted (almost the same wording in both places):

TurnKey is 100% free software and by free we mean in the important sense of freedom not price. Free as in free speech, not free beer.

So yes, you can use TKLDev to build our appliances yourself. Please have a look at the full TKLDev docs, there's also a step-by-step tutorial. Actually there is a page here with all the TKLDev related links.

Please note that if you use it for development, ignore all the documentation relating to "root.sandbox". It had a bug which we could only resolve by removing the root.sandbox functionaility (it appears to be caused by an interaction between our code and an AuFS bug). We really need to tidy up the docs and bring them up to date, but unfortunately we have a serious labour bottleneck (hence why we decided to introduce charges in the first place).

By default it only produces ISOs. To create an AWS server you'll need to use buildtasks to convert your ISO into an AMI. Buildtasks is what we use to build all our appliance builds, but whilst it's public, it was built and designed for our internal purposes. It's not particularly well documented, although it should be usable once you wrap your head around it.

TBH though, unless you plan to develop your own custom appliances and/or are only running a hobby site in your spare time and/or want to learn how we do it; the $75-$85/yr (depending on whether you pay hourly or annually) you'll save will unlikely be worth the time you'll need to spend learning, building and testing. That's especially the case if you want to take advantage of TKLBAM (which as I said we normally charge $10/mth for anyway).

Scott's picture

So, yes - after further looking - I saw on the search results that the HVM "started" at 0.00 per hour, and that when looking at it in detail (breakdown per instance type) it was "only" for the t2.nano.

Paying would be ideal, but we have many verticals that each used an instance - which wold be a lot of instances at $75 per year.

I appreciate the detailed response on the licensing, and information related to building from scratch.

You have been very helpful!

Jeremy Davis's picture

Ah ok, if you are a "bulk" user then I can see your point. On face value those "extra" $75 add up. But keep in mind, that only applies to the PV instances. The HVM instances are significantly cheaper for comparable performance. Ifg you switch to using HVM instances then the savings should more that cover our increased fees. Actually you should still be well in front compared to what you are paying now!

Comparable HVM instances: significantly cheaper

A t2.small (HVM) is $0.018/hr cheaper than a m1.small (PV). Even if you were to just pay by the hour ($0.01/hr); you are still likely to be around $70/year better off than what you were paying for a m1.small before we introduced charges! If you pay annually, then add another $10 to the savings...! So hwilst the $75/yr add up pretty quick, the ~$145/yr savings add up faster! :)

Obviously the exact savings will depend on the instance size(s) you are using. Regardless, the savings you'll make by using HVM should at least offset our new charges, if not put you way in front!

Also re saving money, FYI AWS reserved instances are now transferable between zones (see here and/or here). So purchasing some reserved instances in the region(s) where you are running your servers should provide significant savings.

Or there's the Hub!?

Alternatively, using the AWS Marketplace is not the only way you can easily launch TurnKey servers on Amazon. We also have the TurnKey Hub. That is a flat subscription pricing model for unlimited servers. The pricing is tiered depending on the max size servers you need to launch. E.g. if you only use medium or smaller then the Bronze plan ($20/mth) would be sufficient. If you need large servers, then go for Silver ($40/mth). For full details check out the Hub's pricing page (scroll down to see the "server" plan pricing).

If you want to find out a bit more, please have a read here. If you would like to have a closer inspection on what it looks like in action, please have a go of the demo. Beyond the subscription fees you do not pay any usage premium (i.e. you can run an unlimited number of servers and just pay standard AWS fees).

You can still manage your servers directly via the AWS console too. Although new servers do need to be launched via the Hub. FWIW we also have HubTools which provides a cli client and a Python API if you are interested.

The only potential issue I see for your usage scenario is that currently the Hub only supports single user accounts. So everybody that needs to launch servers would need to share the same account. You can add multiple OpenID accounts though so users could have their own login credentials (but would still share a common Hub API key). FWIW "organisational" accounts are on our roadmap, but no ETA.

If none of that seem workable for you, then perhaps shoot me an email (jeremy AT or support AT If you can provide some more info about your usage scenario (e.g. the range of how many users, range of how many servers, etc) perhaps we can work out a deal for you? Perhaps a few Hub accounts and give you some sort of "group" discount? Let me know what you think.

Scott's picture

Thanks again for the updated info!

We def saw the cost saving by going from legacy to HVM would compensate for the increase subscription price - and give us a performance boot!

We are def for supporting $$$ makers of great software, and could keep our primary production VPN server on a larger instance type - and let the verticals (plus their sub groups) all use a t2.nanos. :-)


Jeremy Davis's picture

Glad it works for you! :)

Good luck with it all and chat another day no doubt...

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