Getting Started with Linode

Updated by Linode

Congratulations on selecting Linode as your cloud hosting provider! This guide will help you sign up for an account, deploy a Linux distribution, boot your Linode, and perform some basic system administration tasks.

Signing Up

If you haven’t already signed up for a Linode account, start here.

  1. Create a new account at the Sign Up page.
  2. Sign in and enter your billing and account information. Most accounts are activated instantly but some require manual review prior to activation. If your account is not immediately activated, you will receive an email with additional instructions.
  3. Select a Linode plan and data center location

    Available Linode plans

If you’re unsure of which data center to select, see our speed test to determine which location provides the best performance for your target audience. You can also generate MTR reports for each of the data centers to determine which of our facilities provides the best latency from your particular location.

Provisioning Your Linode

After your Linode is created, you’ll need to prepare it for operation by deploying a Linux distribution.

Logging in to the Linode Manager

The Linode Manager is a web-based control panel that allows you to manage your Linode virtual servers and services. Log in with the username and password you created when you signed up. After you’ve created your first Linode, you can use the Linode Manager to:

  • Boot and shut down your virtual server,
  • Access monitoring statistics,
  • Update your billing and account information,
  • Request support and perform other administrative tasks.

Deploying an Image

After creating a new Linode, select it and you’ll be taken to the Linode Manager Dashboard.

  1. Click on Deploy an Image.

    Linux Dashboard

    You’ll be taken to the Deploy page.

    Deploy a Linux Image

  2. Select a Linux distribution from the Image menu. You can choose from Arch Linux, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Gentoo, openSUSE, Slackware, and Ubuntu to install on your Linode. If you’re new to the Linux operating system, consider selecting Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. Ubuntu is the most popular distribution among Linode customers and one of the most well supported by online communities, so resolving any issues you may have should be simple.

  3. Enter a size for the disk in the Deployment Disk Size field. By default all of the available space is allocated, but you can set a lower size if you plan on cloning a disk or creating multiple configuration profiles. You can always create, resize, and delete disks later.

  4. Select a swap disk size from the Swap Disk menu.

  5. Enter a root password for your Linode in the Root Password field. This password must be provided when you log in to your Linode via SSH and must be at least 6 characters long and contain characters from two of the following categories:

    • lowercase and uppercase case letters
    • numbers
    • punctuation characters
  6. Click Deploy.

    You can use the Linode Manager’s Dashboard to monitor the progress in real time as shown below.

    Provisioning Status

    When the deployment process is completed, your Linode’s configuration profile will appear on the Dashboard.

    Configuration Profile

    Use a StackScript to quickly deploy a customized Linux distribution. Some of the most popular StackScripts do things like install the Apache web server, configure a firewall, and set up the WordPress content management system. They’re easy to use. Just find a StackScript, complete the form, and deploy.

Booting Your Linode

Your Linode is now provisioned with the distro of your choice but it’s turned off, as inidcated in the Dashboard.

Click Boot to turn on your Linode.

Boot your Linode

When booted, the Server Status will change from Powered Off to Running and there will be a successfully completed System Boot job in the Host Job Queue.

Linode Booted

Connecting to Your Linode

Communicating with your Linode is usually done using the secure shell (SSH) protocol. SSH encrypts all of the data transferred between the SSH client application on your computer and the Linode, including passwords and other sensitive information. There are SSH clients available for every operating system.

SSH Overview

  • Linux: You can use a terminal window, regardless of desktop environment or window manager.
  • Mac: The Terminal application comes pre-installed with OS X and you can launch it from Finder > Applications > Utilities. You could also use the free iTerm 2 application. For a walkthrough of connecting to your Linode for the first time with OS X (which also directly applies to Linux), see the following video:

  • Windows: There is no native SSH client but you can use a free, open source application called PuTTY. For a walkthrough of connecting to your Linode in Windows using PuTTY, see the following video:

    These videos were created by Treehouse, which is offering Linode customers a free one month trial. Click here to start your free trial and start learning web design, web development, and more.

Finding the IP Address

Your Linode has a unique IP address that identifies it to other devices and users on the Internet. For the time being, you’ll use the IP address to connect to your server. After you perform some of these initial configuration steps outlined in the Linode Quick Start Guides, you can use DNS records to point a domain name at your server and give it a more recognizable and memorable identifier.

Here’s how to find your Linode’s IP address from the Linode Manager.

  1. Click the Linodes tab.
  2. Select your Linode.
  3. Click the Remote Access tab.
  4. Copy the addresses in the Public IPs section.

    Public IPs.

In this example, the Linode’s IPv4 address is and its IPv6 address is 2600:3c03::f03c:91ff:fe70:cabd. Unless your Internet service provider supports IPv6, you’ll want to the use the IPv4 address.

Logging in for the First Time

Once you have the IP address and an SSH client, you can log in via SSH. The following instructions are written for Linux and Mac OS X. If you’re using PuTTY as your SSH client in Windows, follow these instructions.

  1. Enter the following into your terminal window or application. Be sure to replace the example IP address with your Linode’s IP address.

    ssh root@123.456.78.90
  2. If this is the first time connecting to your Linode, you’ll see the authenticity warning below. This is because your SSH client has never encountered the server’s key fingerprint before. Type yes and press Enter to continue connecting.

    The authenticity of host '123.456.78.90 (123.456.78.90)' can't be established.
    RSA key fingerprint is 11:eb:57:f3:a5:c3:e0:77:47:c4:15:3a:3c:df:6c:d2.
    Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?
  3. The login prompt appears for you to enter the password you created for the root user above.

    root@123.456.78.90's password:
  4. The SSH client initiates the connection. You’ll know you’re logged in when the following prompt appears:

    Warning: Permanently added '123.456.78.90' (RSA) to the list of known hosts.

If you recently rebuilt an existing Linode, you might receive an error message when you try to reconnect via SSH. SSH clients try to match the remote host with the known keys on your desktop computer, so when you rebuild your Linode, the remote host key changes.

Revoking the key for that IP address will fix the problem. For Linux and Mac OS X:

ssh-keygen -R 123.456.789

PuTTY users must remove the old host IP addresses manually. PuTTY’s known hosts are in the registry entry:


Installing Software Updates

The first thing you should do when connecting to your Linode is update the Linux distribution’s software. This applies the latest security patches and bug fixes to help protect your Linode against unauthorized access.

Installing software updates should be performed regularly. If you need help remembering, try creating a monthly alert with the calendar application on your desktop computer.

Ubuntu / Debian

apt-get update && apt-get upgrade

CentOS / Fedora

yum update

Arch Linux

pacman -Syu


emerge --sync


Slackpkg is the easiest way to update Slackware installations. See the Slackpkg documentation for installation and upgrade instructions.

Setting the Hostname

You’ll need to set your system’s hostname and fully qualified domain name (FQDN). Your hostname should be something unique. Some people name their servers after planets, philosophers, or animals. Note that the system’s hostname has no relationship to websites or email services hosted on it, aside from providing a name for the system itself. Your hostname should not be “www” or anything too generic.

If you’re unfamiliar with Linux, one of the first things you’ll need to learn is how to use nano, a text editor included with most distributions. To open a file for editing, type nano file.txt where “file.txt” is the name of the file you want to create or edit. When you’re finished editing, press Control-X, then Y to save the changes and Enter to confirm.

For a walkthrough of setting system’s hostname and timezone, see the following video:

This video was created by Treehouse, which is offering Linode customers a free one month trial. Click here to start your free trial and start learning web design, web development, and more.

Arch / CentOS 7 / Debian 8 / Fedora version 18 and above / Ubuntu 15.04

Replace hostname with one of your choice.

hostnamectl set-hostname hostname

Debian 7 / Slackware / Ubuntu 14.04

Replace hostname with one of your choice.

echo "hostname" > /etc/hostname
hostname -F /etc/hostname

Check if the file /etc/default/dhcpcd exists.

ls /etc/default

If so, edit it and comment out the SET_HOSTNAME directive:


CentOS 6 / Fedora version 17 and below

Replace hostname with one of your choice.

echo "HOSTNAME=hostname" >> /etc/sysconfig/network
hostname "hostname"


Enter the following commands to set the hostname, replacing hostname with the hostname of your choice:

echo "HOSTNAME=\"hostname\"" > /etc/conf.d/hostname
/etc/init.d/hostname restart

Update /etc/hosts

Next, edit your /etc/hosts file to resemble the following example, replacing hostname with your chosen hostname, with your system’s domain name, and with your system’s IP address. As with the hostname, the domain name part of your FQDN does not necessarily need to have any relationship to websites or other services hosted on the server (although it may if you wish). As an example, you might host “” on your server, but the system’s FQDN might be “”

2 localhost.localdomain localhost hostname

If you have IPv6 enabled on your Linode, you will also want to add an entry for your IPv6 address, as shown in this example:

3 localhost.localdomain localhost hostname 
2600:3c01::a123:b456:c789:d012 hostname

The value you assign as your system’s FQDN should have an “A” record in DNS pointing to your Linode’s IPv4 address. For Linodes with IPv6 enabled, you should also set up a “AAAA” record in DNS pointing to your Linode’s IPv6 address. For more information on configuring DNS, see Adding DNS Records.

Setting the Timezone

By default, a Linode’s Linux image will be set to UTC time (also known as Greenwich Mean Time) but this can be changed. It may be better to use the same timezone which a majority of your users are located in, or that you live in to make log file timestamps more sensible.

Debian / Ubuntu

dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

Arch Linux and CentOS 7

View the list of available time zones.

timedatectl list-timezones

Use the Up, Down, Page Up and Page Down keys to navigate. Find the time zone which you want. Remember it, write it down or copy it as a mouse selection. Then press q to exit the list.

To set the time zone:

timedatectl set-timezone `America/New_York`

All Other Distributions

Manually symlink a zone file in /usr/share/zoneinfo to /etc/localtime.

  1. View the list of available zone files.

    ls /usr/share/zoneinfo
  2. Then create the link using the zone file you want.


    ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/EST /etc/localtime ## for Eastern Standard Time

Checking the Time

View the current date and time according to your server.


The output should look similar to: Thu Feb 16 12:17:52 EST 2012.

Next Steps

Now that you have an up-to-date Linode, you’ll need to secure your Linode and protect it from unauthorized access. Read the Securing Your Server quick start guide to get going.

This guide is published under a CC BY-ND 3.0 license.