Don’t Use Amazon’s Forks of Open Source Software

This is a warning. Amazon’s forks of open source software are very poorly supported. If you switch to them, you will create problems for yourself. Here’s my three examples from personal experience.

Amazon Aurora

Amazon Aurora is attractive because it’s compatible with PostGreSQL and MySQL, and it is ready for sharding out-of-the-box. Don’t get sucked in though. The deploy and patching process is a poorly supported nightmare.

Recently, Amazon told us we had to have a forced upgrade patch on our Aurora instance. We don’t do downtime. Ever. But Amazon doesn’t provide a no-downtime version of the patch, and the alternative was too much of a time investment.

Amazon guaranteed us the deploy would only take 3minutes. So we decided to go forward with a little but of downtime. The first time it tried to patch it failed and took the database down for 10 minutes. Then it sat there for 15 minutes during which we could do nothing. Then it tried to patch again, taking the database down for another 10 minutes. And it failed again.

So at that point we were frantically calling Amazon support to try to stop it, but we couldn’t get through to anyone who was at all helpful. So the database went down a third time, and this time, fortunately, it worked.

All told, we had about an hour of downtime after Amazon guaranteed us only 3 minutes. The support was unhelpful, and didn’t really know how to help.

Amazon Linux

Do not use Amazon Linux. If that article isn’t enough to convince you, then here’s my story.

I like to try new technologies. I like to keep up to date with the latest thing. I use AWS in my every day job. So when Amazon started pushing their own version of Linux, I decided to try it on my personal website.

The major headache this has created for me is that the Lets Encrypt Certbot doesn’t work on Amazon Linux. So I can’t do automatic renewal of my SSL certificate. I have to step through the process manually each month.

But there are many other tools and packages that are incompatible too. Don’t use it.

Amazon’s Android

Amazon’s version of Android is awful for the same reasons. It’s extremely poorly maintained.

I loved the first Kindle device. It was perfect. It reduced waste, and allowed me to carry a library around with me. So I bought the initial devices, then carried on into the Kindle Fire and other tablets. That’s when the trouble began.

There are major bugs and performance issues on Amazon’s version of Android that have gone unaddressed for years.

The bug that caused me to switch to a Samsung tablet is one where, when I clicked on my most recent media item, it wouldn’t actually open my most recent item. So, for instance, if you are watching a show or reading a book, or switching between two things, then you are constantly opening the wrong thing. Because the performance is so poor, this is a problem that often takes minutes to resolve by clicking around and hoping it opens the correct item.

That seems like a critical bug to me. It should be one that gets fixed immediately, right? Well it existed for years.

Don’t Use Amazon’s Forks of Open Source Software

Don’t do it. That one feature they add isn’t worth it. Use the open source alternative.