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Feyisayo Famakinde
Feyisayo Famakinde

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How to create a Linux VM Instance with Nginx in GCP with the Cloud SDK

My first interaction with the Google Cloud Platform was through its graphical Console: easy to use and navigate. Gradually I became acquainted with the Shell available within the GCP console but nothing feels like being able to connect to the cloud resources directly from the command-line interface of your local computer. So I decide to document how to create the most basic of the cloud resources available on the GCP platform which is the VM instance. This article shows how to create a Linux VM in the Google Cloud platform with the Cloud SDK which is the gcloud command line tool that helps you connect with Google Cloud products and services. In this tutorial we will be creating an Ubuntu 18.04 Linux machine in one of the GCP zones located in the US central region and then install an Nginx web-server on it. I will be creating this from my local machine which is a WSL Ubuntu distribution.


  1. A Google cloud platform account- You can create one Here at a free trial of $300 valid for 90-days and make sure you set up a billing account and project in the console by providing your card details- you don't get charged once the free trial is activated.

  2. Basic Linux knowledge.


  1. Download the SDK kit.
  2. {Install SDK} (install-SDK).
  3. {Create firewall rule} (create-firewall-rule)
  4. Create VM instance.
  5. Install Nginx.

Download the SDK kit

Google has provided this kit for Linux, MacOS and Windows operating systems and you can find them here download based on the operating system of your local system. Since I use the Ubuntu distro I will be downloading the Debian ubuntu package. Use the code below to add the cloud SDK distribution URI as a package source.

echo "deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/] cloud-sdk main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/google-cloud-sdk.list
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Import the Google cloud public key so you have access to the package

curl | sudo apt-key --keyring /usr/share/keyrings/ add -
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Install SDK

Then update your machine and download the SDK package

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install google-cloud-sdk
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gcloud init
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to initialize gcloud.

You will get prompted to configure gcloud; follow the instructions and go to the link provided to go through the authentication and authorization process;

  1. In the browser, fill in the email you used for your account and project setup then copy the authentication code provided and paste in your terminal.
  2. At account creation and billing setup you probably created a project or the project was automatically setup for you select this project in the terminal to get into the cloud environment.

Before we start our VM creation it is important that we follow some best practices for an effective process. First we need to set our project ID as an environment variable to avoid errors. You need to get your project ID before we continue get the ID by running

gcloud projects list
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You should see something similar to this showing your project-id and project-name
copy your project ID and let's save it in an env variable

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confirm it was saved by running

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This command should show your project id as a response.

Create firewall rule

Because Google cloud has all ingress traffic blocked except new firewall rules are created since we will be creating a VM that will host the Nginx server which runs on port 80 on http it is vital that we create a firewall rule that will allow traffic on port 80 for the default network associated with our instance. You can do this by running. Be sure to replace (firewall-rule-id) with your choice of ID.

gcloud compute firewall rules create (firewall-rule-id) --action=ALLOW --destination=INGRESS --rules=http:80 --target-tags=http
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confirm that the firewall rule was created by running

gcloud compute firewall-instances list
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You should see the created firewall-rule in the list.

Create VM Instance

Creating an instance in compute engine takes certain flags such as the VM location, the machine type, image, disk size and network.
The location is where the VM will be it is important to consider the target ingress traffic for the VM here will your visitors be coming from somewhere close to any of google's point of service.
As at the time of this article writing there are 76 zones available, you can find where they are here.
*The machine type is the processor size.
*Image refers to your choice of operating system.
*Network is the virtual private network available in your project, every project created in gcp comes with a default network that has 27 subnets.

We will be creating an instance located in the us-central1-f zone with a n1-standard-2 machine type and a debian image within our default network and a default disk size of 10GB.

Create the VM instance with the command and replacing (instance-id) with your choice of instance ID

gcloud compute instances create (instance-id) --machine-type=n1-standard-1 --zone=us-central1-f --image-project=debian-cloud --image=debian-9-stretch-v20190213 --subnet=default --tags=http
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Confirm that your instance was created with the command below. Ensure you copy out the external IP created because we will be using it soon.

gcloud compute-instances list
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Install Nginx

Now we install the Nginx web server, since we are working from our local terminal it is time to ssh into our VM's terminal. We do this by running

gcloud compute ssh (instance-id)
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This works because gcloud propagates an ssh key automatically by updating it to the meta-data of your instance and provisioning it to your local system's too only because you have IAM permissions to do so.

Now we should be inside the terminal of our vm instance,you can confirm this with the terminal name change. If you have confirmed terminal change you can now install Nginx, you do this by running

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt install nginx -y
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Confirm that nginx started by visiting the external IP of the instance you copied previously
You should see the Nginx default homepage.
That is all, I hope this was simple enough to understand. If you had any problem while following any of the steps above please do let me know.

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