Deploying a Next app to AWS EC2 with GitHub actions CI/CD

K Srinivas Rao

K Srinivas Rao


Deploying a Next app to AWS EC2 with GitHub actions CI/CD

Deploying a Next app to AWS EC2 with GitHub actions CI/CD

First of all, there are plenty of other easy and faster ways to deploy your next app, like Vercel and Netlify, where you can get it up and running in a matter of seconds. So if it's a personal project or a small one, feel free to try those out.

If you're still here and you want to deploy your own app end to end yourself, in your own managed server in AWS, then let's jump right into the code 🚀. We'll go through every single step until our app is online.


I will be using a Mac machine for this tutorial, there won't be much difference if you are on Windows, I'll mention some links to other articles if some of the steps are different.

Creating the Next project

If you are here for the deployment then most likely you already have a Next app ready, if not, then I guess you might wanna do that 1st?

Head over here and set up your first Next project.

Pushing the project to GitHub

Head over to GitHub, sign up/log in and create a new repository and copy the https link.

github actions screenshot github actions screenshot

Move inside your project folder and run these commands

git init

If you used create-next-app to initialise your project then you must already have a .git folder, in that case you don't need to run the above command. Start from the following.

git add .
git commit -m "initial project"
git remote add origin \<YOUR COPIED HTTPS URL\>
git push origin main

Head over to your repository in GitHub and you can see your project files there ✨.

Launching an EC2 instance

Now we're not gonna go through how to create a new account in AWS, you can check the official docs of AWS, they have a detailed step by step guide.

Now assuming that you've set up your account and logged in. Go to Services -> EC2 -> Launch Instance

Only change the fields that we discuss here, leave everything as it is by default

  1. Type a name for your instance and select Ubuntu in AMI.
aws ec2 instance screenshot
  1. Click on create a new key pair, type a name for your key pair and click on Create key pair.
aws ec2 instance screenshot

Please don't lose your key pair file, or you won't able to access your instance

  1. In Network Settings, click on Create security group and check Allow SSH from Anywhere, Allow HTTPS and Allow HTTP.
aws ec2 instance screenshot
  1. In Network Settings, click on Edit
aws ec2 instance screenshot

Scroll to the bottom of Network Settings and click on Add security group role

aws ec2 instance screenshot

In the new security group rule, in Port range type 3000, in Source select

  1. In Configure storage, create 20 GiB of volume.
aws ec2 instance screenshot

That's it. Now click on Launch instance. And you have an instance running. 🚀

Logging into our EC2 instance

Now that we have our instance up and running, we need to get inside it to set up our server, which we are gonna do using SSH.

Go to Services -> EC2 -> Instances and click on your newly created instance.

aws ec2 instance screenshot

Now copy your Public IPv4 DNS address, which we will use to log into our instance

aws ec2 instance screenshot

If you are on a windows PC then skip the next few steps to log into the instance and checkout docs

Now, for Mac users, open your terminal and cd into the directory where you have downloaded your <YOUR-KEY-NAME>.pem, and type the following commands

chmod 400 \<YOUR-KEY-NAME\>.pem

Fill the fields as per your own details, for example in my case the commands would look like

chmod 400 next-aws-deploy.pem
ssh -i "next-aws-deploy.pem"

Click on yes and if everything goes right then you should see a similar shell like this on your terminal


Congrats!! You have successfully logged into your EC2 instance ⚡️.

Setting up server on EC2 instance

Now that your have your SSH shell open, run the following command

sudo apt update

We need to install Nginx to server our app, you can read more about it here. To intall Nginx run

sudo apt install nginx

Next we'll need Node.js in our Ubuntu machine to run the Next app. We will install Node using NVM, which is a version manager for Node. Please follow the official docs to install NVM and Node or follow the following commands

wget -qO- | bash
source ~/.bashrc
nvm install --lts

The above will install the latest stable version of Node and npm in our machine.

We will use PM2 process manager to run our Next app in the background, you can install it by running

npm i -g pm2

Configuring swap space in memory

Now, since we are on free-tier and we only have 1GB of RAM for our instance, we might run into memory error while building our Next app, so we need to configure swap space in order to prevent that scenario beforehand. Swap is a virtual memory, which basically uses a chunk of your hard disk space when it runs out of RAM, you can read more about it if you want.

To configure swap space, run

sudo fallocate -l 4G /swapfile
sudo chmod 600 /swapfile
sudo mkswap /swapfile
sudo swapon /swapfile
sudo cp /etc/fstab /etc/fstab.bak
echo '/swapfile none swap sw 0 0' | sudo tee -a /etc/fstab

Now if you run free -h in your shell you should be able to see something like

linux shell screenshot

Configuring Nginx server

To configure our server, run

sudo nano /etc/nginx/conf.d/example.conf

This will open a nano editor, paste the following content in it

server {
    listen 80;
    listen [::]:80;
location / {
        proxy_set_header Host $host;
        proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto $scheme;

Then press control + x -> type y -> press enter

Now restart your Nginx service using the following command

sudo systemctl restart nginx

Great! Now we have our Nginx setup, if the above command did not throw an error, you're good to go, otherwise please go through the steps again, or check whether you missed any semicolons in example.conf file.

Setting up CI/CD with GitHub actions

Now, head over to your GitHub repo, click on Actions on the navbar, search for Node.js and click on configure on the Node.js workflow

github actions screenshot

In the edit tab, paste the following content and click on Start commit -> Commit new file

name: Node.js CI
    branches: ["main"]
    runs-on: [self-hosted, example]
        node-version: [18.x]
        # See supported Node.js release schedule at
      - uses: actions/checkout@v3
      - name: Use Node.js ${{ matrix.node-version }}
        uses: actions/setup-node@v3
          node-version: ${{ matrix.node-version }}
          cache: "npm"
      - run: npm ci --legacy-peer-deps
      - run: npm run build --if-present
      - run: pm2 restart example
github actions screenshot

Now in the root directory of your project in GitHub, you should have a .github/workflows/node.js.yml file

Great! Now let's configure a self-hosted runner which will push and deploy our code in the AWS server every time we push to our main branch

In your GitHub repo, go to Settings -> Actions -> Runners -> New self-hosted runner

github actions screenshot

Select Linux as runner image. And you should see the following screen

github actions screenshot

Copy, paste and run every command in the Download box, one by one in your SSH shell where you're connected to the EC2 instance. Your terminal should look something like

github actions screenshot

Now copy the 1st command from the Configure tab and paste it in terminal

github actions screenshot

A shell prompt should appear after that

  • Enter the name of the runner group to add this runner to: [press Enter for Default] press enter for this one
  • Enter the name of runner: [press Enter for ip-172-31-84-153] type "example"
  • This runner will have the following labels: 'self-hosted', 'Linux', 'X64' Enter any additional labels (ex. label-1,label-2): [press Enter to skip] type "example"
  • Enter name of work folder: [press Enter for _work] press enter
shell screenshot

Then, paste the following commands

sudo ./ install
sudo ./ start

At this point if you run ls, you should see a _work folder, in case you don't, just go to your local project, change something, add -> commit -> push, which will trigger a deployment and the _wok folder should appear

Now run

cd _work
pm2 start npm --name "example" -- start

Replace <YOUR-GITHUB-PROJECT-NAME> with your own project name, you can use ls to check the name, which in my case is

cd _work
cd next-aws-deploy
cd next-aws-deploy
pm2 start npm --name "example" -- start

Alright, now you should see something like this on your terminal

shell screenshot

If you do, then GREAT!! Now, if you're ready to see some magic, copy the public dns address of you instance from your EC2 console, which should look something like

Open a new tab in your browser, and type this url


So, in my case, the URL looks something like
web screenshot

If you see your app then CONGRATULATIONS!!! 🚀 We have made it.

Our Next app is successfully deployed on AWS EC2, and we have a CI/CD setup in GitHub, so every time you push to your main branch, your code will be deployed to the server.

If you have a custom domain of your own, which you want to configure with the server with SSL certificate, then stay tuned. We will go through it in the next post.

Thank you for reading.