Creating a Digital Ocean Instance via Terraform

In this post we will show you how to create an empty Ubuntu Server on Digital Ocean using Terraform.

This post will be used a start for some other tutorials later, to start other services on DigitalOcean using Terraform.

Terraform is a tool that was created by Hashicorp to manage infrastructure via code.

In this post we will assume that following:

  1. You have an account on DigitalOcean
  2. You have filled in the payment info on your account, or charged your account using Paypal for example.
  3. You have pair of SSH keys on your machine.
  4. You are using Mac OS or Linux. Windows should work, but unfortunately I am not covering it here
In this post we do the following
  1. Install Terraform.
  2. Create an API Token for your account on DigitalOcean.
  3. Create a Terraform Project, and explain each piece of the Terraform Code.
  4. Create the Instance.
  5. Delete the Instance.

Install Terraform

Terraform can be installed in a different ways, based on the Operating System. You can always download the most up-to-date binary from the official download page.

On Mac OS you can use Homebrew

brew install terraform

On Linux you can use

sudo cp terraform /usr/local/bin

Just make sure you replace 0.13.4 with the most up-to-date version.

Create an API Token for your account on DigitalOcean.

From your Digitalocean Dashboard, where you land after login, go to Settings

Press on Generate New Token

Enter a name for your Token, and give it both Read and Write permissions

Copy the Generated Token, so that you can you use it for your Terraform Code. You cannot view it again later, but you can regenerate it anytime you want.

Defining our target infrastructure using Terraform

mkdir instance-using-terraform
cd instance-using-terraform

Inside this new folder create a file named terraform.tfvars with the following content

do_token = "YOUR_DIGITAL_OCEAN_API_TOKEN" # Example do_token = "fgdfgh9df9h8gdf9h80dsg087062402346023482640283402432420" ssh_key_path = "THE_PATH_TO_YOUR_PUBLIC_SSH_KEY" # Example : "/home/omar/.ssh/"

Then create a file, where we are going to add the description for our resources. Call this file

Start with the following content:

variable "do_token" {} variable "ssh_key_path" {} terraform { required_providers { digitalocean = { source = "terraform-providers/digitalocean" } } required_version = ">= 0.13" } # Configure the DigitalOcean Provider provider "digitalocean" { token = var.do_token }

This code defines the required version of Terraform, and the Terraform DigitalOcean Provider that is needed to translate our resources to API calls, to Digital Ocean, to create, modify and later delete the instances

Then in the provider "digitalocean" we will pass the DigitalOcean API Token to the provider, so that it can be used for all the calls.

The next thing we will do, is to define our first resources, which is your public SSH Key, that is going to be added to your Digital Ocean account. It is going to be added later to your first instance, when it's created. So that you can access it via SSH

Create another file called

resource "digitalocean_ssh_key" "my-ssh-key" { name = "My SSH Key" public_key = file(var.ssh_key_path) }

Then the final part, create a file called with the following terraform code

resource "digitalocean_droplet" "my-server" { image = "ubuntu-20-04-x64" name = "my-server" region = "fra1" size = "1gb" private_networking = true monitoring = true ssh_keys = [] } output "blank_ip" { value = }

Create our first instance

Now that we are done with our Terraform Code, let's create our instance. When you create a terraform code from scratch, and in some other cases that we will see in more future tutorials, you will need to start with the command terraform init

You know you can proceed when you see this in the output

$ terraform init

Terraform has been successfully initialized!

You may now begin working with Terraform. Try running "terraform plan" to see
any changes that are required for your infrastructure. All Terraform commands
should now work.

With this, we are ready ready to create our resources. The next step is run our first terraform apply command

$ terraform apply
Plan: 2 to add, 0 to change, 0 to destroy.

Do you want to perform these actions?
  Terraform will perform the actions described above.
  Only 'yes' will be accepted to approve.

  Enter a value: 

When you run the apply command, you will see the generated plan for your terraform provider. The plan will give you an idea about what terraform is going to add, modify or delete on your resources. For this first time, you will see that it is going to add two resources. The Public SSH Key, and the Instance (droplet)

Enter yes and press the Enter key to proceed. Creating... Creation complete after 1s [id=28766554] Creating... Still creating... [10s elapsed] Still creating... [20s elapsed] Still creating... [30s elapsed] Creation complete after 33s [id=212664466]

Apply complete! Resources: 2 added, 0 changed, 0 destroyed.


blank_ip =

If you see this, then congrats. You just created your first DigitalOcean server instance using Terraform. Let's try to access this instance. As you see from the output, we told Terraform to print the Public IP4 of the instance so that we can access it. You can tell Terraform to output many other attributes as well, using the output block.

Let's try to access the instance now

$ ssh ubuntu@

Welcome to Ubuntu 20.04.1 LTS (GNU/Linux 5.4.0-45-generic x86_64)

The programs included with the Ubuntu system are free software;
the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the
individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright.

Ubuntu comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by
applicable law.

root@my-server:~# exit
Connection to closed.

As you can see, you managed to have access to your instance via SSH.

Deleting your instance

The last step in this tutorial is to show you how delete your instance, also using Terraform. After you ran the exit command on your instance, and came back to your host bash console. Run the terraform destroy command.

$ terraform destroy
Plan: 0 to add, 0 to change, 2 to destroy.

Changes to Outputs:
  - blank_ip = "" -> null

Do you really want to destroy all resources?
  Terraform will destroy all your managed infrastructure, as shown above.
  There is no undo. Only 'yes' will be accepted to confirm.

  Enter a value: 
Enter yes, so that you see this output afterwards.

  Enter a value: yes Destroying... [id=212664466] Still destroying... [id=212664466, 10s elapsed] Still destroying... [id=212664466, 20s elapsed] Destruction complete after 22s Destroying... [id=28766554] Destruction complete after 0s

Destroy complete! Resources: 2 destroyed.

All the source code for this tutorial can be found here on this Github Repo