18 February 2013 Joe Chan

Update (05/14/13): Amazon no longer supports the AMI I had linked previously. They now bake the helper scripts into the base Windows AMIs. If you are running an older AMI and don’t have the helper scripts installed, you can install them manually or just deploy a new Windows AMI from the AWS Management Console.

CloudFormation WaitCondition Timed Out Error

I recently ran into an issue with a CloudFormation WaitCondition timed out message. The stack was failing to create with this error:

WaitCondition timed out.
Received 0 conditions when expecting 1

How I got here

I had taken the sample template taken from Bootstrapping AWS CloudFormation Windows Stacks and modified it to use one of my custom AMIs.

Why this happened

Looking at Creating Wait Conditions in a Template:

"SharePointFoundationWaitCondition" : {
   "Type" : "AWS::CloudFormation::WaitCondition",
   "DependsOn" : "SharePointFoundation",
   "Properties" : {
     "Handle" : {"Ref" : "SharePointFoundationWaitHandle"},
     "Timeout" : "3600"

This means that the WaitCondition that is currently awaiting a signal from cfn-signal.exe, which comes from this line in my template:

"cfn-signal.exe -e %ERRORLEVEL% ", { "Fn::Base64" : {
"Ref" : "SharePointFoundationWaitHandle" }}, "\n"

Per the configuration here, the WaitCondition timed out after 3600 seconds without getting a signal.

It turns out cfn-signal.exe doesn’t exist in my AMI because per Bootstrapping AWS CloudFormation Windows Stacks:

The Amazon EBS-Backed Windows Server 2008 R2 English 64-bit – Base for CloudFormation AMI comes supplied with the AWS CloudFormation helper scripts pre-installed in the C:\Program Files (x86)\Amazon\cfn-bootstrap directory.

This template expects the helper scripts to be pre-installed on your AMI, but the AMI I launched with (from the AWS management console quick launch wizard) to create my custom AMI from did not come with the helper scripts pre-installed.


I created my own AMI from the Amazon EBS-Backed Windows Server 2008 R2 English 64-bit – Base for CloudFormation AMI, installed my application, then installed the helper scripts. Afterwards, I created an AMI from that instance and used that as a base for my CloudFormation template (which expects the helper scripts and existence of cfn-signal.exe which now exist!).

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