TL;DR: You aren't currently root; use ' sudo su ' Amazon Web Services policies require that the default SSH login "ec2-user" NOT be a root user. As a result, when you initially log in, you will see the following messages: These messages should be considered normal, as ec2-user does not actually have permission to access /etc/asterisk or /www/html. However, if you run ' sudo su ' to reach a root console, you will see what is meant to be displayed if you are logging in as root: sudo su In short, it is perfectly normal to see those initial PHP messages when you first log in. Nothing is "wrong," you simply need to elevate your privileges. If you wish to save yourself this step, you can perform the following step to assume root as soon as you connect if you are using PuTTY. In the PuTTY connection window, choose the SSH section on the left side and enter sudo su in the Remote command text box: WARNING: By setting this option, you will be automatically logged in with root privileges and anything you do once logged in will be performed as root. You can damage your instance if you execute the wrong commands.