I was using the instructions on https://matt.berther.io/2015/02/03/how-to-resize-aws-ec2-ebs-volumes/ and http://atodorov.org/blog/2014/02/07/aws-tip-shrinking-ebs-root-volume-size/ to move to a EBS volume with less disk space. In both cases, when I attached the shrinked EBS volume(as /dev/xdva or /dev/sda1 , neither works) to an EC2 instance and start it, it stops on its own with the message
State transition reason Client.InstanceInitiatedShutdown: Instance initiated shutdown
Some more tinkering and I found that the new volume did not have BIOS boot partition. So I used gdisk to make one and copied the MBR from the original volume(that works and using which I can start instances) to the new volume. Now the instance does not terminate but I am not able to ssh into the newly launched instance.
What might be the reason behind this happening? How can I get more information(from logs/AWS Console etc) on why this is happening?
The problem was with the BIOS boot partition. I was able to solve this by first initializing an instance with a smaller EBS volume. Then detaching the volume and attaching it to an instance whihc will be used to copyt the contents fromt he larger volume o the smaller volume. That created a BIOS boot partition which actually works. Simply creating a new one and copying the boot partition does not work.
Now following the steps outlined in any of the two links will help one shrink the volume of root EBS.