How to: Free Computer
via AWS Elastic Compute Cloud
The modern world is so rich and tangible. We all have access to an unlimited cache of knowledge and power, just like a bad Syfy Channel movie. If that wasn’t enough to make you love life, Amazon will warm your cold heart. They give anyone in the world a free computer. If you have internet at least. I’ll show you how to get one, and how to setup your new ‘machine’ to start doing your bidding.
Go to http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/ Click the “Try Amazon EC2 For Free” Button. The shiny one. Or sign-in to Amazon and go to your EC2 Dashboard via AWS Management Console.
From the EC2 Dashboard, click Launch Instance. This will show you a list of Server OS’. Choose one that fits your feet and on to step 3.
Remember to select the “Free Tier Only” Checkbox.
Choose an Instance Type. The Free Tier is usually the cheapest one of the bunch. You can easily upgrade later. You can launch your instance now or configure it further. The other options are more advanced and you don’t need to mess with them yet.
Here is the cool part. How does Amazon protect your computer from just anyone? PGP. Amazon will give you a private key file. This file is just like a key. Every time you want to log-in to your instance, Amazon will request this file. It’s extremely important that you keep this .pem document safe. Probably not a good file to keep on the desktop.
Ding! You’re up and running and it’s time to rock. Connecting to this baby is a piece of candy. You’re going to SSH in like normal. However, you also need to send your .pem private key. On the top-left of the EC2 console, you will see a link to Connect. This opens a panel displaying all the info you need to open a tunnel. From here you can also use a SSH console from in the browser. Really neat.
ssh -i /path/to/key firstname.lastname@example.org
Bam. I like to make aliases to stuff like this.
Once connected you should see something like this:
There you go, we have a literally free computer. It’s powerful too. Here’s an example of some fun stuff you can do with even the free instances. I made a TwitterBot that retweets random people based on a random subject. Using this instance, I can run this script via cronjob. Because it’s on the cloud I don’t have to worry about if my laptop is on or not. Now replace this script with spiders or mailers or anything. Really cool potential.
All and all this is extremely cool to me. Thanks Amazon for such awe-inspiring goodness. I’m excited to continue experimenting with EC2!