How To: Free Computer

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.

Step 1.

Go to Click the “Try Amazon EC2 For Free” Button. The shiny one. Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 3.10.47 PMOr sign-in to Amazon and go to your EC2 Dashboard via AWS Management Console.Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 3.16.01 PM

Step 2.

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.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 3.18.18 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-02 at 3.19.05 PM

Step 3.

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.

If you understand SSH, consider configuring your security settings. You can whitelist ip addresses to enable only certain machines to SSH into your new E2 instance. Launch when ready!
Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 3.22.15 PM

Step 4.

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.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 3.34.21 PM

Step 5.

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 ec2-user@instance.ip

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 3.58.11 PM

Bam. I like to make aliases to stuff like this.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 3.38.55 PM

Once connected you should see something like this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 3.39.23 PMThis is a good time to install any updates.

Step 6.

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.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 3.47.25 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-02 at 3.50.48 PM Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 3.48.01 PM

All and all this is extremely cool to me. Thanks Amazon for such awe-inspiring goodness. I’m excited to continue experimenting with EC2!


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