Some friends of mine at San Jose State in our Operating Systems class find themselves in need of a Linux system. Some of them have Mac’s, some PCs, both of which support and allow virtualization. But the easiest way is probably to use Amazon Web Services Elastic Compute 2 service. This allows creation of a Linux system in the cloud with all the software they need, and if they create the right level, it can absolutely free. See the below chart for the offer as of this writing.
Here are the steps I used to create one, and you can do this, too.
1) Signup for AWS.
Go to http://aws.amazon.com/ and click the “Create a free account” button.
2) Take the Linux Virtual Machine tutorial, if desired.
3) Create a new linux VM
Set your security so that you can only log in from your workstation. If you don’t know your public facing IP address, type “myipaddress” into a Google Search box, and it will tell you.
4) Connect to your new instance.
5) Install compilation tools
sudo yum groupinstall "Development Tools"