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Using AWS EC2 for free

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 and click the “Create a free account” button.

    You will need a credit card of some kind, but it won’t be charged unless you exceed limits, and you should have no problem staying below them.
  Be sure to select “Basic” as your support tier. More support costs more money.

2) Take the Linux Virtual Machine tutorial, if desired.


3) Create a new linux VM

      Start by signing into your new account on the AWS Management Console.
      Then click Launch Instance on the AWS Management Console.
      Choose a Free tier compatible instance. I chose Amazon Linux.

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.

Once your new instance is running, create some SSH keys and connect!


5) Install compilation tools

   For the Operating Systems class, you will need compilation tools. You can install them per this note by entering the follow command:
 sudo yum groupinstall "Development Tools"
That should get you going from here. Post comments if you need more help, or if I have added something incorrect.