This post will show you how to set up an Amazon AWS Free Tier virtual machine (EC2) and how to connect to it via putty. There is no need to read 30 minutes just to experiment with a Linux virtual machine in the cloud. I will try to keep this port as short as possible.


  • A working credit card
  • A working phone number
  • Installed PuTTY
  • 15 minutes

Table of contents:

Setting up an AWS account

This will just be a short description on how to do it, in case someone needs it.

  1. Register on (You will need a credit card and a working phone number).
  2. Select the Basic Plan
  3. Answer the questions about your role to satisfy Jeff Bezos need for information
  4. Hit “Sign in to the Console”
  5. Login as root user using your email from the setup

Setting up an AWS Free Tier virtual machine

  1. In your AWS Management Console find launch virtual machine (EC2)
  2. Tick the “Free tier only” filter to choose the OS you like, I will use Ubuntu 18.04 LTS for this tutorial.
  3. Hit “Next: Configure Instance Details” at the bottom.
  4. Hit next until Step 6 (Configure Security Group). There you can define the ports you want to open or close. This depends on the service you want to install on the server. But for now, just remember that security groups exist and are used to open or close ports. If you want to limit this feel free to set up some rules for extra security.
  5. For now tick “create a new security group” and leave the rules on default.
  6. AWS warns you that your group is open to the world, please consider to change this on productive systems 🙂
  7. Launch your instance.
  8. Fill in the form to create a new key pair. This will be used to connect to your instance via putty. Download and save the key pair in a “.pem” file for later use.

Preparing PuTTY to connect to your AWS EC2 virtual machine

  1. Open PuTTYgen
  2. Make sure you have set the key to RSA and to 2048 bits
  3. Hit load switch to all files and find your .pem file
  4. You will get a message telling you “Successfully imported foreign key…”
  5. Type a passphrase (this will be used to decrypt the file when connecting to the machine) and hit “Save private key” save it for later use.
  6. Find the IP of your Machine Services -> EC2 -> Instances copy and paste it to PuTTY.
  7. In PuTTY head over to Connection -> SSH -> Auth and browse for your “.ppk” file.
  8. Switch back to the session and give your session a name in order to save it.
  9. Hit open and login to the machine, if you used Ubuntu 18.04 the username will be ubuntu and the password will be the one from generating the key with PuTTYgen.
  10. Enjoy your Free Tier AWS virtual machine.

Some open-source projects to try on your AWS VM

Jitsi open-source multiplatform videoconferencing

Since corona is forcing you to use nasty software like Zoom you could use this opportunity to install Jitsi on your cloud server. They have a step by step tutorial using Ubuntu. You can find it here.

Mediawiki the free and open-source wiki engine

Well everyone knows Wikipedia, this is just the technology behind it. You can try it on Ubuntu by following this tutorial.

To install on-premise is to suffer.

To install in the cloud is bliss.

Zen master Xiakit