This page looks best with JavaScript enabled

How to Use Amazon's EC2 (back in 2011)

 ·  ☕ 6 min read  ·  👨‍💻 Amrith
This post hasn’t been updated since it was originally published in 2011 with an intention to retain the old screenshots of AWS EC2. Although the UI has changed significantly, the underlying concepts remain same.


Cloud computing? Not again! that’s too much of hype which I haven’t had a chance to touch and feel.

Most of the users who know/heard but haven’t ‘touched’ the cloud

Touch the Cloud

I am not going to talk about Cloud computing and blah blah because you can find that in various websites by simply googling it. Well, that being said, no one has a proper definition.

This is one of the leading Cloud computing provider, Amazon’s definition of it’s EC2 range:

“Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.”

Getting started

The goal is to get “compute” capacity from the “internet” which is “fast to provision” and “scalable”.



  • Amazon account (with access to AWS management console).
  • Any Windows machine or any machine which can use Terminal services(RDP).
  • Hybridfox for Mozilla Firefox (optional).
  • You can register with Amazon Web Service(AWS) for free and till now everything I did here has been for free.

P.S: Anyone who has entered his credit card information can access the AWS management console and create micro instances for 1 year for free.

Kick-off in a nutshell


  • Be sure you have all the Amazon credentials, all are available under Account>Security Credentials>
  • Download your X.509 Certificate which will usually be in the form of ‘example.pem’.
  • Keep your ‘Access Keys’ available which are also in the same page, you will need the ‘Access Key ID’ and the ‘Security Access Key’ to access via Hybridfox/Elasticfox.

Create the instance

  • Login to your AWS Console using your credentials.
  • Select EC2 tab for Compute infrastructure - Servers.
  • Select ‘Launch Instance’ to select the available instances.
  • You’ll find three tabs - Quick Start, My AMIs and Community AMI.
  • To make things easy for any user to understand, I will select a Windows 2008 Server under Quick Start. There are many instances available ranging from FreeBSD to Redhat.
  • In the next page, you’ll find options to select the number of instances and the type: ‘Micro’ has the lowest configuration(low RAM, 1 core,1 CPU unit) while ‘High-CPU’ will be maximum available configuration(large RAM, more cores, more CPU units).
  • Select the availability zone based on your location (in US).
  • In the next page advanced options related to monitoring, termination protection will be displayed. Use appropriately.
  • Select a Key-Value pair for you instance for reference. A form of metadata, tags consist of a case-sensitive key/value pair, are stored in the cloud and are private to your account. You can create user-friendly names that help you organize, search, and browse your resources. For example, you could define a tag with key = Name and value = Webserver
  • Select your existing key-pairs, the one created under 2 in the Be-prepared (above).
  • Selct/Create your security group. You might want to create one where you have RDP, SSH, SMTP etc enabled.
  • Thats all! The next page will have a summary of your instance and a button to Launch. It might take a few minutes for the instance to be available. You will see your instance to be ‘pending’ and then in a few minutes it will ‘running’.

Launching you instance

  • You will need two things to launch your server(instance):
  • Link to connect to the instance via RDP.
  • User name and password.
  • Generating password will take time and will be ready in a few minutes(upto 30 minutes) and can be generated by right clicking on the instance and selecting ‘Get Windows password’. You will have to provide the contents of you ‘example.pem’ file generated under 2 of ‘Be-prepared’ above.
  • Right click on the instance and find an option that says ‘connect’ or ‘connect to instance’ in Hybrid/Elasticfox. For a windows instance, you will find the RDP link which you need to enter into your RDP client and use the password that is generated above.
  • Thats all! Now start using your server!


  • Hybridfox was a Firefox add-on that attempts to get the best of both worlds of popular Cloud Computing environments, Amazon EC2(public) and Eucalyptus(private). The idea is to use one Hybridfox tool, to switch seamlessly between Amazon and Eucalyptus accounts in order to manage your “Cloud Computing” environment.


Sign into AWS Console using Amazon AWS credentials and select EC2 in services
You should Screen like the one below:
image alt
EC2 Console: The good old(literally) EC2 Console home page
Select the AMI: AMIs are disks with the OS loaded
image alt
Choose AMI: AMIs help you choose from a variety of preconfigured OSes
Selecting and customizing your instance:
Select your instance type from a wide range of available instances
Select the Number and type on instances
image alt
Select Instance type: Select the instance type had been very simple back then
Provide a user-friendly name to your Instance by tagging them
image alt
Tagging: Give a friendly name by tagging your instances
Select or Create your security Group
image alt
Security Groups: EC2 firewall for the network interface card
Selecting the Key Pair: Key Pairs help you generate the password for Windows. You can use the Private Key to login to a Linux machine
image alt
Key Pair: Select the KeyPair that you would like to choose
Confirm launch of the instance with the settings you requested
image alt
Confirm Launch: Select Launch after you are happy with the settings you selected
Find your instance running in your AWS Console
image alt
Confirm Launch: View the instance running on the EC2 console page
Find your instance running in your AWS Console from Hybridfox which was a Firefox plugin
image alt
Confirm Launch: View the instance running on the EC2 console page
In EC2 console, Select the option to retrieve Windows Password.
Paste your Private key that you have saved earlier and you will find the option to Decrypt Passoword.
Note: This screen will take several minutes to appear .
image alt
Retrieve Password: Enter the Key Pair to retrieve the Windows Password
Use the username/password to connect to the computer using RDP or any other equivalent tools.
image alt
View Password: Store the public IP, Username and password which you will use to login to the Windows machine
Use your RDP Client to connect to the machine with the details you have.
image alt
Mission accomplished: Now you have a Windows 2008 instance ready for use in minutes
This post was originally published here on 01 April 2011
Share on

Cloud Technology Leader