Last modified 2 years ago Last modified on 07/17/15 23:49:17

Instructions for using an Amazon-hosted Virtual Machine

In addition to VirtualBox images that you can run on your laptop, we are hosting VM images on the Amazon cloud. You may prefer to use the Amazon VM if VirtualBox is incompatible with your operating system, or if constrained resources make it impossible to run a VM locally.

Amazon VMs allow remote logins, but otherwise provide the same Summer School software as the VirtualBox option. Note, however, that cloud systems are limited to 4 GB RAM and the interface can be a bit slow, depending on your network conncetion.

Software required for Amazon VMs:

  • ssh client, or PuTTY on Windows
  • MS Remote Desktop client, or remmina on Linux

1. Obtain your VM number

Talk to Galois staff and obtain your VM number. Galois will then provide you a host name such as along with a default password

2. Open an SSH tunnel

If using the command-line ssh, run:

ssh -C -L 3389:localhost:3389 peval@HOSTNAME

Where HOSTNAME is the address given by Galois, such as (using your VM number). If using PuTTY, you can also set up an SSH tunnel using these instructions. It is recommended that you enable compression in PuTTY, as this might reduce network-based lag in your session.

On your first connection, you will be required to set a new password. Please choose a strong password that cannot be easily guessed.

You will have to reconnect and log in with your new password. Keep this terminal session open for the duration of your Remote Desktop session. SSH will allow you to make a Remote desktop connection to a local address, and will tunnel the connection through an encrypted channel to the Amazon VM.

You will not be able to exit from this ssh terminal until you close the Remote Desktop connection or quit the client.

3. Connect with Remote Desktop

Start your Remote Desktop client. Connect to address localhost or the specific local IP address you configured, if using PuTTY (e.g. You could try reducing screen resolution for a faster connection.

Upon each connection, xrdp will show a warning ('problem connecting'). This dialog can be safely ignored.

4. Graphical login

The first time you connect (newly assigned VM or after reboot):

  • Username: peval
  • Password: what you set earlier via ssh
  • Port: -1

This first login attempt may be unsuccessful, but do not enter -1 again. Instead,

Every subsequent login:

  • Username: peval
  • Password: what you set earlier via ssh
  • Port: leave the default 5910

The Linux systems on the Amazon cloud use xrdp. This allows for multiple sessions, identified by a "port" number. Due to the RAM overhead of multiple sessions, and limited available RAM, it is highly recommended that you only log into one session. If your connection breaks, reconnect to the same session.

Do not use the graphical Log Out function. This causes problems with xrdp and leaves a stale, unusable session. Instead, just close your Remote Desktop client without logging out from the GUI. You can also 'exit' from your ssh session to close the connection. The graphical session will stay active and then you can reconnect as per steps 2-4.


If you accidentally 'log out' from the GUI desktop, the default session will enter an unusable state. On your next login, you will only get a blank screen. To recover from this situation, use the following command in the ssh terminal to terminate all lingering processes:

killall -u peval

Then, reconnect with ssh (Step 2). Proceed with the steps, treating this like a newly assigned VM, and set the "port" to -1 as you did when the VM was newly assigned. On subsequent connections you can continue logging in as normal with the default port.

Troubleshooting: task bar

The default location of the task bar panel, at the top of the screen, may interfere with your Remote Desktop client menus. You can use the following procedure to move the task bar to the bottom of the screen.

First, right-click the task bar and choose the option shown in the screen shot:

Next, click the "Lock panel" option to unlock this panel. Click Close.

You can now click and drag the panel to a new location, by clicking at its leftmost edge and dragging it. Finally, repeat the first step (first screen shot) to lock the panel in its new place.

Figaro basics

From the terminal:

cd ~/packages/SummerSchool
less README.txt

Files from Challenge Problem 4

cd ~/git/ppaml-cp4