Final Countdown

I’ll make this quick, since time is running out. Tomorrow night, the AWS 10 year celebration comes to an end, and so do free AWS labs (but intro labs are always free – as they were even before this event). You’ve accomplished a lot in the last two weeks. Be proud of the effort you’ve put in!

Finish strong – keep up your momentum and sneak in one or two final freebies before the price tags return. On April 1, AWS labs will return to normal prices.

Congratulations once again to AWS on 10 years of success, and happy lab-taking!

PS: Do you like numbers? Stay tuned for some stats on how much you accomplished since March 14 🙂

Hi, my name is PuTTY

You’re cruising thru a lab at the speed of light when WHAM! “Using PuTTY….” Wait, what’s putty? Why do I need it? How do I use it? Is this a drywall tutorial? I’m so confused!

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. PuTTY shows up in many of the AWS labs (normally $8-$15 each, now free of charge – but only thru March 31), and often people have a few questions.

Do I need it?

PuTTY is a (free) SSH client. It gives you a command line tool, and allows you to control the remote host you create as part of your lab. You need PuTTY if you are using a Windows PC. If you use a Mac or a Linux machine, you’ll follow a different set of instructions.

Where do I get it? Is it free? Is it safe to download?

Read about it here. (Safely) download the most recent version here.

Once I get it, how do I use it? Screenshots please?

Once you get to PuTTY in the lab instructions, find the putty.exe file (likely in your Downloads folder) and double-click to launch it. Instructions will vary (so follow the instructions in your lab), but you’ll probably want to enter a host name like this*:

Enter host name for your PuTTY session
*If you’re like me, you’ll have to go back and add “ec2-user@” in front of the public DNS when you realize your connection didn’t work the first time.

Expand the Connection tree, then expand SSH, then click (don’t expand) Auth. 

Upload your PPK key for your PuTTY session
If you do expand Auth, no biggie, just collapse the tree (otherwise you won’t see the field you need).

You’ll see a field for your private key – browse to the PPK file provided by the lab (likely in your Downloads folder).

Wait, PPK file? Where do I find that?

Both the PPK file and the PEM file (if you need it) can be downloaded from your lab instructions.

Finding your PEM/PPK files
Find the Connection Details at the top right of your lab instructions screen.
PEM and PPK Download Tool
Click the dropdown to download each file.

When you connect, you might see a message like this (fascinating right?) – click yes to make the connection.

PuTTY Alert…and you’re in! Now you’re a pro. When was the first time you used PuTTY?

Weekend at qwikLABS

Got some free time this weekend? (Snowed in? Bracket busted? Or just motivated to master the AWS Cloud?) Take advantage of qwikLABS’ unlimited free AWS lab event (all part of #AWSCloud10) before time runs out (on March 31).

Not sure where to start? If you’re familiar with AWS already and want to skip the intros, check these labs out (while they’re free of charge):

If you are new to AWS, get your first look at the AWS Console in less than 30 minutes with Intro to EC2 – then dive deeper into more complex labs like Building a Media Sharing Website – Part 1.

Does one of these catch your eye? If you’re feeling ambitious, take a look at our Quests (can you earn a badge in a weekend?).

Even if you don’t have time to squeeze in a free lab or two, have a great weekend!

Challenge yourself to a Quest

We noticed a massive jump in Quest selections this week as a result of #AWSCloud10 – so we thought this would be a good time to talk about how qwikLABS Quests work.

Each Quest consists of a collection  of labs that focus on a specific area of AWS organized by technologies, specific services (e.g. Amazon Web Services) and practical use cases.

At the end of a Quest, you get two things:

  • Advanced knowledge of that specific area of AWS
  • A shareable badge to show what you accomplished (for your resume, social media profiles, and more)

The most popular Quest right now? Compute & Networking. Second most popular? Solutions Architect – Associate exam prep.

While we’re celebrating #AWSCloud10, all labs are offered at no cost, so now is the perfect time to take a Quest or two and add to your badge collection (psst, normally the most expensive Quest is Deployment & Management).

Don’t have the bandwidth to finish a Quest between now and the 31st? No worries – there is no time limit on Quests. Enroll in a quest now, take advantage of as many labs as you’re able to (in any order you want) at no charge, then finish at your own pace later (after March 31, you may have to pay for some labs).

What Quest are you taking next?