YOLO! You only lab once

Question: Why can I only take a lab once?

We hear this question on a pretty regular basis. “I paid for credits, spent the credits on a lab, took the lab, and you’re telling me I have to spend more credits to take the lab a second time?” It’s a valid question, and the answer is worth exploring (TLDR: subscribe to qwikLABS and take a lab as many times as you want!). 

The hands-on qwikLABS approach is dramatically different from other sources of online training. A lab is not like a book that you buy and read over and over. A lab is more like a sandwich – you only eat it once. 

qwikLABS for lunch

A lab is like a sandwich…

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?