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I really like the Amazon EC2 environment, and thought I'll spend a bit of time playing around with various types of public (Windows!) AMI servers. But testing has been a bit, well, questionable. Some of my findings:

  1. It's very difficult to know what exactly a specific public EC2 image is supposed to be doing. Many images come with little to no information.
  2. I can't seem to find the passwords to log onto various windows images. Why are they public if they can't be used!?
  3. Lots of images are based on S3, and not EBS backed. This is very annoying, as S3 takes a lot longer to do pretty much anything (stop, image etc.) I am only testing images here, so of-course I don't question the value of S3 for other attributes.
  4. The description of what an image does is almost useless and many times confusing.

Have others come across these EC2 issues. Again, my interest was to just play around with public images for testing/experimentation/etc, and therefore these issues may not be too relevant for more normal EC2 deployment uses.

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3 Answers 3

  1. I get annoyed by this too; AWS doesn't enforce any kind of description for AMIs, so the content is completely up to the AMI creator.
  2. You have to retrieve the password after your instance is started. See the "Connect to Your Windows Instance" section in the EC2 Getting Started Guide.
  3. You have the choice to save to either S3 or EBS when you create a new AMI. the ability to store AMIs on EBS is quite recent, so a lot of older AMIs are S3-backed by default.
    1. See 1.
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2 You have to retrieve the password after your instance is started. See the "Connect to Your Windows Instance" section in the EC2 Getting Started Guide.

I believe this is only for an initial Windows startup from Amazon's base images. If an image is modified and stored as public then surely Amazon can't retrieve a password (ie it's most likely been changed, and PW retrieval wouldn't work anyway because it's encrypted under a dedicated key). Am I missing something?

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This is correct - if it is a modified version (i.e. not an Amazon provided image) then it is up to the AMI creator to provide the password. Amazon cannot retrieve it for you. –  emtunc Feb 3 '11 at 21:30

Honestly not trying to be a troll, but the "windows way" isn't very compatible with "The EC2 way" . Does your application work in Linux? Perhaps you should try using Linux + ec2

Otherwise, perhaps Rackspace's Windows servers might be a better fit for your needs.

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Instead of voting me down, why not just answer the question? This isn't a windows-bashing answer, it's just that the "EC2 way", aka rapid creation and deletion of servers aided by automatic/programmatic configuration isn't currently very compatible with the "windows way" of administering servers- at least that I'm aware of. If I am wrong, then please post another answer with some advice on how to solve this problem. –  robbyt Apr 5 '11 at 18:07

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