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I've downloaded the Amazon Ubuntu EC2 AMI images (from http://uec-images.ubuntu.com/releases/10.04/release/) and I am trying to run it locally on my linux desktop. Is it possible to run the AMI using VirtualBox? Is some other virtualization software required?

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Link provided Istvan is down.

Amazon now provides tool to export your EC2 image as Virtual Machine image ready to run locally:

http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/vmimport/

PS Please note that this method only works for Windows VMs

Export the instance using the ec2-create-instance-export-task command. The export command captures the parameters necessary (instance ID, S3 bucket to hold the exported image, name of the exported image, VMDK, OVA or VHD format) to properly export the instance to your chosen format. The exported file is saved in an S3 bucket that you previously created

October 2016 update: You're able to create VM images from several Unix/Linux AMIs as well

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    EC2 image can be exported as VM from AWS only if it was imported to AWS. From documentation it is clear that native (non-imported VMs) cannot be exported from AWS. – Anuroop May 23 '17 at 7:22

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