Amazon EC2 For Windows The Basics – Part II

There is a lot of documentation about running Amazon EC2 and if you are having trouble Amazon will quickly direct you to the forums for questions, however there isn’t really a resource from a Windows centric developer to other Windows gurus.  As I 20 year Window veteran, I am going to try to fill that gap with a few blog posts entitled “Amazon EC2 for Windows The Basics”


I know it is suppose to work, and I know this will get fixed.  However, as of December 2009:


“Sometimes windows instances do not start.”


I don’t want to be negative or point out a bug, however it is really frustrating when you don’t know this might be the case and it happens to you.  It is less frustrating it you know this might happen and what do about it.


The first thing is to figure out if the instance started or not.  The way to do this is look at the system log from the AWS management console.  It should look like something like this:


System Log


It should say: “Windows is Ready to use” and it should have a password entry.  If is blank then the instance didn’t start correct.


The password entry is very important.  If you are starting a new instance from one of the provided Amazon EBSs or AMIs then the instance will come with a preset administrator password that can be decrypted with your key pair that you created to start that instance.  The AWS Management consoles reads the password from the System Log and it gives you an option of decrypting the password.  If you don’t get this password line in the System Log then the “Get Windows Password:” option will come up with a blank dialog.  Without the password line you can’t get the administrator password to log into the box.   If you are booting one of your saved AMIs or EBSs then you already know the password and don’t need this line.


Watch the system log for updates. That being said


“You will need to wait for the instance to start, up to 5 minutes for an ESB image.”


Even after the management console says the instance is in the started, it still takes a few minutes to get the required output in the system log.  After ten minutes you need to reboot the instance – only if you know the password or the system log has displayed the password.  Rebooting a instance that hasn’t displayed the password will not help.  Rebooting doesn’t reset the password.


If you see a blank System log and have waited 10 minutes (for an ESB image), then you need to terminate and restart.  If you see the password in the System Log, however not the “Windows is Ready to use” then you can try rebooting (which works better then terminating).


Saved AIM images that have been saved to your S3 account can take up to 20 minutes to boot.




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