Linux on AWS: The Price of Free

AWS is the 800-pound gorilla in cloud computing. Although platforms like Azure and Google Cloud Platform are making great strides, AWS remains the most popular IaaS platform (Infrastructure as a Service). AWS is an attractive option for IT professionals who want to learn more about the platform.
Different flavors of Linux are also common in everything, from web servers to IoT and infosec. It is a good precedent for IT professionals who are just starting out to learn how to use Linux boxes.
Linux on AWS is a popular option due to the popularity of Linux. It allows businesses to run Linux workloads on the cloud. It is a great way to gain hands-on experience while studying for certification exams. We’ll be looking at the AWS Linux offering and discussing the pros and cons.
Linux on AWS: The Operating Systems
Linux on AWS is very robust. Many major distributions can easily be deployed as AMIs (Amazon Machine Images). There are many operating systems and configurations available. We’ll help guide you through the basics.
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Start trainingUnderstanding Hardened Images
Before we get into the various operating systems, it is useful to understand what a “hardened image” is. Hardened images will be available for many of the operating systems that we’ll discuss below. This means that images have been created to meet certain criteria.
Rouge Wave Software has created CentOS 7 Security Hardened images to meet Center for Internet Security (CIS), and OpenSCAP standards.
These “out-of box” hardened images can be useful if your goal is to reduce your workload. You may prefer a less-expensive, stripped-down install if you are looking for something to use and configure from scratch.
Popular Linux Distros on AWS
AWS can support a wide range of operating systems. Some operating systems have better support and documentation than others. There are only a few Linux flavors that can be used for a wide range of purposes. Let’s take a look at the most popular versions. It should be quite easy to get started.
CentOS is Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), but without Red Hat support. CentOS is a great option for those who want to learn Red Hat at a low cost. CentOS can also be used for production if you don’t need RedHat commercial support.
Debian is a well-known operating system that has been used as a launchpad for many other Linux flavors. Debian is the foundation of Ubuntu, Kali and Linux Mint. This operating system is known for its stability and user control. Debian values free software (as in freedom). Although it is stable and customizable, it is not the easiest operating system to use. Consider Debian if you are willing to learn more than Ubuntu.
Kali Linux
AWS does have their own security tools, but Kali Linux is a must-have for infosec professionals. It includes tools for pen-testing, security audits, and more. AWS + Kali could be a good choice if your studies are security-focused.
Red Hat
Many enterprises trust Red Hat and run RHEL-based workloads. RHEL and CentOS are almost identical, but there are some differences. You can run RHEL on AWS free tier if you want to experience the full RHEL experience.
Red Hat and SUSE share many of the same use cases, but there are some differences. One of the most striking differences is SUSE’s use YaST straight out of the box. It all comes down to which fields you choose Red Hat or SUSE.

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