Show Off Ubuntu Desktop on Cloud

Posted by Ahmed Kamal // November 12th, 2010 // Uncategorized

Want to show off your Ubuntu desktop in the cloud ? Perhaps you want to demo it to some Windows or OSX friends. Perhaps new users at your loco event want to play with Ubuntu for a bit. Well, look no further. In this article I will create an Ubuntu maverick 10.10 desktop in the Amazon ec2 cloud, connect to it using the x2go terminal server, which leverages the excellent NX remote display libraries

Start by launching the following AMI (ami-1a837773). I chose the official Ubuntu 32bit ami, so that we can run it on a m1.small instance. If you're not sure how to launch this instance, you might want to review my point-n-click guide. After launching the instance and logging in, I do my customary

ssh ubuntu@xxxxx   #replace with your instance's public dns name
sudo -i
apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade -y

Let's install x2go terminal server
# gpg --keyserver --recv-keys C509840B96F89133
# gpg -a --export C509840B96F89133 | apt-key add -
# echo "deb lenny main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
# apt-get update
# apt-get install x2goserver-home

Optional step: Switch system to libjpeg-turbo

I like to break my Ubuntu system by installing unsupported software, so I will be switching the system's default libjpeg into a newer variant that utilizes your CPU's SIMD instruction set to provide better performance. Since connecting to a desktop remotely, heavily utilizes jpeg compression I suspected this step would provide me a performance boost. It is however not recommended, especially to someone who wouldn't be comfortable fixing his system using console only. You need to do the following on the ec2 server and on your own system. I am assuming 32bit systems, you can 32/64 bit versions here
# wget '' -O libjpeg-turbo_1.0.1_i386.deb
# dpkg -i libjpeg-turbo_1.0.1_i386.deb
Selecting previously deselected package libjpeg-turbo.
(Reading database ... 25967 files and directories currently installed.)
Unpacking libjpeg-turbo (from libjpeg-turbo_1.0.1_i386.deb) ...
Setting up libjpeg-turbo (1.0.1-20100909) ...

# ls -l /usr/lib/
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 17 2010-11-12 12:35 /usr/lib/ ->
# rm -rf /usr/lib/
# ln -s /opt/libjpeg-turbo/lib/ /usr/lib/

Install the Ubuntu desktop itself (The GUI)
apt-get install ubuntu-desktop
This takes a good 10-15 minutes. After which your system is ready. Grab yourself a favourite x2go client here. Send your friends links to the Windows and OSX clients and let them see the light :) In my case I just used my Ubuntu system to connect remotely. So I added the same repo we added before and installed "x2goclient" which is a qt4 client. Here are the settings I used


I am using my ssh key to login to the Ubuntu virtual desktop. If you're using Win/OSX and perhaps wouldn't want to use the ssh key, reset the Ubuntu user password and connect using the password. Once connected we see our familiar and beautiful Ubuntu desktop


I was pleasantly surprised to hear the drums-beating sound of Ubuntu booting! wow! That was just awesome. x2go uses pulseaudio to remotely connect and bring audio right to your desktop. I also could easily forward my local files to the instance in the cloud. Anyone already using Ubuntu desktop in a cloud ? let me know about it ? What kind of use cases you'd use such a setup for ? If you have some fancy setup, let me know about it as well

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