In this module we are going to learn how to launch an instance and how to connect to it. We are going to discuss two ways to connect: (a) with the command line and (b) to a remote desktop, with the benefits of having a graphical interface. We will briefly take a look at how to run graphical applications via the command line (instead of the remote desktop), and we will also set up a web server to publish a very simple website. Finally, we will set up the different cloud storage types, so we can access the storage remotely and directly from our instance.


The following videos go through most of the content in this module and offer a less in-depth description of the subject than the documentation does.

General notes

What is an “instance”?

In Module 5 we have already discussed in more detail what an instance is, but let’s do a little recap at this point. In the NeCTAR Research Cloud, an instance is a virtual machine. Instances running inside the Research Cloud are just like real-life computers, except that they run remotely, “in the Cloud”. Here and when learning about them on the web, you will often find them referred to as “instances”.

Instance vs “local computer”

In this document we will often talk about the “local computer” as opposed to the “instance”. The local computer is the one you are probably sitting in front of right now: It is your home or office computer that you use to connect to the instance. The instance is your virtual machine that is running in the NeCTAR cloud.

You may be familiar with connecting to remote computers already. You may have connected to a remote desktop, or used a command line. The same tools and techniques apply when connecting to running instances. Your instance has a public IP address and can be reached and controlled with any remote access tools you wish to use, after you have set it up for remote access. For example, you can use an SSH terminal, or alternatively connect to your remote desktop.

In this module we will create and launch an instance (a virtual machine, short: VM) and go through the two options on how you can connect to your instance (terminal and remote desktop).

Use of Terminals

Throughout the exercises, we will use a Terminal to type commands. To prepare, make sure you know how to open your Terminal by following instructions below for your Operating System.

On Windows, you will use two terminals:

  • The PuTTY terminal to connect to and type commands for the instance. You will need to download PuTTY: You will need the files PuTTYgen.exe and the file Putty.exe from the official PuTTY website. This Terminal will be referred to as the “ssh terminal”.

  • The Windows command line on your computer. You can open it by typing “cmd” into the search field (on Windows < 8 on “Start”; on Windows 8 in the “App search” field). This Terminal will be referred to as your “local Terminal”.

On Mac and Linux, there are built-in terminals available. You can access them as follows:

  • On Linux Systems, depending on your desktop environment, opening a terminal is usually achieved by clicking on the terminal symbol, or by right click on the desktop and select “Open Terminal”.

  • On a Mac, you can open a terminal as follows:

    1. Bring up “Spotlight Search” by holding down the “Command” and Spacebar” keys simultaneously.

    2. In the search box that appears, type “Terminal” and press the Return key.

    Alternatively, in the Finder, go to Applications > Utilities and you will find the Terminal app there.


The notation throughout the training documents can be interpreted as follows:

Words in italics are used for names and terminology, e.g. name of a software, or name of a computing concept. It may also just emphasise a word in the traditional way. Quotations are also written in italics and are put in between quotatioin marks.

Words in bold are used to highlight words which identify important concepts of a paragraph, to make it easier for users to skim through the text to find a paragraph which explains a certain idea, concept or technology.


Additional information which is optional to read is displayed in info boxes like this one.


Important information is displayed in boxes like this one.


Definition of terms are displayed in boxes of this style.


Possibly specific prerequisites for reading a particular section are contained in this type of box at the beginning of a section.

The use of command line tools is part of this course. In a Terminal, you will be directed to type in commands. Commands are formatted as follows:

command-name argument1 argument2 ... argumentn

Throughout the exercises, when you see a word in pointed brackets, like <this-word>, it means that you have to replace everything inside the brackets, and including the brackets, with whatever is described within the brackets.

For example, if you are prompted to run a command named the-command which takes two arguments:

the-command -f <yourfile>

Then you have to replace the second argument, <yourfile>, with the file name that is being referenced in the exercise. For example

the-command -f thefile.txt

When editing a file, the contents of it will be displayed in a different font and with background colour as follows:

The content of the file
The next line in this file

Output on the command line terminal is printed in boxes formatted as follows:

NectarInstance:~ Jennifer$ whoami