Preparing For The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Level Exam

Amazon Web Services has done nothing short of disrupting the traditional data center paradigm. Large corporations to small startups are testing, prototyping, and sometimes flat out converting large scale data centers to Amazon Web Servers. Running applications on Amazon Web Services isn’t exactly the same as running them in traditional hosting environments. In some ways it feels the same and in others it feels, well, incredibly better.

With AWS we can build our applications on top of a scaleable and elastic, fault tolerant infrastructure that helps react automatically to any change in demand for your app. Here is the most common misconception of the cloud, it’s not magical. It doesn’t just “do everything for you”. You still need to build on it, code it, automate it, configure it, network it, and everything else. You just do it differently now. To help prepare organizations and individuals for this process, Amazon recently announced a certificate program called AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Level.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to sit in on this exam and pass it on the first try. Without breaking any NDA’s I agreed to while taking the exam, I’m going to attempt to help you “prepare” for the exam. After reading several other posts on the internet, I notice that they are pushing you disproportionately towards services such as VPC (Virtual Private Cloud). Lets see if we can’t clear a few things up and help you prepare for this exam.


My Favorite Linux Tools for Windows

Let’s face it, no matter how much we wish that it weren’t true or how much we try to avoid it, we all have to use Windows some time. In fact, if you work in Information Technology, odds are you have to use it more than you would like. You may even be forced to use it on your local desktop, either by corporate policy or because some Windows application won’t run in Linux, native or Wine. So, let’s talk about some tools and applications that we can use in Windows that either make it more “Linux-like” or facilitate our access and administration of Linux.


The Cron Daemon

Scheduling Recurring Tasks on Linux Using Cron

Cron is a daemon used to schedule any kind of task you can imagine.  It is useful to send out emails on system or program statistics, do regular system maintenance, make backups, or do any task you can think of.  There are similar programs on other Operating Systems.  On Mac OS X, cron has been replaced with another daemon called launchd.  On Windows you have the aptly named “Task Scheduler”.  If you are craving a GUI for Linux, Gnome-based systems like Ubuntu, include Gnome Schedule which acts as a nice front end for cron.


Linux: SSH Tunneling, Port Redirection and Security

At this point, we can say that using telnet as a means of accessing servers is effectively dead. It took awhile, but the security concerns associated with it were finally elevated to the point where everyone finally made the choice to move to SSH. Why did we stop there? SSH provides one of the most secure methods of accessing a system and its services that is available anywhere. In addition, as you will see in this article, it can be used to access services that are traditionally not secure and should really never be used without it. Let’s dive in.


What I Learned At The Linux Academy

This is a great opportunity provided by the Linux Academy and for me, especially is beneficial, as my primary role is in windows environment and time and again, I need to manage or am pulled in to manage Linux environments. This course serves as bridging gap and helps me come up to speed with Linux quickly and the fun thing is I can try out on real Linux environment, without getting into the hassles of creating and managing distributions. Though definitely in future, I may need to do this, but this exercises and labs are a good starting point to get things straight.


Linux: GRUB Bootloader

Most of us simply install our favorite distribution, accepting many/most of the defaults, including the boot loader setup, without a second thought. However, there has been a lot of time and effort spent on the bootloader over the years, GRUB taking the place of the venerable LILO. GRUB offers a lot of flexibility in controlling our system during boot, allowing us to have Linux along with (boo) Windows on a nicely partitioned system. Let’s talk about some of the options we have and how to make those changes.


IPv4: DeMystified

We all ‘know’ what an IP address is and what it’s significance in the age of the internet is. What remains a mystery to a large number of people however (surprisingly even those in the technology industry) is exactly what an IP address is, in detail, and what the component parts represent and the significance of each. Today, we are going to define those components and talk a bit about each in an effort to make things a bit clearer as well as prepare you for the eventual (and inevitable) move to IPv6 (the subject of a series of later articles). Let’s get started…


Source Control: Fast Start With Subversion

There are many source control mechanisms in use for all types of projects, large and small. Some tools are much more complex than others and better suited to large distributed teams. However, what about an easy to setup, easy to configure, easy to manage tool that can offer version control for a large number of files without eating a huge amount of storage? Let’s dive in with a simple Subversion (often abbreviated as SVN) install and set up a repository for some local documents.



How To Display A Custom Password Requirement Message For Linux Password Changes

I have implemented a new passwd policy and am forcing users to change their password. The problem I’m facing is I don’t they dont’ know what the password requirements are. How can I communicate this to them before they change their password using passwd?

That’s a great question, and it’s actually really simple. What we have to do is create our own custom script that displays the password requirements and then calls the passwd program. And we have to call the script whenever  a user types passwd command at the prompt.



Linux Commands For Beginners: SUDO

Sudo, the one command to rule them all.  It stands for “super user do!”  Pronounced like “sue dough” As a Linux system administrator or power user, it’s one of the most important commands in your arsenal.  Have you ever tried to run a command in terminal only to be given “Access Denied?”  Well this is the command for you!  But, with great power comes great responsibility!  It is much better than logging in as root, or using the su “switch user” command.  Read on to see what sudo can do for you!