The purpose of this post is to describe, step by step, my attempt to set up an OpenVPN server on a Mikrotik RouterBOARD 750 and create a working tunnel from an outside machine (AWS EC2 Windows Server 2008 R2) to this OpenVPN server so that an SMB server on the local network can be accessed from said outside machine. The following diagram gives an overview of the setup:
(Ouch! Looks like WordPress update to 3.1.3 wiped all the modifications I made to the default theme. Admittedly I should've seen that coming.)
What I want to do is basically attach a key-value pair to an EC2 instance when launching it in AWS Management Console and read the value inside the instance when it's running. To be more specific, I use this to to set a key called environment that can have values like dev, stage and prod so that the Django config can decide which database to connect to etc. while starting up. I suspect that in Boto the current instance can somehow be referenced in a more direct fashion but this works as well.
First, append the following to /etc/profile:
# See: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/625644/find-out-the-instance-id-from-within-an-ec2-machine
export EC2_INSTANCE_ID="`wget -q -O - http://169.254.169.254/latest/meta-data/instance-id || die \"wget instance-id has failed: $?\"`"
test -n "$EC2_INSTANCE_ID" || die 'cannot obtain instance-id'
export EC2_AVAIL_ZONE="`wget -q -O - http://169.254.169.254/latest/meta-data/placement/availability-zone || die \"wget availability-zone has failed: $?\"`"
test -n "$EC2_AVAIL_ZONE" || die 'cannot obtain availability-zone'
export EC2_REGION="`echo \"$EC2_AVAIL_ZONE\" | sed -e 's:\\([0-9][0-9]*\\)[a-z]*\\$:\\\\1:'`"
Now we know the region and instance ID. Next, install Boto by running the following commands:
zcat boto-2.0b4.tar.gz | tar xfv -
python ./setup.py install
from boto import ec2
ec2_instance_id = os.environ.get('EC2_INSTANCE_ID')
ec2_region = os.environ.get('EC2_REGION')
conn = ec2.connect_to_region(ec2_region)
reservations = conn.get_all_instances()
instances = [i for r in reservations for i in r.instances]
for instance in instances:
if instance.__dict__['id'] == ec2_instance_id:
Plan to use an in-house box to run a XenServer to host XP instances (I need multiple Windows desktops for "testing" purposes if anyone asks) had to be scrapped because the box was simply too loud and I couldn't get the wireless bridge to work – not that the latter would have helped anyway because like I said the box really is loud and relocating it anywhere inside our flat just wouldn't lower the noise level enough for it to not disturb sleep.
Which brings us here: launching a Windows Server 2008 R2 instance on Amazon EC2 and setting up Remote Desktop Services to enable multiple simultaneous client sessions. Below we can see Alice, Bob, Charlie and Dave each happily running their own Remote Desktop session at the same time:
The whole thing runs "tolerably" smoothly even on the severely memory-limited Micro Instace:
At $0.035 per hour this can be considered cheap. And, the server can be shut down when it's not needed in which case the only charge will be for the admittedly humonguos (35 gigabytes) Windows root partition. And of course those clients would need Client Access Licenses which adds a one time cost of roughly $100 per client. Now, to directly compare this kind of setup with having an actual physical server would indicate poor judgement as both have their strong and weak points but costs can be compared. So here we have an estimate of what the total cost of running a server like this for a three-year period would be, sans CALs:
Storage (35 GB)
I/O (10 IOPS)
Transfer In (1 GB/m)
Transfer Out (10 GB/m)
Total Cost (Euros)
Per Month (Euros)
Then again, that 600 € would get you two HP Proliant MicroServers. Yet, then again, that price does not include Windows licenses and they would need a physical location, electricity, an Internet connection – an so on.