4.2 Azure Ubuntu Virtual Machine

20200223 Azure is the second largest cloud provider, delivering easy access to compute and data storage that can be created in a matter of minutes. An enterprise account or credit card (to establish identity) is required to use Azure. A free USD200 credit is available for a one month trial. Some cloud services, such as the cognitive services discussed in Chapter ??, provide free access to a good number of service calls per month. This is ideal for personal use.

Azure provides virtual machines in many sizes and they can be resized (CPUs, RAM, Disk) as required. This is a good option for a professionally supported enterprise grade Ubuntu platform which is next to trivial to get set up with Ubuntu which is a standard offering on Azure. For personal use it may be on the more expensive side but remains an option. Once a Ubuntu server is set up it can be connected to through the secure shell (ssh) or by using X2Go for a GUI remote desktop connection.

An Azure D2s v3 (2 virtual CPUs and 8GiB of memory) is a baseline virtual machine for installing Ubuntu on Azure. The VM can be shutdown when not in use and there is no compute cost when the machine is shut down, though disk storage is still a cost. With some daily use and the machine shut down for roughly 50% every day it is about $2 per day ($60 per month). Automatic rules can shut the machine down at 7pm every evening. Cheaper VMs are available for as little as 20c per day ($6 per month) but they are not particularly well resourced, though may be all that is required for some tasks.

The default system disk is a 30GiB Premium SSD and will cost about 20c per day irrespective of whether the VM is running. An additional 1TB of premium SSD is about $6 per day or according to Azure Pricing is about $186 per month. This is storage allocated and paid for whether it is in use or not—it’s a fixed overhead.

When creating an Azure Ubuntu VM note that a new disk can always be created later and attached to the VM so it need not be chosen at VM creation time.

Once the server is created, go to the virtual machine’s overview page on the Azure Portal. Click on the empty DNS name and provide a name for your server so that it can be easily referenced. For example, myhub.australiacentral.cloudapp.azure.com. Once the machine is created it can be connected to via ssh: {bash eval=FALSE} $ ssh -X myhub.australiacentral.cloudapp.azure.com

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