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Step-by-Step: Build Linux VMs in the Cloud with Windows Azure
Windows Azure Virtual Machines provides Linux and Windows VM support

The Windows Azure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering supports running Windows virtual machines and Linux virtual machines in the Cloud. In this article, I provide step-by-step guidance for running a new Linux virtual machine in the cloud using our Windows Azure platform.


That’s right, Linux!

Windows Azure runs Linux VMs as a first-class citizen on our cloud platform, with support in the Preview offering for four common Linux distributions:

  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 11 SP2
  • OpenSUSE 12.1
  • CentOS 6.3
  • Ubuntu 12..04.1 and 12.10

The best news is … you can try this out for FREE by signing up for a FREE Windows Azure 90-day Trial of our Virtual Machine Preview.

NOTE: When activating your FREE Trial for Windows Azure, you will be prompted for credit card information.  This information is used only to validate your identity and your credit card will not be charged, unless you explicitly convert your FREE Trial account to a paid subscription at a later point in time.

What about custom Linux images?

If the standard Linux platform images don’t meet your exact needs, there’s several options for leveraging or customizing other images for Windows Azure VMs …

  • We’ve recently announced our own Open Source VM Depot for Linux images for Windows Azure VMs. 
  • SUSE Studio provides integrated Windows Azure support for deploying customized SLES and OpenSUSE images directly to Windows Azure.  You’ll need to enable support for Windows Azure deployment under your SUSE Studio Account Settings by activating “Experimental Features”  after registering on the SUSE Studio site.
  • We also provide step-by-step guidance for preparing your own Linux images for use with Windows Azure if you need further customization flexibility.

Step-by-Step: Build a Linux Apache Web Server VM in the Windows Azure Cloud
In this scenario, we’ll work through the process of provisioning a new Linux Apache web server running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP2 in a virtual machine on the Windows Azure cloud platform.

  1. To prepare your Windows Azure environment, make sure you’ve first completed all steps in our Getting Started article.
  2. After you’ve provisioned a new Linux virtual machine, we’ll be configuring it via a remote Secure Shell (SSH) console session.  If you don’t already have an SSH client installed on your PC, I highly recommend PuTTY.  Download PuTTY and install it before proceeding.
  3. Open Internet Explorer and browse to https://manage.windowsazure.com/ to enter the Windows Azure portal. Then, log in with your credentials.

  4. In the menu located at the bottom, select New | Compute | Virtual Machine | From Gallery to start creating a new virtual machine.

    Creating a new Virtual Machine

  5. On the VM OS Selection page, click Platform Images on the left menu and select the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP2 OS image from the list. Click the Next button to continue.

  6. On the Virtual Machine Configuration page, specify a unique Virtual Machine Name and Administrative Password to be provisioned for the new VM. 

    Virtual Machine Configuration

    Note: It is suggested to use secure passwords for administrative users and service accounts, as Windows Azure virtual machines could be accessible from the Internet knowing just their public DNS host names.  You can also read this document on the Microsoft Security website that will help you select a secure password: http://www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/passwords-create.aspx.

    Record the username and password information that you’ve entered above for use when remotely connecting to this new virtual machine later in this step-by-step guide.

    Click the Next button to continue.

  7. On the Virtual Machine Mode page, specify a unique public DNS host name that you’ll use to initially access this new VM remotely.  For the Storage Account and Region/Affinity Group/Virtual Network fields, select the storage account and affinity group that you previously created in the Getting Started article.

    Click the Next button to continue.

    Virtual Machine Mode

    Record the public DNS hostname for testing this new virtual machine after the configuration steps are complete.

  8. On the Virtual Machine Options page, accept the default values and click the Checkmark button to begin provisioning your new virtual machine.

    Virtual Machine Options

  9. You will be returned to the Virtual Machines page and your new virtual machine will be listed with a status of Starting (Provisioning) while it is being initially provisioned on the Windows Azure cloud platform.

    Provisioning a New Virtual Machine

    As the new virtual machine is being provisioned, you will see the Status column on the Virtual Machines page of the Windows Azure Management Portal cycle through several values including Stopped, Stopped (Provisioning), and Running (Provisioning).  When provisioning for this new Virtual Machine is completed, the Status column will display a value of Running and you may continue with the next step in this guide.

  10. After the new virtual machine has finished provisioning, click on the Name of the new Virtual Machine displayed on the Virtual Machines page of the Windows Azure Management Portal. This will navigate to a Dashboard page for this new virtual machine.

    Virtual Machine Dashboard

  11. On the Virtual Machine Dashboard page, make note of the SSH Details.  You’ll use this information to connect to the new virtual machine remotely via an SSH client to configure the Apache web server daemon.

  12. On the Virtual Machine Dashboard page, click on the Endpoints link located in the top navigation area of this page.  This will navigate to the Endpoints page for this virtual machine, listing all firewall endpoint traffic that is currently permitted inbound to this virtual machine.

    Virtual Machine Endpoints

    Note that SSH traffic has automatically been permitted inbound to this new Linux virtual machine, but no other network traffic is permitted by default.  In the next two steps, we’ll add a new endpoint to permit inbound web http traffic to our virtual machine.

  13. On the Virtual Machine Endpoints page, click the +Add Endpoint button located on the bottom toolbar of this page.  This will launch the Add Endpoint wizard.

    Add Endpoint Wizard

    Click the Next button to continue.

  14. On the Specify the details of the endpoint wizard page, enter a name ( web-http ), a public port ( 80 ) and a private port ( 80 ) in the respective fields. 

    Specify the Details of the Endpoint

    Click the Checkmark button to provision the new endpoint.

  15. On your PC, launch an SSH client, such as PuTTY, and establish a new remote SSH session to your virtual machine using the SSH details recorded in Step 9 above in the Host Name and Port fields of the SSH connection properties.

    Establish a new Remote SSH Session with PuTTY

    Click the Open button to establish a remote SSH session to your virtual machine.

  16. Because this is the first time connecting to this virtual machine, you may be presented with a Security Alert dialog box prompting you to accept the host key for securing this SSH session.  

    PuTTY Security Alert during First-Time SSH Connection

    Click the Yes button to accept this host key into your SSH client cache and continue with establishing the connection.

  17. In the new SSH session window, authenticate with the Username and Password information recorded above in Step 4 above.

    SSH Session Window

  18. In the SSH session window, enter the following command to elevate your session for performing root-level administrative commands:

    sudo su -

    When prompted, confirm your identity by re-entering the same Password used to authenticate in Step 17 above.

  19. In the SSH session window, install the packages needed for running the YaST2 setup and configuration tool by entering each of the following commands, pressing ENTER after each line:

    zypper install yast2
    zypper install yast2-ncurses
    zypper install yast2-ncurses-pkg
    zypper install yast2-qt
    zypper install yast2-packager
    zypper install yast2-runlevel
    zypper install yast2-network
    zypper install yast2-http-server

  20. In the SSH session window, launch the YaST2 setup and configuration tool by entering the following command:


    This will launch the YaST2 Control Center menu-based setup and configuration tool.

    YaST2 Control Center

  21. In the YaST2 Control Center, press ENTER on the Software menu choice and then select Software Management by pressing ENTER again. This will launch the YaST2 Software Management tool shown below.

    YaST2 Software Management

  22. In the YaST2 Software Management tool, press ALT+F to change the Filter type, select Patterns using your arrow keys and press ENTER.

    Selecting a Pattern Filter

  23. In the YaST2 Software Management tool, press TAB to switch your cursor focus to the Patterns List and scroll down using your arrow keys until Web and LAMP Server is highlighted.

    Selecting the Web and Lamp Server Pattern Filter

  24. In the YaST2 Software Management tool, press ALT+T to open the Actions menu, then press ALT+A to select All Listed Packages, then press ALT+I to select the option to Install All.  After this is completed, a + ( plus sign ) should appear next to each of the 9 selected packages.

    Selecting to Install All Packages in the Web and Lamp Server Pattern Filter

  25. In the YaST2 Software Management tool, press ALT+A to start the installation. Press ENTER when prompted for confirmation. 

    Performing the Web and Lamp Server Package Installation

    Once the installation is complete, the YaST2 Control Center main menu will appear again.

  26. In the YaST2 Control Center main menu, use arrow keys to select Network Services –> HTTP Server to configure the newly installed Web server.

    Selecting the HTTP Server Wizard Configuration Tool

    Press ENTER on the HTTP Server menu selection.

  27. In the HTTP Server Wizard, press F10 on each screen of the wizard to accept default configuration values and finish the wizard. 

    HTTP Server Configuration Wizard

    Once the configuration process is complete, the YaST2 Control Center main menu will appear again.

  28. In the YaST2 Control Center main menu, use arrow keys to select System –> System Services (Runlevel) to start the Web server.

    Selecting System Services (Runlevel) to Start Web Server

    Press ENTER on the System Services (Runlevel) menu selection.

  29. In the YaST2 System Services (Runlevel) tool, use arrow keys to select apache2 in the Service list.  Press ALT+E to enable and start the Apache HTTP daemon.

    Enabling the Apache Web Daemon

  30. In the YaST2 System Services (Runlevel) tool, after the Apache Web Daemon is started, press ENTER and then ALT+O to accept the new Runlevel changes.

    Accepting the Runlevel Changes

    Press ENTER to confirm that changes will be saved.

We’re done! Let’s test it!

After the above steps are completed, the Apache Web Daemon will be running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP2 in a virtual machine on the Windows Azure cloud platform.

  • Test the new virtual machine by opening a new browser window and navigating to:


    Use the public DNS hostname value recorded in Step 7 above.

    Testing the Linux HTTP Web Server VM

What’s Next? Keep Building!

Learn more about Windows Azure Virtual Machines with this FREE online training:

In addition to running Linux virtual machines on the Windows Azure cloud platform, did you know that Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 products support running Linux virtual machines in your on-premise data center?

  • Do It: Learn more about these products at:
    • Build your Windows Server 2012 Lab
    • Join our FREE Early Experts Virtualizer Knowledge Quest
    • Build a FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 cluster
    • Download Linux Integration Services for Hyper-V

Which Linux workloads are you planning to virtualize?

Feel free to leave your comments below with your thoughts, questions and ideas for virtualizing Linux workloads on the Windows Azure cloud platform, Windows Server 2012 and our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012.


Build Your Lab! Build Your Lab! Download Windows Server 2012
Build Your Lab in the Cloud! Don’t Have a Lab? Build Your Lab in the Cloud with Windows Azure Virtual Machines
Join our "Early Experts" study group! Want to Get Certified? Join our Windows Server 2012 "Early Experts" Study Group
About Keith Mayer
Keith Mayer is a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft focused on Windows Infrastructure, Data Center Virtualization, Systems Management and Private Cloud. Keith has over 17 years of experience as a technical leader of complex IT projects, in diverse roles, such as Network Engineer, IT Manager, Technical Instructor and Consultant. He has consulted and trained thousands of IT professionals worldwide on the design and implementation of enterprise technology solutions.

Keith is currently certified on several Microsoft technologies, including System Center, Hyper-V, Windows, Windows Server, SharePoint and Exchange. He also holds other industry certifications from IBM, Cisco, Citrix, HP, CheckPoint, CompTIA and Interwoven.

Keith is the author of the IT Pros ROCK! Blog on Microsoft TechNet, voted as one of the Top 50 "Must Read" IT Blogs.

Keith also manages the Windows Server 2012 "Early Experts" Challenge - a FREE online study group for IT Pros interested in studying and preparing for certification on Windows Server 2012. Join us and become the next "Early Expert"!

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Cloud Expo - Cloud Looms Large on SYS-CON.TV

Cloud Expo 2013 East Opening Keynote by IBM
In this Cloud Expo Keynote, Danny Sabbah, CTO & General Manager, Next Generation Platform, will detail the critical architectural considerations and success factors organizations must internalize to successfully implement, optimize and innovate using next generation architectures.
Lisa Larson, Vice President of Enterprise Cloud Solutions of Rackspace Hosting Live From New York City
In the old world of IT, if you didn't have hardware capacity or the budget to buy more, your project was dead in the water. Budget constraints can leave some of the best, most creative and most ingenious innovations on the cutting room floor. It's a true dilemma for developers and innovators – why spend the time creating, when a project could be abandoned in a blink? That was the old world. In the new world of IT, developers rule. They have access to resources they can spin up instantly. A hybrid cloud ignites innovation and empowers developers to focus on what they need. A hybrid cloud blends the best of all worlds, public cloud, private cloud and dedicated servers to fit the needs of developers and offer the ideal environment for each app and workload without the constraints of a one-size-fits-all cloud.

Keynote: Driving Cloud Innovation: SSDs Change Cloud Storage Paradigm
Cloud is a transformational shift in computing that can have a powerful effect on enterprise IT when designed correctly and used to its full potential. Join Citrix in a discussion that centers on building, connecting and empowering users with cloud services and hear examples of how enterprises are solving real-world business challenges with an architecture and solution purpose-built for the cloud.

Go Beyond IaaS to Deliver "Anything As a Service"
Many organizations want to expand upon the IaaS foundation to deliver cloud services in all forms—software, mobility, infrastructure and IT. Understanding the strategy, planning process and tools for this transformation will help catalyze changes in the way the business operates and deliver real value. Join us to learn about the new ITaaS model and how to begin the transformation.

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New York City Expo Floor Plan Revealed
Cloud Expo New York
[June 11-14, 2012]

Floor Plan Revealed

Introducing Big Data Expo
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Get a jump on that rapidly evolving trend at Big Data Expo, which we are introducing in June at
Cloud Expo New York.

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Cloud Expo was a fantastic event for CSS Corp - we easily exceeded our objectives for engaging with clients and prospects."
SVP, Global Infrastructure Management, CSS Corp.
With our launch at Cloud Expo, we successfully transformed the company from a relatively unknown European player into the dominant player in the market. Our competitors were taken by surprise and just blown away. We got a huge number of really high quality leads..."
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We were extremely pleased with Cloud Expo this year - I’d say it exceeded expectations all around. This is the same info we got from partners who attended as well. Nice job!"
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Cloud Expo helps focus the debate on the critical issues at hand in effect connecting main street with the next frontier."

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@CloudExpo Blogs
This is a short blog with a harsh message for Big Data vendors. Camera fades in to Pastor Schmarzo heading to the pulpit… What does the future hold for today’s big data vendors? Hundreds of startups are rushing into the big data market to stake their claim to a market that IDC predicts will reach $187 billion by 2019. Dang, that’s a big market, especially considering that the Global Business Intelligence market will only reach a trifling $20.8 billion by 2018 or the long-running ERP applications market is expected to reach a trivial $84.1 billion by 2020. Yes, the big data market opportu...
In case you haven’t heard, the new hotness in app architectures is serverless. Mainly restricted to cloud environments (Amazon Lambda, Google Cloud Functions, Microsoft Azure Functions) the general concept is that you don’t have to worry about anything but the small snippets of code (functions) you write to do something when something happens. That’s an event-driven model, by the way, that should be very familiar to anyone who has taken advantage of a programmable proxy to do app or API routing and rewriting or executed inspection of requests or responses for malicious content.
Recently I've been doing quite a bit of analysis work using the IBM Watson cognitive business platform. The really exciting thing about this opportunity is the way data can seem to have a conversation with you. This got me wondering if social media data could carry on a conversation as well. Given my almost unhealthy interest in cloud computing, we ran a one week experiment to "crowdsource the internet" in order to see if it held any interesting cloud computing insights.
In many organizations governance is still practiced by phase or stage gate peer review, and Agile projects are forced to accommodate, which leads to WaterScrumFall or worse. But governance criteria and policies are often very weak anyway, out of date or non-existent. Consequently governance is frequently a matter of opinion and experience, highly dependent upon the experience of individual reviewers. As we all know, a basic principle of Agile methods is delegation of responsibility, and ideally we need to delegate governance to the Agile practitioners and teams. So the question is how to imple...
Last week, I was a keynote speaker at the Mobile Edge '16 conference in Lisbon, Portugal. Following the conference I met individually with many different companies. These companies represented a variety of industries, sizes and digital maturity levels. I was sharing my latest digital strategy report findings, and then answering questions and brainstorming about what the data meant to each of them. At the hotel, following a long day of meetings, it occurred to me that the biggest value I was bringing to these businesses was the breadth of my experience - the kind of experience that has turned...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to change everything by enabling “smart” environments (homes, cities, hospitals, schools, stores, etc.) and smart products (cars, trucks, airplanes, trains, wind turbines, lawnmowers, etc.). I recently wrote about the importance of moving beyond “connected” to “smart” in a blog titled “Internet of Things: Connected Does Not Equal Smart”. The article discusses the importance of moving beyond just collecting the data, to transitioning to leveraging this new wealth of IoT data to improve the decisions that these smart environments and products need to make: t...
As we enter the final week before the 19th International Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in Santa Clara, CA, it's time for me to reflect on six big topics that will be important during the show. Hybrid Cloud This general-purpose term seems to provide a comfort zone for many enterprise IT managers. It sounds reassuring to be able to work with one of the major public-cloud providers like AWS or Microsoft Azure while still maintaining an on-site presence.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Numerex Corp, a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT), will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Numerex Corp. (NASDAQ:NMRX) is a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT). The Company's solutions produce new revenue streams or create operating efficiencies for its customers. Numerex provides its technology and services through its integrated...
I spend a lot of time helping organizations to “think like a data scientist.” My book “Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science” has several chapters devoted to helping business leaders to embrace the power of data scientist thinking. My Big Data MBA class at the University of San Francisco School of Management focuses on teaching tomorrow’s business executives the power of analytics and data science to optimize key business processes, uncover new monetization opportunities and create a more compelling, engaging customer and channel engagement.
Monitoring of Docker environments is challenging. Why? Because each container typically runs a single process, has its own environment, utilizes virtual networks, or has various methods of managing storage. Traditional monitoring solutions take metrics from each server and applications they run. These servers and applications running on them are typically very static, with very long uptimes. Docker deployments are different: a set of containers may run many applications, all sharing the resources of one or more underlying hosts. It's not uncommon for Docker servers to run thousands of short-te...
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, data and technology are transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, will present key data findings from leading sports organizations San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic NBA team. By utilizing data analytics these sports orgs have recognized new revenue streams, doubled its fan base and streamlined costs at its stadiums. John Paul is the CEO and Founder of VenueNext. Prior to VenueNext, he spent over 35 years as a founder, CEO or executive leader of product and engineerin...
They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Sometimes doing the same thing over and over while expecting the same results can be insane too. Find out how to change your expectations of IT infrastructure. Have you ever wondered if you are stuck in an IT infrastructure loop, continuously deploying the same types of components and integrating them into an overall infrastructure architecture? Servers for CPU and RAM, storage appliances, hypervisor software, and disaster recovery software/appliances are just some of the different components that you've...
Since its introduction in 2009, Microsoft Azure has gone through a significant transformation. What started as a hardcore set of platform services is now a force to be reckoned within the infrastructure market as well. According to Gartner, Azure is inching closer to AWS, firmly securing its place in the top right section of the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Magic Quadrant, which is reserved only for the market leaders.
HTI Labs in London provides the means and governance with its Schematiq tool to bring critical data services to the interface users want. The next BriefingsDirect Voice of the Customer digital transformation case study explores how powerful and diverse financial information is newly and uniquely delivered to the ubiquitous Excel spreadsheet edge.
A BriefingsDirect thought leadership panel discussion explores how public-sector organizations can gain economic benefits from cloud interoperability and standardization. Our panel comes to you in conjunction with The Open Group Paris Event and Member Meeting October 24 through 27, 2016 in France, with a focus on the latest developments in eGovernment. As government agencies move to the public cloud computing model, the use of more than one public cloud provider can offer economic benefits by a competition and choice. But are the public clouds standardized efficiently for true interoperabi...
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Past SYS-CON Events
    Cloud Expo West

    Cloud Expo East

    Cloud Expo West

    Virtualization Expo West
    Cloud Expo Europe

    Cloud Expo East

    Virtualization Expo East
    Cloud Expo West

    Virtualization Expo West
    GovIT Expo
    Cloud Expo Europe

Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty












Dell Boomi


Layer 7 Tech



What The Enterprise IT World Says About Cloud Expo
"We had extremely positive feedback from both customers and prospects that attended the show and saw live demos of NaviSite's enterprise cloud based services."
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Sr. Director, Marketing & Strategic Alliances

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Chief Scientist
Univa UD

"Good crowd, good questions. The event looked very successful."
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Citrix Systems

"It's the largest cloud computing conference I've ever seen."
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Brick Group