Amazon WorkSpaces Introduces Ubuntu Desktops

At AWS, we love to give our customers choices: the choice of infrastructure to deploy your workloads, to store your most important data, or the operating systems for your virtual desktops.

Many of you choose Amazon Workspaces to provision and distribute virtual desktops securely and at scale to your workforce. Our customers choose Workspaces when choosing a solution to enable secure remote workers or when they want to quickly provision desktop for contractors, just to name two use cases. When using Workspaces, you’ve had the choice between two operating systems: Microsoft Windows or Amazon Linux.

Starting today, you can also provision Ubuntu desktops for your developers, engineers, or data scientists. This allows virtual desktop users to have more choices and to embrace new categories of workloads. It also gives virtual desktop administrators a consistent experience whether you are managing Windows or Linux-based desktops for your workforce. You can now have one process and set of tools to manage the majority of your desktop operating systems.

According to the HackerEarth 2020 Developer Survey, Ubuntu is the most widely used operating system among professional developers (66 percent Ubuntu, 61 percent Windows, and 57 percent macOS). Many developers or DevOps engineers have a battery of scripts, tools, or libraries well tested on their Ubuntu desktops or laptops. Providing Ubuntu desktop on Workspaces gives developers and engineers a familiar and compatible environment allowing them to work from anywhere, with access to a wealth of open-source tools and libraries in cutting-edge fields like data science, AI/ML, cloud, and IoT. All Ubuntu WorkSpaces benefit from Ubuntu Pro, which includes support for expanded security patching for 10 years.

Having Ubuntu on Amazon Workspaces is important for you, but also for us, AWS, and for Canonical, the publisher of Ubuntu.

We’ve brought Ubuntu Desktop to WorkSpaces so developers can streamline the design, coding, pipelines, and deployment of Ubuntu-based workloads, whether instances or containers, all within the AWS environment,” said
Alex Gallagher, VP Cloud for
Canonical. “
Also, Ubuntu virtual desktops on WorkSpaces enable IT organizations to quickly and easily provision high-performance Ubuntu Desktop instances, delivered as a fully managed AWS service. In the face of constant and increasing pressure to support the security and productivity needs of hybrid workers, that’s a win for IT organizations and their end users.

Why a Virtual Desktop for Developers And Engineers?
There are several benefits to providing virtual cloud desktops to your technical workforce.

First, the security: all your files are securely stored on cloud-based volumes within the security perimeter of your AWS account. Application assets such as source code or design documents are not locally stored on end-user machines, and no data is at risk in case of a laptop being lost or stolen.

Second, the ease of provisioning at scale. Providing new desktops, including with the latest generation of hardware, is a matter of minutes. Onboarding new team members or contractors is accelerated, and can even be automated.

Third, the reduction in costs by paying on demand, either monthly or hourly, just for the time the resources are used.

Fourth, end-users may access their desktop from anywhere. They can work with the same desktop from on premises, from home, or when traveling.

And fifth, virtual desktop administrators now have a common administration experience across Windows and two distributions of Linux (Ubuntu and Amazon Linux).

How to Get Started
For IT administrators, provisioning Ubuntu desktops is no different than provisioning Windows or Amazon Linux desktops. You may choose the hardware bundle, with various sizes of CPUs and memory, depending on the end-user needs. Workspaces are bound to an Active Directory. You may use your on-premises AD or a fully managed directory service in the cloud.

For this blog post, I choose to show you the end-user experience instead. As a developer or engineer, once my desktop is provisioned, I receive an email like this one:

Workspaces provisioning emailI select the link and enter my password. Then, I download and install a client from

Workspaces create password

For this demo, I am using the Windows Workspaces client. After downloading and installing it, I enter the registration code I received by email.

Workspaces enter code

A few seconds later, I have access to my Ubuntu desktop.

Ubuntu desktop from Windows

Imagine I later travel to a family member’s place, and I have to access my work desktop. I can borrow a web browser and reconnect from the web client. Not surprisingly, I find my desktop in the exact state I left it—even the mouse pointer is in the same place. When closing a session, I am confident that I did not leave any confidential files behind me. All my files, messages, and applications are securely stored within my company AWS account.

Workspaces web client

Things You Need To Know
The service team is actively listening to your feedback and building new capabilities into Workspaces.

For this launch, we chose to use version 22.04 LTS (Jammy Jellyfish). Canonical has optimized the base image for cloud development use cases. We have preinstalled AWS CLI and SDK.

You may select from a selection of Value, Standard, Performance, Power, or Power Pro bundles. These bundles provide you with computer sizes starting at 1 vCPU and 2 GB RAM, up to 8 vCPU and 32 GB RAM.

There are two features of Workspaces that are not present today for the launch of Ubuntu Workspaces. They will be added in the very near future. First, you may connect today using the Windows or web-based Workspaces clients. Linux and macOS clients will be supported as a quick follow-up to this launch. Second, the GPU-based Graphics.g4dn, and GraphicsPro.g4dn bundles will be available in the coming weeks.

Availability and Pricing
Ubuntu Workspaces are available in all AWS Regions where Workspaces is available, except a Region in China: China (Ningxia). Again, we’re working hard to add support for China (Ningxia) as a quick follow-up after launch.

Workspace pricing is either per month, for users that primarily use Workspaces as their main desktop, or per hour for those in your workforce making occasional use of the workspace. Ubuntu Workspace prices start at $23 per month and per desktop or $0.19 per hour. Our pricing page has the details.

Now go build and start your first Ubuntu Workspaces today.

— seb

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