Free Cloud Desktop FAQ

New Version Available and a new FAQ Here

Request Upgrade Here or Contact Us

The following is for the Older Legacy Free Cloud Desktop version 2.12.

We recommend that anyone reading this upgrade or sign up using the above links.

Version 2.12 will soon be retired and Long Term Support will no longer be available.

  • Includes your own personal Sub-Domain (You.DesktopAnywhere.com) to make access a breeze.
  • Install lots of Free Software from the Ubuntu Software Center
  • Access your Free Cloud Desktop from just about any Windows, Apple, Android, Linux/Unix device
  • Securely log on to your desktop from a Browser, the cross-platform RDP protocol and No Machine

Frequently Asked Questions and Help

Overview
The Basics
Your Password
Your Data
Security
Privacy
Rebooting and Restarting
Printing
Email
Navigation
Bookmarks
Errors and Error Messages

Overview

This FAQ is written to help users getting the most from your Free Cloud Desktop is about how you use it.

Click Here to Learn About The Free Cloud Desktop and How to Sign Up Today!

Click Here for Information on Setting up and Using Your Free Cloud Desktop.

We built  this desktop to work in harmony with your all your desktops, devices and data. Most Service Providers want to take over ALL your stuff and have you discard all the other tools you have in favor of their stuff. Vendors like that try to “own” you or maybe they are really not thinking about your best interests at all.

Desktop Anywhere is different. We just want to provide you the best Free Cloud Desktop we can and let you use it your way with your stuff.

We believe that the proper perspective for technology is that You are the center of all things. You, not a piece of hardware, software, vendor or even your data. We see the Cloud Desktop approach working best by simply adding another tool to your existing technical toolbox. We don’t want to take away or replace anything you like . We want your Free Cloud Desktop to work with you and for you, not against you.

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your Free Cloud Desktop Experience. If you have any suggestions or comments on how to improve the Desktop Anywhere Free Cloud Desktop, please Contact Us.

The Basics

The Free Cloud Desktop is based on Open Source Components that were developed by a lot of very smart and dedicated people. The list is almost endless Apache, Gnome, Ubuntu, Linux, NX, Free NX, Java, WordPress, xRDP, etc. All you need to know about that is that using it is really easy. Nice to have all the folks working so hard simply to help you have fun and get work done isn’t it?

Click Here for a Video Quick Tour of the Free Cloud Desktop

Your Password

Once you have setup your Free Cloud Desktop, you should change the password you were given to a strong and secure one that you can remember. There is no way to recover your Desktop Password.

Your Free Cloud Desktop is accessible to anyone (like your email) via a web address. We recommend increasing your security by strengthening your Password. Using good password security is a great way to protect your Desktop. Here is a page with some guidance on strong passwords:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Password_strength

To change your Password.

  1. Login to Your Free Cloud Desktop
  2. Click and Hold  the Power icon (next to the Time Display in the Title Bar) in the upper right-hand corner of the Free Cloud Desktop and Select System Settings.
  3. Click on the User Accounts icon (lower right corner of System Settings Screen)
  4. Your Current User ID (dauser or whatever you changed it to previously) should be highlighted (or you can select it by clicking on it)
  5. Then, click on the “….” field to the right of “Password” label
  6. Enter the password you were given in the email in the field next to Current password
  7. Then enter a New Password in the New password and Confirm password fields, then click Change.
  8. Then click the Close icon (x in the Title Bar near the upper left-hand corner of the User Accounts Window).

Make sure there are no errors or issues. If there are, follow the instructions and try again. Once your password is successfully changed, you should use that one to log in.

(Note: For your protection there is a 5 strikes and you are out policy on the desktop for security reasons. If you type your password incorrectly 5 times in a row, the ID is locked for five minutes.)

Your Data

One of the great benefits of Cloud Computing is that your can get to your stuff from anywhere. A lot of users install DropBox, which provides 2 Gig of Cloud Storage for Free. You can also use whatever cloud solution if you prefer.  By storing your data in the cloud and linking it to your Free Cloud Desktop and other devices you can use the most convenient device available. A great way to compute. Be mindful of the settings of any cloud storage and how it affects your AWS Free Tier usage.

Security

People are very concerned about security. Your Cloud Desktop uses a Linux OS, one of the most secure platforms in the world. To make your desktop as secure as possible, we allow a certain number of incorrect attempts at entering the password before locking the desktop from access for a short time. Only access your Cloud Desktop from devices you trust.

Privacy

Our Desktop Anywhere Technology is designed with Privacy in mind. Our Virtual Desktops include 128-bit encryption inside the desktop browser window and with the local client software we support. That means that your surfing and activities are as private as practical. It should be noted that no matter what device you use, including your desktop at home, there are programs and physical devices that enable simple technologies that can capture keyboard strokes, screen images, network activity and other criminal activities that are all too common. Just remember if the most well funded and largest organizations in the world have been breached, one must be very diligent, especially about what one puts on a networked computer in the first place.

Rebooting and Restarting

Rebooting any digital device often brings it back to a normal state when you are having issues. The Free Cloud Desktop is a virtual device and rebooting the device is a good idea to refresh the instance, speed it up, resolve any odd quirks, etc. To be effective with the Free Cloud Desktop, you must reboot the instance from the AWS Console. Restarting from the desktop does not do what it does on a physical installation. There are two main things to remember about rebooting:

  1. It is a good idea to do it from time to time or when you are having inexplicable or performance issues
  2. When you do want to reboot, use access the AWS Management Console, select the Instance and select Action of Reboot.

Printing

Your Virtual Desktop best practice is Green Computing. Most printing of documents today is more of a bad habit and practice than a need. The great thing about the Cloud is that it is everywhere you need it, anytime you want it. And almost everywhere there is a device to connect to it. More and more you can see, save and send information everywhere you are. Currently, you cannot print directly from the Cloud Desktop. You can use Copy/Paste to Clipboard or use other means to print if you need to.

Email

We recommend you use simple Internet email if you have it. You can click the Icon in the upper right-hand corner of the Free Cloud Desktop GUI and associated emails easily.

Navigation

There are Menus on the Title Bar of the Desktop. When using the RDP client, you must point the cursor to the upper left hand of the title bar to see the Menu. You can access programs from the Panel or Desktop Shortcuts as well. The key combination ctrl+alt+ m or ctrl+alt+break are useful to manage your windows and you can use the minimize button in the upper right-hand corner of the browser window or in the Connection Bar.

Bookmarks

Moving your Bookmarks into the Cloud is a great way to increase efficiency. One of the great things about the Cloud Desktop Model is that you can use your secure and encrypted Free Cloud Desktop on any machine and keep your information to yourself. You can use the Sync Tool for your favorite browser to make bookmarks (and other web surfing related data) available on all your desktops including your Desktop Anywhere Free Cloud Desktop. However, most browsers are so stuffed with unneeded functionality that syncing actively may slow down your desktop. In addition to the Browser specific Sync Tools (Firefox, Chrome, etc.) there are generic services like xMarks that also will work well.

Errors and Error Messages

Here are some common error messages and resolutions we know of. Using the Search Field with the Error Message Text or Number on DesktopAnywhere.com is usually a good idea. Most known errors you can find below. We add these as people report them. We want to make sure everyone has a successful and productive experience. Please report any issues you are having that you cannot find resolution for with as much detail and screen shots as you can.

While occasional errors may appear during initial setup and after you have run successfully, the resolution for the errors might be quite different. If you have not completed a successful access of your cloud desktop, see the Troubleshooting Setup section.

If you have already successfully logged on to your cloud desktop successfully, the desktop tends to run error free unless you do something that conflicts (bad password, wrong IP address) or your AWS instance may need to be rebooted from the AWS Console (which is a great idea to do at least weekly). Rebooting from the AWS console is often the best first step towards an error free experience.

There are a few possibilities here and we listed the most common error messages we know of and posted at least some of the resolutions possible. The best advice we can give you is to try to establish where you are. Is your Internet connection working? Have you logged on before on this machine? Have you checked your AWS account to make sure the IP matches what you are using?

Remember, restarting applications, and services closing and opening the browser and rebooting  solves about 80% of computer issues in general. Often worth a quick try at some point when you are having issues with a computer.

Closing all browsers and restarting, using a different machine that is available, rebooting your instance or your machine, checking again what you are actually doing vs. what you are trying to do is mostly a good place to start with debugging and issue.

Here are some specific errors and some specific possibilities to resolve them.

My Desktop Screen is Locked and will not accept my Password – You can reboot your instance from the AWS Console to clear this known bug. We recommend Removing the Lock Screen Option.

Authentication failed for user – The web connection tool, NX, only allows one session on a machine at a time. (also see – NX Error 122  “address already in use” / Error is 122 section below) You can view your Task Manager (Windows) and End any NX Tasks. Also, this message will appears when the User ID you are using to log on to your instance is likely incorrect or your password is wrong. There is a five attempt policy of incorrect access to your desktop and then you have to wait five minutes to try again for security reasons.

Connection Refused, Connection Timed Out or Connection Error– Sometimes there is a Detail Button Enabled in an NX window such as “Connection timed out” that will provide some info. These are fairly generic errors and we could will document in more detail as the symptoms of this error are reported. Anyone finds it, let us know when it occurs with details. While sometimes, this can  indicate a configuration problems if the session has run before, sometimes the session may be temporarily not accepting connections, not be finished starting up, or has a local machine issue that can often be resolved in making sure the Task Manager shows now sessions of NX running, etc. Closing all browsers, trying a different machine or Desktop User Session or just waiting a few minutes and trying again will resolve.

NX Error 122  “address already in use” / Error is 122 – You can only one desktop at a time on the same local machine. If you are using windows, view Start the Task Manager /Processes and end any NX tasks that exist and try logging on again. Also, you can try closing your browsers and any running desktops and try logging on then. You might also try a different PC and/or reboot to see if that resolves your issue.

NX client could not create the NX Directory /home/dauser/.nx. Please check for the home’s permission – After you change the User ID this error might display when using NX. To resolve, Open the Home Folder, press ctrl+H, or, on the Menu select View/Show Hidden Files. Open the .nx folder and then the config folder.  Select the nxclient.cfg file and delete it using the delete key. That should resolve the error. You might need to reboot from the AWS Management Console for it to take effect, but likely just deleting the file will clear the error condition.

The plugin can’t be installed on the local machine – This message sometimes occurs when you are downloading a new version of the Free Cloud Desktop and there has been an installation of the NoMachine NX Client used on the machine before. On Windows machines the error will display and not allow the update to continue. To fix this you need to delete the .nx and .ssh folders in User Folder on the Client Machine (e.g. Users/UserName/.nx and .ssh – in XP it is documents and settings/users/username and in Windows 7 they are located in users/username ).

Browser Access Fails – There are multiple Browsers that work with the Free Cloud Desktop. They have a variety of error behavior when they cannot find a valid instance. The response from the browser should be pretty quick. If the browser takes a long time, most times it cannot resolve the address used. A quick check for all the below browser conditions is to access the welcome page of the AWS Free Cloud Desktop Instance. You can do that simply by typing the IP Address for the instance directly in the browser (format ec2-999-999-999-999.us-west-2.compute.amazonaws.com or http://999.999.999.999   (where the 9’s are replaced by the actual IP address you are trying to find.

When you do this, you do not see the message :

It works!

If you don’t see the It Works as the top line of a page from a browser with just the IP address in the address bar, the the address for some reason is not valid. You might have the IP Address wrong, your AWS instance is not running, your internet connection could be down and other things.

Here are the what the current versions of three common browsers that might be displaying this condition:

Chrome – the message “sending request” appears for a long time followed by “Oops! Google Chrome could not connect to” the IP address used.

Firefox – the message “The connection has timed out” eventually displays.

Explorer – Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage and a Diagnose Connection Problems button of all things.

You might try to Local Client install, a different machine or simply rebooting the instance from the AWS Console. You can also try shutting down the instance and then starting it again. But remember, shutting down and restarting the instance will cause the IP address AWS uses to change and will need to be updated in your my.DesktopAnywhere.com User Profile and if you are using a DesktopAnywhere.com Sub Domain, it will need to propagate and typical TTL times apply.

General Questions

Question: What is Amazon Web Service (AWS) Free Tier Service and why do I have to give them a credit card?

Answer: Amazon allows limited monthly use for eligible accounts, else they will charge your Credit Card. You can check here for more information on AWS.

Question: If AWS is providing the cloud service, why keep the my.DesktopAnywhere.com User Profile up to date and use it after I launched my Free Cloud Desktop?

Answer: If you want an easy way to remember your address, you can enter the ec2 version of the Cloud Desktop Address when you start the instance and use you.DesktopAnywhere.com where you is your DesktopAnywhere.com User Name. Also, to access via the web enabled Java NX, you can just click on the Cloud Desktop Image in your User Profile on DesktopAnywhere.com.

The way the Free Cloud Desktop works on the AWS Free Tier is that there is an Internet Address that is assigned every time the instance is started (not rebooted). That IP Address is in the form of a very long text string. This is impossible to remember for most people and the DesktopAnywhere User Profile stores that string to make access as easy as remembering as remembering your User Name and adding “.desktopanywhere.com” to it.

Also, to receive updates and other info, you have to be in the database. Anyone is welcome to add their AWS account number, launch the instance and ask to be “unsubscribed” and/or have your ID removed.  Not sure that would be a great idea if you are going to continue to use the Free Cloud Desktop, but we have no way to prevent that even if we wanted to.

Let us know what you think and how things are going. Thanks for using the Free Cloud Desktop from www.DesktopAnywhere.com!

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