Accessing Hammer With Remote Graphics – Updated

We’ve talked here on the blog about various options to access the HPC systems at Penn State.

Option 1: Use Cygwin/Putty/SSH to access the command line only.  This works great if you are running commands like qstat, qsub, and doing basic file manipulation.  You can even edit documents using emacs or vi right in the command window.  However, anything with a graphical user interface will not come through.  So…

Option 2: Use X-Window tunneling to access GUI components from the cluster on your workstation.  If you’re in Linux, this is easy, just open xterm as your terminal and any GUI component will appear with graphics on your desktop.  I believe Apple machines can do this too.  If you’re on Windows, install Cygwin, and you can configure SSH with X11 tunnelling… or use the native xterm program within Cygwin.

Great.  Two nice options.  But for really intense graphic-heavy processing on the cluster, I’ve recently learned you can use several different packages.  As far as I know, this just works with the interactive machine, Hammer.  The nice thing about this is that it makes it feel like you’re literally sitting at Hammer as if it was your own computer.

Probably the easiest option is to use Windows Remote Desktop, with instructions here, at the Penn State HPC center.  Open Windows remote desktop and, as the address, type  Then log in using your Penn State login name and password.

However, courtesy of Jason Holmes at the center, if you are disconnected from Hammer or close without logging out, the session that you have will remain active on the node you’re connected to.  To save an “orphaned” session on Remote Desktop, open a terminal and type “hostname”.  Then, next time you log in try to connect to the actual host, for example,

To fix this problem, the group recommends using Exceed onDemand, which is faster and will keep track of your “orphaned” sessions for you.  Try it out here.

Note: This post was updated June 19, 2012.

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