Remote Linux Desktop in the ERISOne Cluster Environment - Access, and Policies

A number of Remote Desktop servers are attached to the ERISOne Linux Cluster for use as remote workstations in the cluster environment.

The Remote Desktop service is ideal for using graphical applications such as Freesurfer, RStudio or a Genome Browser with data stored on the ERISOne Cluster. The Firefox web browser is available for web-based applications or data transfer to and from external collaborators for example with https://transfer.partners.org or the Aspera Browser Plugin.  Various other graphical tools and software development applications are also installed.

You can connect to an ERISOne Remote Desktop from a Mac computer, Windows and Linux PC's and Apple iPads. Other mobile devices will be supported in future.

Gaining Access

An account on the ERISOne Cluster is required for access to the remote desktop. If you do not yet have an account, complete the Cluster application form

Note that the server name to use for NoMachine remote desktop is different to the server name to use for SSH to ERISOne; erisone.partners.org only accepts SSH logins, not remote desktop connections. 

Once you have an ERISOne cluster account, visit the Remote Desktop Dashboard to select the server you will connect to, or email Scientific Computing to be assigned one.  Continue on this page, reading the Guidelines and Policies section, then find the installation and connection information below.

 

Guidelines and Policies

As this is a shared service, please be considerate of other users. 

  • Sessions can be kept open overnight and over weekends but always save open files before disconnecting
  • For longer periods of inactivity please terminate the session to free resources for other users
  • Only have sessions running on one remote desktop at any time
  • Sessions that have been idle for 2 weeks will be terminated without notice
    • An session is idle if
      • two weeks have passed since the last connection
      • it does not have a running interactive session on the cluster
      • is not using CPU for processing
  • Typical uses for the Remote Desktop servers involve graphical applications that are not computationally intensive
    • Using web-based applications such as the Integrated Genome Browser to visualize data stored on the cluster
    • Writing code using Integrated Development Environments such as Eclipse, the Matlab GUI and RStudio during the testing and development phases
    • Having a persistent desktop from which to launch graphical interactive sessions on cluster nodes
  • Wherever possible, computationally intensive or large memory workloads should be submitted to the cluster, with resource reservation in the regular manner, either to an interactive or batch session
  • Certain computationally intensive tasks should be run directly on the Remote Desktop nodes
    • Examples are
      • software that is installed on the Remote Desktop nodes but not the cluster. Examples are:
        • RStudio
    • In these situations, set a memory limit before launching the application and use "nice" out of consideration for other users. Other commands to set bounds on resource consumption are "ionice" and "numactl"
    • To launch "RStudio" after setting a 10GB memory cap and nice value of 10, for example, open a Terminal window (from the "Applications" menu, select "System Tools" and "Terminal") and type at the $ prompts:
ulimit -v 10000000
nice -n 10 /usr/lib/rstudio/bin/rstudio

Client Software Installation and Connection Information

The NoMachine client is recommended for all users, see Connecting to ERISOne HPC Remote Desktop using NoMachine Enterprise Client for details.

Server SSH Key Fingerprints

When first connecting to a remote desktop server, the client program will prompt to accept the server SSH key fingerprint. 

Hints and Tips

Customizing the Gnome Desktop

  • For a more familiar File Explorer type interface, open the file browser (Places → Home Folder). From the "Edit" menu choose "Preferences" and then enable "Always open in browser windows" under the "Behavior" tab
  • Drag and drop commonly used application icons from the "Applications" menu to the "Gnome Panel" (gray bar) across the top of the screen
  • If the fonts appear too small, set the display resolution to "96 dots per inch" from "System → Preferences → Appearance", then selecting the "Fonts" tab and clicking on the "Details..." button in the lower right

Periodically clear desktop temp data

Temporary files generated by the remote desktop can slow down our backup systems and fill up your home directory quota.  Empty the "Recycle Bin" and clear web-browser caches frequently.

Fixing Gnome applet errors

If you experience problems loading parts of the gnome desktop and have modified the .bashrc file in your home directory, try backing up and replacing that file with the default version at /etc/skel/.bashrc .  Loading dynamic libraries associated with certain scientific software at login time can sometimes render the remote desktop environment unusable.

Matlab Keyboard shortcuts

Matlab assigns functions to keyboard shortcuts (such as ALT+TAB) which may cause those key presses to not perform as expected in a remote desktop environment.  You can re-define Matlab keyboard shortcuts so that they don't conflict with keystrokes you use for other purposes (such as switching between windows) in the Matlab Preferences, under "Keyboard -> Shortcuts". The Matlab preferences are reached from the "Home" tab, then the "environment" drop-down menu, and "Preferences"