There are two ways to connect to our systems. The traditional way will require you to install some software locally on your machine, including an SSH client, SFTP client, and optionally an X Windows server. The alternative is to use our zero-client web portal, OnDemand.
Using Traditional Clients
In order to use our systems, you'll need two main pieces of software: an SFTP client and an SSH client.
SFTP ("SSH File Transfer Protocol") clients allow you transfer files between your workstation and our shared filesystem in a secure manner. We recommend the following applications:
- FileZilla: A high-performance open-source client for Windows, Linux, and OS X. A guide to using FileZilla is available here (external).
- CyberDuck: A high quality free client for Windows and OS X.
- sftp: The command-line utility sftp comes pre-installed on OS X and most Linux systems.
SSH ("Secure Shell") clients allow you to open a command-line-based "terminal session" with our clusters. We recommend the following options:
- PuTTY: A simple, open-source client for Windows.
- Secure Shell for Google Chrome: A free, HTML5-based SSH client for Google Chrome.
- ssh: The command-line utility ssh comes pre-installed on OS X and most Linux systems.
A third, optional piece of software you might want to install is an X Windows server, which will be necessary if you want to run graphical, windowed applications like MATLAB. We recommend the following X Windows servers:
- Xming: Xming offers a free version of their X Windows server for Microsoft Windows systems.
- X-Win32: StarNet's X-Win32 is a commercial X Windows server for Microsoft Windows systems. They offer a free, thirty-day trial.
- X11.app/XQuartz: X11.app, an Apple-supported version of the open-source XQuartz project, is freely available for OS X.
In addition, for Windows users, you can use OSC Connect, which is a native windows application developed by OSC to provide a launcher for secure file transfer, VNC, terminal, and web based services, as well as preconfigured management of secure tunnel connections. See this page for more information on OSC Connect.
Connecting via SSH
The primary way you'll interact with the OSC clusters is through the SSH terminal. See our supercomputing environments for the hostnames of our current clusters. You should not need to do anything special beyond entering the hostname.
Once you've established an SSH connection, you will be presented with some informational text about the cluster you've connected to followed by a UNIX command prompt. For a brief discussion of UNIX command prompts and what you can do with them, see the next section of this guide.
To transfer files, use your preferred SFTP client to connect to:
Since process times are limited on the login nodes, trying to transfer large files directly to oakley.osc.edu or other login nodes may terminate partway through. The sftp.osc.edu is specially configured to avoid this issue, and so we recommend it for all your file transfers.
See our Firewall and Proxy Settings page for information on how to configure your firewall to allow connection to and from OSC.
With an X Windows server you will be able to run graphical applications on our clusters that display on your workstation. To do this, you will need to launch your X Windows server before connecting to our systems. Then, when setting up your SSH connection, you will need to be sure to enable "X11 Forwarding".
For users of the command-line
ssh client, you can do this by adding the "
-X" option. For example, the below will connect to the Oakley cluster with X11 forwarding:
$ ssh -X firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are connecting with PuTTY, the checkbox to enable X11 forwarding can be found in the connections pane under "Connections → SSH → X11".
For other SSH clients, consult their documentation to determine how to enable X11 forwarding.