HOWTO: Connect to OSC services using OSC Connect


NOTE:  OSC Ondemand now provides in-browser connectivity via VNC.  OSC Connect is no longer required nor recommended.  We recommend contacting OSC Help if you need assistance using the in-browser capabilities or if there is other functionality that is forcing you to still use OSC Connect.  This page is still available primarily for reference.

To connect to OSC services, a secure tunnel to a session is required. This can be done relatively simply in OSX and Linux by using the SSH functionality built into the system, but Windows users have had to configure and use third party applications like PuTTY or Java to access secure resources at OSC. OSC Connect is a native windows application written in C# and compiled for .NET 2.0, providing preconfigured management of secure tunnel connections for Windows users, as well as providing a launcher for secure file transfer, VNC, terminal, and web based services. 

OSC Connect is supported on Windows versions from Windows XP through Windows 10.

We've created a brief video:



Getting Started

  1. Download the latest release of OSC Connect from here: Latest Build
    • Click OSCConnect.exe  and download. Use "Save link as" to download this file to a folder of your choice. 
    • See here for all the previous releases. 
  2. Double-Click the OSCConnect.exe icon to run the application. In the current state, OSC Connect is entirely deployed by a single executable file; no further installation is required.   ​
  3. When you run OSC Connect, a temporary folder named "ConnectFiles" with four additional files will be created. These are required for proper functionality of the application. Please ensure that these files are permitted by your IT administrator:
    • plink.exe is the command-line version of PuTTY used by the application to create the secure connection to OSC resources.
    • putty.exe  is the GUI application of PuTTY used to provide terminal emulation remote console connections to OSC resources.
    • vncviewer.exe is the VNC viewer client used to view a remote desktop session.
    • WinSCP.exe  is the SFTP client used for file transfer.
  4. Once your connections to OSC services as well as the OSC Connect app is closed, the temporary folder named "ConnectFiles" will be removed automatically. 

OSC Connect Graphical User Interface

After you double-click the  OSCConnect.exe  icon oscconnect_icon , the application graphical user interface is shown as below:


  • Network Status: it indicates which OSC cluster you will be connected to. The option can be changed in "Settings". 

  • Settings: it provides several configuration options to modify the behavior of the application. 

    • Connection Settings: use this dropdown to select the default host/cluster. Selecting a server here will change the endpoint for tunneling, sftp connections, console connections, and connectivity checking.

    • System Settings

      • Detect Clipboard Activity: when this option is enabled, the application will detect valid data on the Windows clipboard and populate the application. ( Default: Off )

      • Check for New Versions: when this option is enabled, the application will check for version updates. (Default: on)

    • Automation Settings:

      • Save User Credentials: when this option is enabled, it allows the application to remember the user when the application is reopened. This saves the user credentials to the user settings using DPAPI Encryption. Passwords are decrypted only by current the Windows user account. ( Default: Off )

      • Launch Tunnel On Import: when this option is enabled, the tunnel will automatically connect when the application detects a valid clipboard string and the user credentials have been entered. ( Default: On )

    • VNC Settings

  • ​About: it provides additional information about OSC Connect.

After you provide your OSC Credentials, i.e. your OSC HPC username and password, more functionalities are available as shown below:


  • SFTP: it uses WinSCP as the SFTP client to securely connect to the OSC file system over SFTP.
  • Console: it uses PuTTY to provides you shell access to OSC cluster.

In addition, Session Type is provided such that advanced users can connect to a running session mannually.

For most users, you can ingore Session Type and are able to connect to a running session through OSC OnDemand using the configuration generated after your session starts. See "Connecting to a Session" for more details. 

Connecting to a Session

The OSC Connect application can be used to connect to a running session launched through OSC OnDemand.

OSC Connect does not have the ability to launch a new session
  1. Navigate to OSC Demand to create a new session under either "Desktops" or "Desktop Apps". 
    • More information on how to use OSC OnDemand can be found here
  2. Once your session is running, you have two options to connect to the session: "noVNC Instructions" and "Native Client Instructions". Click "Native Client Instructions" to use OSC Connect. 
  3. Follow the steps below to connect to the running session:
    • Step 1: Download the latest OSC Connect if you don't already have it. See "Getting Started" for more details. 
    • Step 2: Launch OSC Connect. 
    • Step 3: Click - osc://xxxxx . osc://xxxxx is a custom URI scheme that is registered when you launch the application. Simply click the link to populate the configuration information and connect to your running session. If OSCConnect.exe is not running when you click the URI, the OSC Connect application will be popped up. Enter your OSC HPC username and password and you will be able to connect to the session by clicking the "Connect" button.
    • For advanced users, you can skip step 3 and connect to a running session mannually. Depending on the type of application, you can choose either "iHPC VNC Desktop" to create a VNC tunnel or "Web Browser Session" to create a browser tunnel. 
Be sure to launch OSCConnect.exe at least once before you use it to connect to a running session. The initial launch will add a key to your user registry that initializes the URI scheme.  


I've clicked the osc:// link and nothing happened.

Be sure to run OSCConnect.exe at least once. The initial launch will add a key to your user registry that initializes the URI scheme. If you move or rename the OSCConnect.exe file, you will need to run the application again manually to update the path in the handler.

I've received the error "Unable to open helper application. The protocol specified in this address is not valid."

This issue appears in some earlier versions of Internet Explorer when attempting to launch the application from a Temporary location. Download and run the OSCConnect.exe application, being sure to save the file to a non-temporary location.