Note: Access to our systems is likely to change in coming months, as we are extending and re-structuring our resources. Please revisit this page occasionally to stay abreast with any changes.
The standard way to access our resources is though SSH.
For security reasons, we are currently operating only one login node that is accessible from the outside through ssh. The IP address for this (Solaris) login node is
- sfnode0.hpcvl.queensu.ca = 126.96.36.199
Make sure X-forwarding is enabled. This is necessary if you want to use any software with a graphics component. You will need your username and your system access password to get in.
Other nodes, particularly the Linux login/workup node swlogin1 need to be accessed from sflogin0 through ssh. This requires to type the password again:
hpcXXXX@sflogin0$ ssh swlogin1 hpcXXXX@swlogin1's password: hpcXXXX@swlogin1$
For details about using SSH, please check our SSH FAQ.
Secure Grid Portal and Access
The standard access to HPCVL resources is through our Portal, also known as "Secure Global Desktop". New users are required, and all of our users are strongly encouraged to sign up for Portal access. Access through SSH clients, while still possible, is meant only as a fail-safe if you encounter issues with the portal.
Signing Up For Portal Access
No separate Portal Access Procedure is required at this point. You use the temporary password that was sent to you when your account was activated for login to the portal. After you logged in for the first time, you should use the "Change Compute Cluster Password" application at the top left to change your password.
Note that portal access requires a recent version of Java. Use the Java Test Page to make sure your Java is working properly. If there are any problems, please address this issue first. After pressing the "Agree and Continue" button you should receive a message indicating that the latest version is installed.
Using the Portal
Once you have signed up for portal access, it is easy to access our systems from any Java enabled web browser:
- Visit https://portal.hpcvl.queensu.ca/ directly or press the Portal Login buttom in the upper right corner of our Web Page.
- Log in using your username hpcXXXX and your Password (you can change this from an application inside the portal).
- You will be brought to the Secure Global Desktop page.
- To use any of the applications appearing on the left-hand side, such xterm (sflogin0), click on it.
- If the application is used for the first time, you will be prompted to log in. For this, you use your username and the login password. The Secure Desktop will remember username and password for the application, and automatically use it next time. If the information has changed (for instance, you changed your login password), it will prompt you again.
- We suggest to use the Change Compute Cluster Password application near the top of the application list to change the login password you received to be the same as the portal password that you chose yourself and that was used to access the portal. This way you will have to remember only a single password of your own. You may have to re-type it when you are access applications the first time after changing, but it will be remembered after that.
Requirements for Portal
It is crucial to have a recent (preferably the latest) version of Java installed on your system. This includes a "Java Plugin" for the web browser. Check your Java at this Test Page. The latest Java Runtime Environment (JRE) may be downloaded freely from Oracle for most platforms. If you encounter portal issues they are almost invariably related to Java. Please contact us if you cannot get it to work.
- Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8
- Oracle (Sun) Solaris 9, 10, 11
- Linux Various Distributions
- Mac (Apple) OS-X > 10.5
- Microsoft Internet Explorer
- Mozilla Firefox
- Apple Safari
- Opera (Windows only)
- Some Linux systems use Java plugins (e.g. "Iced Tea") that are not compatible with the Secure Global Desktop used in our portal. Try installing the latest version of the Oracle Java Plugin.
- Google Chrome does not work due to the recent discontinuation of support for NPAPI plugins (https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/6213033)
The Portal is Java based. Most problems are due to missing or mis-configured Java plugins for your browser. Please see http://java.com/en/download/manual.jsp for detailed instructions for installing and configuring Java on your desktop machine.
- Recently Google has dropped support for the "NPAPI" plugin protocol. Since this is used by Java (and other formats such as Silverlight) our portal does not work with Chrome (https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/6213033).
- Firefox users, pay particular attention to the 'missing plugins' indication. You will see this message when the Java run-time environment is not installed. Please install Java before and test it before attempting to sign up.
- If you are using Firefox with Adblock you may need to create an exception rule so that the Secure Desktop loads properly. Use this AdBlock rule: @@|https://portal*.hpcvl.queensu.ca which will white-list HPCVL for HTTPS to machines called "portal*"
- SGD Client Not Installed Automatically. Problem: On some systems, the SGD Client fails to download and install automatically. The SGD Client can be installed manually or can be installed automatically using another browser. Solution: For manual install, go to this page and download the SGD client that fits for your system. After installing, shut down the browser completely and retry.
- Missing Compatibility libraries. Problem: On Linux systems (for instance, Ubuntu) the SGD client cannot be installed. Solution: It is sometimes necessary to install additional libraries for compatibility with the SGD client. Go to the Oracle Platform Support page and follow their instructions on how to install these libraries.
- Sometimes the automatic install fails because of Windows Security settings. Cause: Internet Explorer has a Protected Mode that prevents the SGD Client from downloading and installing automatically. Solution: Add the SGD server to the list of Trusted Sites in Internet Explorer's Security Settings.