Accessing the RCE

You can access HMDC-managed systems from any modern workstation or laptop with a high-speed connection. The RCE provides a familiar, consistent user experience to all researchers; our remote desktop environment is built on CentOS Linux and Gnome. This allows sessions to be suspended and resumed at will: you can begin a session from one workstation, suspend it, move to another system, and resume the previous session, all with no disruption to your environment. If you work in a command line environment, and want the highest throughput without a graphical interface, the RCE is also accessible via a SSH connection.

Remote access provides three categories of services:

  • Research Environment (graphical desktop)
  • Secure Shell (command-line tools)
  • File Access (home directory)

This guide assumes you already have an RCE account. If you do not, please contact us at support@help.hmdc.harvard.edu to request one.

To connect to the RCE, you need a hostname and a port number. The hostname was given to you in your account confirmation email. Normally it will be rce6.hmdc.harvard.edu. Kennedy School researchers should use kennedy.fas.harvard.edu. If you're unsure which one to use, please contact us. The port number will always be 22.

If you would like to skip entering your password each time you log in, the RCE supports using public key authentication. Please see the FAQ, How do I use public key authentication? for instructions on creating a public key.

Graphical Desktop

To connect to the RCE remote desktop, a NX client is required. Currently we are using OpenNX for Linux and Mac systems, and NoMachine 3.5 for Windows systems.

Linux

There are different instructions depending on your distribution. Review the OpenNX download list first! The following instructions assume you are using Ubuntu!

  1. Open the Terminal application.

  2. Check your version: cat /etc/issue

  3. Import the key(replace the distro version with your own):
    wget -P ~/ http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/felfert/xUbuntu_12.04/Release.key ; sudo apt-key add ~/Release.key

  4. Become "root" to add the new repository: sudo su -

  5. Create the OpenNX repository (replace the distro version with your own):
    echo "deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/felfert/xUbuntu_12.04 ./" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/opennx.list ; apt-get update ; exit
    Technical note: the above is three commands. The first creates a new file with the "deb..." line, then refreshes the list of available packages, and exits the "root" account.

  6. Install the client: sudo apt-get install opennx

  7. Fix a library issue: sudo ln -s /usr/lib/opennx/lib /usr/lib/opennx/lib64

  8. You can find OpenNX in your application list now.

    To invoke opennx from the command line, you need to modify your path. Edit ~/.profile and add this line to the bottom: PATH=$PATH:/usr/lib/opennx/bin

  9. Follow the instructions for Mac OS X to setup the client.

Mac OS X

Newer versions of OS X include Gatekeeper, a set of options to restrict unknown applications from being installed on the system. This can sometimes cause warnings, or prevent installation altogether. Please see the Apple KB article for more information.
OS X 10.6 and later no longer includes X11, which is required for NX clients. Please download and install XQuartz instead.

  1. To begin, download and install OpenNX. Then run the Connection Wizard.

  2. Name the Session something identifiable, e.g. "RCE6" if you are migrating from the old RCE. The Port will always be 22. Move the slider to "LAN". The Host was provided in your confirmation email. It will most likely be rce6.hmdc.harvard.edu or kennedy.fas.harvard.edu. Please verify this with HMDC Support if you are unsure.

  3. Your deskop selection needs to be "Unix" : "GNOME" in order to connect. You are welcome to leave the remote desktop resolution as "Available Area", but you may find "1024x768" a bit more manageable to start with.

  4. Leave the "Enable SSL encryption of all traffic" checkbox enabled.

  5. Creating a desktop shortcut is optional. All sessions are available in a drop-down menu from the main OpenNX application.

  6. The Connection Wizard may "crash" upon completion, but it will still save your new session.

Windows

  1. To begin, download and install NoMachine 3.5. Then run the Connection Wizard.

  2. Name the Session something identifiable, e.g. "RCE6" if you are migrating from the old RCE. The Port will always be 22. Move the slider to "LAN". The Host was provided in your confirmation email. It will most likely be rce6.hmdc.harvard.edu or kennedy.fas.harvard.edu. Please verify this with HMDC Support if you are unsure.

  3. Your deskop selection needs to be "Unix" : "GNOME" in order to connect. You are welcome to leave the remote desktop resolution as "Available Area", but you may find "1024x768" a bit more manageable to start with.

  4. Leave the "Enable SSL encryption of all traffic" checkbox enabled.

  5. Creating a desktop shortcut is optional. All sessions are available in a drop-down menu from the NoMachine application.

SSH Access

  1. On Mac and Linux, this is the built-in Terminal application.
    1. Enter ssh username@rce6.hmdc.harvard.edu to connect.
    2. A message will appear asking you to confirm the server's host key. (Accept the host key.)
    3. You are prompted to enter your password (assuming you used your user name above).
  2. On Windows, download PuTTY (putty.exe) and run it. (PuTTY does not have an installation; it is a stand-alone executable.)
    1. Enter your Host Name, leave the Port as is (22), the Connection type is SSH.
    2. Create a name for the Saved Session and click "Save".

    3. Click "Open" to connect.
    4. A message will appear asking you to confirm the server's host key. (Accept the host key.)
    5. You are prompted to enter your user name and password.
  3. You are now at an RCE command prompt. To exit type: exit

Transferring Files

A SFTP client is required to transfer files to and from the RCE. We recommend FileZilla for all systems.

  1. Download and install FileZilla.

  2. Run FileZilla on your local computer.

  3. Select File → Site Manager to input a new connection.

  4. Click the New Site button. Enter the information below.

  5. Replace rce6.hmdc.harvard.edu with the name of the server you were given in your confirmation email. The connection name may be any name you wish. Be sure to use your own username.

  6. FileZilla will ask to confirm the connection. You may proceed.

  7. Drag files across the panels to upload and download to your home directory. Remember that you only have 500MB, so large files should be placed in your project space!
  • opennx_1.png
  • opennx_0.png
  • opennx_2.png
  • opennx_3.png
  • filezilla_1.png
  • filezilla_0a.png