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Triolith Thinlinc Pilot Test User Guide

1 About this document

This is a temporary User Guide for the ThinLinc Pilot Test on Triolith. If ThinLinc becomes an officially supported part of Triolith, this Guide will be merged into the normal Triolith User Guide (http://www.nsc.liu.se/systems/triolith/).

2 What is ThinLinc?

ThinLinc is a remote desktop solution from Cendio Systems. See http://www.cendio.com/ for a complete description.

By running the X server on a server in the cluster (i.e closer to your application) and using an efficient method for delivering the image to your local computer (VNC-based), most graphical applications will run significantly better than when using X-forwarding tunneled through SSH.

ThinLinc can also make use of a graphics card in the ThinLinc server ("triolith3") to provide hardware acceleration to OpenGL applications (e.g VMD, Maestro, Gaussview).

3 Why would you want to use ThinLinc?

Here are some use cases:

3.1 Using accelerated OpenGL applications

Perhaps you want to run a graphical user interface (GUI) that is using OpenGL (e.g VMD) to visualize data that is located on Triolith. Rather than moving a large amount of data to your local computer and visualize it there, you can run the GUI directly on Triolith and display the window on your computer with much better results (higher framerate etc) than using traditional X-windows tunneling through SSH.

3.2 Modern GUIs that do not run well using X-forwarding

Certain graphical user interfaces are implemented with no regard for performance when tunneled through SSH on a connection with high latency, and will be more or less unusable. Since ThinLinc presents a local X server to the application (with almost zero latency) and handles the transportation of the graphics data invisible to the application, it can perform much better for these types of applications.

4 What is the ThinLinc Pilot Test

NSC has installed ThinLinc for evaluation on a single test server in Triolith. The purpose of the evaluation is to determine if this type of remote desktop solution (ThinLinc or a similar product) is something that would benefit our users.

As part of the evaluation we are now letting certain Triolith users use the ThinLinc server for a limited period.

The end date for the Pilot Test 2013-06-28 (our test license ends at that date).

Please send any comments, suggestions, error reports etc you might have during the Pilot Test to support@nsc.liu.se.

After the Pilot Test we hope to make a decision quickly on if ThinLinc or a similar system will be made a permanent service in Triolith.

5 This is a test service!

Please note that this is a test service. While we will try hard to not disturb users unnecessarily, we might need to restart the server, modify settings etc with little warning.

Also, since there is no guarantee that we will in the end decide to purchase this system, please do not make yourself too dependent on it. It might be shut down at the end of the pilot test never to be seen again…

6 Installing the ThinLinc client and connecting to Triolith

The ThinLinc client can be downloaded for free from http://www.cendio.com/downloads/clients/. It is available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Solaris.

To use ThinLinc Pilot test:

  1. Download the client matching your local computer (i.e Windows, Linux, MacOS X or Solaris) and install it.
  2. Start the client
  3. Change the "Server" setting to "triolith3.nsc.liu.se"
  4. Change the "Name" setting to your Triolith username (e.g x_abcde).
  5. You do not need to change any other settings
  6. Enter your Triolith password in the "Password" box
  7. Press the "Connect" button.

After a few seconds, a window with a simple desktop session in it will appear. From the Applications menu, start a Terminal Window. You are now logged in to Triolith and can submit jobs, start interactive sessions, start graphical interfaces as usual.

Please note that all Triolith applications are available on the ThinLinc server, not just the ones listed in the Application menu.

To log out end end your session, click the green "running man" icon to the right of the Applications menu and select Logout.

The default session is a fullscreen session (will cover your entire screen). If this is not what you want, you can change it in the ThinLinc client settings. Click Options, select the Screen tab and deselect Full Screen Mode. You will then get a window with your Triolith desktop inside it, which you can resize to whatever size you want.

In most cases you also want to disable the session option "send system keys". This option is on by default, and it means that "system keys" (e.g Alt-Tab, Cmd-Tab etc) are sent to the ThinLinc server and not to your local computer while the ThinLinc session is running.

7 Using SSH public key authentication instead of password

If you use SSH public key authentication to login to Triolith you need to do this to use this method also for ThinLinc:

  1. Start the ThinLinc client
  2. Click "Options"
  3. In the "Security" tab, Change "Password" to "Public key"
  4. Press OK
  5. The "Password" box has now changed to "Key". Click the browse button to the right of the Key field and select your SSH private key file (or enter the path to your key directly)
  6. Press the "Connect" button.
  7. Enter the passphrase for your SSH private key (if you don't have one, you really should…)

8 Running accelerated OpenGL applications

In order to make use of hardware-accelerated OpenGL, the application needs to be launched in a certain way.

Some applications have already been modified to do this automatically. The applications listed below will automatically be accelerated when run from ThinLinc, so you just need to start them manually.

  • GaussView (e.g "module add gaussview/5.0.9; gv")
  • VMD (e.g "module add vmd/1.9.1; vmd")
  • Maestro (e.g "module add schrodinger/2012u1-nsc; maestro")
  • VESTA (e.g "module add vesta/3.1.3; vesta")

All other OpenGL applications needs to be launched using "vglrun", e.g "vglrun SOME_OPENGL_APPLICATION".






Page last modified: 2013-04-30 09:32
For more information contact us at info@nsc.liu.se.