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Connect to Quest with the FastX Desktop Client

The FastX Desktop Client is an application for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux personal computers that makes a network connection to Quest using SSH. It connects you to the Quest Linux servers with full graphics support via the Linux X Windows system, also called X11. FastX is made available to members of the Northwestern community under a campus site license.

You will only need to follow the configuration steps the first time you connect to Quest. After FastX is configured you can use it whenever you want to connect to Quest.

Prepare to Use FastX (VPN required for off-campus users)

To download, configure, or connect using FastX from an off-campus location, you must first establishVPN connection. This gives you an authenticated and secure connection to the Northwestern Network that is trusted by the FastX server and by Quest.

Install and Configure FastX

Connect with FastX


Install and Configure FastX

You only need to do the steps in this section once on each computer you want to use to connect to Quest.

Step 1: Download and Install FastX (VPN Connection required)

Windows:

  1. Download the FastX Client to your PC.
  2. Run the installer.

Mac OS X:

  1. Download the FastX client to your Mac.
  2. Open the disk image named FastX.dmg.
  3. Drag FastX into your Applications folder.

Step 2:  Run FastX for the First Time

Windows:

Use the Start Menu (Click Start Menu > All Programs > FastX) or use the Start Screen to find the FastX application and Run it. When p;rompted, allow FastX to communicate through the firewall.

Mac OS X:

  1. In the Finder, open the Applications folder and locate FastX.
  2. Press the Control-key and click the FastX icon.
  3. Choose Open from the pop-up menu.
  4. Click Open.

Note: FastX will be stored as an exception to your security settings and you will subsequently be able to run it by double-clicking the FastX icon. You will have to do this each time you upgrade FastX.

Step 3: Create a Connection

FastX uses SSH to connect to a Quest login node.

1. Click the PLUS icon in the upper right corner of the window.

2. Select SSH from the drop-down list. A New Connection window will open.

This is screenshot of the new connection window.

3. You must already have an account on Quest to login. Fill in the following fields:

  1. Name: Quest
  2. Host: quest.northwestern.edu
  3. Port: 22
  4. UserEnter your own NetID in lower-case letters.

4. Click Save.

This is a screenshit of the SSH connection after the fields have been entered.

Connect to Quest

This section shows you how to create a connection to Quest each time you want to connect and how to manage your connections.

Step 1: Open a Connection to a Quest Login Node

1. With FastX open, double-click Quest in the Connections window.

This is a screenshot of the connections window.

2. A window will pop up. Enter your NetID password. Then click Continue.

This is a screenshot of the pop up window.

FastX will open an SSH connection to Quest and open a Session Management window for Quest. You will have no sessions to begin with, so the window will appear to be empty.

Step 2: Start a Session

1. Click the PLUS icon in the upper right corner of the Session Management window to create a new Session. 

This is a screenshot pointing to plus sign in the upper right hand corner of the window.

2. A new window will appear. Click the Bookmarks pull down menu and select GNOME Terminal from the drop-down list.

This is a screenshot of the Bookmarks pulldown menu listing the GNOME Terminal

3. The Command box will change to start a single application program named, gnome-terminalClick OK. Your GNOME Terminal window will open, and your Session Management window will change to show that you have a single session named, GNOME Terminal.

This is a screenshot of the GNOME Terminal window confirming the single session name.

A GNOME Terminal window will also open:

This is a screenshot of the GNOME Terminal window

The GNOME Terminal Command Line Window is a traditional GNOME Terminal session running a Bash shell; it provides full graphics support via X11. Type Linux commands in this window. Manage batch jobs. Launch programs with graphical interfaces. Edit your files with the evim GUI.  Explore the menu bar items to learn more about the features of GNOME Terminal. GNOME Terminal is the recommended way to connect to Quest.

The other options under the Bookmarks menu (including GNOME Desktop and xterm) are not actively supported for Quest. Most analytic applications on Quest are only available to launch from the command line.

Step 3: Disconnecting and Reconnecting Sessions

Running sessions are listed in the FastX Session Management window. Sessions continue to run on the login host until you terminate them.

You can disconnect from a running session without terminating it by selecting the session from the list and then clicking the Pause Button that will appear when a session is selected. You might want to disconnect in your office, go home, and then reconnect. 

You can reconnect to a paused session by double-clicking on the session, or by selecting a session and then clicking the Reconnect Button which looks like “play” button.

This is a screenshot of the GNOME Terminal window with arrows pointing to the play icon and the pause icon.

If a connection is lost, as in the case of a network failure, the session will disconnect. To re-establish a session after a connection loss, first open a connection to Quest. Your session still will be listed again in the Sessions window.

Step 4: Terminating a Session

When finished, sessions should be terminated by typing "exit” in the terminal. Sessions can also be terminated from the FastX program by clicking the Blue X Button that appears on the right when a session is selected to terminate it.

This is a screenshot of the GNOME terminal window with an arrow pointing to the X in the upper right hand corner of the page.

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Last Updated: 4 December 2017

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