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Connect to the SSCC with the FastX2 Browser Client

The FastX2 Browser Client makes a network connection from your browser to the SSCC using SSH. It gives you a Linux connection with full graphics support via the Linux X Windows system, also called X11. It is written entirely in javascript, and no plugins are required.

The FastX browser client works with any modern browser that supports ArrayBuffers. That includes Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer 10+. Mobile phones and tablets are also supported, with a touch interface.

"FastX offers high speed X Windows performance when displaying remote Linux desktops. FastX lets you work at LAN speed over the Internet or to servers far away. FastX secures the X Windows connection with encrypted SSH tunneling. The remote Linux desktop is persistent. If you lose the connection, simply reconnect. Sessions continue to run on the remote host." — StarNet Communications

The FastX2 Desktop Client is a full-featured alternative to this browser client that you install on your personal computer (Mac or Windows).

Prepare to Use FastX

Connect with FastX

Important Advice

VPN Connection REQUIRED for Off-Campus Users

To connect to the SSCC using FastX from an off-campus location, you must first establish a VPN connection. That gives you an authenticated and secure connection to the Northwestern network that can be trusted by the SSCC.

Connect to the SSCC Login Host

Three SSCC login hosts are available. Click one of the following links, which will open in a new window or tab:

Seldon (available to all SSCC users)

Dornick (for the SPS MS in Predictive Analytics program)

Mule2 (for authorized IPR users)

Login

  1. User Name: Enter your Northwestern NetID.
  2. Password: Enter your NetID password.
  3. Click Log In.

The Login Window will transform into a Session Window that will show your sessions on the host. Initially, you have no sessions.

Start a Session

You can open multiple sessions on a login host. Sessions are typically terminal windows, but can be desktop sessions. Use a terminal window to type Unix commands.

Click  New Session.

You will see a small window with a dimmed command prompt on the left, and a Bookmarks drop-down menu on the right.

  1. Click Bookmarks and then, from the drop-down list,
  2. Click GNOME Terminal.
  3. Click Start.

A new window will pop up with your GNOME Terminal session. You must enable pop-ups in your browser to open this window. Check your browser's documentation to learn how to enable pop-ups.

Four SSCC Session Suggestions are provided:

  1. GNOME Terminal
  2. Xfce Lightweight Desktop
  3. GNOME Desktop
  4. xterm

GNOME Terminal is the recommended command line session. Type Linux commands in this window. Manage batch jobs. Launch graphical IDEs like xstata and rstudio. Edit your files with the evim GUI. GNOME Terminal is the most common means of access to the SSCC. Explore the menu bar items to learn more about the features of GNOME Terminal.

Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for Linux that is designed to be fast and to use system resources efficiently.

The GNOME Desktop is a standard desktop for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It is more resource-intensive than Xfce.

The SSCC has minimal support for the Xfce and GNOME desktops. Most analytic applications are only available from the command line.

xterm is a traditional X11 terminal window, and is not recommended for most SSCC users.

Disconnecting and Reconnecting Sessions

Running sessions appear in the FastX Sessions window. Sessions continue to run on the login host until terminated by you, or if you exit the terminal window or logout from a desktop session.

You can disconnect a running session by selecting a session and then clicking the Pause Button.

You can reconnect to a running session by double-clicking on the session, or by selecting a session and then clicking the Reconnect Button.

If a connection is lost, perhaps due to a network failure, the session will disconnect. You might want to disconnect in your office, go home, and reconnect. 

To get back after a connection loss, first open a Connection to the login host you were previously using. Your sessions will be listed again in the Sessions window.

Click the Blue Triangle to connect to a selected session.

Click the Blue Pause Button to disconnect a selected session.

Disconnected sessions will be terminated after three hours of non-use to conserve system resources.

Terminating Sessions

Sessions can be terminated by exit or logout commands, or they can be terminated from the FastX Sessions window.

Click the Blue X Button to terminate a selected session.

Session Sharing in FastX

Session sharing provides multiple users the ability to view and optionally interact with a running FastX session. Sharing can be enabled and disabled on the fly.

Session sharing is only available for Desktop sessions (either Xfce or GNOME). You cannot share a simple Terminal session.

Every user sharing a session must have an active SSCC account.

Session Sharing in FastX explains how to share a Desktop session with guests.

Sign Out from Your Connection

It is very important to Sign Out. If you do not, you will leave behind a running Connection and waste resources that could be used by others.

The top right of your Session window shows the name of your current connection in the form netid@login.host.northwestern.edu.

Click the connection name and then Click Sign Out from the drop-down menu,

Repeated Password Prompts

If you are repeatedly prompted for your password:

If you have changed your password, be aware that it may take a few minutes for the change to be recognized by the SSCC login hosts.

Common VPN Issues

If your attempt to login times out, or if the network connection is rejected, make sure that your VPN connection to the Northwestern network is active.

If your attempt to login fails because the SSCC host address is not found, make sure that your VPN connection is properly configured.

It's best to telephone the IT Support Center to obtain help with VPN problems.


Last Updated: 5 June 2017

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