At IU, what is Karst Desktop?

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Overview

At Indiana University, Karst Desktop is a remote desktop service for users with accounts on the Karst research supercomputer. Karst Desktop lets you open and control a remote session on Karst from a graphical desktop window running on your personal computer. You can run graphical applications installed on Karst from your Karst Desktop window without noticeable latency. Additionally, you can export your computer's local drives and directories, making them available to you during your remote session, simplifying the transfer of data between your computer and your Karst account. Overall, Karst Desktop provides numerous features that are especially helpful to users who are unaccustomed to working in Unix-like command-line environments.

Most research supercomputers, including those at IU, run Unix-like operating systems that, by default, require you to type commands into a command processor, or shell. If you are accustomed to interacting only with graphical user interfaces (GUIs), such as those in Windows or OS X, learning how to effectively use a Unix-like command-line interface can be a challenge (or even an impediment to your research). The Karst Desktop service is designed to help reduce the learning curve for users with little or no command-line experience and, as a result, promote broader use of IU's research supercomputers.

System information

To use the Karst Desktop service, you need an account on the Karst research supercomputer; if you don't already have an account, see At IU, if I already have some computing accounts, how do I get others?

The Karst Desktop service is supported by more than a dozen dedicated nodes. Each node is equipped with two 8-core Intel Xeon E5-2650 v2 (2.60 GHz) processors and 256 GB of RAM.

Karst Desktop nodes are accessible only from ThinLinc Client connections. You cannot SSH directly to any of the Karst Desktop nodes from a terminal client on your workstation.

Connecting to Karst Desktop

To set up and use Karst Desktop on your personal computer, you need to install ThinLinc Client, a remote desktop application. You can download it from IUware for the following systems:

ThinLinc Client and the Karst Desktop service use an optimized implementation of the Virtual Network Client (VNC) protocol to communicate with each other. All data traffic between client and server is protected by secure shell (SSH) encryption.

Launching ThinLinc Client opens the ThinLinc Client login window:

The ThinLinc Client login window

The first time you launch ThinLinc Client, the login window will contain the following items by default:

  • "Server" field
  • "Username" field (or "Name" field, depending on your system)
  • "Password" field
  • Connect, Exit, and Options buttons
  • End existing session checkbox
  • "Status" field (at the bottom; displays login status)
Important:

Do not connect to Karst Desktop before checking the ThinLinc Client screen size settings; to do so, click Options....

By default, the newly installed client selects screen size settings (Full screen mode and Enable full screen mode over all monitors) may cause display problems, especially if your computer is connected to more than one monitor. UITS strongly recommends de-selecting these options before starting your Karst Desktop session.

Note:
If you don't see the "Server" field or the Options button, click Advanced>> to expand the login window.

To set up a connection to the Karst Desktop service:

  • In the "Server" field, enter:
    desktop.karst.uits.iu.edu
  • In the "Username" or "Name" field, enter your IU username.
  • To log in using your IU credentials, in the "Password" field, enter your IU passphrase.

To use public-key authentication instead, refer to the instructions in the Authentication options section in At IU, how do I configure ThinLinc Client to connect to Karst Desktop?

Getting help

For more on Karst Desktop, see:

If you have a question or need help with Karst Desktop, contact the Karst Desktop development team.

Support for IU research computing systems, software, and services is provided by various UITS Research Technologies units. For help, see Research computing support at IU.

This is document bfwp in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2017-08-17 13:00:02.

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