[torqueusers] VNC service on cluster nodes with torque

Chris Hunter chris.hunter at yale.edu
Fri Jun 14 10:43:27 MDT 2013

I am working on a method to provide easy remote VNC access to cluster 
nodes using regular torque "qsub" job submission. The objective is to 
allow cluster users to run GUI based software (eg. matlab, visit, 
paraview, etc.) on cluster nodes via remote access. We have run into 
several practical difficulties not directly related torque.

For example, users submit jobs on a public-facing server but the VNC 
service starts on a cluster node on a private network. We need to create 
a network path between the remote user and the cluster node, using the 
public-facing server as the intermediate bridge. We have found no good 
method to automate this as part of the job submission. We tested various 
port forwarding schemes that require manual intervention but nothing 
that is fully automated.

Another issue is VNC traffic is unencrypted. We would like to encrypt 
traffic (ie. using a SSH tunnel) to the remote user. However, installing 
and configuring the required VNC & SSH client software on a remote PC is 
a support nightmare (eg. supporting unmanaged windows, mac & linux 
desktop & laptops).

Does any manage a cluster where users submit jobs to use VNC ?
Are you able to fully automate the VNC setup and connection ?
Any advice on avoiding common pitfalls ? Is a fully automated VNC 
service unrealistic ?

chris hunter
chris.hunter at yale.edu

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