[torqueusers] VNC service on cluster nodes with torque

Phil Regier pregier at ittc.ku.edu
Fri Jun 14 13:18:47 MDT 2013

A few of our admins wrote up some nifty interactive scripts to launch NoVNC on specially-provisioned (i.e., with virtualgl, turbovnc, local X servers, and limited open ports to the *local* network which can then be tunnelled and/or VPN'ed to the outside world as required) nodes under interactive jobs for this type of use; since NoVNC is using HTTPS there is some encryption, and there are fewer ports to open and no client software to be installed.  Not only is it blazingly fast compared to X forwarding, it also allows GPU/GL features to be enabled, which would be stripped completely by X forwarding alone.

It's not quite fully automated, but such a custom framework should allow you to choose your battles, so to speak, automating where possible and educating where necessary.

Hope this helps...


----- Original Message -----
From: "Chris Hunter" <chris.hunter at yale.edu>
To: torqueusers at supercluster.org
Sent: Friday, June 14, 2013 11:43:27 AM
Subject: [torqueusers] VNC service on cluster nodes with torque

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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