VCL Frequently Asked Questions

Basic Information

Help Procedures for the VCL

Reservations

What if I need more time on my current reservation?

What if I need more time on my reservation than the VCL allows?

How do I turn on/off email notifications for reservations?

Files and Data

How can I copy files between my PC and my VCL session?

How can I copy files between my VCL session and another system where I have file storage?

How can I copy files between my VCL session and my AFS directory?

How can I access shared folders from my Windows domain?

How do I specify a file path name of a folder from the local computer I am using to run a program (i.e., using the F: drive from my laptop)?

Connecting to a VCL Session

Why can’t I connect to my Windows-based reservation?

What does the “Get RDP File” button do on the reservation connection page?

How can I run a full desktop session for a Linux reservation?

I usually connect to the VCL from a computer on campus, but my programs take a long time to run. Is there a way to connect to the same VCL session from my home laptop while the program is still running via the campus computer?

I am not running windows, and I do not have an RDP client, where do I get it?

How do I set Remote Desktop to run FullScreen by default?

Miscellaneous

I plugged my thumb drive into my computer but it is not showing up in the VCL session. How do I get it there?

When my reservation ended and I made a new one, all the data I saved in that session was gone! Now what?

I have a need to use an image for a large class, how do I do this?

Managing Images

What are the requirements for requesting an image creation?

How do I set the image I created to allow users to disconnect without ending their reservation?

How can I enforce the license limiting the number of users of the application I’m installing in my image?

What if I need more time on my current reservation?

You can extend your time if needed on the current reservation by selecting Current Reservations from the menu and clicking the More Options button, and click Edit. Select from the time extensions provided on the pull-down list.

What if I need more time on my reservation than the VCL allows?

If you need more time than the maximum allowable time in your session, we can grant longer reservation times on a need basis. Contact research@unc.edu and provide a description of your need for longer reservation times.

How do I turn on/off email notifications for reservations?

The VCL can send you an email notification when your reservation is ready. You can turn this feature on or off according to your preference.

    • Click User Preferences
    • Click General Preferences
    • Select Enabled or Disabled to suit your preference
    • Click Submit General Preferences

How can I copy files between my PC and my VCL session?

If you are connecting to a Windows-based session with Remote Desktop Connection, you can map the local drives on your PC to the VCL session by doing the following:

    • Start Remote Desktop Connection.
    • Click the Options button.
    • Click the Local Resources tab.
    • Click the checkbox next to Printers, if you’d like to also map your printer.
    • Click the More button.
    • Click the checkbox next to Drives.
    • Click OK.
    • Connect to your VCL reservation as you normally would, entering the server address and your username.
    • Double-click the computer icon on the VCL desktop.
    • You will see your PC drive(s) under the Other section. You can copy files to and from these drives like you would any other folder.
    • You will also notice if you try to print, that the printer(s) known to your PC are also available in your VCL session.

If you are connecting to a Linux-based session with an SSH client, you can use the file transfer capabilities of the SSH client. Here’s an example using SSH Secure Shell program:

    • Start SSH Secure Shell
    • Press Enter or click Quick Connect
    • Enter the login information for your VCL session to connect and login.
    • On the toolbar, click the New File Transfer Window icon.
    • The left pane of this window shows your PC, the right pane shows the VCL computer.
    • Navigate in each window to the desired folders, drag and drop files to copy between them.

How can I copy files between my VCL session and another system where I have file storage?

This method assumes you have access to another system where you store your files, and that you use SSH or an SSH client program to logon to that system.  An example would be the Research Computing compute cluster.

    • On the VCL session, double-click the Secure File Transfer Client icon, or click Start -> All Programs -> SSH Secure Shell -> Secure File Transfer Client.
    • Click the QuickConnect button.
    • Enter the hostname of the system containing your files, e.g. killdevil.unc.edu.
    • Enter your username and click Connect.
    • Click Yes on the Host Authentication window to accept creation of an ssh key.
    • Enter your password when prompted.
    • The left pane shows files/folders on the VCL session, the right pane shows files/folders on the other system.
    • Navigate in each pane where you want to go.
    • Drag and drop files between panes to transfer them between the VCL session and the other system.
    • Exit the Secure File Transfer Client when done.

How can I copy files between my VCL session and my AFS directory?

AFS is a distributed file system, available on many servers. Most users with an onyen have an AFS directory. Note that this space is limited, typically 250Mb per user. If you have an account on the Research Computing cluster, your home directory there is in AFS space.

    • VCL environments that have the AFS Client installed will have an AFS Authentication icon on the desktop. Double-click this to display an AFS Tokens window, enter your onyen and password here.
    • You can also click the padlock icon if you see it in the lower right of the system tray of your VCL session.
    • Click the Obtain New Tokens button.
    • Enter your onyen and password.
    • To connect to a directory in AFS, click the Drive Letters tab. (Newer versions don’t have a Drive Letters tab, in this case see below.)
    • Click the Add button.
    • Select an available drive letter.
    • Enter the AFS path, e.g. \afs\isis\home\m\w\mwaldron (my home directory)
    • Click OK.
    • Double-click the computer icon on the VCL desktop.
    • You will see the AFS drive in the Network Drives section.
    • Navigate through it like any other drive or folder and copy files as you normally would.
    • If there was no Drive Letterstab on the AFS client window, do the following:
        • Right-click the computer icon and select Map Network Drive.
        • Enter the AFS path, e.g. \\afs\isis\home\m\w\mwaldron (my home)
        • Click Connect as different user name or different credentials.
        • Click Finish or OK.
        • Enter your onyen and onyen password (not VCL session password)

How can I access shared folders from my Windows domain?

If you have access to network-shared folders on a Windows domain, you can connect to those folders from your VCL windows session.

GUI method:

    • Right-click the computer icon and select Map Network Drive.
    • Enter the path to the shared folder in the form of \\server\path.
      e.g. \\storage.depts.unc.edu\ITS Shared
    • Click Connect as different user name.
    • Enter your username in the form of domain-name\onyen.
      e.g. ad.unc.edu\mwaldron
    • Enter your domain password.

Command-line method:

    • Open a command prompt window (Start->Programs->Accessories->Command Prompt).
    • Enter the command in the form, net use * \\server\path * /user:domain-name\onyen
      e.g. net use * “\\storage.depts.unc.edu\ITS Shared” * /user:ad.unc.edu\mwaldron
Note: If there are spaces in the share path name, be sure to enclose the path in double-quotes (“”).

How do I specify a file path name of a folder from the local computer I am using to run a program (i.e., using the F: drive from my laptop)?

I see there is path that is produced when I connect to the desktop (//tsclient//) but when I attempt to use this to designate my output file path, it does not work.

Some programs require a drive letter mapping for a path. In order to do this you will need to map a drive letter to a “unc path’” in the vcl session. To do this:

    • Open up the My Computer icon on desktop (e.g. it will have the name of the session instead of My Computer) go to TOOLS à Map network drive
    • In the Map Network Drive windows, choose your desired drive letter then click the Browse button.
    • Expand the Microsoft Terminal Services (click the + sign) and then expand the \\tsclient
    • You will see choices (e.g. \\tsclient\A, \\tsclient\C, etc.) These are the designated UNC mappings to the local drives on your desktop/laptop. Highlight the desired drive and click OK.
    • Click Finish
    • You will now see your drive mapping for your desired drive letter on your VCL session which will now allow you to specify a drive path in your application on the vcl session.

Why can’t I connect to my Windows-based reservation?

If you are connecting to a Windows-based reservation from off-campus, you must use the VPN client to login to the campus network in order for your Remote Desktop connection to work. If you clicked the Connect button for your reservation BEFORE logging into the VPN client, you will be unable to connect to your reservation. You must login to the VPN client FIRST, then click the Connect button on the Reservation page. If you have already clicked Connect, then logon to the VPN client, then click Connect again. This will update the reservation with your VPN IP address and you should then be able to connect to your reservation.

For more information on the requirement for VPN and Remote Desktop connections from off-campus, including how to get the VPN client, see http://help.unc.edu/CCM3_035705 .

What does the “Get RDP File” button do on the reservation connection page?

When you click the Connect button to obtain the login information for your VCL reservation, you’ll see a button labeled Get RDP File. The VCL provides a streamlined way for starting the Remote Desktop Connection program to connect to your reservations, and to automatically use the same local drive and printer mapping settings as well as other preferences each time you connect.

First, save your remote desktop preferences in the VCL by doing the following:

    • Click User Preferences in the left pane menu on the VCL web page.
    • Click RDP File Preferences.
    • Select Yes next to “Map Local Drives” and “Map Local Printers” if you wish to access these in your VCL sessions.
    • Change any other preferences to your liking.
    • Click Submit Changes.

Now, whenever you make a reservation and get to the screen that provides your login information, instead of manually starting the Remote Desktop Connection program and typing in all the information, do the following:

    • Click “Get RDP File“.
    • Click Open when prompted to open or save the file.
    • The Remote Desktop Connection program is started for you, and it automatically connects to the VCL session and enters your username. All you have to do is enter the password.

Your PC drive(s) and printer(s) are mapped to the VCL session for you.

How can I run a full desktop session for a Linux reservation?

If you want to run a full graphical desktop session for a Linux reservation, you can do so by starting a VNC session on the Linux server after you have logged onto it. You must be running an X server on your workstation, such as X-Win32 if you’re running Windows, or KDE/GNOME if you’re running Linux. Just perform the following steps:

  • Use ssh as you normally would to logon to the Linux server.
  • Run vncserver –localhost , you will be prompted to set a VNC password.
  • Run vncviewer localhost:1 , you will be prompted to enter the VNC password.
Note:
If you receive the message “X11 authentication rejected because of wrong authentication”, try running
export XAUTHORITY=/home/<userid>/.Xauthority
if you’re a ksh/bash user,
or
setenv XAUTHORITY /home/<userid>/.Xauthority
if you’re a csh/tcsh user. Substitute <userid> with your userid.

A window will be displayed with a full desktop session for the Linux server.

I usually connect to the VCL from a computer on campus, but my programs take a long time to run. Is there a way to connect to the same VCL session from my home laptop while the program is still running via the campus computer?

If the image you are running has been set to allow disconnecting without timing out the reservation, you can disconnect from the session and it will continue to run on the server. Note that you must disconnect from the session if you want to reconnect to it from another location. To reconnect from home or another location:

  • Sign-on to the VCL from that location
  • Click Current Reservations
  • Click the Connect button.

We attempt to configure all images to not end the session upon disconnection (should this occur please let us know). However, if you need to shut down a desktop or laptop, but want the job to keep running on your VCL session, simply click the X on the remote desktop window, do not log off in the session nor end it on the VCL web page.

I am not running windows, and I do not have an RDP client, where do I get it?

In order to connect to a Windows-based session, you need to use Remote Desktop Connection or equivalent program that uses the RDP protocol. There are such programs for Mac OS-X and Linux listed below.

For Mac OS-X – http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn473006.aspx

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/microsoft-remote-desktop/id715768417?mt=12&ls=1

For *Nix – http://www.rdesktop.org/

How do I set Remote Desktop to run FullScreen by default?

Go to User Preferences and click RDP File Preferences. Choose Full Screen in the Resolution setting.

I plugged my thumb drive into my computer but it is not showing up in the VCL session. How do I get it there?

Always make sure your thumb drives are connected BEFORE you connect to the session. If you happen to forget to do so, and upon plugging it in, it does not automatically update, simply disconnect the remote desktop session (do not log off) and reconnect. The RDP file provided upon initial reservation of the session I automatically configured to map local drives. Most RDP instances on windows and mac are configured the same way by default if you do not use the RDP file. However, if you still have issues, check your RDP client options to make sure you are mapping local drives for your RDP session.

When my reservation ended and I made a new one, all the data I saved in that session was gone! Now what?

The VCL images are created to provision hardware on an as needed basis. Once the reservation has ended, that hardware is “cleaned” making it available for another session. This means any data saved onto the sessions system drive will be gone. This is why it is vitally important for your work to be saved on the mapped drives or onto AFS space. If you have access to another system with storage, you can also use the SSH/SFTP client to copy files to the other system. Data is not backed up in these sessions and once it is gone, it is gone forever.

I have a need to use an image for a large class, how do I do this?

If you want to have an image available for use by students during a class, a block reservation can be setup for you. This will preload a specified number of machines with the desired image and reserve them for the class members so that they can get connected quickly. You can arrange for a block reservation by clicking on Block Allocations then Request New Block Allocation. Fill in the form then click Submit Block Allocation Request. Your request will be reviewed and you will receive a response either accepting or denying your request. Please submit your request at least 1 business day prior to when you want it to start.

What are the requirements for requesting an image creation?

First and foremost, know the licensing requirements of the application. You will need to provide the license to research computing and the terms of the license so we can properly configure the access. If there are access limitations/restrictions, that will need to be provided as well.

How do I set the image I created to allow users to disconnect without ending their reservation?

By default, the VCL will check whether the user is logged onto or connected to an image reservation to make sure it is still in use. If the user is not logged on or connected for more than 15 minutes, the reservation will be timed out and ended.

To allow users to disconnect from the session for more then 15 minutes without ending the reservation, do the following:

  • Click Manage Images
  • Select Edit Image Profiles and click Submit.
  • Click the Edit button next to your image.
  • Click Advanced Options.
  • Next to Check for logged in user select No.
  • Click Confirm Changes.

How can I enforce the license limiting the number of users of the application I’m installing in my image?

You can set a limit on the number of concurrent users of the image to match the number of licenses you have for the application. To do this, follow these steps.

  • Click Manage Images
  • Select Edit Image Profiles and click Submit.
  • Click the Edit button next to your image.
  • Click Advanced Options.
  • Enter the number you want in the Maximum Concurrent Usage field.
  • Click Confirm Changes.

Help Procedures for the VCL

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