NICE DCV Setup

NICE DCV is a virtual desktop solution that enables users to run graphics-intensive OpenGL applications, such as 3D visualisation, remotely on the HPC. You get full access to your data on the high-performance file systems, as well as the advanced CPU and GPU capabilities of the Cray CS clusters Mahuika and Māui Ancil.

NICE DCV sessions can persist for as long as your SLURM resource allocation is valid - you could launch a session in the morning, start a complex visualisation job with ParaView or VisIt, disconnect while the machine is still rendering the graphics, and reconnect in the afternoon to check how your job is coming along.

Follow the instructions below to set up a new session and connect to it.

Internet Connection

NICE DCV uses image compression mechanisms to reduce the amount of data that needs to be transmitted from the HPC to your laptop or desktop computer. However, data volumes can still become significant for longer sessions - please keep this in mind if your internet provider charges by data volume.

While NICE DCV works reasonably well over a WiFi connection, it is advisable to use a wired connection if possible for best performance.

Creating a new Session

Connect to the lander node, or either of the Maui or Mahuika login nodes, following the instructions here. For example:

ssh mahuika

Next, connect to a NICE DCV node:

ssh w-ndcv01

Create a new NICE DCV session, replacing <session name> with a session name of your choice:

dcv create-session <session name>

Establishing an SSH tunnel

In order for the NICE DCV client running on your machine to connect to the remote NICE DCV session, we have to create an SSH tunnel as the NICE DCV node is not directly accessible.

Linux/Mac

On your machine run the following command (assuming you added the recommended sections to your ~/.ssh/config file.

ssh mahuika -o ExitOnForwardFailure=yes -NL 8443:w-ndcv01:8443

Note, if successful this command will look like it is doing nothing (hanging) but it is important to leave it running. Once you kill this connection (e.g. Ctrl-c) you will no longer be able to connect to your NICE DCV session.

If you only have access to Maui then replace mahuika with maui above.

Windows

Instructions for creating a tunnel in MobaXterm...

Connecting to a Session

NICE DCV comes with a client for Windows and Linux systems, which can be downloaded from the NICE web pages. If you use MacOS, or if you do not want to install the client, you can also connect to your NICE DCV session with a modern browser.

Before you proceed, make sure that you have a valid SLURM allocation on the HPC and that a session has been created.

Connecting with a Client

To connect with the NICE DCV client software,

  1. Launch the client on your laptop or desktop computer
  2. Enter the server and session name in the login screen using the format "<node URL>#<session name>"
  3. Click on "Connect"
  4. Enter your HPC account credentials
  5. Click on "Login"

Connecting with a Browser

To connect with a browser,

  1. Launch the browser or open a new tab
  2. Enter "https://localhost:8443/#<session name>" in the URL bar
  3. You may need to accept the insecure certificate in your browser before you can proceed
  4. Enter your HPC account credentials (first factor)
  5. Click on "Login"

Using the Desktop Environment

You should be presented with a Linux desktop environment after successful login with the client or browser. You can then use the application launcher to start an application. You can also launch the terminal application by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting "Konsole". This will give you access to the NeSI software stack that includes various visualisation software solutions.

Disconnecting and Stopping a Session

Sessions can persist on the HPC for as long as the SLURM resource allocation is valid. You can disconnect and reconnect to the session as often as you like.

To disconnect without stopping a session,

  1. Click on the machine URL in the top-right corner of the NICE DCV window
  2. Select "Disconnect"
  3. Close the NICE DCV client or browser window

To disconnect and stop a session,

  1. Click on the application launcher icon in the top-left corner of the virtual desktop
  2. Click on "Leave"
  3. Click on "Log out"
  4. Confirm the logout in the dialog box that appears
  5. Close the NICE DCV client or browser window

A running session will automatically stop if your SLURM resource allocation finishes.

Labels: support application visualisation
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