Connecting to a Virtual Desktop


You must be able to forward a port.

A virtual desktop provides a graphical interface to using the cluster. Desktops are hosted withing Singularity containers, so not all of the NeSI software stack is supported. If you would like to build your own desktop containers with the code here.

Rendering is done cluster-side, and compressed before being sent to your local machine. This means any graphical should be significantly more responsive than when using X11 on it's own.


The Virtual desktops are still in development, please report any issues to NeSI support, or open an issue here.

Port Forwarding

A port on your local machine must be forwarded to Mahuika.

Learn about setting up port forwarding

For example:

ssh -L 1234:localhost:1234 mahuika


Port numbers should be between 1025-49151. It's OK to use the same number for local and remote ports (makes it easier to remember too!)

Starting a Desktop

On the login node

You may run desktops on the login node, provided you are not doing any serious computation, or are using an application that can submit it's of jobs.

Once on mahuika, enter in the path to the desktop followed by your forwarded port. 

/opt/nesi/vdt/run <desktop> <port>

--help for more options.

 Desktop  command Working OS Desktop
eng_dev /opt/nesi/vdt/run eng_dev <port>


Centos7 xfce
default /opt/nesi/vdt/run default <port>


Centos7 xfce

Then in a web browser navigate to your forwarded address. e.g.:


On a compute node

To start a desktop on a compute node you must already have an job running, this could be a regular job submitted with sbatch, or a dedicated allocation. Starting a desktop inside an allocation will automatically forward your connection to the appropriate node.

Otherwise you can connect using:

-j <jobid>
-n <node>(must have an allocation on that node)

 for example

/opt/nesi/vdt/run eng_dev -j 13864207 1234


To reconnect to a desktop session running on a compute node you must be forwarded to that node. A desktop running on a compute node is not visible from the login node.


Recommend setting scaling to 'remote'


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