CRMDA Computing: Where the Information Age Becomes Reality

 

News Flash!

As of July 7, 2015, the new Advanced Computing Facility (ACF) cluster is up and running! The login node is login2.acf.ku.edu. This will have all of the functionality of the previous login nodes, plus more. The new system allows two types of usage. 

  1. High performance parallel computing (launch 100s or 1000s of Monte Carlo simulations, etc).
  2. Interactive Desktop Sessions (using a single node interactively). 

If you're looking for step by step instructions, please see the Remote Computing Help page.

Sign up for an account!

In order to obtain access, it is necessary for faculty and student researchers to register with the CRMDA. For registration information, see the Account Signup Page.

What happens at login2.acf.ku.edu?

That's the front door.  Maybe its more like a foyer.  To get access to resources, it is necessary to go through that door. We don't do work there, it is simply an access point.  There are two types of usage for which we are currently set up.

  1. Ask for an interactive session with a single compute node (so it can be used as if it were a personal workstation), or
  2. Launch a parallel job using many compute nodes.

We are currently revising the remote computing documentation so that it will match the new computing environment. Please review that material at your earliest opportunity, let us know what you think.

Brief Warning About Security

This is a remote computing framework and we have to protect it from hackers around the world. We do this, primarily, by limiting connections to people who

  1. Have valid KU logins
  2. Employ Secure Shell compatible software to encrypt information in transmission
  3. Are inside the physical KU network (on campus) or connected to the KU Anywhere Virtual Private Network (VPN), which is known also as kuanywhere.ku.edu.

The Secure Shell (SSH) framework is now commonplace.  We susect that, in 2015, it is difficult to find a useful network communications program that does not include an SSH component.

The VPN requirement for users who are off-campus may be slightly more challenging.  The CRMDA offers access to the ACF cluster, but we do not have expertise or personnel to help much with the VPN. We observe that it can generally be made to work, however, with varying amounts of user "elbow grease." For help with KU Anywhere, please see the KU Central Information Technology page http://technology.ku.edu/kuanywhere.

File Storage!

NFS: Networked File System

The ACF cluster uses a Networked File System (NFS).  The login nodes and the compute nodes can see the same directories. That's especially true for the user HOME folder, such as /home/username. When users log in, they will generally find that their current working directory is the home directory.

The ACF storage is remotely accessible

The files that users store in the ACF cluster are available through several protocols.  Users can see and use their files while they are directly interacting with login2.acf.ku.edu, but there are also alternative access points.  We have additional instructions our page about remote access to External Storage.

Storage Limits
As of July 7, 2015, we allocate 20GB storage for each user account. 

Users who are employees or affiliated with CRMDA may be granted access to additional resources. There are several folders under  /crmda, that may become accessible to users with various types of accounts.  Many, but not all user accounts, will be created with access to read and write in the folder /crmda/users. Only CRMDA employees will have access to /crmda/projects, /crmda/procedures, /crmda/archive.

There is No Lifeguard on Duty

We offer workshops and have open consulting for users who want to get started.  But please proceed with the "swim at your own risk" attitude.  There is plenty to learn and users will have to take the initiative to review our instructions and navigate their way.

We don't do phone support on these systems. Users who have difficulty connecting should come to the CRMDA offices during open consulting hours. If your computer is portable, please bring it. Otherwise, we can let you log in on one of our properly configured systems and help you learn how a system ought to work. If you believe there is a network or server hardware malfunction, please come into the CRMDA, or send an email message to clusterhelp@ittc.ku.edu.

Now the Legal Disclaimers. 

1. No Implied Warranty of any sort. Access is offered as a courtesy of the Center for Research Methods and Data Analysis and the College of Liberal Arts. We offer access, without any legally binding warranty of service.  Users should be advised that the research facility might fail, that connectivity and file storage might be lost due to natural disasters, especially at the least convenient times and when users have short deadlines on big projects. 

2. Please Keep Backups on your own systems! Users are advised to keep backups of vital information.  Do not assume that material left on the ACF systems will remain there permanently.

3. Access to these systems in not supported through the central KU Information Technology system. Consultants at KU's help line, 864-8080, do not know anything about our systems and they will not be able to help you. Please do not bother the KU IT consultants with questions about our systems.  If you need help, please contact clusterhelp@ittc.ku.edu.

 

Software Help Pages

In the Software Pages, we offer collection of tips and links about programming and software usage that should help researchers on all operating systems.


Upcoming CRMDA Events
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