• Home
  • Help
  • Cluster Computing

Welcome to the Technology Focal Point of the Center for Research Methods and Data Analysis

CRMDA is a research unit and it offers access to research-oriented computing resources. 

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 compute cluster allows two types of usage. 

  1. High performance parallel computing
  2. Interactive Desktop Sessions (using a single node). We'll be preparing new instructions very soon, but to get a glimpse of the potential, please review the new writeup about is the NoMachine graphical desktop (see: http://crmda.dept.ku.edu/resources/guides/30.NoMachineTutorial.pdf) which is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac systems. In a NoMachine session, log in and choose a Gnome Desktop.  The user menu should have a main category "Research" which will offer quick access to interactive sessions featuring various programs.

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 cluster computing documentation so that it will match the new computing environment.

About Security

This is a remote computing framework and the technicians recommend we follow 2 important security protocols.

1. Secure Shell (SSH) connections are required. Macintosh and Linux workstations are generally provided with SSH compatible access programs. Users should test that by opening a terminal and running "ssh login2.acf.ku.edu".  In our experience, that always works.  On Windows, we recommend users obtain a copy of the free program Putty, which always works for us.  There are more details about how to connect in the Cluster Main Page.

2. Users must be inside the KU computing network.  That means either they must be on the campus or connected through a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which KU Information Technology offers under the label "KU Anywhere."  All users who are testing out new computers are urged to do this inside the main campus, and only after services work within the campus should they try to do so via the VPN in off campus settings.  Be warned that off-campus access may be slow and wireless connections are especially troublesome for some users.

We do not have staff to offer much "hands on" support for configuration of VPN clients. We urge users to contact KU IT for that support, since KU IT offers the KU Anywhere framework and they have considerable expertise in its installation and usage.  From time-to-time, we do learn some of the ins-and-outs of the KU Anywhere framework and we documented them on the VPN Help Page. If users have a working VPN client, but have difficulty accessing CRMDA resources that are protected by VPN, we urge the clients to visit the Center and demonstrate the trouble they are having so we can try to understand what is wrong.

Resources: File Storage, etc

The ACF cluster uses a Networked File System (NFS). The files available in the user home directory (/home/username) are available on every compute note that exists inside the cluster, including login2.  When users log in, they will generally find that their current working directory is the home directory.

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

Your access is offered as a courtesy of the Center for Research Methods and Data Analysis. We offer access, without any legally binding warranty of service. CRMDA staffers and affiliates use these systems for their research purposes. We welcome others with legitimate research purposes to register for accounts and use them.

However, generally speaking, these are research computing systems for which we have only the most minimal amount of free technical support.  We don't do phone support on these systems. If you have trouble connecting, please come to the CRMDA offices during walk-in 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

We can offer a limited amount of advice for free in the walk-in consulting framework.  For larger projects, such as grant-funded research projects, we do offer more detailed "project consulting."  If you would like help writing a program, or would like to hire us to write a program, we are ready to help!  We have a service consulting agreement that we use for all of our projects. Why not fill out out and we'll get down to business.

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.

File Storage!

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 information on our page about remote access to External Storage.

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
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times