iCSF - interactive Computational Shared Facility (aka Incline)

Connecting to Incline

Connecting to iCSF (incline)

Please requested an account on iCSF before attempting to log in.

You must then use a Secure Shell (SSH) program to connect to the iCSF. There are two connection methods to choose from:

  1. Connection method 1 (recommended): First connect to our Linux virtual desktop servers (using “X2GO”) and then from there use the ssh command (see below) to log in to the iCSF.
  2. Connection method 2: Use SSH directly from your local PC/laptop. You’ll need an SSH program on your local PC/laptop (such as MobaXterm on Windows or the ssh command in a Terminal window on OSX or Linux.)

Both methods require you to be signed in to GlobalProtect (if working from home, also works on campus) or simply on-campus. Both methods are described below. However, first please read the next section about the various iCSF compute nodes you can choose to use.

Choose the type of iCSF node you want to use

The iCSF has a few different types of nodes. These provide different amounts of memory (RAM). Some nodes have a newer version of the operating system so have more up-to-date applications.

To choose a node type, simply use one of the hostnames when using SSH to connect to the iCSF. The various hostnames are listed below. You will need to choose one of these no matter where you run the ssh command (from our Virtual Linux desktop or directly on your own PC/laptop). See further down for how to use these hostnames. For now, please decide which type of iCSF node you wish to connect to – this really depends on how much memory you think your app and data will need on the iCSF:

High-memory Nodes (256GB) – recommended default

To access the high-memory (256 GB) nodes, use

incline256.itservices.manchester.ac.uk

If you receive a @@@ WARNING @@@ about host key identification please see the page on incline256 host keys update for how to fix this.

These nodes have a newer version of Linux installed (Redhat 7) and so are able to run more up-to-date versions of some applications (R-Studio is a good example of this – new version are only released for RH7 and so the version on the standard nodes, below, is now well out of date).

Super High-memory Node

23rd August 2021 – Currently unavailable due to a hardware fault. Under investigation.
To access the super high-memory (2TB) node, use

incline2000.itservices.manchester.ac.uk

Please note: there is only one of these nodes and it is shared with other users. Hence you might not get 2TB of RAM! We recommend you try running your app on the incine256 nodes first – there are more of these nodes.

Standard Nodes (64GB) – NOT RECOMMENDED!


To access the standard 64GB nodes (Redhat 6 – OLD!!), use

incline.itservices.manchester.ac.uk

Now that you have decided which type of iCSF node to use, see below for how to go about connecting to the iCSF. As we mentioned earlier, we recommend you do this from our Linux Virtual Desktop (Connection Method 1, below).

Connection Method 1: Research Virtual Linux Desktop service

Given the interactive nature of the iCSF/Incline we recommend use of the Research Virtual Linux Desktop Service to access Incline. The Virtual Linux Desktop can be accessed from on or off campus (you will first need to be signed in to then GlobalProtect VPN), using your Windows, OSX or Linux desktop/laptop. Then, from the Virtual Linux Desktop you can SSH in to Incline.

Why do we recommend this method rather than SSH direct from your PC/laptop?

  • Applications on the iCSF that open a GUI are usually more responsive if they open it on to the Virtual Desktop rather than on to your local computer.
  • The Virtual Desktop allows you to work from different physical locations without having to close your applications that are running on the iCSF and then re-open them between sessions.
  • If your network connection is unreliable or your PC gets powered off by accident, your connections to the iCSF from the Virtual Desktop will not be affected. Hence long-running simulations or analyses on the iCSF will continue to run. You can simply reconnect to the Virtual Desktop from your PC/laptop and carry on from where you left off.

Follow the Virtual Desktop instructions then SSH in to Incline from the virtual desktop (see below).

Connection Method 2: SSH in to Incline

You can login to iCSF directly via SSH from a University campus PC or Wifi connection, or from home once you’ve signed in to the GlobalProtect VPN. See the SSH commands to use below.

SSH commands to login to the iCSF

If you have first logged in to the Research Virtual Desktop (see above) or you are connecting directly from your PC/laptop, you must now use SSH to login to the iCSF:

SSH connection from Linux & OS-X PCs/laptops and from the Linux Virtual Desktop

All user connections to iCSF are by means of an SSH client whether from the Virtual Desktop Service (preferred) or direct from your own machine. Linux and OS-X users will be able to login using the ssh command in a Terminal app window – this is all usually installed by default on Linux and OSX. The command to use is:

ssh -X username@incline256.itservices.manchester.ac.uk
     #     #     #
     #     #     # Can use incline256, incline2000 or incline for different amounts of RAM.
     #     #     
     #     # replace username with your username (e.g., mpqrxyz8)
     #
     # UPPERcase X

at the command-line.

On-campus

If on-campus you will need to authenticate using your 2FA device.

If you use the Duo mobile app as your 2FA device, Enter ‘1’ at the prompt and press Enter. Once the push notification has been received via the Duo mobile app ‘Approve’ the request in order to log on.

$ ssh -X username@incline256.itservices.manchester.ac.uk
Password:
Enter a passcode or select one of the following options: 

1. Duo Push to +XX XXXX XXX555

Passcode or option (1-1):1

OR

If you use a Duo fob as your 2FA device, generate a passcode with the fob, type the passcode at the prompt and press Enter

$ ssh -X username@incline256.itservices.manchester.ac.uk
Password:
Duo two-factor login for username

Passcode: 123

Off-campus

If logging in from off-campus you will first need to be connected to the University VPN (GlobalProtect) – You may already connect to the University VPN in order to access your email.

  • University managed laptops already have the GlobalProtect software installed. You can also download it and run it on your home PC/laptop.
  • If not already installed, please install the IT Services VPN Software (GlobalProtect) on your home PC/laptop.
  • This facility is provided by IT Services (not Research IT). Requests for help with the VPN and/or GlobalProtect should be made to via the Support Portal.

Linux virtual desktop

Note that on the Linux virtual desktop you can use a shorter form of the above commands:

ssh incline256
       #
       # Can use incline256, incline2000 or incline for different amounts of RAM.

This works because on the Linux virtual desktop the -X flag is enabled by default and your user on the virtual desktop is the same as that on the iCSF.

This shorter command will NOT work if you are using a PC/laptop at home or on-campus – you must use the long form of the command.

Connecting from MS Windows

We recommend you connect to our Virtual Desktop Service from Windows – the x2goclient app can be installed for free on Windows (it is also on managed desktops.)

However of you want to connect to the iCSF directly from your Windows PC/laptop, please read the dedicated instructions (applicable to all Research Infrastructure systems) which detail how to:

  • Install MobaXterm or PuTTY
  • Login to the iCSF using the ssh command in MobaXterm or PuTTY
  • Upload and download files, and
  • Run graphical applications (including gedit, an editor similar to Notepad).

Logging Out

Once you have finished using the system you should logout (so as not to waste system resources and also for security reasons). You can log out by using either of the following commands:

  • logout
  • exit

Last modified on August 27, 2021 at 9:27 am by Pen Richardson