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Research VMs – Remote Access

How-to guides for connecting to research virtual machines (VMs) hosted by Enterprise Technology Services.

ETS hosts VMs for researchers to use as an alternative to the Vermont Advanced Computing Center (VACC). These VMs run on a VMware cluster that the Systems Architecture & Administration (SAA) team supports and are available to any researcher on campus.

The guide below will walk you through the steps to connect to your VM with either command-line access, partial GUI access, or full GUI access.

Multi-factor Authentication

All remote access to VMs will require multi-factor authentication be set up for your UVM NetID. If you haven’t set up MFA for your UVM NetID, use this article to do so before continuing: https://www.uvm.edu/it/kb/article/duo-multi-factor-authentication/

Linux VMs

All connections to Linux research VMs need to be made through Zoo, a UVM Linux cluster, or when connected to the VPN.

On UVM VPN

Connection guides labeled ‘on UVM VPN’ require an active connection to the UVM VPN. More information about the UVM VPN can be found here: https://www.uvm.edu/it/kb/article/sslvpn2/

Through Zoo

Connection guides labeled ‘through Zoo’ require an SSH connection to Zoo that will be explained in the instructions.

Command Line Access

Command line access provides a terminal/shell to your research VM for the execution of text-only commands. This is ideal for starting long-running processes or simple document/script editing.

Windows using PowerShell on UVM VPN

  1. If connected to the UVM VPN, you can connect directly to your research VM using PowerShell on Windows. Open PowerShell from the Start Menu by searching for “PowerShell”
    Windows start menu search for PowerShell
  2. In PowerShell, type the command: ssh netid@my-host-here.uvm.edu(replacing ‘netid’ with your NetID and ‘my-host-here’ with your research VM name), you will be prompted for your NetID password.
  3. You now have command line access to your research VM, to verify this type hostname and you will see your VM name. To disconnect, type exit or just close the PowerShell window.

Windows using PowerShell through Zoo

  1. You can connect to Zoo from PowerShell on Windows. Open PowerShell from the Start Menu by searching for “PowerShell”
    Windows start menu search for PowerShell
  2. In PowerShell, type the command: ssh netid@zoo.uvm.edu(replacing ‘netid’ with your NetID), you will be prompted for your NetID password.
    PowerShell terminal showing SSH command to connect to Zoo.

    Connecting to Zoo from off-campus

    VPN access is not required for Zoo access from off campus. If you are off campus, your will be prompted for a multi-factor authentication (MFA) method in addition to your password when connecting to Zoo. If you haven’t set up MFA for your UVM NetID, read this article: https://www.uvm.edu/it/kb/article/duo-multi-factor-authentication/

  3. Once logged in to Zoo you can now SSH into your research VM. This is done by entering the command ssh hostname(replacing hostname with your research VM name). After entering this command you will be prompted for your NetID password once more, enter it.
    Terminal screen showing SSH command to research VM.
  4. You now have command line access to your research VM, to verify this type hostname and you will see your VM name. To disconnect, type exit or just close the PowerShell window.

Mac using Terminal through Zoo

  1. You can connect to Zoo from Terminal on a Mac. To open Terminal, open the Spotlight search and type ‘Terminal’.
    Mac spotlight search for Terminal
  2. In Terminal, type the command: ssh netid@zoo.uvm.edu(replacing ‘netid’ with your NetID), you will be prompted for your NetID password.
    Mac terminal SSH to Zoo

    Connecting to Zoo from off-campus

    VPN access is not required for Zoo access from off campus. If you are off campus, your will be prompted for a multi-factor authentication (MFA) method in addition to your password when connecting to Zoo. If you haven’t set up MFA for your UVM NetID, read this article: https://www.uvm.edu/it/kb/article/duo-multi-factor-authentication/

  3. Once logged in to Zoo you can now SSH into your research VM. This is done by entering the command ssh hostname(replacing hostname with your research VM name). After entering this command you will be prompted for your NetID password once more, enter it.
    Mac terminal SSH from Zoo
  4. You now have command line access to your research VM, to verify this type hostname and you will see your VM name. To disconnect, type exit or just close the Terminal window.

Partial GUI Access (X11 Forwarding)

Partial GUI access allows for fully rendered windows to appear on your computer from your research VM. This means you can run applications that require a graphical element and you will see them right on your computer. This uses a technology called X11 forwarding.

Off Campus X11 Performance

X11 forwarding performance is intermittent from off campus, whether connected to the VPN or not. It’s recommended to only use this type of access when on campus. If you need GUI access and are off campus consistently, you should use the Full GUI access instructions below.

Windows using PuTTY and VcXsrv

You will need an X Server for Windows to use X11 forwarding, VcXsrv is recommended and can be downloaded from https://software.uvm.edu. (see this KB article if you have not yet used AppsAnywhere: https://www.uvm.edu/it/kb/article/appsanywhere/)

You will also need an SSH application on Windows, PuTTY is recommended and can be downloaded from https://software.uvm.edu.

  1. Install VcXsrv with the default selections and open XLaunch (installed with VcXsrv). This will open the XLaunch configuration window. On the first window, select ‘Multiple windows’ and make sure ‘Display window’ is set to ‘-1’ which should be the default, then click Next.
    VcXsrv configuration window for screen selection
  2. Select ‘Start no client’ and click Next.
    VcXsrv configuration window for client selection
  3. Check the boxes shown here, which should be the defaults, to enable clipboard integration as well as native opengl, then click Next.
    VcXsrv configuration window for integrations and settings
  4. Click ‘Save Configuration’ to save this connection profile. This file can then be used in the future to start VcXsrv without needing to go through the configuration above. Then click Finish to launch the VxXsrv X-server.
    VcXsrv configuration window final step
  5. Verify the X-server is running by locating the icon in the system tray (bottom right icons), you may need to click the up arrow to expand the icons.
    Windows system tray with VcXsrv icon
  6. Install and launch PuTTY.
  7. Enter the connection information for Zoo and then click Save to create a connection profile:
    Hostname: zoo.uvm.edu
    Saved Session Name: UVM Zoo X11
    PuTTY connection configuration window
  8. In the left hand categories, expand SSH and then select X11. Enter the X11 forwarding information:
    Check box for ‘Enable X11 forwarding’
    X display location: localhost:0.0
    PuTTY X11 configuration window
  9. Go back to the Session category and click Save again. Then click Open to open the connection.
  10. You will see a login prompt, enter your NetID and then your password to log in.
    PuTTY terminal login screen for Windows

    Connecting to Zoo from off-campus

    VPN access is not required for Zoo access from off campus. If you are off campus, your will be prompted for a multi-factor authentication (MFA) method in addition to your password when connecting to Zoo. If you haven’t set up MFA for your UVM NetID, read this article: https://www.uvm.edu/it/kb/article/duo-multi-factor-authentication/

  11. Once logged in to Zoo you can now SSH into your research VM. This is done by entering the command ssh -X hostname(replacing hostname with your research VM name). After entering this command you will be prompted for your NetID password once more, enter it.
    Zoo SSH X command
  12. You will now have a connection to your research VM with X11 forwarding enabled. To verify it’s working, you can either enter the command xauth list or launch your application. To disconnect, type exit or just close the PuTTY window.

Mac using Terminal and XQuartz

You will need an X Server for Mac to use X11 forwarding, XQuartz is recommended and can be downloaded from https://software.uvm.edu. (see this KB article if you have not yet used AppsAnywhere: https://www.uvm.edu/it/kb/article/appsanywhere/)

  1. Install XQuartz with the default selections. To open it, use the Spotlight search and search for ‘XQuartz’.
    Mac Spolight search for XQuartz
  2. This will open a new Xterm window which you can use to connect to Zoo. Type ssh -X zoo.uvm.edu to launch the connection, you will be prompted for your NetID and password.
    Mac xterm SSH X command

    Connecting to Zoo from off-campus

    VPN access is not required for Zoo access from off campus. If you are off campus, your will be prompted for a multi-factor authentication (MFA) method in addition to your password when connecting to Zoo. If you haven’t set up MFA for your UVM NetID, read this article: https://www.uvm.edu/it/kb/article/duo-multi-factor-authentication/

  3. Once logged in to Zoo you can now SSH into your research VM. This is done by entering the command ssh -X hostname(replacing hostname with your research VM name). After entering this command you will be prompted for your NetID password once more, enter it.
    Mac xterm to Zoo SSH X command
  4. You will now have a connection to your research VM with X11 forwarding enabled. To verify it’s working, you can either enter the command xauth list or launch your application. To disconnect, type exit or just close the Terminal window.

Full GUI Access (Full Remote Desktop)

Full GUI access is accomplished by using the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and creating an SSH tunnel through Zoo for security. This option grants access to a full remote desktop environment for running multiple graphical applications.

Remote Desktop Access

RDP is not enabled by default on research VMs. If you need a full desktop available on your VM, please send an email to saa@uvm.edu to request it be enabled.

Windows using Remote Desktop Connection on UVM VPN

  1. Open the Remote Desktop Connection application from the Start Menu by searching for ‘Remote Desktop Connection’.
    Windows start menu search for Remote Desktop Connection
  2. Enter your hostname in the computer field (replace my-host-here.uvm.edu with your research VM hostname) and click Connect.
    Windows Remote Desktop Connection window.
  3. If you see a certificate warning, click Yes.
    XRDP Certificate warning
  4. You will then be connected to a remote session on your VM and will be prompted with an XRDP login screen. Enter your NetID and password to login.
    XRDP login screen
  5. You are now connected to your research VM with a full desktop. To close the SSH tunnel, log out of your remote desktop session and go to your PuTTY window and type exit.

Windows using PowerShell and Remote Desktop Connection through Zoo

  1. Launch PowerShell by going to the Start Menu and searching for ‘Powershell.’
    Windows start menu search for powershell
  2. In the Terminal type the following command ssh -L 33389:hostname.uvm.edu:3389 netid@zoo.uvm.edu(replacing hostname with your VM hostname), you will be prompted for your NetID password.
    PowerShell window with SSH L command.

    Connecting to Zoo from off-campus

    VPN access is not required for Zoo access from off campus. If you are off campus, your will be prompted for a multi-factor authentication (MFA) method in addition to your password when connecting to Zoo. If you haven’t set up MFA for your UVM NetID, read this article: https://www.uvm.edu/it/kb/article/duo-multi-factor-authentication/

  3. Once logged in to Zoo the SSH tunnel is created and will remain open as long as the PowerShell window is open.
    PowerShell SSH connection to Zoo
  4. Next you will need to connect to your research VM with the Windows Remote Desktop Connection app. Open this application from the Start Menu by searching for ‘Remote Desktop Connection’.
    Windows start menu search for Remote Desktop Connection
  5. Enter 127.0.0.1:33389 in the Computer field and click ‘Connect’. This will initiate the RDP connection through the tunnel.
    Remote Desktop Connection window
  6. If you see a certificate warning, click Yes.
    XRDP Certificate warning
  7. You will then be connected to a remote session on your VM and will be prompted with an XRDP login screen. Enter your NetID and password to login.
    XRDP login screen
  8. You are now connected to your research VM with a full desktop. To close the SSH tunnel, log out of your remote desktop session and go to your PuTTY window and type exit.

Mac using Terminal and Microsoft Remote Desktop

To connect to your research VM, you will need an RDP application, Microsoft Remote Desktop is recommended and is available from https://software.uvm.edu. (see this KB article if you have not yet used AppsAnywhere: https://www.uvm.edu/it/kb/article/appsanywhere/)

  1. To create an SSH Tunnel, you will need to connect to Zoo with a certain command, to do this open Terminal (Spotlight search -> Terminal)
    Mac spotlight search for Terminal
  2. In the Terminal type the following command ssh -L 33389:hostname.uvm.edu:3389 netid@zoo.uvm.edu(replacing hostname with your VM hostname), you will be prompted for your NetID password.
    Mac terminal SSH tunnel command

    Connecting to Zoo from off-campus

    VPN access is not required for Zoo access from off campus. If you are off campus, your will be prompted for a multi-factor authentication (MFA) method in addition to your password when connecting to Zoo. If you haven’t set up MFA for your UVM NetID, read this article: https://www.uvm.edu/it/kb/article/duo-multi-factor-authentication/

  3. Once logged in to Zoo the SSH tunnel is created and will remain open as long as the Terminal window is open.
    Mac SSH Tunnel Zoo window
  4. Once Microsoft Remote Desktop is installed, launch it by searching for it with Spotlight search.
    Mac spotlight search for Microsoft Remote Desktop
  5. In Microsoft Remote Desktop, click the Add button to add a new connection profile.
    Microsoft Remote Desktop add connection
  6. In the connection wizard, enter the connection information as shown and click Add:
    PC Name: 127.0.0.1:33389
    User Account: Ask when required
    Friendly name: Descriptive Name for Research VM
    Microsoft Remote Desktop connection wizard
  7. Double click the connection you just created in your connections list.
    Microsoft remote desktop connections screen
  8. Enter your NetID and password when prompted.
    Mac XRDP login
  9. If you see a certificate warning, click Continue.
    Mac XRDP certificate warning
  10. You are now connected to your research VM with a full desktop. To close the SSH tunnel, log out of your remote desktop session and go to your Terminal window and type exit.

Windows VMs

Windows using Remote Desktop Connection

Connections to Windows research VMs when using Windows as your client device will be made through the Remote Desktop Connection application. Connection security is managed through the use of RD Gateway which allows remote access from both on and off campus.

  1. Open the Remote Desktop Connection application from the Start Menu by searching for ‘Remote Desktop Connection’.
    Windows start menu search for Remote Desktop Connection
  2. Expand the configuration screen by clicking ‘Show options’ and enter your hostname and username information.Computer: hostname.campus.ad.uvm.edu
    User Name: CAMPUS\netid
    Replace ‘hostname’ with your VM hostname and ‘netid’ with your UVM NetID.
    Remote Desktop Connection configuration window.
  3. Click the ‘Advanced’ tab to show more configuration options and then click the ‘Settings’ button under the ‘Connect from anywhere’ heading.
    Remote Desktop Connection advanced settings window.
  4. Click the radio button next to ‘Use these RD Gateway server settings’ and enter the RD Gateway address: ‘rdgateway.uvm.edu’ Then click the checkbox next to ‘Use my RD Gateway credentials for the remote computer’ and click ‘OK’.
    Remote Desktop Connection RD Gateway configuration window.
  5. Go back to the ‘General’ tab and click Connect.
    Remote Desktop Connection connect window.
  6. You will see a warning asking if you trust the connection, click Connect.
    Remote Desktop Connection trust widnow.
  7. You will be prompted for your credentials, your username will be filled in, enter your NetID password and click OK.
    Remote Desktop Connection auth window.
  8. Finally, you will be prompted for your multi-factor authentication method. Click your method of choice to complete the log in.
    Widows Duo method

Mac using Microsoft Remote Desktop

To connect to your research VM, you will need an RDP application, Microsoft Remote Desktop is recommended and is available from https://software.uvm.edu. (see this KB article if you have not yet used AppsAnywhere: https://www.uvm.edu/it/kb/article/appsanywhere/)

Connection security is managed through the use of RD Gateway which allows remote access from both on and off campus.

  1. With Microsoft Remote Desktop installed, launch it by searching for it with Spotlight search.
    Mac spotlight search for Microsoft Remote Desktop
  2. In Microsoft Remote Desktop, click the Add button to add a new connection profile.
    Microsoft Remote Desktop add connection
  3. In the connection wizard, enter the connection information as shown and click Add:
    PC Name: hostname.campus.ad.uvm.edu (replace ‘hostname’ with the name of your VM)
    User Account: Ask when required
    Friendly name: Descriptive Name for Research VM
    Gateway: Click dropdown and then click ‘Add Gateway’ (Details in step 4)
    Microsoft RDP configuration window
  4. In the ‘Add a Gateway’ window, enter ‘rdgateway.uvm.edu’ as the gateway address and click Add.
    Microsoft RDP add gateway window
  5. Once the gateway is added, click Save to save your remote desktop connection information.
    Microsoft RDP configuration window.
  6. Double click the connection you just created in your connections list.
    Microsoft remote desktop connections screen
  7. Enter your NetID and password when prompted. (Use the “campus\netid” format for your username)
    Microsoft RDP authentication window
  8. If you see a certificate warning, click Continue.
    Microsoft RDP certification accept.
  9. Finally, you will be prompted for your multi-factor authentication method. Click your method of choice to complete the log in.
    Widows Duo method

Updated on September 27, 2022

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