The icons

Windows Works on Windows, but may need additional pure Windows packages (free or commercial)
Windows+ Works on Windows with a UNIX compatibility layer added, e.g., cygwin or the "Windows Subsystem for Linux" in Windows 10 build 1607 (anniversary edition) or later

Getting ready to request an account

  • Before requesting an account, you need to generate a pair of ssh keys. One popular way to do this on Windows is using the freely available PuTTY client which you can then also use to log on to the clusters.

Connecting to the cluster

  • Open a text-mode session using an ssh client
    • PuTTY is a simple-to-use and freely available GUI SSH client for Windows.
    • pageant can be used to manage active keys for PuTTY, WinSCP and FileZilla so that you don't need to enter the passphrase all the time.
    • Setting up a SSH proxy with PuTTY to log on to a node protected by a firewall through another login node, e.g., to access the tier-1 system muk.
    • Creating a SSH tunnel using PuTTY to establish network communication between your local machine and the cluster otherwise blocked by firewalls.
  • Transfer data using Secure FTP (SFTP) clients:
  • Display graphical programs:
    • You can install a so-called X server: Xming. X is the protocol that is used by most Linux applications to display graphics on a local or remote screen.
    • On the KU Leuven/UHasselt clusters it is also possible to use the NX Client to log on to the machine and run graphical programs. Instead of an X-server, another piece of client software is needed. That software is currently available for Windows, OS X, Linux, Android and iOS.
    • The KU Leuven/UHasselt and UAntwerp clusters also offer support for visualization software through TurboVNC. VNC renders images on the cluster and transfers the resulting images to your client device. VNC clients are available for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS.
  • If you install the free UNIX emulation layer Cygwin with the necessary packages, you can use the same OpenSSH client as on Linux systems and all pages about ssh and data transfer from the Linux client pages apply.

Programming tools

  • By installing the UNIX emulation layer Cygwin with the appropriate packages you can mimic very well the VSC cluster environment (at least with the foss toolchain). Cygwin supports the GNU compilers and also contains packages for OpenMPI (look for "openmpi") and some other popular libraries (FFTW, HDF5, ...). As such it can turn your Windows PC in a computer that can be used to develop software for the cluster if you don't rely on too many external libraries (which may be hard to install). This can come in handy if you sometimes need to work off-line. If you have a 64-bit Windows system (which most recent computers have), it is best to go for the 64-bit version of Cygwin. After all, the VSC-clusters are also running a 64-bit OS.
  • If you're running Windows 10 build 1607 (Anniversary Edition) or later, you may consider running the "Windows Subsystem for Linux" that will give you a Ubuntu-like environment on Windows and allow you to install some Ubuntu packages. In build 1607 this is still considered experimental technology and we offer no support.
  • Microsoft Visual Studio can also be used to develop OpenMP or MPI programs. If you do not use any Microsoft-specific libraries but stick to plain C or C++, the programs can be recompiled on the VSC clusters. Microsoft is slow in implementing new standards though. In Visual Studio 2015, OpenMP support is still stuck at version 2.0 of the standard. An alternative is to get a license for the Intel compilers which plug into Visual Studio and give you the best of both worlds, the power of a full-blown IDE and compilers that support the latest technologies in the HPC world on Windows.
  • Eclipse is a popular multi-platform Integrated Development Environment (IDE) very well suited for code development on clusters. On Windows Eclipse relies by default on the cygwin toolchain for its compilers and other utilities, so you need to install that too.
  • Information on tools for version control (git and subversion) is available on the "Version control systems" introduction page on this web site.