You should have ParaView installed on your desktop, and know how to use it (the latter is outside the scope of this page). Note: the client and server version should match to avoid problems!


Working with ParaView to remotely visualize data requires the following steps which will be explained in turn in the subsections below:

  1. start ParaView on the cluster;
  2. establish an SSH tunnel;
  3. connect to the remote server using ParaView on your desktop; and
  4. terminating the server session on the compute node.

Start ParaView on the cluster

First, start an interactive job on the cluster, e.g.,

$ qsub  -I  -l nodes=1,ppn=20

Given that remote visualization makes sense most for large data sets, 64 GB of RAM is probably the minimum you will need. To use a node with more memory, add a memory specification, e.g., -l mem=120gb. If this is not sufficient, you should consider using Cerebro.

Once this interactive session is active, you can optionally navigate to the directory containing the data to visualize (not shown below), load the appropriate module, and start the server:

$ module load Paraview/4.1.0-foss-2014a
$ n_proc=$(cat $PBS_NODEFILE  |  wc  -l)
$ mpirun  -np $n_proc pvserver  --use-offscreen-rendering \

Note the compute node's name your job is running on, you will need it in the next step to establish the required SSH tunnel.

Establish an SSH tunnel

To connect the desktop ParaView client with the desktop with the ParaView server on the compute node, an SSH tunnel has to be established between your desktop and that compute node. Details for Windows using PuTTY and Linux using ssh are given in the appropriate client software sections.

Connect to the remote server using ParaView on your desktop

Since ParaView's user interface is identical on all platforms, connecting from the client side is documented on this page. Note that this configuration step has to be performed only once if you always use the same local port.

  • Start ParaView on your Desktop machine;
  • From the 'File' menu, choose 'Connect', this opens the dialog below:

"Choose Server" dialog box

  • Click the 'Add Server' button, the following dialog will appear:

"Configure New Server" dialog box

  • Enter a name in the 'Name' field, e.g., 'Thinking'. If you have used 11111 as the local port to establish the tunnen, just click the 'Configure' button, otherwise modify the 'Port' field appropriately and click 'Configure'. This opens the 'Configure Server' dialog:

"Configure Server" dialog box

  • Set the 'Startup Type' from 'Command' to 'Manual' in the drop-down menu, and click 'Save'.
  • In the 'Choose Server' dialog, select the server, i.e., 'Thinking' and click the 'Connect' button.

"Choose Server Configuration" dialog box

You can now work with ParaView as you would when visualizing local files.

Terminating the server session on the compute node

Once you've quit ParaView on the desktop the server process will terminate automatically. However, don't forget to close your session on the compute node since leaving it open will consume credits.

$ logout

Further information

More information on ParaView can be found on its website. A decent tutorial on using Paraview is also available from the VTK public wiki.