How do I visualize my data on the clusters?

Visualizing Data on Princeton’s Clusters

In short, the best way to visualize your data on the clusters is to use Research Computing's Tigressdata computer with the TurboVNC application. In addition, you should use the /tigress folder to hold the files you're working with, as this folder is available on nearly all of Research Computing's clusters (Tiger, Della, Perseus, and Traverse).

For more about each of these components, see below.


Tigressdata is a remote computer built for processing and visualizing your data and maintained by Research Computing. Its main advantage is having more powerful resources than the average personal computer (more CPUs, a powerful GPU, and more memory) to run visualization software.

Once you are given access to the main computing clusters (except for Traverse or Eddy), any Princeton University student, staff, or faculty member can access Tigressdata by using 'ssh' to connect to it. 

For Mac or Linux users, that means opening up the Terminal application on their computer (pre-installed on all Macs) and typing the following command. Make sure to substitute the <netid> portion of the command with your own netID, and press enter to submit the command.

ssh <netid>

For Windows users, that means using the PuTTY or Mobaxterm applications on their computer and using ssh to log in to <netid>

After following the prompts to enter your password and use DUO to authenticate, you will be granted access to the Tigressdata computer. For more specific instructions and examples on connecting to the clusters, see the 02_connecting folder in our Beginner's Guide to Working with HPC on the Princeton Clusters.

NOTE: If you are off-campus or not on the Princeton network, then you need a VPN connection to login to Tigressdata. Information on how to setup a VPN can be found in our FAQ article, Why can’t I login to a cluster using SSH?.

Visualization Programs Available on Tigressdata

  • ffmpeg, ffplay
  • Grace (also known as xmgrace)
  • ImageJ
  • MATE Color Selection
  • Mathematica
  • Mayavi2
  • ParaView
  • Python
  • R
  • VisIt

Additional Programs Available for Viewing Images:

  • Document Viewer
  • GNU GV PostScript/PDF Viewer
  • gThumb
  • Image Viewer


To install and make use of TurboVNC on the clusters, see our TurboVNC Installation Instructions.

With TurboVNC, you can run a virtual desktop on our Tigressdata computer that is optimized for faster processing of visualizations. In other words, rather than interacting with Tigressdata through a shell environment like this,

Apple&#039;s Terminal application with a few commands written into it.

you can interact with Tigressdata through a graphical user interface like this.TurboVNC&#039;s graphical user interface, with menus and windows that a user can interact with.

Even simple visualization tasks such as drawing graphs with R or Python can benefit from working with TurboVNC, as they will be produced faster than on the typical personal laptop.

/tigress folder

Tigressdata mounts both the /tigress and /projects folders that are found on most of Research Computing's clusters. This means any files saved in these folders from Tiger, Della, Perseus, or Traverse can be accessed from Tigressdata.