Connecting to the Clusters via SSH

A Few Caveats

These instructions assume you:

  1. Are Princeton University faculty, student, or staff, or you have an RCU account
  2. Are connecting...
    - (if on-campus) from the campus wireless eduroam network, or a wired campus connection, or through Nobel
    - (if off-campus) with GlobalProtect VPN, or through Nobel. You can install the GlobalProtect VPN on your laptop. Make sure you connect via the GlobalProtect app on your laptop before ssh-ing to Adroit or another cluster.
  3. Are connecting with Duo Authentication
    - All of the clusters from both on campus and off campus now require two-factor authentication via Duo. If you need help getting this set up, contacting the OIT Support and Operations Center will be your best course of action. You can also see OIT's resources for using Duo here.
    - Upon connecting, you can request a push to a cell phone application, a text with a passcode, or you can enter a generated pass code with a soft key created by the Duo application on your cell phone.
    - If you use a system that respects a standard '~/.ssh/config' file, you can use a multiplexing solution.
  4. Have an account on the system you're looking to connect to. (Note: You will need to login using your university credentials).
    To see how to get an account, visit the page for your specific system within the Systems submenu.



In order to connect to the university computing clusters, you will need an SSH (secure shell) client, a piece of software for establishing secure connections to remote machines. 

On MacOS and Linux, the default Terminal application has such a client built-in. No download is necessary!

On Windows 10 machines, there is also an SSH-enabled client. (If for some reason you don't have SSH enabled under Windows 10, follow this guide to enable it).

On Windows 8 machines, you'll need a client. One option is PuTTY and another is Mobaxterm.

To connect to a cluster via SSH on Linux, macOS, or Windows 10:

(Connecting on Windows 8 is discussed separately below.)

  1. Access a command-line on your laptop

    • Linux: open a Terminal window (usually by pressing Ctrl+Alt+t --- i.e. press and hold Ctrl, and without releasing it, press and hold Alt, and then without releasing either of those two keys, type 't')
    • macOS: open a Terminal window (by launching the Terminal app located in /Applications/Utilities)
    • Windows 10: Windows 10 has a few different ways to access a command-line interface
      • PowerShell or Command Prompt --- these are a couple of Window-native (DOS-like) command-line environments. To access them, press Win+x (i.e., while holding down the Windows key, type 'x'). This opens the so-called "Power Users" menu in Windows. Select either "Command Prompt" or "PowerShell" (usually you'll see one or the other, depending on which Windows updates you've installed). Note that the Command Prompt and the PowerShell are not equivalent command-line environments in general, but for the purposes of using SSH, they work the same and either will do.
      • Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) --- WSL is an optional feature you can enable that furnishes a genuine Linux command-line within Windows. If you have WSL enabled, then you should have an SSH client on the Linux side by default, just as you would in a regular Linux operating system.
  2. SSH into the cluster

    The syntax for using ssh is the same in all of the above scenarios.  Remember to make sure you're on a Princeton VPN, and then on the command line you accessed in the previous step, type

    ssh <YourNetID>@<ClusterName>

    So for instance, if your NetID is abc1, and you'd like to connect to the Adroit cluster, you would type:

    ssh [email protected]

    If this is your first time connecting to this cluster from whatever computer you're on, you will then see a comment about a fingerprint along with the question Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?Answer 'yes' and hit Enter.

    You will now be prompted for your usual Princeton password.  Enter it.

    *NOTE*: there are no asterisks or dots to indicate how many characters you've typed, so if you think you've made a typo, hit Backspace many times and enter the password from scratch

    *NOTE*: If you've previously connected to a cluster and set up SSH keys, you will be connected without being prompted for a password first.

    Depending on whether you're on a VPN and how it's configured, you may now be prompted to enter a Duo code (if you are, do so).

    That's it -- you should now be connected to a cluster and see its Linux command-line prompt (e.g. [adroit4:~ <yourNetID>]$) instead of the one for your local computer.

  3. Ending the SSH connection to Adroit

    To close the SSH connection, simply type exit at the Adroit command line and press Enter. This should close the connection, and your local computer's command-line prompt should reappear.

To connect to a cluster via SSH on Windows 8:

Windows 8 does not have a built-in SSH client, nor does it have a WSL that offers native access to a Linux command line. So if you run Windows 8 and want to make an SSH connection from within Windows (as opposed to, say, by running Linux inside VirtualBox and connecting to Adroit from within that virtual Linux session), then you need to install a separate SSH client.

We recommend either PuTTY or MobaXTerm.  These lightweight clients (MobaXTerm has more features) have a graphical interface to initiate SSH connections.

This video shows briefly how to connect to a remote server using Putty (starting at timestamp 0:54).  In the field for "Host Name", enter (leave the port number as 22). When you connect and it prompts you "login as: ", enter your NetID and then your password (again, you may be asked to Duo authenticate after entering your password). You should then be logged into Adroit and see its Linux command-line prompt. For more detailed information about Putty, consult this guide.

MobaXTerm should work fairly similarly.

If you have trouble connecting then see this page.


Example of Connecting via SSH Using Terminal

Once you launch an instance of Terminal, you'll be at a command prompt on your local machine (i.e., on your computer) that looks something like this:

benjaminhicks ~/hpc_beginning_workshop $

The '$' is an indication that you're ready to enter a command.

To connect to a cluster, the general address looks like this, where you replace the <>'s with the needed content:

ssh <NetID>@<hostname>

To connect to Adroit, as a user with the NetID bhicks, I'd type something like this

benjaminhicks ~/hpc_beginning_workshop $ ssh [email protected]

and after hitting Enter, I'd see something like this

nat-oitwireless-inside-vapornet100-c-14666:hpc_beginning_workshop bhicks$ ssh [email protected]
Warning: the ECDSA host key for '' differs from the key for the IP address ''
Offending key for IP in /Users/bhicks/.ssh/known_hosts:88
Matching host key in /Users/bhicks/.ssh/known_hosts:115
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
Duo two-factor login for bhicks
Enter a passcode or select one of the following options:
 1. Duo Push to XXX-XXX-3224
 2. Phone call to XXX-XXX-3224
 3. Phone call to XXX-XXX-8335
 4. SMS passcodes to XXX-XXX-3224 (next code starts with: 1)
Passcode or option (1-4): 493203
Success. Logging you in...
Last login: Wed Oct 10 09:12:28 2018 from
[adroit4:~ bhicks]$

I'm now remotely connected to adroit4, which is the head node of the cluster!

The shell I used in both cases is one called Bash. It's a particular command line interface that is common across Unix-alike machines.


SSH Keys: ssh without typing passwords

Typing passwords every time you want to connect to a machine or, more annoyingly, every time you want to copy a file to/from a remote machine gets annoying quickly. One solution is to enable passwordless login/remote operations by generating a public/private pair of ssh keys and using them to negotiate the connection. The procedure is explained in this guide.


Staying connected (tmux)

If your SSH connection is suddenly broken then the command you're running terminates. This comes up very frequently when you're connected to Nobel, where tasks are run directly from the command line rather than a job scheduler.

One solution to this problem is tmux. It comes installed on all university clusters, and it lets you start a shell session that, rather than being remote via SSH, lives on the server.

A simple use case would be:

$ ssh <YourNetID>
$ tmux
$ wget
# ssh connection suddenly breaks!
# no problem just reconnect and attach
$ ssh <YourNetID>
$ tmux attach

To detach from your tmux session press ctrl-b, then d. To close a tmux session, run the "exit" command or press 'ctrl+d.' A tmux session will run on the remote server until the server is rebooted or you close them. Anything you run while attached to the tmux session runs in that session, and therefore it is safe from a disconnect.

Nobel has two hosts, "compton" and "davisson", and the session will live on one or the other. You can find the host by looking in the lower right corner of your tmux session window. To find your session again after a disconnect, you'll need to login directly to that host rather than just nobel, i.e. "ssh" Otherwise you'll do "tmux attach" and not find your session.

tmux is a powerful and complex tool. In addition to the simple guide linked above, you might explore the following:


Learn More About a Cluster by Running Commands

Once in a cluster, type each command below and examine the output:

 hostname                  # get the name of the machine you are on
 whoami                    # get username of the account
 date                      # get the current date and time
 pwd                       # print working directory
 cat /etc/os-release       # info about operating system
 lscpu                     # info about the CPUs on head node
 shownodes                    # info about the compute nodes (7 nodes for myadroit)
 squeue                    # which jobs are running or waiting to run
 qos                       # quality of service (job partitions and limits)
 slurmtop                  # shows a map of cluster usage
 who                       # list users on the head node
 checkquota                # view your quota and request more space

Here is example output from the commands above on Adroit:

 $ hostname

 $ whoami

 $ date
 Fri Feb 21 16:20:03 EST 2020

 $ pwd

 $ cat /etc/os-release
 NAME="Springdale Linux"
 VERSION="7.7 (Verona)"
 PRETTY_NAME="Springdale Linux 7.7 (Verona)"


 $ lscpu
 Architecture:          x86_64
 CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
 Byte Order:            Little Endian
 CPU(s):                32
 On-line CPU(s) list:   0-31
 Thread(s) per core:    1
 Core(s) per socket:    16
 Socket(s):             2
 NUMA node(s):          2
 Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
 CPU family:            6
 Model:                 85
 Model name:            Intel(R) Xeon(R) Gold 6142 CPU @ 2.60GHz
 Stepping:              4
 CPU MHz:               1021.179
 CPU max MHz:           3700.0000
 CPU min MHz:           1000.0000
 BogoMIPS:              5200.00
 Virtualization:        VT-x
 L1d cache:             32K
 L1i cache:             32K
 L2 cache:              1024K
 L3 cache:              22528K
 NUMA node0 CPU(s):     0,2,4,6,8,10,12,14,16,18,20,22,24,26,28,30
 NUMA node1 CPU(s):     1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15,17,19,21,23,25,27,29,31
 Flags:                 fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush dts
acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe syscall nx pdpe1gb rdtscp lm constant_tsc art arch_perfmon pebs bts rep_good
nopl xtopology nonstop_tsc aperfmperf eagerfpu pni pclmulqdq dtes64 monitor ds_cpl vmx smx est tm2 ssse3 sdbg
fma cx16 xtpr pdcm pcid dca sse4_1 sse4_2 x2apic movbe popcnt tsc_deadline_timer aes xsave avx f16c rdrand
lahf_lm abm 3dnowprefetch epb cat_l3 cdp_l3 intel_ppin intel_pt ssbd mba ibrs ibpb stibp tpr_shadow vnmi
flexpriority ept vpid fsgsbase tsc_adjust bmi1 hle avx2 smep bmi2 erms invpcid rtm cqm mpx rdt_a avx512f
avx512dq rdseed adx smap clflushopt clwb avx512cd avx512bw avx512vl xsaveopt xsavec xgetbv1 cqm_llc cqm_occup_llc
cqm_mbm_total cqm_mbm_local dtherm ida arat pln pts pku ospke md_clear spec_ctrl intel_stibp flush_l1d

 $ shownodes
adroit-01     class  idle                   28/28      0.02    120739/128000Mb                   broadwell
adroit-02     class  idle                   28/28      0.00    120754/128000Mb                   broadwell
adroit-03     class  idle                   28/28      0.01    120811/128000Mb                   broadwell
adroit-04     class  idle                   28/28      0.00    120808/128000Mb                   broadwell
adroit-05     class  idle                   28/28      0.00    120823/128000Mb                   broadwell
adroit-06     class  idle                   28/28      0.00    120815/128000Mb                   broadwell
adroit-07     class  idle                   28/28      0.00    120811/128000Mb                   broadwell
adroit-08     all    mixed                   3/32     24.85    366279/384000Mb                     skylake
adroit-09     all    allocated               0/32     17.02    371481/384000Mb                     skylake
adroit-10     all    allocated               0/32     32.04    357999/384000Mb                     skylake
adroit-11     all    mixed                  24/32      7.94    373102/384000Mb                     skylake
adroit-12     all    mixed                   7/32     19.48    366613/384000Mb                     skylake
adroit-13     all    mixed                   1/32     23.45    353454/384000Mb                     skylake
adroit-14     all    idle                   32/32      0.00    377183/384000Mb                     skylake
adroit-15     all    mixed                  16/32      0.00    370577/384000Mb                     skylake
adroit-16     all    mixed                  17/32      7.50    369325/384000Mb                     skylake
adroit-h11g1  gpu    idle                   40/40      0.07    763765/770000Mb   4/4 tesla_v100       v100
adroit-h11g2  gpu    idle                   48/48      0.00  1019578/1000000Mb  4/4 nvidia_a100       a100
adroit-h11n1  class  mixed                126/128      0.00    244004/256000Mb                    amd,rome

 $ squeue
             660090       all run_05_0    fanid PD       0:00      1 (QOSMaxJobsPerUserLimit)
             661432       all       KL   mlenel PD       0:00      1 (Dependency)
       661431_[6-7]       all       KL   mlenel PD       0:00      1 (Dependency)
             661439       all sys/dash lclingan  R      37:28      1 adroit-10
           661429_6       all       KL   mlenel  R    1:13:28      1 adroit-08
           661429_7       all       KL   mlenel  R    1:13:28      1 adroit-08
             660093       all run_15_0    fanid  R 3-20:26:13      1 adroit-16
             660092       all run_15_0    fanid  R 3-20:27:14      1 adroit-08
             660091       all run_15_0    fanid  R 3-20:28:42      1 adroit-08
             660087       all run_15_1    fanid  R 9-12:05:41      1 adroit-08
             660999       all BBR_m06-    kyras  R 2-21:31:33      1 adroit-12
             660996       all BMR_m06-    kyras  R 2-21:40:50      1 adroit-11
             660085       all run_1_1_    fanid  R 10-00:38:49      1 adroit-08
             660086       all run_05_1    fanid  R 10-00:38:49      1 adroit-08
             660088       all run_05_0    fanid  R 10-00:38:49      1 adroit-16
             660089       all run_05_0    fanid  R 10-00:38:49      1 adroit-16
             660116       all tBu3PPd_     leit  R 8-05:22:17      1 adroit-11
             660114       all Phdiimin     leit  R 8-14:31:04      1 adroit-14
             660115       all tBu3PPd_     leit  R 8-14:31:04      1 adroit-14
             660113       all Phdiimin     leit  R 9-12:05:41      1 adroit-12
             661298       all job.scri vincenzi  R    6:37:12      1 adroit-13
             661391       all run_cali  hherman  R    3:59:23      1 adroit-10

 $ who
 bill     pts/0        2020-02-18 08:17 (
 yongickc pts/1        2020-02-20 08:11 (
 zhengshi pts/2        2020-02-10 01:59 (:pts/25:S.0)
 root     pts/3        2020-02-19 13:54 (adroit-nfs2)
 keweiz   pts/4        2020-02-21 09:01 (
 haonan   pts/5        2020-02-21 15:23 (myadroit)
 jdh4     pts/9        2020-02-21 16:12 (
 yongickc pts/10       2020-02-17 08:14 (
 zhengy   pts/11       2020-02-21 09:26 (
 msislam  pts/12       2020-02-21 15:36 (
 aidanm   pts/13       2020-02-21 10:03 (
 meggl    pts/15       2020-02-21 10:04 (
 mrasna   pts/16       2020-02-21 14:54 (
 nmishra  pts/17       2020-02-21 15:55 (
 cfei     pts/19       2020-02-21 13:59 (
 jdeobald pts/21       2020-02-21 11:42 (
 dianw    pts/22       2020-02-21 11:54 (
 xiaoyuel pts/23       2020-02-21 14:26 (
 perezgiz pts/24       2020-02-21 14:07 (
 zhengshi pts/25       2020-02-12 14:41 (:pts/20:S.0)
 keweiz   pts/26       2020-02-21 14:30 (
 keweiz   pts/27       2020-02-21 16:09 (

 $ checkquota
           Storage/size quota filesystem report for user: ceisgrub
 Filesystem               Mount                 Used   Limit  MaxLim Comment
 Adroit home              /home                9.1GB   9.3GB    10GB
 Adroit scratch           /scratch                 0       0       0
 Adroit scratch network   /scratch/network     1.7GB    93GB   100GB

           Storage number of files used report for user: ceisgrub
 Filesystem               Mount                 Used   Limit  MaxLim Comment
 Adroit home              /home                80.5K    975K    1.0M
 Adroit scratch           /scratch                 1       0       0
 Adroit scratch network   /scratch/network     18.9K    9.8M   10.5M

 For quota increase requests please use this website: