Remote Access

Introduction

This document contains information for people - students, staff, and faculty - in the Allen School who wish to connect to an Allen School computing resource from some location away from the School.

The majority of the Allen School's computing resources are on "private" or "firewalled" networks, meaning that they are not directly accessible from off-campus locations. This is done for security purposes; it's harder for hackers to break into a computer that they cannot access. That said, the first section of this document will focus on the Husky OnNet software provided to the UW community by UW-IT.

The scope of this document includes connection FROM Windows, Linux, and Macintosh hosts - what you are using remotely - and connection TO Windows, Linux, and Macintosh hosts - the computers to which you are trying to connect.

The "Husky OnNet" VPN Software

As noted in the introduction, the majority of the Allen School's computing resources are protected by a network "firewall" at the campus boundaries. These computing resources are not directly accessible from any off-campus locations.

The University has made available their "Husky OnNet" VPN (virtual private network) software available to the University community - students, staff, and faculty - for free. This software uses UWNetID authentication to make a secure connection between your computer (at some remote location) and an on-campus resource.

Unless you know that the computer to which you wish to connect is on a publicly-visible network, you should download and install the Husky OnNet software.

The Husky OnNet software is available from this link and is available for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux hosts, as well as iOS and Android, for mobile devices.

To connect to an Allen School computing resource from an off-campus location is a two-step process:

  1. Use the Husky OnNet software to make a secure connection through the UW network firewall.
  2. Use another program - Microsoft Remote Desktop, or a terminal program (PuTTY, Terminal, etc.) to make a direct connection to the Allen School computing resource.

To use an analogy, pretend you are the captain of an ocean-going vessel, and you're entering the Port of Seattle. You have the opportunity to ask a "harbor pilot" to come aboard and help guide the vessel to its destination. Your computer is the ocean-going vessel, and the Husky OnNet software is the "harbor pilot," guiding your network traffic safely through to its destination.

(Notable exceptions to this are the "attu" instructional lab terminal servers, and our research cycle servers - "bicycle" and "recycle" and "tricycle." These computers are on publicly-accessible network subnets, and do not require the use of the Husky OnNet software to access.)

Figure 1: Husky OnNet window upon startup. Select "Connect" to continue. Figure 2: Husky OnNet window after selecting "Connect". Enter your UWNetID credentials here. Figure 3: Husky OnNet window after a successful connection is made.

After successfully connecting to the Husky OnNet VPN, you can use Remote Desktop or a terminal program to connect to an on-campus computing resource.

When you are finished with your session, log off of the remote machine, exit from the application that is running on your computer, and then disconnect from the Husky OnNet session.

Software for Connecting to Allen School Computing Resources

Connecting to an Allen School computer from a remote location involves running a program on your own computer and directing it to make a connection TO that Allen School computer.

Three programs that are often used for this purpose are Microsoft Remote Desktop, an SSH or "terminal" program, and VDI, which offers remote access to a Windows instructional-lab desktop environment, useful for undergraduate students.

Microsoft Remote Desktop

Microsoft Remote Desktop is used FROM a Windows or Macintosh computer, allowing a connection TO a Windows-based computer (Windows 10 or Windows Server) and bringing the Windows desktop to your computer.

This software is part of the standard Windows software distribution. Search for "Remote Desktop Connection" to find the software on your computer, and run that application.

For Macintosh users, this software is available from the App Store - a blue circular icon with a large white "A." In the App Store, search for "Microsoft Remote Desktop" and install that application. Its icon is a red circle with two white arrows.

When making a new connection to an Allen School Windows computer, one must provide the full name of the computer to which one is making the connection. If the name of your computer is, say, "scorpio," you must enter this as its name: scorpio.cs.washington.edu so that the connection can be made. One must also identify the domain that the computer is a part of when providing the username: CSENETID\joeuser. This part is different than when one logs into the computer while sitting at it, it's assumed that you are using a domain account, and so you don't need to identify the domain. Remote connection needs the domain prepended to the username.

Figure 4: Setting up a new Remote Desktop connection. Figure 5: A Remote Desktop connection, all set up. Figure 6: A set of Remote Desktop connections; double-click one of them to start a session with that remote host.

One note about making a remote connection to your Windows desktop: the first time you attempt to make a connection, you may see a dialog box that looks like this one:

This is normal behavior; you can safely (a) check the box that says "Don't ask me again for connections to this computer." and (b) select the "Yes" button to continue.

Terminal Access

Connecting to Allen School Linux hosts is done through the use of a "terminal" application, such as PuTTY (Windows) or Terminal (Macintosh) or "xterm" (Linux).

When making a connection through one of these applications, one needs to identify both the username and the complete hostname to make the connection: ssh joeuser@scorpio.cs.washington.edu

Under certain circumstances, one can redirect the X11 display window(s) of a process running remotely with "X11 forwarding." X11 forwarding can be enabled by adding the -X or -Y flags to the ssh command (-Y enables "trusted" X11 forwarding, and -X enables all X11 forwarding). If one wishes to enable X11 forwarding, one may also wish to add the -C command-line flag, which enables compression of the data being transferred. This may help to improve the user experience. If one is using PuTTY, this can be enabled in the "PuTTY Configuration" window. Macintosh users will need to install the XQuartz X server software, and Windows users will need to install the Xming X server software, before opening a session with X11 forwarding.
(Caveat: not all graphical applications support X11 forwarding, and the bandwidth needed to support the remote display of a complex X11 display may result in a less-than-optimal user experience.)

Allen School Resources Available for Remote Access

There are a number of Allen School computing resources available for the Allen School community to use.

aqua.cs.washington.edu - Faculty, Staff, and Graduate Students

Faculty, staff, and graduate students have access, via Microsoft Remote Desktop, to aqua.cs.washington.edu. Undergraduate students do not have login privileges on this host.

VDI (Virtual Windows Desktop) - Undergraduate Students (and others)

The Allen School offers our VDI service to the community, a set of virtual desktop machines that emulate working in one of the Allen School's instructional labs. More information on what is available through VDI and how to access these resources is available at this link.

Linux Cycle Server Resources

As mentioned above, undergraduates have command-line access to the attu.cs.washington.edu cycle servers, and graduate students and faculty have command-line access to bicycle.cs.washington.edu, recycle.cs.washington.edu, and tricycle.cs.washington.edu cycle servers.

Personal Desktops

Administrative and technical staff, graduate students, and faculty have remote access, using the resources discussed here, to the desktop machines in their offices and research labs.

Need Help?

If you're having difficulty in installing and using the Husky OnNet software, please contact UW-IT by e-mail to help@uw.edu.

If you're having difficulty connecting to an Allen School host, please contact CSE Support by e-mail to support@cs.washington.edu.