Remote desktop access to your network account
Our remote desktop gateways, reachable worldwide from anywhere on the internet, provide graphical access to your network account desktop.
Technically speaking, our remote desktop gateways speak VNC.
Since the gateways will have lots of users on them at the same time, be sure to never run heavy-duty computational software directly on the gateway. (For example, do not use Maple, Mathematica, Matlab.) Instead, after connecting to the gateway, establish a secondary connection (using for example ssh -Y myusername@othermachine) from the gateway to another machine (such as your office desktop, or the chivo cluster for graduate students), and run your heavy-duty computations over there.
How to create your remote desktop:
Before you can connect to your remote desktop, you must once-and-for-all create your remote desktop following our separate instructions.
Different ways to connect to your remote desktop:
- To use a java-based client inside your web browser, manually type the address http://bobcat.math.arizona.edu:58xx/ into your browser, replacing xx with your desktop number. (For example, if your desktop number is 7, the correct address is http://bobcat.math.arizona.edu:5807/.) Graduate students should replace “bobcat” with “iguana”.
If you are running Microsoft Windows and clicking the gateway name above doesn't work, or you use VNC often and prefer a better viewer client, consider downloading the following viewer client:
TightVNC Viewer [Download]
Note that you only need the “Viewer”, which is the smallest of the many available downloads. To connect, launch the viewer, and type in the VNC gateway name and desktop number separated by a colon. (For example, if your desktop number is 7, enter bobcat.math.arizona.edu:7.)
- TightVNC Viewer [Download]
If you are running Linux or Mac OS X, you can invoke vncviewer directly from the command line:
vncviewer bobcat.math.arizona.edu:desktopnumber(For example, if your desktop number is 7, the command is vncviewer bobcat.math.arizona.edu:7.) If this doesn't work, it may be that no VNC viewer client is installed on your system. For Mac OS X, you can download the client “Chicken of the VNC”.
How to disconnect
- To disconnect from (i.e., stop viewing) your remote desktop, simply close the viewer (the outermost window).
- There is no need to close individual windows inside your virtual desktop, nor is there a need to log out the Gnome session inside your virtual desktop. (In fact, if you accidentally do this, then you must kill your remote desktop and create a new one.)
Each time you connect to your remote desktop, your password is sent in an encrypted fashion. However, the actual VNC session itself is not encrypted. This means an internet snoop might be able to observe your VNC session. In particular, anything you type (including other passwords) while inside your VNC session could be intercepted.
One solution is to tunnel the entire VNC session over SSH. For example, on your own computer, in a separate window run ssh firstname.lastname@example.org -L 59xx:bobcat:59xx, replacing xx with your VNC desktop number. This tells SSH to forward port 59xx from your local computer on over to port 59xx on bobcat. Depending on your SSH client, you may have to go to Options or Preferences to enable this type of port forwarding for your particular session. (Grad students: in this example, use gila instead of puma, and iguana instead of bobcat.)
The SSH tunnel will be in place so long as you leave that SSH session open. Concurrently, launch your VNC viewer, but instead of pointing it to bobcat:xx, point it to localhost:xx. Your VNC viewer will connect back to your own computer on port 59xx, and then the SSH tunnel will carry that conversation in an encrypted manner over your SSH connection and hand it off to port 59xx on bobcat, where your VNC server is listening.
Voila! You're using VNC, but over an SSH tunnel, and thus everything is encrypted properly!