Get an ARC Account for Your Class

Instructors can introduce their students to high performance computing on an ARC system.

Such requests have to follow the same procedures as any researcher requesting accounts for a research project. However, ARC has tried to simplify this process where possible, particularly in dealing with the necessity of creating accounts for many students at one time.

The following instructions should help an instructor who wishes to give
student access to one of the ARC clusters.

The project and allocation associated with a class are good for one semester. In following semesters, if another class is to be given access, then a new project and allocation will need to be set up.

In outline, creating a class account involves these steps:

  1. The instructor requests a personal ARC account;
  2. The instructor creates a project for the class;
  3. The instructor requests an allocation for the class project;
  4. The instructor adds users to their allocations.
  5. The instructor goes over system policies.

1) The Instructor Requests a Personal ARC Account

If an instructor already has an ARC account, for any reason, then it is not necessary to request a new one. Otherwise, go to the ARC web site:

https://www.arc.vt.edu/

Near the top of the screen is a Submit a Request item. Selecting this to expose a pull down menu, and there select the item Account.

2) The Instructor Creates a Project for the Class

Once you have an ARC account, and assuming you are a faculty member, you can set up an ARC project for the class.

Go to the new ARC resource allocation web site:                                                                                                          
https://coldfront.arc.vt.edu/

The following link shows how to add new projects:

Adding a Project

As soon as you submit your project, it should appear on your Dashboard
under the Projects menu.

3) The Instructor Requests an Allocation for the Class Project

Once you have a project for your class, you can request an allocation,
which is a named grant of a specific amount of computer resources on a
specific computer system, which can be shared with others (in your case,
with your students).

Go to the new ARC resource allocation web site:                                                                                                          
https://coldfront.arc.vt.edu/

The following link shows how to request new allocations:

Requesting an Allocation

When you submit the allocation request, there is an approval process, which typically should take no more than a day or two. Once your allocation is approved, you (but only you) have the requested access. Now it is necessary to add your students to your allocation.

4) The Instructor adds users to their allocation

Creating the project and an allocation for that project only gives you
access to the allocated resources. Now it’s necessary to add your students
to the allocation.  Any students added to an allocation will automatically have an account created for them if one doesn’t exist.

The student account creation process should only take a few minutes. Each student should receive an email informing them that their account has been created. Now they have access to the system, and can run jobs that will be charged to your allocation.

5) The Instructor Goes Over System Policies:

The instructor should make sure that the students review
New ARC user info
and the user guide appropriate to their machine:

Students who are new ARC users should be informed that:

  • their account is only good for the cluster specified on the allocation
    request; if access to DragonsTooth was not requested, for instance,
    then it will not be available;
  • typically, the software used to connect to the cluster is:
    • putty, from a Windows machine;
    • ssh (interaction) or sftp/scp (file transfer), from any Unix or Mac system;
  • logging in requires their usual VT PID and password;
  • two-factor DUO authentication is required. Many students will have
    trouble with this the first time they try it!
  • If interactive computations are necessary, they should not be done on
    the login nodes. Instead, the interact command should be used,
    which requests interactive access to a computational node.
  • Non-interactive work is done by writing a PBS script that is submitted
    to a specific queue. The PBS script will need the name of your
    class allocation, and the desired queue.
  • access from off-campus requires setting up a VPN;

The most common problem with student usage is that they use the login
nodes for computational purposes. The login nodes are reserved for
interactive, non-computational work. Computational work must be
carried out using the batch queueing system. Being new, naive users,
students will often violate this policy, which can result in their
account being frozen.