Virtual Machines

We provide virtual machines (VMs) as needed for students registered for courses in Computer Science. All virtual machines are hosted in an OpenStack cluster located in the basement of the Davis Marksbury Building.

OpenStack Dashboard

You can manage your VM through the OpenStack dashboard. The dashboard is helpful when the VM is non-responsive and needs to be forcefully rebooted or for configuring the network firewall.

Accessing the dashboard

The dashboard can be accessed by going to either or depending on which server cluster you have been assigned. Authentication is performed using your LinkBlue credentials.

login page

OpenStack calls VMs “instances” and accounts “projects”. Your VM and project, as well as your login account on the VM, are all named after your LinkBlue ID. Upon logging in you should see an overview of your account and, at the bottom, your LinkBlue ID as a hyperlink. This is your VM instance. Click the link to open the management page for the VM.

Instance Overview

The tabs available on the instance page give details of the VM as well as its firewall settings (called “Security Groups”), logs, and a console. Use the console only when NoMachine (see below) is not available, because NoMachine provides far better performance for a graphical desktop.


If the console is not responding to keyboard input, either (1) click the blue/grey status bar at the top of the console, or (2) click the “Click here to show only console” message, or (3) refresh the web page in your browser.

NoMachine client

NoMachine provides the best experience for connecting to the VM’s desktop. You can download it here. Your VM already has NoMachine installed. Once you have installed NoMachine on your own machine (laptop, for instance), follow the images below for guidance.

Click on <Click here to create a connection>.

Instance Overview

Make sure the protocol is ‘NX’, then click Continue.

Instance Overview

Enter the name of your VM (its DNS address).

Instance Overview

Choose password authentication.

Instance Overview

Most users do not need to configure a HTTP proxy.

Instance Overview

Enter your LinkBlue credentials.

Instance Overview

Configure the settings.

Instance Overview


Display resolution can have a dramatic affect on performance. 1280x800 is a good initial setting.

Other Connection Methods

If your VM runs Linux, you can connect via SSH (Secure Shell). The connection command looks like this:


or this:


SSH has the advantages of speed and accessibility, but it lacks a graphical user interface. If you are connecting from a machine running an X server able to receive forwarded X Windows connections over SSH, add -Y as a flag to the ssh command. Now you can run windows applications on your VM and see them on your own machine. This setting and many more can be configured in an ssh config file, an example is included below.

File name: ~/.ssh/config

  KexAlgorithms +diffie-hellman-group1-sha1
  Ciphers aes256-ctr,aes256-cbc
  ForwardX11Trusted yes

In the example above, the first line specifies the host you are making a connection to and the lines immediately following are the configuration options specific to that host. See the man page for ssh_config(5) for more information.

On a Mac, you might want to use the terminal app along with XQuartz. On a Windows machine, you might want to use Xming or Cygwin/X along with an SSH client such as Putty or MobaXterm.

Network Firewall

The default firewall settings for your VM block all ports except for the ones used by SSH and NoMachine. Although you may adjust your VM’s firewall settings, please contact for assistance. Open ports can be a security risk.