Using Linux Virtual Desktops (thin clients) and Servers in Statistics
Thin clients (also known as Virtual Desktop Stations) have replaced desktop and deskside workstations. The thin clients function as terminals for remote access to other computers operating as servers. They do not provide local computing capabilities or disk storage.
Servers have replaced workstations for performing desktop and computational tasks. "Public" 32 bit servers (publicXX) are available for remote access to operate as general "desktop" and 32 bit computational servers. "Desk" 64 bit servers (deskXX) have also been reconfigured as desktop application servers for specific individual use. It is best to restrict use of the deskXX servers for desktop applications only (Thunderbird, Firefox, document processing, etc). For 32 bit computational applications, like R, Matlab and SAS, it is better to use the publicXX servers. This isolates computational loads to the publicXX servers and allows the deskXX servers to better provide the interactive services associated with the desktop applications.
Powerful 64 bit servers have been installed for general access as the emerging resource for running computational applications. Whenever possible, applications like R, Matlab, SAS and C programs should be moved to the 64 bit servers. These can be remotely accessed as bigmem01, bigmem02 and bigmem03. These servers are configured with a 64 bit Linux operating system. Bigmem01 and bigmem02 are equipped with 8 cores each and about 48-64 GB of RAM. Bigmem03 is considerably
larger with 48 cores and 128 GB of RAM. These machines should be used for large computational work only, and NOT to
run everyday applications such as Firefox and Thunderbird. Please be responsible when running long term jobs on these
machines - they are for everyone to use.
A number of faculty groups have installed similar powerful servers for their research projects. There are currently 30+ such servers providing about 130 "core" processors and 8G to 64G memory on each computer. If you are working with one of these faculty groups, you may have access to the new computational resources.
Department-supplied desktop thin clients are virtually silent and require very little power (about the same as a notebook computer). This is beneficial to the quality of our office environments and improves energy efficient overall. Over time, student and faculty owned notebook computers are expected to replace the need for even these thin-clients at many student and faculty desktops.
Please see the next section
on instructions for using thin clients.
- 10 Aug 2012