The SBC General User Program now offers support for data collection and processing from a remote computer located at the user’s home institution by utilizing freely available software applications called “NoMachine NX Client” installed on the user’s computer and the “NoMachine NX Server” application installed on the SBC data acquisition and data processing servers. NX makes it possible to display the entire desktop of the SBC server onto the user’s remote computer. Data acquisition and data processing can proceed as if the user were sitting at the console of the SBC server. Data backup is typically performed by copying data over the network from an SBC NX Server to the user’s (Linux or Macintosh) NX Client. In addition to the network copy, some users send a USB disk to the beamline along with their crystals. SBC currently supports USB disks which are less than 2 Terabytes in size and are formatted either FAT32 or ext3.
“Remote Access” requires the use of the SBC Sample Mounting Robot! Remote Access is available to the experienced SBC CAT users who have previously collected data LOCALLY at SBC, are familiar with SBC CAT hardware and software and who have up-to-date SBC beamline-specific training. Users who meet these requirements and wish to collect and process data remotely at SBC CAT need to request remote access when submitting their proposal for beamtime. SBC management must review and approve the request for remote access before beamtime is scheduled.
SBC does recommend that if possible at least one person from the user’s organization should be present “locally” in order to handle crystals and assist less experienced users in data collection when needed. In order for a group to be permitted to operate entirely remotely, SBC requires that the group have at least one expert user available at their home site to help and support the less experienced users of the group.
The user’s remote computer must have network connections at least as fast as ADSL and must support video resolutions of at least 1280x1024 (and preferably 1600x1200). The user’s computer must also be capable of running one of the free versions of the NoMachine NX Client application. Please check the list of NX Client Products at the NoMachine website http://www.nomachine.com/download.php
Remote connections will not be permitted until all of the preparations listed below have been completed.
Once your proposal is accepted and approved for remote access you will be contacted by an SBC staff member (your “SBC Host” or the SBC systems administrator) in order to coordinate the handling of your crystals and to determine your data backup strategy. Please follow the steps below to prepare for computer access prior to your beamtime.
- NX access to SBC computers is restricted to pre-registered IP addresses and network MAC addresses. You may specify one computer for data collection and one or two additional computers for data processing. You must identify each specific computer that you will use to collect and process data during your scheduled beamtime. You must identify the network IP address and the hardware MAC address of each computer.
- Download and install the appropriate version of the free NoMachine NX Client on each of your specified computers. Detailed instructions are provided on the NoMachine website http://www.nomachine.com/download.php
- We recommend using either skype (see www.skype.com/download) and a web-camera to communicate with beamline personnel. Please setup and familiarize yourselves with this ahead of time. This will avoid unnecessary (long-distance) phone calls.
- You will receive an email message containing the NX session templates and keys for the SBC data acquisition server and the two SBC data processing servers. You will also receive the username and a temporary password that you will use on the SBC servers. See NX Settings below.
- We strongly recommend arranging with your SBC Host to “test” your connection to the SBC servers prior to your scheduled beamtime. Please be aware that these “tests” can only occur during “no-beam” days in the APS schedule, so please plan ahead with your SBC Host. Your account will be active only during the scheduled test and again during your scheduled beamtime. All connection attempts are being logged so please do not attempt to connect to SBC servers outside of your scheduled access times.
YOUR NX Setting
IDDAQ-purple refers to the SBC NX Server that is used for data collection and for some data processing.
IDPX-plum refers to the SBC NX Server located in the “ID-OPS” area that is used for data processing only.
IDPX-white and IDPX-neon are SBC NX Servers located in the “IDWA” and “IDWB” work areas respectively. These NX Servers are used for data backup and data processing only. Users will have access to only one of these servers. You will be notified prior to your beamtime which server is available to you.
NX Session templates
As an alternative to creating NX sessions with the NX Connection Wizard, you may simply copy the configuration files provided by SBC, for example IDDAQ-purple.nxs and IDPX-plum.nxs, to $HOME/.nx/config on your (Linux or Windows) NX client system. For Macintosh clients (use the “NX Player” software) the location for the configuration files is in the Documents/Virtual Desktops folder.
Your Login / Password information will be communicated to you by phone.
When your scheduled beamtime begins, you may open NX sessions between your registered NX Client systems and the SBC NX servers. You must begin by establishing phone contact with your SBC Host who will ensure that the sample mounting robot has been initialized and that your samples are properly loaded into the robot dewar(s). Your SBC Host will then interlock the D-hutch, open the X-ray shutters on the beamline and help you to initiate your backup strategy. You will be instructed on how to contact your SBC Host whenever you need “local” assistance. We do require that each individual user browse to the SBC website from one of your NX Clients and “check in” using the SBC User Registration System (the “CHECKIN” link in the panel on the left of our home page). You may then collect and process data as if you were sitting at the console of the SBC servers!
At the completion of your scheduled beamtime you must:
- Remember to unmount your final sample!
- From one of your NX Clients, browse to the SBC website and check out (using the SBC User Registration System). Only one individual from the group needs to “check out”.
- Close all applications that you have open on the SBC servers including your data backups!
- Log-OFF of all SBC servers and “terminate” all NX Sessions. Please do not choose the “disconnect” option as this will only suspend the connection and will prevent our next user connection. Please end your sessions on time. WARNING: In order to be fair to the “next” scheduled user, remote NX sessions are automatically (and abruptly) terminated one hour past the scheduled beamtime.
- Contact your SBC Host and arrange for the retrieval of your crystals and your data backup disk if you sent one.