MASSIVE Home > Overview > Cluster Instructions > Using the MASSIVE Desktop

Using the MASSIVE Desktop

Access via the MASSIVE Launcher

The MASSIVE Launcher prototype now fully automates the steps required to launch a MASSIVE Desktop session. This is now the preferred method for access.

Access via Manual Steps

If automated access fails it still also possible to use the original manual method.


Manual Access

Some users may find it more convenient to launch the MASSIVE Desktop manually. The steps to do this are described below.


1) Login to via a login shell such as Putty or ssh (below)



2) Request an interactive session on the "vis" queue using your project id

qsub -A <yourprojectid> -I -q vis -l walltime=04:0:0,nodes=1:ppn=12:gpus=2,mem=192000MB


3) You will be given a vis node (referred here as $VISNODE) and given instructions on how to connect

4) Create a secure ssh tunnel as instructed

5) Connect via TurboVNC as instructed

6) Use "module load virtualgl" and then "vglrun" to run any OpenGL software (e.g. vglrun glxgears)

7) When you exit the login shell session the MASSIVE desktop will be closed


1) Login to via a login shell such as Putty or ssh (below)



2) Request an interactive session on the "vis" queue using your project id. Replace " " with the project name you wish to run against (e.g. "Monashxxx")

qsub -A <yourprojectid> -I -q vis -l walltime=24:0:0,nodes=1:ppn=12:gpus=2,pmem=16000MB


3) You will be presented with the following information. Each time you request a node MASSIVE will provide you with the next available node which will vary depending on availability. In this example "m2106" is the $VISNODE provided.

MASSIVE Desktop Ready!
To access the desktop first create a secure tunnel to m2106

Windows Putty Terminal:
1) Right-click on Window border and select Change Settings...
2) Select Connection-SSH-Tunnels
3) Remove any existing tunnels to port 5901
4) Add a new tunnel to Source port 5901 Destination m2106:5901

Linux/Max Shell:
1) Start a new login to MASSIVE using the following command
ssh -L 5901:m2106:5901 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Now connect using your local TurboVNC client to connect to localhost:1
and use your MASSIVE login details.

Details and Expert advice can be found at the following link: 

4) Create a secure tunnel to with a local port 5901 forwarding to the $VISNODE e.g. m2106


You will need to open a new shell locally and connect again to MASSIVE with the following "-L: option

ssh -L 5901:$VISNODE:5901



If you are using Putty on Windows you can add the local port forwarding via the Connection - SSH - Tunnels configuration. This can be done before or after the session has been started.


5) Start your VNC viewer from you local machine and connect to localhost:1





All Programs > TurboVNC 64-bit > TurboVNC Viewer

6) Connect to the host Use "localhost:1" and enter the password you provided earlier


7) Start working


When the login shell session is finished the desktop and associated XServers will automatically be shutdown


You can customise the look and feel of the desktop by creating your own server configuration file on the visnode

cp /etc/turbovncserver.conf .vnc/
vi .vnc/turbovncserver.conf


For example you can change the default desktop size to suit that of your client computer and this will be used for all future sessions

$geometry = "1440x900";


On low bandwidth connections different connection options can be used to tailor performance to the usage. This dialog can be accessed by right-clicking on the window edge and selecting "Connection options...". The settings for "WAN" favour wide area networks i.e. slow connections across the internet. The settings for "LAN" favour local area network i.e. fast connections on a network close to the cluster. The terms referring to "Lossless" and "Low Quality" refer to the quality of images seen. A setting like "Lossless Tight + Zlib (WAN)" provides good performance over DSL.



Common Issues


When trying to run TurboVNC on Mac OS X, I get the following error:

X Error of failed request:  BadValue (integer parameter out of range for operation)
  Major opcode of failed request:  45 (X_OpenFont)
  Value in failed request:  0x600001
  Serial number of failed request:  14
  Current serial number in output stream:  15


If running Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or later, upgrade to the latest version of XQuartz from:

If you don't yet have installed in /Applications/Utilities/ (only, you will need to log out and log back in after installing XQuartz to change your default X11 application from to



When running TurboVNC's vncviewer on Mac OS X or Linux, my JPEG encoding settings are ignored and I see the following message:

Same machine: preferring raw encoding


If you create an SSH tunnel on Mac OS X or Linux and then use TurboVNC's X11 vncviewer to connect to localhost:1, TurboVNC will assume that your VNC server is running on the same machine ("localhost") as the VNC client application, so it will bypass the usual JPEG encoding methods, and use "raw encoding" instead. One solution is to explicitly add -encodings "tight copyrect" to the vncviewer's command-line options. Another solution is to use the -via option to create the SSH tunnel:

/opt/TurboVNC/bin/vncviewer -via $VISNODE:1