Connecting to CHTC Using CHTC's HTC Submit Nodes

This guide assumes that you have already gotten a CHTC account for either our high throughput or high performance compute systems. If you haven't, see our getting started page.

1. Accessing the Submit Servers

You will need the following information to log into our CHTC submit servers or head nodes:

Username and Password

  • UW - Madison NetId and password


HTC System - typically for accounts created before June 2019, between March 2021 - June 2022, or after Feb 1, 2023 - typically for accounts created between June 2019 - February 2021 or between July 1, 2022 - Jan 31, 2023
HPC Cluster and/or - access the old HPC cluster until February 28, 2023

As of December 2022, we also require two-factor authentication with Duo to access CHTC resources.

Are you off-campus?
All of our CHTC submit servers and head nodes are firewalled to block log-ins from off-campus. If you are off-campus and want to log in, you can either:

  • Activate the campus VPN (more details on how to set this up here).
  • Log into another computer that is on campus.

In either case, it will appear like you are on-campus, and you should then be able to log into CHTC as usual.

2. Logging In

Using the information described above, you can log in to servers two different ways -- from the command line or using an SSH program:

A. On the command line (Mac/Linux)

On a Mac or Linux system, you can use the "Terminal" application to log in. Open a terminal window and use the following command to connect to the appropriate server:

$ ssh username@hostname

You will be prompted for your password, and then for Duo authentication.

B. Using an SSH program (Windows)

There are multiple programs to connect to remote servers for Windows. We recommend "PuTTy", which can be downloaded here. To log in, click on the PuTTy executable (putty.exe). You should see a screen like this:

Fill in the hostname as described in part 1. You should use Port 22 and connect using "ssh" -- these are usually the defaults. After you click "connect" you will be prompted to fill in your username and password, and then to authenticate with Duo.

Note that once you have submitted jobs to the queue, you can leave your logged in session (by typing exit). Your jobs will run and return output without you needing to be connected.

C. Re-Using SSH Connections

To reduce the number of times it is necessary to enter your credentials, it’s possible to customize your SSH configuration in a way that allows you to “reuse” a connection for logging in again or moving files. More details are shown in this guide: Automating CHTC Log In

3. Transferring Files

To transfer files to and from CHTC, you will need the same username and hostname information for logging in, as well as understanding where your files are and where you would like them to go.

A. On the command line (Mac/Linux)

On a Mac or Linux system, you can use the "Terminal" application and the scp command to copy files between your computer and CHTC servers.

Your computer to CHTC

First, open the "Terminal" application and navigate to the directory with the files or directories you want to transfer. Then, use this command to copy these files to CHTC:

$ scp file username@hostname:/home/username

If you would like these files to end up in a different directory inside your home directory, just add it to the path at the end of the command.

CHTC to your computer

Open the "Terminal" application. Do NOT log into CHTC. Instead, navigate to where you want the files to go on your computer. Then, use this command to copy these files there:

$ scp username@hostname:/home/username/file ./

Again, for many files, it will be easiest to create a compressed tarball (.tar.gz file) of your files and transfer that instead of each file individually.

B. Using a file transfer program (Windows/Mac)

Windows and Mac users can also use special programs to help them transfer files between their computers and CHTC. For Windows, we recommend WinSCP. It requires the same information as Putty (hostname, username), and once it's set up, looks like this:

The left window is a directory on your computer, the right window is your home directory in CHTC. To move files between the two, simply drag and drop.

There are other programs besides WinSCP that do this. Another that works on Mac and Windows is called Cyberduck.

C. Transferring Multiple Files

If you are transferring many files, it is advantageous to compress them into a single compressed file, in order to facilitate transferring them. Place all the files you need in a directory, and then either zip it or use the "tar" command to compress them:

$ tar czf data_files.tar.gz file_directory/

To untar or unzip files on the submit server or head nodes, you can use either:

[alice@submit]$ tar xzf data_files.tar.gz


[alice@submit]$ unzip

4. Creating and Editing Files in CHTC

Once you have logged in to a CHTC server, you can edit files from the command line, by using a command line file editor. Some common editing programs are:

  • nano
  • vi
  • emacs

nano is the most beginner-friendly, and emacs is the most advanced. This Software Carpentry lesson describes how to use nano, and there are many other resources online with instructions for these text editors.

Some of the file transfer programs mentioned above allow you to edit files on CHTC servers through the interface.

5. Learning About the Command Line

Why learn about the command line? If you haven't used the command line before, it might seem like a big challenge to get started, and easier to use other tools, especially if you have a Windows computer. However, we strongly recommend learning more about the command line for multiple reasons:

  • You can do most of what you need to do in CHTC by learning a few basic commands.
  • With a little practice, typing on the command line is significantly faster and much more powerful than using a point-and-click graphic interface.
  • Command line skills are useful for more than just large-scale computing.

For a good overview of command line tools, see the Software Carpentry Unix Shell lesson. In particular, we recommend the sections on: