Getting access

VSC accounts

In order to use the infrastructure of the VSC, you need a VSC-user ID, also called a VSC account. Check the VSC website for conditions.

All VSC-accounts start with the letters "vsc” followed by a five-digit number. The first digit gives information about your home institution. There is no relationship with your name, nor is the information about the link between VSC-accounts and your name publicly accessible.

Your VSC account gives you access to most of the VSC Tier-2 infrastructure, though for some more specialized hardware you may have to ask access separately. The rationale is that we want to ensure that that specialized (usually rather expensive) hardware is used efficiently for the type of applications it was purchased for. Contact your local VSC coordinator to arrange access when required.

For the main Tier-1 compute cluster you need to submit a project application (or you should be covered by a project application within your research group).

How to request an account?

Unlike your institute account, VSC accounts don’t use regular fixed passwords but a key pair consisting of a public an private key because that is a more secure authentication technique. To apply for a VSC account, you need a public/private key pair.

Create a public/private key pair

A key pair consists of a private and a public key.

  1. The private key is stored on the computer(s) you use to access the VSC infrastructure and always stays there.
  2. The public key is stored on the VSC systems you want to access, allowing to prove your identity through the corresponding private key.

How to generate such a key pair depends on your operating system. We describe the generation of key pairs in the client sections for

Without a key pair, you won’t be able to apply for a VSC account.

Warning

It is clear from the above that it is very important to protect your private key well. Therefore:

  • You should choose a strong passphrase to protect your private key.
  • You should not share your key pair with other users.
  • If you have accounts at multiple supercomputer centers (or on other systems that use SSH), you should seriously consider using a different key pair for each of those accounts. In that way, if a key would get compromised, the damage can be controlled.
  • For added security, you may also consider to use a different key pair for each computer you use to access your VSC account. If your computer is stolen, it is then easy to disable access from that computer while you can still access your VSC account from all your other computers. The procedure is explained on a separate web page “Access from multiple machines”.

Your VSC account is currently managed through your institute account.

Applying for the account

Once you have a valid public/private key pair, you can submit an account request. The following algorithm guides you to the appropriate approach.

Users from the KU Leuven and UHasselt association

UHasselt has an agreement with KU Leuven to run a shared infrastructure. Therefore the procedure is the same for both institutions.

Who?

Access is available for faculty, students (under faculty supervision), and researchers of the KU Leuven, UHasselt and their associations.

How?

  • Researchers with a regular personnel account (u-number) can use the generic procedure.
  • If you are in one of the higher education institutions associated with KU Leuven, the generic procedure may not work. In that case, please e-mail hpcinfo@kuleuven.be to get an account. You will have to provide a public ssh key generated as described above.
  • Lecturers of KU Leuven and UHasselt that need HPC access for giving their courses: The procedure requires action both from the lecturers and from the students. Lecturers should follow the specific procedure for lecturers, while the students should simply apply for the account through the generic procedure.

Users of Ghent University Association

All information about the access policy is available in English at the UGent HPC web pages.

  • Researchers can use the generic procedure.
  • Master students can also use the infrastructure for their master thesis work. The promotor of the thesis should first send a motivation to hpc@ugent.be and then the generic procedure should be followed (using your student UGent id) to request the account.

Users of the Antwerp University Association (AUHA)

Who?

Access is available for faculty, students (master’s projects under faculty supervision), and researchers of the AUHA.

How?

  • Researchers can use the generic procedure.
  • Master students can also use the infrastructure for their master thesis work. The promotor of the thesis should first send a motivation to hpc@uantwerpen.be and then the generic procedure should be followed (using your student UAntwerpen id) to request the account.

Users of Brussels University Association

All information about the access policy is available on the VUB HPC documentation website.

  • Researchers can use the generic procedure.
  • Master students can also use the infrastructure for their master thesis work. The promotor of the thesis should first send a motivation to hpc@vub.ac.be and then the generic procedure should be followed to request the account.

Everyone else

Who?

How?

Ask your VSC contact for help. If you don’t have a VSC contact yet, and please get in touch with us.

Generic procedure for academic researchers

For most researchers from the Flemish universities, the procedure has been fully automated and works by using your institute account to request a VSC account. Check below for exceptions or if the generic procedure does not work.

  1. Open the VSC account page.
  2. Select your “home” institution from the drop-down menu and click the “confirm” button.
  3. Log in using your institution login and password.
  4. You will be asked to upload the public key you created earlier.
  5. You will get an e-mail to confirm your application, click the included link to do so.
  6. After the account has been approved by the VSC, your account will be created and you will get a confirmation e-mail.

Warning

Allow for at least half an hour for your account to be properly created after receiving the confirmation email!

Note

If you can’t connect to the VSC account page , some browser extensions have caused problems (and in particular some security-related extensions), so you might try with browser extensions disabled.

Next steps

Register for an HPC Introduction course. These are organized at all universities on a regular basis.

Note

For KU Leuven users: if there is no course announced please register to our training waiting list and we will organize a new session as soon as we get a few people interested in it. training waiting list

Information on our training program and the schedule is available on the VSC website.

Additional information

Before you apply for VSC account, it is useful to first check whether the infrastructure is suitable for your application. Windows or macOS programs for instance cannot run on our infrastructure as we use the Linux operating system on the clusters. The infrastructure also should not be used to run applications for which the compute power of a good laptop is sufficient. The pages on the Tier-1 hardware and Tier-2 hardware in this part of the website give a high-level description of our infrastructure. You can find more detailed information in the user documentation on the user portal. When in doubt, you can also contact your local support team. This does not require a VSC account.

Your account also includes two “blocks” of disk space: your home directory and data directory. Both are accessible from all VSC clusters. When you log in to a particular cluster, you will also be assigned one or more blocks of temporary disk space, called scratch directories. Which directory should be used for which type of data, is explained in the page “Where can I store what kind of data?”.

Your VSC account does not give you access to all available software. You can use all free software and a number of compilers and other development tools. For most commercial software, you must first prove that you have a valid license or the person who has paid the license on the cluster must allow you to use the license. For this you can contact your local support team.