What is a VSC account?

To log on to and use the VSC infrastructure, you need a so-called VSC account. There is only one exception: Users of the Brussels University Association who only need access to the VUB/ULB cluster Hydra can use their institute account.

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.

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 technique for authentication.

Your VSC account is currently managed through your institute account.

Public/private key pairs

A key pair consists of a private and a public key. The private key is stored on the computer(s) from which you want to access the VSC and always stays there. The public key is stored on a the systems you want to access, granting access to the anyone who can prove to have access to the corresponding private key. Therefore it is very important to protect your private key, as anybody who has access to it can access your VSC account. For extra security, the private key itself should be encrypted using a 'passphrase', to prevent anyone from using your private key even when they manage to copy it. You have to 'unlock' the private key by typing the passphrase when you use it.

How to generate such a key pair, depends on your operating system. We describe the generation of key pairs in the client sections for Linux, Windows and macOS (formerly OS X).

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

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

  • You should not share your key pair with other users.
  • If you have accounts at multiple supercomputer centres (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.

Applying for the account

Depending on restrictions imposed by the institution, not all users might get a VSC account. We describe who can apply for an account in the sections of the local VSC clusters.

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.

Open the VSC account management web site and select your "home" institution. After you log in using your institution login and password, you will be asked to upload your public key. You will get an e-mail to confirm your application. After the account has been approved by the VSC, your account will be created and you will get a confirmation e-mail.

The site account.vscentrum.be is only accessible from within your institution's domain, so the page won't load from (e.g.) home. However, your institution might allow external access to it's domain using VPN (currently not available for KU Leuven). We refer to your institution's ICT department for more information.

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. See also the access restrictions.

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(at)icts.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.

How to start?

  • Please follow the information on the webpage
  • Or register for the HPC Introduction course
  • If there is no course announced please register to our waiting list and we will organize a new session as soon as we get a few people interested in it.

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 ia available for faculty, students (master's projects under faculty supervision), and researchers of the AUHA. See also the access restrictions page.

How?

  • Researchers of the University of Antwerp with a regular UAntwerpen account can use the generic procedure.
  • Users from higher education institutions associated with UAntwerpen can get a VSC account via UAntwerpen. However, we have not yet set up an automated form. Please contact the user support at hpc@uantwerpen.be to get an account. You will have to provide a public ssh key generated as described above.

Users of Brussels University Association

  • If you only need access to the VUB cluster Hydra, you don't necessarily need a full VSC account but can use your regular institute account. More information can be found on this VUB Web Notes page.

Troubleshooting

  • If you get the following error message when uploading your public key, Status: 500 internal server error Content-Type: text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1
    500 internal server error
    2009-12-08 16:49:24 <0> Error : Something went wrong while adding your request to the database.
    Please contact ... this usually means you uploaded a public key which is not compatible with the OpenSSH format. In that case, you need to generate a new key pair as described above.
  • If you can't connect to the VSC account management web site, please remember that it can only be accessed from within your institution's domain and not from, e.g., home. However, your institution might allow external access to its domain using VPN. We refer to your institution's ICT department for more information. Also, in the past, some browser extensions have caused similar problems (and in particular some security-related extensions), so you might try with browser extensions disabled.

Systems