Access from Windows#

Getting ready to login#

Before you can log in with SSH to a VSC cluster, you need to generate a pair of SSH keys and upload them to your VSC account. There multiple ways to create yours keys in Windows, please check our documentation on Generating keys on Windows.

Connecting to the cluster#

Text-mode session using PuTTY#

PuTTY is a simple-to-use and freely available GUI SSH client for Windows that is easy to set up.

Text-mode and graphical browser using MobaXterm#

MobaXterm is a free and easy to use SSH client for Windows that has text-mode, a graphical file browser, an X server, an SSH agent, and more, all in one. No installation is required when using the Portable edition. See detailed instructions on how to setup MobaXterm.


Recent versions of Windows come with an OpenSSH installed, and you can use it from PowerShell or the Command Prompt as you would in the termial on Linux systems and all pages about SSH and data transfer from the Linux client pages apply.

The Windows Subsystem for Linux can be an alternative if you are using Windows 10 build 1607 or later. The available Linux distributions have SSH clients, so you can refer to all pages about SSH and data transfer from the Linux client pages as well.

Display graphical programs#

X server#

X11 is the protocol that is used by most Linux applications to display graphics on a local or remote screen. It is necessary to run an X server on your Windows system to display graphical applications running on the Linux system of the cluster.

Recommended Use the X server included in MobaXterm.

Alternatively, you can install an X server such as Xming on Windows as well.

NX client#

KU Leuven On the KU Leuven/UHasselt clusters it is also possible to use the NX Client to log on to the machine and run graphical programs. Instead of an X server, another piece of client software is required.


Most VSC sites offer some form of support for visualization software through Virtual Network Computing (VNC). VNC renders images on the cluster and transfers the resulting images to your client device. VNC clients are available for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS or can be even used directly on web browsers.

On the KUL clusters, users can use NX NX start guide.

VNC is supported through the Web portal interface.

On the UAntwerp clusters, TurboVNC is supported on all regular login nodes (without OpenGL support) and on the visualization node of Leibniz (with OpenGL support through VirtualGL). See the page Remote visualization @ UAntwerp for instructions.

On the VUB clusters, TigerVNC is supported on all nodes. See the documentation on remote desktop sharing for instructions.

Programming tools#


Although it is convenient to develop software on your local machine, you should bear in mind that the hardware architecture is likely to differ substantially from the VSC HPC hardware. Therefore it is recommended that performance optimizations are done on the target system.

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL/WSL2)#

If you’re running Windows 10 build 1607 (Anniversary Edition) or later, you may consider running the “Windows Subsystem for Linux” that will give you a Ubuntu-like environment on Windows and allow you to install some Ubuntu packages. In build 1607 this is still considered experimental technology and we offer no support.

Microsoft Visual Studio#

Microsoft Visual Studio can also be used to develop OpenMP or MPI programs. If you do not use any Microsoft-specific libraries but stick to plain C or C++, the programs can be recompiled on the VSC clusters. Microsoft is slow in implementing new standards though. In Visual Studio 2015, OpenMP support is still stuck at version 2.0 of the standard. An alternative is to get a license for the Intel compilers which plug into Visual Studio and give you the best of both worlds, the power of a full-blown IDE and compilers that support the latest technologies in the HPC world on Windows.


Eclipse is a popular multi-platform Integrated Development Environment (IDE) very well suited for code development on clusters.


On Windows Eclipse relies by default on the Cygwin toolchain for its compilers and other utilities, so you need to install that too.

Version control#

Information on tools for version control (git and subversion) is available on the Version control systems introduction page.