Version 92 (modified by Hussamuddin Nasir, 5 years ago) (diff)


Login to GENI hosts

Omni Client
When you reserve nodes through the GENI AM API, you can login to your nodes using ssh . You get access to reserved hosts only through ssh keys. This page will give you some useful tips about how to login to your nodes. In order to login to your nodes you need the following things:
  1. an ssh client
  2. your login name, hostname and port
  3. your ssh key

1. SSH Client

Depending on which OS you are using there are different ssh client options.

Linux / Mac OS

All linux and Mac distributions come with a built-in ssh client, just open a Terminal and type ssh, you should get the usage for the ssh command.

Windows OS

There are multiple windows ssh clients. A list of some popular ones can be found here. Some commonly used options are:

  • The FireSSH add-on for Firefox: Install the FireSSH add-on for Firefox and use this as your ssh client. Instructions for using FireSSH are at *Recommended*
  • Cygwin: a complete Linux-type environment that also includes an ssh client. If you have already installed cygwin on your host then you should just run it and follow the instructions for Linux for the rest of the instructions
  • Git Bash is a bash emulator distributed with Git for Windows. If you are a Linux user, this environment should feel very familiar.
  • PuTTY: a lightweight free ssh client.

2. Get your Login, Host names and ports

In order to figure out your login name the best way is to use the status command of the GENI AM API. Depending of which tool you used to reserve the resources you can get this information in different ways.

Using the GENI Experimenter Portal

If you are using an account from the GPO Clearinghouse, i.e. have access to the GENI Experimenter Portal then the easiest way to get the information you need, you can simply load your slice in the portal:

  1. Login to the portal
  2. From the Home tab locate your slice and click on it to load it.
  3. Under the topology canvas, click the Details button. This page should have all the information you need.

Tip: The page that loaded has also ssh links available, If you are on a Mac computer, or a computer that has FireSSH you can simply press on these links.

Using Omni

If you are using Omni, then you can run the sliverstatus command and get back a text output. If you search within that output you should find a field about the hostname and one about the login. The readyToLogin script that is distributed with Omni will parse the sliver status output and give you the ssh commands you need to log into your nodes.

Other tools

If you used another tool to reserve your resources, then you should figure out how to get the output of the sliverstatus command. If you can't figure this out please send us an email and let us which tool you used.

3. Get a copy of your ssh key

When you reserve your resources, the tool that you use for the reservation also installs one or more public keys on the hosts so that you can get ssh access. In order to ssh to the machines you will need to get a copy of the private ssh key that correspond to the installed public keys. As before, how to get a copy of the needed ssh key depends on the specific tool.

Using the GENI Experimenter Portal

If you are using your account with the GPO Clearinghouse then if you have used this option, the portal will have a copy of your SSH private key. When configuring your account in the portal you had an option to let the portal generate an SSH key pair for you. If you have chosen this option then you can:

  1. Login to the portal
  2. Go the to SSH Keys under your name on the top-right of the window.
  3. You will find a button to download your Private key. When you click it the downloaded file will probably be named :id_geni_ssh_rsa. If you have upload your public key (under the private key column it says N/A) then you are the only person that has access to their private key. Locate that file and use it in the next steps.

Using Omni

If you made your reservation with Omni then you will need to access the host where your Omni is installed to get a copy of your SSH Key. If you use the host that has Omni installed to ssh to your nodes then you skip to this section. If you just want to get a copy of your private key and use it for logging into your nodes from another host, then you should :

  1. Login to the host where you have Omni installed
  2. Open your omni configuration file. For most users this file is located at ~/.gcf/omni_config. Tip: When you run any command with omni, it prints the location of the configuration file towards the top.
  3. In the omni_config file there should be a section about your user that has an attribute called `keys', that has a list of all the public keys that are installed in the nodes. Usually in the same directory as the public keys there are also the private keys (a private key usually has the same name as the public key but without the '.pub' extension.
  4. Copy the private key over to your host, either by using scp or any other file transfer program. You can also just copy-paste the contents of the file.

Other tools

Any tool that uses the GENI AM API to reserve resources, provides the public keys to the AM to be installed on the compute resources. If you can't figure out which keys the tool you used installed on the hosts, please send an email to telling us which tool you used and we will be happy to help.

Logging in

Now that you have gathered all the different elements you are ready to login to your nodes.

Linux / Mac OS / Windows Cygwin

Follow these steps:

  1. Open a terminal
  2. Ensure that your private key has the right permissions. Type :
       chmod 700 <private_key_file>
  3. Run ssh and enter your passphrase when prompted. Note: If you are prompted for a password then something went wrong. Make sure that all the information is correct.
        ssh -i <private key location> <username>@hostname -p <port>

Windows PuTTY / FireSSH / BitVise / Git Bash


If you are using PuTTY on a Windows machine, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you have a PuTTY version of the private key. You can download this from the Portal; look for SSH Keys under your name.
  2. Run PuTTY.
  3. On the Basic options screen, in the Host Name field enter: <username>@<hostname>
  4. In the Port field enter the given port number
  5. Make sure Connection type is: SSH
  6. Under the settings categories on the left navigate to Connection-> SSH ->Auth.
    1. Next to the "Private key file for authentication" field at the bottom, click Browse... and select the private key file you saved to your computer, and click Open.
    2. Click Open to establish the SSH connection.
    3. If prompted about whether you trust the host (key not cached in registry), click Yes.
    4. When prompted for the Passphrase enter your passphrase.

If you see the shell command prompt, you have successfully logged-in to the node.


After you Install FireSSH :

  1. Load this URL into firefox: ssh://<username>@<hostname>:<port>.
  2. In the pop-up window (see below), load your private key through the Browse button and in the password field enter your passphrase.

  1. Import your private key into bitvise through the User KeyPair Manager.

The Keypair Manager will let you import a private key with or without a passphrase. If you have a passphrase, bitvise will prompt you to enter it.

  1. To login, get the hostname and port of the machine you want to ssh into. Enter that into the appropriate host and port field. Enter your user name and then for Initial Method, pick the appropriate publickey-slot #. Hit the blue Login key and a terminal should appear to the machine. Refer to the picture above in Step 1.
Git Bash Shell
  1. Install Git for Windows. git comes with a bash emulator which should provide a familiar interface to *nix users.
  2. Open the "Git Bash" application. (You may need to search for it under the Start menu.)
  3. Locate your private key. If you have run omni-configure it made an .ssh directory and may have put your private key in that location.
  4. Find your node's login information. Note that readyToLogin and omni run just fine in the Git Bash window.
  5. Login to your node:
    1. Option 1: Use the -i option on SSH to specify the path to your private key
             ssh -i <private key location> <username>@hostname -p <port>
    2. Option 2 (recommended): Use an ssh agent.
      1. Start the ssh agent and tell it the location of your private key using ssh-add (enter the passphrase to your private key when prompted).
          eval `ssh-agent -s`
          ssh-add .ssh/id_rsa
      2. Now ssh should work without the -i option (using the agent you started in the previous step):
               ssh <username>@hostname -p <port>

Omni ReadyToLogin Script

If you are trying to login to the hosts from the machine where you have Omni installed, then you can use the script that comes with Omni to give you the exact command you need to run. To do this follow these steps:

  1. Modify your PYTHONPATH to include the omni src directory
        export PYTHONPATH=$PYTHONPATH:<path_to_gcf_directory>/src
  2. The script uses the same arguments as Omni. You will need to provide the script the same input as the input you would provide to the sliverstatus command. While at the gcf directory run:
       readyToLogin -a <AM_URL> <slicename>

In the end of the output there should be information about the ssh commands:

           nriga@pella:~/gcf$ ./examples/ websrv -a pg-utah
           <MISSING OUTPUT>
Aggregate [] has a ProtoGENI sliver.'s geni_status is: changing
Login using:
  xterm -e ssh -i /home/nriga/.ssh/geni_key -p 32570 &'s geni_status is: ready
Login using:
  xterm -e ssh -i /home/nriga/.ssh/geni_key &


You can directly copy and paste the commands to your terminal and execute them. If you don't want the ssh to be opened in a new window you can omit the 'xterm -e' part.

Troubleshoot / Useful tips

I am trying to login to the hosts and I am prompted for a password.

When you are trying to login to GENI hosts you should only be prompted for your ssh passphrase. If you are prompted for a password then there is something wrong. Things that might be wrong:

  • the permissions of your private key . If while trying to login you get a warning that says :
    Then you have a permission problem, try running:
    chmod 600 <private_key_location>
  • wrong username : if you are using a wrong username you won't be able to login to the hosts, make sure that you get the right username especially if you are using planetlab resources
  • wrong port : make sure you use the right port when trying to login, especially if you are using VMs in ProtoGENI.
  • your sliver is not ready yet : make sure that the status of your liver is ready before you try to login. If you are using PlanetLab nodes then you might have to wait up to 30 minutes before your nodes are configured.

If you have tried everything but you still can't login, email us at

My GENI host is behind a firewall.

Some hosts in GENI are behind a firewall. In most cases where nodes are behind a firewall, there is one or more machines that are accessible from the public internet that can be used as "stepping stones" to access these machines, i.e. you should login to them first and then login to the hosts that are behind the firewall. Currently in GENI the two most common cases of nodes that are behind a firewall are:

  • Wide Area ProtoGENI hosts in Internet 2 PoPs : Any node in Utah can be used as a "stepping stone". If your slice doesn't already have a host in Utah, then you should add a VM in Utah that you will use for this purpose.
  • ~Mesoscale hosts in some campuses: If you are using nodes in Mesoscale that are behind a firewall, you can use as a "stepping stone". You can login to using the your pgeni credentials file as your private key.

Once you have determined which host you will use as your stepping stone (pub_host from now on) to get to the host behind the firewall(priv_host from now on), you have several options:

  1. Recommended Use the -A ssh option to enable forwarding of the authentication agent. So try :
    ssh -A <username>@<pub_host>

Then from <pub_host> you can ssh to the private host without the need to upload your private key to <pub_host>.

user@<pub_host>$> ssh <username>@<priva_host>
  1. If the above option does not work then you can try using ssh port forwarding to get to your host. The main idea is that you will forward a local port on the client to go through the connection to <pub_host> and from there to ssh to <priv_host>. If you want to do this in command line then first login to the public host:
    ssh -L <local port>:<priv_host>:22 <username>@<pub_host> 

Then on a different terminal, try logging to the private host through the local port :

ssh -i <private key> <username>@localhost -p <local port>

You can also modify the ssh configuration file to that effect. This way it is easier to port-forward multiple firewalled hosts by adding the following lines in the file :

Host <pub_host_alias>
  Hostname <pub_host>
  LocalForward <local port1> <priv_host_1>:22
  LocalForward <local port2> <priv_host_2>:22
  user <username>

Host <priv_host_alias_1>
  Hostname localhost
  port <local port1>
  user <username>

Host <priv_host_alias_2>
  Hostname localhost
  port <local port2>
  user <username>

Then on one terminal do :

ssh <pub_host_alias>

And on another terminal:

ssh <priv_host_alias_1>

Managing SSH Keys

Depending on which type of OS You are using, there are ways to make the management of ssh keys and pathphrases simpler. In most linux systems there is a program called ssh-agent that runs automatically when you login and can help you manage your ssh keys so that you don't have to type your passphrase every time you use it.
  • Mac OS If you are on OSX Leopard or later, ssh-agent runs automatically for you. It also integrates `ssh-agent` with the Keychain that is a program for managing identities, passwords, etc. The first time that you use your private key to login to a machine, a keychain window will pop-up offering to store your passphrase, if you want to avoid the hustle of typing in your passphrase every time you want to login you should click on that option.
  • Linux systems : : In most other Linux systems ssh-agent should be automatically started for you. If you want to test whether ssh-agent` runs for you try typing on a terminal: ssh-add. If it is running then you can execute the following command:
ssh-add <private_key_filename>

It will ask you for the passphrase once but it won't ask you every time you try to use the key. If the ssh-agent is not running you can take a look at these instructions for how to automatically run it when you login.

I don't want to keep typing my passphrase

It is highly recommended that you keep passphrases in all your ssh keys. You should first consider all the above options of using ssh agents before considering removing the passphrase from your ssh keys. If this does not work for you and you want to remove the passphrase from your private keys then you can use the following steps (assuming that your private key is id_rsa):

mv id_rsa id_rsa.encrypted
openssl rsa -in id_rsa.encrypted -out id_rsa
<type your passphrase when prompted>
chmod 400 id_rsa

Simplify the ssh command

If you don't want to always specify the '-i' command when you try to login to your hosts, then you can modify your ssh config file to use your key by default. The default location for your ssh configuration file is at ~/.ssh/config. For more information on the ssh configuration files use man ssh_config. If you want to setup your configuration so that it affects only your GENI hosts then you can add these lines to your configuration file for each host :

Host <your_alias>
     Port <port>
     HostName <hostname>
     User <username>
     IdentityFile <private_key_location>

Now you can simply run ssh <your_alias>, where <your_alias> can be any nickname you choose.

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