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Accessing the BMRC cluster


Before following this step-by-step guide:

  1. You will need to have a registered for and received a cluster account. This provides you with the username and password you will need.
  2. For remote connections (away from the University), you will need to connect to the University of Oxford network via VPN. For instructions, please see  IT Services' VPN page or consult your local IT team.
  3. We also recommend that you read the introduction to our cluster computing guide in order to understand what a cluster is and why you might want to access it. NB You don’t need to read the whole cluster computing guide yet! - just glance through the introduction to get the basic concepts.

PLEASE NOTE: You will need to be connected to an Oxford University VPN before connecting via SSH. See step 2 above for further details.

Getting started

If you’ve read our introduction to cluster computing, you know that access to our cluster is via one of two login nodes, either or

SSH - The Secure Shell

To access or you need to use a piece of software called an ssh clientssh is short for secure shell. The secure part of the name indicates that, when used correctly, your connection will be secure. The shell part of name indicates that you will interact with this software by typing things into a command line (aka the shell).

How you use the SSH software depends on which operating system your computer is running. See below for instructions specific to Windows, Mac and Linux.

However, the basic connection settings are the same for any SSH connection, including SSH connections from devices running other operating systems e.g. iOS (iPhone or iPad), Android (phones or tablets), ChromeBooks, etc.

Basic SSH Connection Information

First connect to an Oxford University VPN as described above.

If connecting from a terminal such as those provided under Linux, Mac OS Terminal app, or from Windows Subsystem for linux, then type:


Replace username with the username for your account and use the password that have you received.

For all other SSH clients, please refer to the following information:

  • SSH Address: or
  • SSH Port: 22 (i.e. This is the standard port for SSH so you will not normally need to change it)
  • SSH Username: The username for your BMRC account
  • SSH Password: The password for your BMRC account
Please also note the following information:
  • Users logging in for the first time following creation of a new account or following a password reset should refer to the detailed instructions they will have received by email regarding how to login and change their password.
  • In most cases, you can tell when you have successfully logged in because your terminal prompt will show your hostname as either cluster1 or cluster2. And unless you have been issued with a new password, you will also be shown a welcome message giving information about how to cite your use of BMRC resources in your research. If in doubt, try running the hostname command and checking what it reports back. On cluster1, for example, running the hostname command will report as below:

$ hostname

Connecting from Windows

There are numerous ways of using ssh from within Microsoft Windows.

  • If you already use the Windows Subsystem for Linux, then you effectively have a Linux environment available, so see our Linux ssh instructions below.
  • Alternatively, you will need some third-party ssh client software. We offer no official recommendation and users are encouraged to explore the options themselves. Some popular SSH clients include:

Given the range of available software, it is impossible to offer detailed instructions for all of them. In most cases, all you will need is the Basic SSH Information shown above. Purely by way of example, we show below how to use that information for the PuTTY SSH client software.

  1. Visit the PuTTY website (link above) and click the link “You can download PuTTY here”. This will take you to the download page.

  2. On the PuTTY download page, find the Package Files section and then click the link to download the MSI (Windows Installer) version of PuTTY for Windows 64-bit. For example, at the time of writing the latest version is putty-64bit-0.73-installer.msi, but this will update in future. Click to download the latest version for your version of Windows and CPU architecture (in almost all cases, you should choose the 64 Bit version).

  3. After clicking you may see a notification at the bottom of the screen asking you to Run or Save this file - please click Run. Alternatively, click Save and then locate the file in your Downloads folder and double click to run. This will run the PuTTY installer you can complete the installation with the default settings).

  4. When the installation has finished, click on the Windows Start button and you should see program PuTTY appear (alternatively, type PuTTY to search for it). You need to run the program which is called PuTTY (i.e. don’t run PuTTYgen or anything else).

  5. Enter the following connection settings into the PuTTY window (use your real username in place of 'username')and then click Open.

    PuTTY Config

Connecting from Mac

The Apple operating system Mac OS already includes everything you need to connect via SSH using the Terminal software.

  1. Open the Terminal (located in /Applications/Utilities/

  2. At your terminal prompt, type ssh <username> and press [Return]. You should substitute <username> with your BMRC username.

  3. When prompted, type your password

Connecting from Linux

  1. If running in a graphical environment, start your preferred terminal program (e.g. Gnome Terminal or Konsole). Alternatively, if already running in console mode, simply proceed to step 2.

  2. At your terminal prompt, type ssh <username> and press [Return]. You should substitute <username> with your BMRC username.

  3. When prompted, type your password.


Please see our Top Ten FAQs page which covers the most frequent login problems.

Where Next

Once you’ve successfully logged in, you will be presented with:

  • a login message (beginning Acknowledgements)
  • a terminal running on one of our login nodes, either or

You can check which login node you are currently on by running the hostname command which will report either or

From here you may wish to look at your home directory (i.e. your home folder) located at /users/<group>/<username>/ or your data directory/folder located at /well/<group>/users/<username>