Quick Start

This guide will provide you with the basic information needed to get up and running on the HBS grid. If you'd like more detailed information, each section has a link to fuller documentation.

Step 1: Request an account

HBS grid accounts are available to HBS faculty, research associates, and doctoral students. Please contact fill out the HBS Compute Grid Account Request Form to set up your account.

Temporary guest accounts on the research grid are available for HBS faculty members' collaborators. These are granted on a 6-month basis and may be renewed as necessary. Collaborators should work with HBS Faculty and the RCS staff to submit the necessary documentation for the account request. Please see Logging In for details.

Step 2: Use VPN software when necessary

A VPN ensures that all communication between your computer and grid resources are encrypted, especially when using a public wireless network.

Connecting to the HBS VPN is necessary under the following conditions: 

  • Any off-campus connections
  • On-HBS-campus connections that are not through HBS Secure wireless or a wired ethernet

HBS-issued desktops and laptops have the necessary software pre-installed. Collaborators or individuals who need to re-install the software can see our VPN page for details. For a useful step-by-step list of instructions for connecting to the VPN, see the VPN Quick Reference Guide.

Step 3: Login via GUI or terminal

You can connect to the grid using a Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) or by entering UNIX commands via terminal. 


NoMachine is a Graphical User Interface (GUI) client on the Grid. NoMachine allows users to utilize Grid software, RAM, and processor resources as though they were working on a desktop (i.e., Stata on the Grid looks like the desktop version of Stata). Unix/Linux knowledge is not needed.

For tips on customizing your NoMachine interface (e.g., changing screen size), please see https://hbsgrid-nx.hbs.edu:4443/nxwebplayer.

For terminal (SSH) sessions to the Grid, initiate your SSH session with your Grid username to the hostname researchgrid.hbs.edu with the appropriate terminal client (e.g. 'ssh jharvard@hbsgrid.hbs.edu'). We recommend Terminal for Mac, and SecureCRT for Windows machines. Guest collaborators can download Putty to gain terminal access to the HBS grid. Download Putty from this URL

See our Terminal Login to the HBS Grid page for more details on ways to connect to Grid resources. 

Step 4: Store and transfer your files

Once an account is created for you on the Grid, your home directory will be located at /export/home/<group>/<username> (e.g., /export/home/faculty/jharvard) to store things like your configuration files and custom scripts. Your home directory can only be accessed by you and have a storage quota, the size of which is determined by your group (e.g., doctoral, RA, or faculty). Please note that level 4 data cannot be stored on your home directory. 

If you are working on a project with one or more persons, a group project space can be created or may already exist for your work. The path for project spaces is /export/projects/<projectname>

We encourage the use of project spaces over home folders when appropriate for two reasons: 1) these are accessible by all persons in the project (home folders are not); and 2) the storage quota is much larger. Please do not store desktop and laptop backups on the Grid storage, especially in project spaces. Please see Using Storage for more details.

You can transfer data to your home folder or project spaces via three methods: using GUI client, mapping/mounting a shared drive, or by terminal commands. A graphical tool like FileZilla is available cross-platform for Mac OSX, Linux, and Windows. Windows users who prefer SCP can download it from company's website.


Step 5: Determine what software to use

The Grid offers several commonly used software packages including R, Stata, Matlab, SAS, Stat/Transfer, and more. To get started, either select the software from the list of applications on NoMachine, or simply type the software name in your terminal window. For programming resources on the grid, you can refer to our Python and R package guide.

You may need to install other software packages on the grid; for guidance, please see our Installing Software on the Grid page. 

Step 6: Run a job or application

There are three different ways of running a job on the Grid. If you are logged in via the NoMachine GUI, you can run jobs interactively using packages in the Applications menu, or open a terminal window to use the command line for more flexibility. For terminal users, the command-line can be used to submit batch jobs and initiate interactive sessions using X-windows. If you anticipate running several jobs at once, use the terminal window or the Platform Application Center.

We ask that you choose your resources and memory footprint appropriately. Please close your sessions when you are not running jobs. Additional nformation is available in Running Jobs.


Last Updated 10/10/19