Connecting to a cluster using SSH


Usernames to connect with all HPC services will be the same as those you use to login to MUSE not the prefix on your email address.

The most versatile way to run commands and submit jobs on one of the clusters is to use a mechanism called SSH, which is a common way of remotely logging in to computers running the Linux operating system.

To connect to another machine using SSH you need to have a SSH client program installed on your machine. macOS and Linux come with a command-line (text-only) SSH client pre-installed. On Windows there are various SSH clients you can use, including Windows Terminal.


The University Connect for China (UCC) is not the same service as the SSL VPN service and will not grant access to the HPC clusters. Users of the UCC must disconnect the UCC and connect to the SSL VPN in order to connect to the HPC clusters.


Eduroam no longer grants direct access to the clusters. If using Eduroam, you must keep the VPN connected at all times while using the clusters.

Valid methods of connecting to the University clusters using SSH (or the related protocols SCP and SFTP) include:

  • Connecting while in a campus building using wired ethernet;

  • Connecting while on campus using Eduroam or off campus after establishing a VPN connection (required);

  • Connecting while off campus without a VPN connection using the HPC SSH gateway.

Connecting using a password or SSH public key authentication will determine whether Multifactor Authentication (MFA) will be mandatory during the login process. The authentication requirements per cluster are summarised below:


From campus or via VPN

From off campus and without a VPN connection


Password + DUO MFA or public key

Not permitted (unless using the HPC SSH gateway service)


Password/public key + TOTP MFA or VPN + password

Not permitted (unless using the HPC SSH gateway service)


On our Stanage cluster: VPN + Password is needed to setup TOTP MFA.

Connecting with a Password or SSH keys

If connecting using your password, MFA will be mandatory. Depending on the cluster, the type of MFA may be standard University DUO MFA, or TOTP MFA.

On the Stanage cluster, when you connect you will be prompted for your password and a verification code. Enter your password and the current TOTP code for your verification code. This process should look like the following in a terminal:

Verification code:
Last login: Wed Apr 12 17:09:24 2023 from r.x.y.z
*                           Stanage HPC cluster                             *
*                       The University Of Sheffield                         *
*                                      *
*                                                                           *
*               Unauthorised use of this system is prohibited.              *
[te1st@login1 [stanage] ~]$

If you have not setup your Stanage TOTP MFA, please follow the steps published at: Stanage TOTP multifactor authentication setup

In addition, if you do not have MFA enabled on your account then you will not be able to login from off campus without using the VPN.

Establishing a SSH connection


Usernames to connect with all HPC services will be the same as those you use to login to MUSE not the prefix on your email address.

Once you have a terminal open run the following command to log in to a cluster:

ssh -X

Here you need to:

  • replace YOUR_USERNAME with your IT Services username (e.g. te1st)

  • replace CLUSTER_NAME with stanage or bessemer.

After typing in this command hit enter to start connecting at which point you will be prompted for your username, password and then with a Duo or TOTP MFA prompt.

This should give you a session resembling the one below:

[te1st@login1 [stanage] ~]$

At this prompt if you would like an interactive session you can type:

srun --pty bash -i

Like this:

[te1st@login1 [stanage] ~]$ srun --pty bash -i

Which will start an interactive session, which supports graphical applications resembling the below:

[te1st@node001 [stanage] ~]$


When you login to a cluster you reach one of two login nodes. You should not run applications on the login nodes. Running the interactive job command, srun --pty bash -i (Stanage & Bessemer), gives you an interactive terminal on one of the many worker nodes in the clusters.

Running commands from a terminal (from the command-line) may initially be unfamiliar to Windows users but this is the recommended approach for running commands on Sheffield HPC clusters as it is the idiomatic way of interfacing with the Linux clusters.

Suggested SSH clients

SSH client software on Windows

We recommend the use of Windows Terminal on Windows systems and users will find Windows Terminal available on the University’s managed desktops by default.

For personal systems you can download and install the Installer edition of MobaXterm.

SSH client software on Mac OS/X and Linux

Linux and macOS (OS X) both typically come with a command-line SSH client pre-installed.

If you are using macOS and want to be able to run graphical applications on the clusters then you need to install the latest version of the XQuartz X Windows server.

Open a terminal (e.g. Gnome Terminal on Linux or Terminal on macOS) and then go to Establishing a SSH connection.

What if I cannot use the VPN or I need a persistent long term connection

Direct SSH access to the HPC clusters from off campus is not possible without the use of VPN. However if you are unable to use VPN we also provide an SSH gateway service to allow off-site SSH access to our HPC clusters.


  • Access to the HPC SSH gateway service requires that you have an existing HPC account.

  • You must additionally request access to the HPC SSH gateway by emailing including a justification for your request.

  • If the cluster access can be handled via the usage of the SSL VPN without undue effort, your request will not be granted.

For more information see HPC Gateway Service Details.

What Next?

Now you have connected to a cluster, you can look at how to submit jobs on the Job Submission and Control page or look at the software installed on Stanage and Bessemer.