Virtual Machine How-To

This guide shows you how to launch and connect to your Virtual Machine. It will only be applicable to students that have been given a Virtual Machine for a particular course (currently only CO876).

If you're looking for a more general guide on our Cloud resources please visit this page instead.

Launching your Virtual Machine

The terms Virtual Machine and Instance mean the same thing for the purposes of this guide.

This first step is to log in to the School of Computing Cloud. You should have already received an email with login details, but if not please contact cs-syshelp. After logging in please click on Instances on the left:

Instances menu

And then click on Launch Instance on the right:

Launch instance

You will now see the following screen. You will need to choose a name for your instance. It doesn't matter what you choose, but you have to choose something. You could just use your username? After entering that please click on Next.

Instance name

Next you need to choose the image. Click on the plus (+) button to the right of the co876-v2 item to select it. If there's a newer version (v3, for example) you should choose that instead unless instructed otherwise. Click on Next when you're done.


The next page has a choice of instance sizes. You should select m1.medium by clicking on the plus (+) button to the right. If you select a larger size you'll use up your quota and therefore won't be able to add a further instance later if needed. Now click on Next.

Instance flavour

On the Networks page you shouldn't need to do anything, but check that the network vlan44 is at the top, as shown below, then click on Next.


Skip on to Security Groups. You will need to click on the minus (-) button next to default at the top, and then click on the plus (+) button next to open at the bottom to select it. It should look like the following image when you're done.

If you get this step wrong you won't be able to connect to your virtual machine later on.

Security Groups

No other configuration is required, but feel free to review the remaining options if you want. When you're ready click on the Launch Instance button. You should return to the Instances list where your new Virtual Machine is being created and booted. After a minute or so it should look something like this:

Instance booted

Now click on the name of your instance in the Instance Name column. In my case I called it tdb (my username). This takes you to the Overview tab on instance details page. Click on Log at the top.

Instance details

Once the instance has finished booting you should see something like the following. If you don't the instance probably hasn't finished booting yet, so just reload the page until it does. Highlighted in red (for this guide) are the details that you'll need to log in. You might want to take a note of them, or keep this page open.

Instance log

Finding the NoMachine software

University Student PCs

The software you need to connect to your Virtual Machine is already installed on University Student PCs. In the search box at the bottom of the screen simply type the words nomachine and you should see results like below. Click on the NoMachine Desktop app that's highlighted.

NoMachine launch

Your Own Computer

The NoMachine software is freely available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Simply follow the link below and download the relevant client for your operating system.

Once installed the process is the same as on a University Student PC. However, if you are off campus you will need to use the University VPN to connect.

Connecting to your Virtual Machine

When NoMachine loads you'll be presented with a welcome screen. Press Continue to get to the connections list. You may wish to tick the "Don't show this message again" option to avoid seeing it every time. Next click on New at the top of the connections page:

Recent connections

On the Protocol screen select NX:


On the Host screen enter the IP address of your virtual machine. It's in the details given at the end of the stage above. Do not enter the address in this image - it was for my instance and won't work for you.

Host address

On the Authentication screen select Password:


On the Proxy screen select Don't use a proxy.


Give the connection a name and click on Done.

Save connection

Now we're ready to connect. Highlight your new connection and click on Connect.

Save connection

You will be prompted to verify the host's authenticity. For this environment it's safe to just select Yes.

Verify host authenticity

Next we need to log in. Enter the username and password given at the end of the Virtual Machine creation process above.


You will probably get prompted to create a new display. I'd recommend ticking the box as shown below:

Create display

You will be presented with some information screens as you log in. Please review these and click on OK when you're done. Eventually you should see a screen like this:


You'll notice it has scroll bars which means that the Linux desktop is larger than the window. If you move the cursor to the top right you'll see the corner peel down like this:

Corner peel

Click on that peel to be taken to the settings page. Here you want to select the option for resizing the remote screen. It's the second one along at the bottom:

Resize remote screen

You should now see a window without any scroll bars. As you resize the window the desktop should resize inside it to fit. You may wish to maximize the window to get a full screen desktop as shown below.


When you wish to exit you can just close the window. Everything will remain running on the desktop for when you next connect.

Important things to note

You're now good to go with your Virtual Machine. But here are something important things you should note:

  • You should change the password for the student account once you're logged in. But please note that the password shown in the instance log will remain the original and will not be updated.
  • There are no backups of these virtual machines. If you delete a file it's gone for good. So please take care to keep copies of important work elsewhere (on raptor, maybe?).
  • Using the cloud console where you created the instance you can reboot your virtual machine and access the console. This will allow you to fix most problems yourself. If you break the networking when doing firewall changes the console will still work. You can also rebuild your virtual machine from scratch should you need to.

If you have any problems you should in the first instance talk to your class supervisor. However, if something appears broken and you can't create or access your Virtual Machine please let us know at cs-syshelp.