Research:FastX

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FastX

FastX is a graphical user interface that provides a Linux GUI desktop to a remote client. A nice feature of FastX is that a session can be disconnected from the client without terminating the session, allowing the user to re-attach to the session at a later time from any location. Another nice feature is that you can create a session to Teton from either a desktop client or from a web browser.

Using the Web Access Method (Quick instructions)

  1. Open up your favorite web browser.
  2. In the URL box, enter https://fastx.arcc.uwyo.edu, this should bring up the FastX login page.
  3. On the login page, fill in your UW UserID. For the password is your two factor password using the comma password syntax.
  4. You may see a Message of the Day (MOTD) popup. Select close after reading the message.
  5. You should see the My Sessions page. On this screen you will see any disconnected session that you can re-attach to. To start a new session click the Launch Session button.
  6. Select the type of GUI window manager to use by clicking on it's icon. Press the Launch button to start the new session. Note: Make sure that the command line drop down shows Single.
  7. If all goes well you should see a Linux GUI Desktop show up in your browser.
  8. When you are done with your session please make sure to use the GUI logout feature to terminate the session.

Using the Web Access Method Example

  1. Open up your favorite web browser.
  2. In the URL box, enter https://fastx.arcc.uwyo.edu, this should bring up the FastX login page.
    FastX login page.png

  3. On the login page, fill in your UW UserID. For the password type your two factor password using the comma password syntax.

  4. You may see a Message of the Day (MOTD) popup. Select close after reading the message.
    FastX motd.png

  5. You should see the My Sessions page. On this screen you will see any disconnected session that can re-attached. To start a new session click the Launch Session button.
    FastX session page.png

    If you have an active/disconnected session you will see a page showing the disconnected session. You may double click on the session to reopen it. If you wish to close the session you click the session Icon and under "actions" click "terminate" or the "X" in the session Icon. FastX session active.png

  6. Select the type of GUI window manager to use by clicking on it's icon. Press the Launch button to start the new session. Note: Make sure that the command line drop down shows Single.
    FastX session screen.png

  7. If all goes well you should see a Linux GUI Desktop show up in your browser.
    FastX session.png

  8. When you are done with your session please make sure to use the GUI logout feature to terminate the session.
    FastX logout.png

Installing the Desktop Client Software (Quick Instructions)

  1. Follow the Web client instruction until and including step #5.
  2. In the lower right corner of the page, click on the Desktop Client link. This should take you to the Starnet softwware download page.
  3. Click on the link for the client on which you intend to use the FastX client.
  4. Untar the downloaded file into a directory. Note, that FastX will create a sub-folder called FastX.
    mkdir /home/jrlang/bin
    cd /home/jrlang/bin
    tar xvfz ~/Downloads/FastX-2.0.110.rhel6.x86_64.tar.gz
  5. Update your .profile file to add the FastX install location to your PATH variable. Change your path variable as shown below:
    export PATH=$PATH:/home/jrlang/bin/FastX
  6. Reload your .profile file to enable the changes
    . ~/.profile
  7. Start the FastX client on your desktop by typing "FastX". (Note: If you are connecting from off campus, be sure to start the VPN prior to starting the FastX client.)
  8. Use the "+" found in the upper right corner to configurure a server. A drop down will appear select "SSH" to setup an ssh session connection. Fill in the name field with your UW UserID. The host entry should be filled in with fastx.arcc.uwyo.edu. Leave the port set as 22. Do not change the entry on Sci and leave the "Forward Agent Connections" mode unchecked.
    • Servers can be edited (clicking on the right "pencil") or deleted by clicking on the X-icon on the right edge. You can create several entries (i.e. different hosts & names).
    • If you intend to disconnect sessions and return to them at a later time you must connect back to the original session host. In this case you will need to add host entries for tlog1.arcc.uwyo.edu and tlog2.arcc.uwyo.edu.
  9. Once you have one or more sessions defined you can select one of them and login by clicking on them. When you do so, two windows will open. In the top window you will be asked to enter your password. This must be your two factor password using the comma syntax. As soon as you are logged in, the password window will disappear and the main window will appear (its title contains the server's name and host from step 2.)
    • If there is a Message of the day (MOTD) a window will pop up showing the MOTD. Read any message(s) and and click "continue" to proceed.
  10. To open a new session on the connected server, click the "+" symbol in the top window.
  11. A new window will pop up. You need to either take one of the options given in the window or add a command. When you do this the session becomes defined in this window, along with the start and last connect time, and a new window opens for your session. Your choice depends on your needs. There is both full desktop (XFCE) and different xterm/terminal options.
    • If you want to close the session, use the session logout feature. Please do this for any session that you are done with to ensure there are sufficient resources available for all user.
    • If you want to keep the session in order to return to it, just close the session window. This will leave the window running in the background allowing you to return to it later.
    • To reconnect to a previous session, either from the same desktop or another, start FastX, select and login to the same server, and you should see your saved session. Double click on the session entry and a new session window should open. All windows you had open when you disconnected will appear.
  12. Please be sure to close any sessions you no longer need to keep the number of sessions at a minimum

Installing the Desktop Client Software

  1. Follow the Web client instruction until and including step #5.
    FastX session page.png

  2. In the lower right corner of the page, click on the Desktop Client link. This should take you to the Starnet softwware download page.
    FastX download page.png

  3. Click on the link for the client on which you intend to use the FastX client.
  4. Untar the downloaded file into a directory. Note, that FastX will create a sub-folder called FastX.
    mkdir /home/jrlang/bin
    cd /home/jrlang/bin
    tar xvfz ~/Downloads/FastX-2.0.110.rhel6.x86_64.tar.gz

  5. Update your .profile file to add the FastX install location to your PATH variable. Change your path variable as shown below:
    export PATH=$PATH:/home/jrlang/bin/FastX

  6. Reload your .profile file to enable the changes
    . ~/.profile

Using the Desktop Client Access Method

  1. Start the FastX client on your desktop by typing "FastX". (Note: If you are connecting from off campus, be sure to start the VPN prior to starting the FastX client.)
    FastX host screen.png

  2. Use the "+" found in the upper right corner to configurure a server. A drop down will appear select "SSH" to setup an ssh session connection. Fill in the name field with your UW UserID. The host entry should be filled in with mtmoran.uwyo.edu. Leave the port set as 22. Do not change the entry on Sci and leave the "Forward Agent Connections" mode unchecked.
    FastX connection screen.png

    Note: Servers can be edited (clicking on the right "pencil") or deleted by clicking on the X-icon on the right edge. You can create several entries (i.e. different hosts & names).
    Note: If you intend to disconnect sessions and return to them at a later time you must connect back to the original session host. In this case you will need to add host entries for mmclog1.arcc.uwyo.edu and mmclog2.arcc.uwyo.edu.

  3. Once you have one or more sessions defined you can select one of them and login by clicking on them. When you do so, two windows will open. In the top window you will be asked to enter your password. This must be your two factor password using the comma syntax. As soon as you are logged in, the password window will disappear and the main window will appear (its title contains the server's name and host from step 2.)
    FastX sessions list.png

    Note: If there is a Message of the day (MOTD) a window will pop up showing the MOTD. Read any message(s) and and click "continue" to proceed.

  4. To open a new session on the connected server, click the "+" symbol in the top window.
    FastX host connection screen.png

  5. A new window will pop up. You need to either take one of the options given in the window or add a command. When you do this the session becomes defined in this window, along with the start and last connect time, and a new window opens for your session. Your choice depends on your needs. There are both full desktop (Gnome, KDE, and XFCE, Mate desktops) and different xterm/terminal options.
    FastX command window.png

    If you want to close the session, use the session logout feature. Please do this for any session that you are done with to ensure there are sufficient resources available for all user.
    If you want to keep the session in order to return to it, just close the session window. This will leave the window running in the background allowing you to return to it later.
    To reconnect to a previous session, either from the same desktop or another, start FastX, select and login to the same server, and you should see your saved session. Double click on the session entry and a new session window should open. All windows you had open when you disconnected will appear.
    Please be sure to close any sessions you no longer need to keep the number of sessions at a minimum.

Notes About Using FastX

  1. To cut/paste to or from the FastX window: see http://www.starnet.com/xwin32kb/copy_and_paste_in_xterm

Troubleshooting FastX Problems

  1. Make sure to close your FastX client (on the machine your working on), re-open the FastX application and try again. When the network (your client IP address) is changed out from underneath your host, the FastX client needs to be restarted.
  2. Verify that you can ssh to the host your attempting to fastx to, if you can't ssh then FastX will not work. You can also try to use the web FastX version by pointing your browser to http://mtmoran.uwyo.edu. If neither of these work for you, then there's a high probability that the desktop version of FastX will not work.
    If you can't even ssh then it could be the destination host doesn't allow ssh from where (the network or IP) your coming from.
    This could be from a number of reasons, some listed below.
    1. Could be the host you are trying to ssh to requires you to have a UW IP. If that is the case then connect to the UW VPN first then try again.
    2. It could also be that your coming from a network or IP that is blocked (temporarily or permanently) from the campus border routers - if you suspect this then you can contact the help desk at 6-HELP or open a Team Dynamix ticket.
    3. Your ssh client could be misconfigured, make sure you have your client configured for ssh v2.
    4. Make sure DNS is working on your host (both forward and reverse lookups), this means you can open up a terminal or command line and type 'nslookup mtmoran.uwyo.edu and have it return an IP list (10.98.192.6 and 10.98.192.5), then type "host 10.98.192.6" or "host 10.98.192.5" which should return a possible hostlist.

    If this doesn't work you may have a name service resolution problem on your client. You can fix it or you can just use the IP address instead of the name.

  3. Make sure you have the latest FastX, you may need the new one - to get the new one or compare the one you have with the new one.
    1. To find the version number that your running (go to FastX and click on 'help' > 'about')
    2. To download and install the new client see the instructions above.
  4. You may need to delete the sessions files in you home directory and try again.. (with %hostname% being the one that's having issues) in your home directory, do (by 1st ssh'ing to a host which mounts your home directory such as mtmoran.uwyo.edu.
         cd .fastx_server/%hostname%/sessions
         rm -rf C-*
    OR you can just remove or rename the entire .fastx_server/%hostname%
  5. If things are still not working... Does FastX to that server work from a different FastX client (if you have this on another client to test).


If all else fails, please send an email to arcc-info or open a Team Dynamix support ticket which includes the version of FastX your using, the operating system your using (linux/osx/windows, etc), if Linux the Linux distribution name and version number, the host IP your working from (e.g., one way to get this is to visit http://www.whatsmyip.org/ and tell us what "your IP" says. This only works from off campus.), and other error messages and information is helpful including if you've successfully done this before and this is a new problem or if this is your 1st time.

FastX Documentation

Below find some links to the vendor documentation:
Getting Started with the Browser Client - https://www.starnet.com/xwin32kb/fastx-browser-client/
Getting Started with the Desktop Client - https://www.starnet.com/xwin32kb/fastx-desktop-client/