Skip to content

Log in to Bianca


  • First step in understanding why Bianca login is the way it is
  • If outside of SUNET: Start VPN
  • Log in to the Bianca remote desktop (uses ThinLinc)
  • Log in to the Bianca terminal (using ssh)
  • First step in understanding what a login node is



See section 'Video' for the videos that show how to do these exercises

  1. Discuss: what is the purpose of Bianca? What kind of consequences will this have for its design?
  2. If outside of SUNET: use a VPN
  3. Log in to the Bianca remote desktop
  4. Log in to the Bianca terminal using ssh
  5. Start an interactive session

The voyage from outside the university network to a cluster login node

The voyage from outside the university network to a cluster login node Public domain

1. Bianca's design

Bianca, like all clusters at UPPMAX, is named after a Tintin character, in this case after Bianca Castafiore and originally had 3200 CPU cores.

Bianca was designed to, among other:

  • Protect the sensitive data: (1a) Accidental data leaks should be difficult (1b) Law: if data is leaked, the person doing so should be possibly identified
  • Emulate a standard HPC cluster environment: (2a) Use the hardware as efficient as possible, by using a queuing system. See UPPMAX usage for the current usage of Bianca (2b) Distributes shared resources (CPU, memory) in a fair way, by using a queuing system (2c)make correct data management as easy as possible


The relation between Bianca and the Internet

Bianca and the Internet have this relation:

  • Bianca has no internet [1], to prevent accidental data leaks.
  • Bianca is only accessible from within SUNET (i.e. from university networks), to protect the sensitive data better.

Data can be transferred to/from the wharf, which is a special folder that is visible from the Internet.

If you are outside of SUNET, you need to use a VPN, as is described in the next section.

If you are inside of SUNET, you can skip the next section.

2. Use a VPN

If you are outside of SUNET, you need to use a VPN.

To be able to use VPN:

  • For Uppsala University: go to this page
  • For other Swedish universities, search their websites to get a VPN setup

3. Logging in

Inside of SUNET or with a VPN, login depends on what you need:

What you need What to do
A remote desktop Login at
A terminal ssh into Bianca

4. Log in to the Bianca remote desktop environment


You need to be within SUNET or use a VPN

Bianca offers a remote desktop environment (which uses ThinLinc to establish the connection). Here is how to login:

  1. In your web browser, go to

  2. Fill in the first dialog. Do use the UPPMAX 2-factor authentication (i.e. not SUPR!)

Bianca login, first dialog

  1. Fill in the second dialog, using your regular password (i.e. no need for two-factor authentication)

Bianca login, second dialog

The second Bianca remote desktop login dialog. Note that it uses ThinLinc to establish this connection

  1. Enjoy! You are in!

The Bianca remote desktop

The Bianca remote desktop

5. Log in to the Bianca command-line environment


You need to be within SUNET or use a VPN

You can use your favorite terminal to login (see for an overview of many) to the Bianca command-line environment.

  1. From a terminal, use ssh to log in:
ssh [user]-[project name]

For example:

  1. Type your UPPMAX password, directly followed by the UPPMAX 2-factor authentication number, for example verysecret678123, then press enter

  2. Type your UPPMAX password, for example verysecret

  3. Enjoy! You are in!

6. Login node

When you are logged in, you are on a login node. There are two types of nodes:

Type Purpose
Login node Start jobs for worker nodes, do easy things
Worker node Do hard calculations, either from scripts of an interactive session

Bianca contains hundreds of nodes, each of which is isolated from each other and the Internet.

As Bianca is a shared resources, there are rules to use it together in fair way:

  • The login node is only for easy things, such as moving files, starting jobs or starting an interactive session
  • The worker nodes are for harder things, such as running a script or running an interactive session.

To start an interactive session [2], type:

interactive -A [project name] -p core -n 2 -t 8:0:0

For example:

interactive -A sens2023598 -p core -n 2 -t 8:0:0

7. Conclusions

  • Bianca makes it hard to leak data
  • Login differs from where you are and what you need
  • Only do light things on login nodes

8. Footnotes

  • [1] 'no internet' meaning 'no direct way to download or upload data from/to the internet
  • [2] In this case, 8 hour long, with 2 cores

9. Video