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Narwhal User Guide 

This system is for CHPC protected environment (PE) users needing a windows environment. Unlike its predecessor swasey, narwhal consists of multiple nodes - a set of gateway nodes and a large memory compute node for statistical analysis. The large memory compute node has 24 physical cores, 512GB of RAM, and 1TB of local SSD disk space, and can mount your PE user and project space if needed.

The gateway nodes are the entry point to the protected environment, and only have the basic desktop applications such as Office, Adobe produts, web browsers etc. The intended work flow of these gateway nodes is for users to accomplish their day to day lightweight tasks without taking away resources from the needs of those running computational tasks on the Narwhal Compute node. The applications on the Narwhal Compute node include SAS with text miner, AMOS, SPSS, R, STATA, Python, Mathematica, and Matlab.

The Narwhal compute node is accessible from the desktop of the gateway nodes.  Detail instructions on accessing both the gateway and the compute node are given below.

Note that you must have a valid CHPC PE account to access this system.  Also note that all access to the PE requires DUO for two factor authorization.

Contact CHPC by sending email to if you need access or if you need assistance.



Instructions to access the narwhal gateway nodes

Use RDP (remote desktop) to connect to “” and connect successfully to one of the gateway nodes. On windows  you can do this by 'start' > 'all programs' > 'accessories' 'remote desktop connection', for linux use rdesktop or xfreerdp.  If you are using a Mac, you may have office 'remote desktop connection' which will work OK. We've had better experiences with the Microsoft Remote Desktop which can be download free from the apple store. Use the hostname and the user name AD\unid:

NOTE, an xfreerdp example:

xfreerdp -u unid -d -g workarea  (work area is resolution of video, e.g., 1024x768)



You will be prompted for the Duo Security Key.  (You can type “push” without the quotes to have the authorization sent to your phone)


If you go into Windows File Explorer and click on “This PC” you should see your Projects (Y:) and Home (Z:) directories mounted.


If you look at C:\Users you’ll notice that your profile (user account) looks different. This is because your profile is now like a mounted drive which will follow you to the other gateway nodes if you logoff and back on.  This will allow your settings and configuration changes to follow you.  Your profile is limited to 2 GB of space, which will be plenty for settings and configurations but not much for files as the intention is that they should be saved to either the Projects or the Home directories.  Additionally, creating a folder on any of the root directories (C:\, D:\, etc) of the Windows nodes is prohibited, users that need a folder created should go through as this will help insure that CHPC’s admin help find the best work flow for the requesting user and that the correct permissions have been applied.



Instructions to access narwhal compute node

On the narwhal gateway node desktop there is an icon to access the compute node:


This will give you a login prompt.  We recommend checking the “Remember me” check box to save yourself a step for future logins.  Note that this behavior is not allowed on the gateway nodes,  but as you are now in the protected environment it is allowed to access the compute nde. 


In the Windows File Explorer  on the Narwhal Compute node you will notice that both Projects and Home mounted as they were on the gateway node.  In addition to these mounts there is also a local scratch (D:); within the Local Scratch there are two folders, Users and Projects.


The user profile on the compute nodes is not a mount but instead is the local disk, which is again limited to 2 GB per user.  The intention is  that users will only store configuration and settings unique to that profile, with all other data being stored in Project or Home. Local Scratch (D:) should be used for running jobs. 

By default, each user that logs onto the compute node will have a directory created in the Users folder on D:.  This D:\Users\<UNID>  folder is where you should copy your input files and direct your output files for your jobs.  For the Projects directory, I will create folders for joint use within a defined IRB upon request, only those listed on the IRB will have access.  Requesting a folder under Projects can be done by emailing

IMPORTANT: Please note that overall space on the Narwhal Compute node is not much greater than what was on Swasey.  To help address this issue the Windows side will start following the same policy that governs scratch on the Linux, namely deletion of files older than 60 days.  Please be sure to save your work to the mounted Home (Z:) or Projects (Y:) locations so that you don’t fall victim to the automated purge script.  In addition to this change, files will no longer go to the recycling bin when deleted but instead will be deleted permanently. 

Lastly, I am making efforts to keep users from installing applications on their profile or other locations as on Swasey these installations ended up being duplicated across multiple user profiles.  An example of this is the Anaconda Python installation, which I have installed within Program Files so that all users may access it thus avoid the need for each individual user to install to their profile.  If you come across an installation that you need on either the gateway or the compute node, please let us know by sending a request to

Last Updated: 10/1/18