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Virtual Computer Lab

To report a incident, problem or suggestion, please email us at supportdesk@iit.edu or call 312.567.3375 (7DESK).

IIT's academic computer labs, classrooms and kiosk PCs have a variety of software, review the list here.

Virtual Computer Lab (VCL) FAQ’s

What is the VCL?
How do I get started?
Who can access the VCL?
How many reservations can I make?
How do I connect to virtual desktops in the VCL?
How do I change the VCL window size?
How do I print from the VCL?
How do I save my work?
I lost my network connection. Is my work lost?
How do I extend my reservation?
Why does the VCL run slowly or crash when I run some applications?

What is the VCL?

The VCL (Virtual Computer Lab) is a service that enables users to schedule a time to connect to virtual desktops, which run specific academic software applications, from their own computers at any time from any location.
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How do I get started?

Detailed instructions for connecting and using the VCL can be found here.
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Who can access the VCL?

Currently enrolled Illinois Tech students, faculty, and staff can access the VCL environment.

Due to license restrictions, however, specific access to the majority of VCL images is limited. The entire university community can access Linux images, but access to Microsoft Windows OS images is currently limited to the students and faculty involved in specific IIT courses. Users will only be able to see those images to which they have been granted access based upon their class enrollment.
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How many reservations can I make?

You can only have one reservation for a specific day/time, however, you can schedule multiple reservations for other times within the same day, provided the reservations are not contiguous.  You can also “Remove” or “Delete” reservations from the “Current Reservations” tab in the VCL reservation system.
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How do I connect to virtual desktops in the VCL?

Accessing Windows Virtual Machines

In order to connect to Windows Virtual Machines in the VCL, you will need a Remote Desktop Client on your device.

Accessing Linux Virtual Machines

In order to connect to Linux Virtual Machines, you will need an SSH Client and an X Window System on your devices.

  • SSH Clients
    • Windows OSPutty can be downloaded at: http://www.putty.org
    • Mac OS X, Linux/Unix – SSH Clients are included and can be accessed by opening a terminal window.
  • X11– X Window Systems
    • Windows OSXming is a free package that can be downloaded at http://sourceforge.net/projects/xming
    • Mac OS XInstall X11 is included with OS X install media.
    • Linux/Unix – It is included in OS builds.

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How do I change the VCL window size?

There are two different ways to change the size of the window of the VCL virtual desktop on your computer. The method you use will depend on how you connect to the VCL:

  • If you connect to the VCL desktop by downloading and launching the RDP file that the VCL provides for download, you can set the desired VCL window size by going to the VCL reservation system:
    • User Preferences>RDP File Preferences>Resolution

  • Select the desired image size, click “Submit Changes” and confirm the change when the RDP File Preferences page loads by clicking “Submit.”
  • If you connect to the VCL by entering the virtual machine IP address into your computer’s RDP client, you can edit the RDP window size directly in the RDP client.

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How do I print from the VCL?

You can print from the VCL to the Illinois Tech Remote Printers in the same way that you do from your own computer and retrieve your document when you are ready from any IIT Release Station.

You can also print to a .pdf file using the installed BioPDF writer and download it to the computer you are using and then you can utilize the connected printer.

You may be able to print directly to the printer connected to your own computer, but many printer models are not compatible with the VCL system.
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How do I save my work?

Remember that once a VCL session expires, any work not saved to your local computer is lost and it cannot be recovered.

Best practices for working in a virtual desktop environment recommend that you:

  • Copy your data files onto the virtual machine from the computer you are using or Google Drive;
  • Access and work with your files directly on the virtual machine;
  • Save your work often; and
  • Copy saved files back to your computer or Google Drive.

How you transfer files between your local and virtual machine depends on the OS on your local machine.

  • If you connect from a Windows OS:
    • Use the RDP file created in the VCL system.  By default, the RDP file configuration permits data sharing between local hard drives and the virtual machine; or
    • Configure a VCL connection within the Windows RDP application that permits sharing between your local and virtual machines.  Save the connection and manually edit the IP address with the new VCL virtual machine IP address for each new reservation.
  • If you are connecting from a Mac OS X computer, you will need to configure a Microsoft Remote Desktop connection configured to allow for folder redirection. Open the Microsoft Remote Desktop application on your Mac and follow the instructions on the image below to arrange for folder redirection.

If you wish to use files from your Google Drive, or save files to your Google Drive, you will need to access your Google Drive using the browser on the virtual machine.
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I lost my network connection, is my work lost?

If you are working in a Windows Remote Desktop session and are disconnected, you
will have either 15 minutes or the regularly scheduled expiration time of your session, whichever is shorter, to reconnect and retrieve your work.
 
If you are disconnected from an SSH session on a Linux image, you will be able to reconnect to your session without losing your work, but it will be just like opening your initial session; none of your programs will remain open.
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How do I extend my reservation?

You can make a request to extend your existing reservation up to a total of no more than 6 hours by opening the VCL reservation system and clicking on the “Current Reservation” tab. See below:


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Why does the VCL sometimes run slowly or crash when I run some applications?

For best results when running software applications in a Remote Desktop Environment, always copy data files to the virtual machine and open them on the VM drives. This reduces the chance that an application will crash or run slowly because the VM is constantly trying to read or write data to your computer over the network.
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