On this page:
5.1 Register for an Account
5.1.1 Join an existing project
5.1.2 Create a new project
5.1.3 Setting up SSH access
5.1.4 Setting up X11
2019-11-25 (f5cabd1)

5 Powder Users

Registering for an account is quick and easy. Registering doesn’t cost anything, it’s simply for accountability.

Using Powder is free for NSF funded academics. Short term use of the platform by other users (non-NSF funded academic use, industry or government use etc.), for the purpose of evaluating the platform, is also free. Use of the platform beyond such short-term evaluation will require payment. We expect to have rates, payment mechanisms etc., in place in the near future.

Users in Powder are grouped into projects: a project is a (loosely-defined) group of people working together on some common goal, whether that be a research project, a class, etc. Powder places a lot of trust on project leaders, including the ability to authorize others to use the Powder. We therefore require that project leaders be faculty, senior research staff, or others who are relatively senior positions.

5.1 Register for an Account

To get an account on Powder, you either join an existing project or create a new one. In general, if you are a student, you should join a project led by a faculty member with whom you’re working.

If you already have an account on Emulab.net, you don’t need to sign up for a new account on Powder—simply log in with your Emulab username and password.

5.1.1 Join an existing project

screenshots/apt/join-project.png

To join an existing project, simply use the “Sign Up” button found on every Powder page. The form will ask you a few basic questions about yourself and the institution you’re affiliated with.

An SSH public key is required; if you’re unfamiliar with creating and using ssh keypairs, we recommend taking a look at the first few steps in GitHub’s guide to generating SSH keys. (Obviously, the steps about how to upload the keypair into GitHub don’t apply to Powder.)

Powder will send you email to confirm your address—watch for it (it might end up in your spam folder), as your request won’t be processed until you’ve confirmed your address.

You’ll be asked to enter the project ID for the project you are asking to join; you should get this from the leader of the project, likely your advisor or your class instructor. (If they don’t already have a project on Powder, you can ask them to create one.) The leader of your project is responsible for approving your account.

5.1.2 Create a new project

screenshots/apt/create-project.png

You should only start a new project if you are a faculty member, senior research staff, or in some other senior position. Students should ask their advisor or course instructor to create a new project.

To start a new project, use the “Sign Up” button found on every Powder page. In addition to basic information about yourself, the form will ask you a few questions about how you intend to use Powder. The application will be reviewed by our staff, so please provide enough information for us to understand the research or educational value of your project. The review process may take a few days, and you will receive mail informing you of the outcome.

Every person working in your project needs to have their own account. You get to approve these additional users yourself (you will receive email when anyone applies to join.) It is common, for example, for a faculty member to create a project which is primarily used by his or her students, who are the ones who run experiments. We still require that the project leader be the faculty member, as we require that there is someone in a position of authority we can contact if there are questions about the activities of the project.

Note that projects in Powder are publicly-listed: a page that allows users to see a list of all projects and search through them does not exist yet, but it will in the future.

5.1.3 Setting up SSH access

The first step to setting up ssh access to Powder is to generate an ssh key pair.

**For Windows users:**

A good option for a Windows ssh client is to make use of putty:

https://www.ssh.com/ssh/putty

To generate and manage ssh keys with putty:

https://www.ssh.com/ssh/putty/windows/puttygen

**For Linux and Mac OS users:**

To generate and manage ssh keys:

https://www.ssh.com/ssh/keygen/

Once you have generated an ssh key pair, you need to upload the public key into the Powder portal:

Log into the Powder portal. Once you are logged in: Click on your username (top right), select "Manage SSH keys" and follow the prompts to load the ssh public key.

The next time you instantiate an experiment, your ssh public key will be loaded onto all (ssh capable) nodes in your experiment, allowing direct access to these nodes using an ssh client.

5.1.4 Setting up X11

Experiment based graphical user interface (GUI) interaction on Powder often require X windows, so you might find it useful to have an X-server running on the laptop/desktop you use to access resources on Powder.

**For Windows users:**

Various options are available, for example:

https://sourceforge.net/projects/vcxsrv/

**For Mac OS users:**

https://www.xquartz.org