Fermilab Computing Division

Akhet: A novel approach to browser-based ssh sessions

Full Title: Akhet: A novel approach to browser-based ssh sessions
Date & Time: 27 Oct 2015 at 13:00
Event Location: Curia II
Event Topic(s): Computing Techniques Seminar
Event Moderator(s):
Event Info: Speaker:
Riccardo Iaconelli and Dario Menasce – Universita’ degli Studi di Milano Bicocca

We present a tool that tries to answer a very common use-case, namely when someone needs to access a remote machine in an interactive way (eg, on Linux with an ssh session to an xterm) from a browser, without having to install a plugin, a browser extension or an application helper. The novelty resides in speed: the remote machine is just a docker container that the user can select from a market-place of easily extensible images, sharing all the data between them. This reflects on both the start-up time and the required run-time resources. Additionally, graphics is transported across the net using VNC (and a websocket) instead of the much slower and inefficient X11.
We will discuss several possible common use-cases, the current status of the project and finally the prospects to provide a full-fledged package to be deployed and configured by local system managers that want to provide such a service to their clients, whether they are researchers or computer scientist.
Finally we will spend a few words illustrating the environment in which the service was born and is already in use, WikiToLearn (www.wikitolearn.org), a KDE project patronized by Wikimedia, devoted to the creation of open and collaborative training material. The site was initially created by with the aim of sharing training and tutoring material for University courses, but is now looking into extending it to larger communities, such as research laboratories.

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