Connecting to Quest with FastX

How to connect to the Quest High Performance Computing Cluster using the FastX client.

The FastX3 Desktop Client is an application for Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac OS X personal computers that makes a network connection to Quest using SSH. It connects you to the Quest Linux servers with full graphics support via the Linux X Windows system, also called X11. FastX3 is made available to members of the Northwestern community under a campus site license.

FastX3 is not required for connecting to Quest. You are welcome to use other SSH clients you may already be familiar with in your operating system. FastX3 is provided as an option with convenient features such as using terminal and display in one application, remote desktops and ability to pause and resume sessions.

You will only need to follow the configuration steps the first time you connect to Quest. After FastX3 is configured, you can use it to connect to Quest at any time.

For a video tutorial on using FastX to login to Quest, please see Logging Into Quest.

FastX3 Web Access to Quest: While on the Northwestern GlobalProtect VPN, users wishing to connect to Quest without installing the FastX3 client or a terminal program can use the web browser-based FastX3 connection at

FastX3 Web Access to KLC: While on the Northwestern GlobalProtect VPN, users wishing to connect to KLC without installing the FastX3 client can use the following FastX Browser Instructions for KLC.

Install and Configure FastX3

Connect with FastX3

Install and Configure FastX3

You only need to do the steps in this section once on each computer you want to use to connect to Quest.

Step 1: Download and Install FastX3


  1. Download the FastX3 Client to your PC.
  2. Run the installer named FastX-3.X.XX-setup.exe.

Mac OS X :

  1. Download the FastX3 Client to your Mac.
  2. Open the disk image named FastX3-3.X.XX.dmg.
  3. Drag FastX3 into your Applications folder.

Linux :

  1. Download the FastX3 Client to your Linux.
  2. Open the tarball file named FastX3-3.X.XX.rhel7.x86_64.tar.gz.
  3. Extract FastX3 folder from the tarball to your home or Desktop folder.

Step 2: Run FastX3 for the First Time

Windows :

Use the Start Menu (Click Start Menu > All Programs > FastX3) or use the Start Screen to find the FastX3 application and Run it. When prompted, allow FastX3 to communicate through the firewall.

Mac OS X :

  1. In the Finder, open the Applications folder and locate FastX3.
  2. Press the Control-key and click the FastX3 icon.
  3. Choose Open from the pop-up menu.
  4. Click Open.

Linux :

  1. Open FastX3 folder and locate FastX3 executable file.
  2. Double-click FastX3 executable file.

Note: FastX3 will be stored as an exception to your security settings and you will subsequently be able to run it by double-clicking the FastX3 icon. You will have to do this each time you upgrade FastX3.

Step 3: Create a Connection

FastX3 uses SSH to connect to a Quest login node.

1. Click the PLUS icon in the upper left corner of the window.


2. An Edit Connection window will open. You must already have an account on Quest to login. Fill in the following fields:

  1. Host:
  2. User: Enter your own NetID in lower-case letters.
  3. Port: 22
  4. Name: Quest (Can be whatever you want though it is for your own reference)


4. Click OK.

Connect to Quest

This section shows you how to create a connection to Quest each time you want to connect and how to manage your connections.

Step 1: Open a Connection to a Quest Login Node

1. With FastX3 open, double-click My Quest Connection in the Connections window.


2. A window will pop up.If this is the first time you have logged into Quest, a question like the one below will show up and will ask if you are sure that you want to continue, say yes.
Every time after, a screen will pop up which only requests that you Enter your NetID password. Then click Continue.


FastX will open an SSH connection to Quest and open a Session Management window for Quest. You will have no sessions to begin with, so the window will appear to be empty.

Step 2: Start a Session

1. Click the PLUS icon in the upper left corner of the Session Management window to create a new Session.


2. A new window will appear with icons. We recommend selecting the GNOME icon from this menu. Below, we select GNOME and the Command box will change to start a single application named, gnome-session. Click OK.


3. Your GNOME Virtual Desktop window will open, and your Session Management window will change to show that you have a single session named, GNOME.


To launch a terminal inside of your GNOME virtual desktop, click Activities -> Terminal. This will give you a traditional GNOME Terminal session running a Bash shell; it provides full graphics support via X11. Type Linux commands in this window. Manage batch jobs. Launch programs with graphical interfaces. Edit your files with the evim GUI. Explore the menu bar items to learn more about the features of GNOME Terminal. GNOME Desktop is the recommended way to connect to Quest.

Step 3: Disconnecting and Reconnecting Sessions

Running sessions are listed in the FastX Session Management window. Sessions continue to run on the login host until you terminate them.

You can disconnect from a running session without terminating it by clicking the Person Icon on the upper left corner of the session and then selecting Disconnect from the menu. You might want to disconnect in your office, go home, and then reconnect. You can reconnect to a paused session by clicking on the big "play" button on the session box.

Note that the paused FastX session remains on the login node that you have initially connected. If you connect to another login node next time, you will not see your paused session.


Optional: Create your own Bookmark

If you would like to create your own FastX shortcut, you can do so by creating your own Bookmark. First, you will need to launch the bookmarks window by going to View -> Bookmarks.


Next, in the Bookmarks window, please select New this will create a new line where you can name your bookmark, and write the command associated with this Bookmark.


In this example, we name our book mark RStudio which will run the command, module load R/4.1.1; rstudio.


After closing the bookmarks window and returning to the application launch menu, you will see a new section called My Bookmarks.


When you select My Bookmarks you will see an icon called RStudio which, when selected, will show the command module load R/4.1.1; rstudio.


Once you select OK, FastX will run these commands which will launch RStudio on one of the Quest log-in nodes.




Was this helpful?
43% helpful - 7 reviews


Article ID: 1511
Thu 5/12/22 12:39 PM
Sat 9/23/23 7:51 AM