Nimbus @ UC

WARNING: as of June 8, 2011, the Nimbus cloud at the University of Chicago is no longer operational. There are many faster and larger Nimbus clouds now available. If you're in need of Nimbus resources, we recommend the Future Grid project which hosts four large clouds distributed across the US.

The University of Chicago Science Cloud, codenamed "Nimbus", provides compute capability in the form of Xen virtual machines (VMs) that are deployed on physical nodes of the University of Chicago TeraPort cluster (currently 16 nodes) using the Nimbus software.

The Nimbus cloud is available to all members of the scientific community wanting to run in the cloud. To obtain access you will need to provide a justification (a few sentences explaining your science project) and a valid grid credential (If you don't have a credential, email us. We can help). Based on the project, you will be given an allocation on the cloud. Send your requests to Nimbus administrators at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

In a typical session you will make a request to deploy a workspace based on a specified VM image. You can either use one of the VM images already available on a cloud or upload your own VM image. On deployment, the image will be configured with an ssh public key you provide so that you can log into your VM once it is deployed. Instructions on how to use the cloud are available here. Have fun!

Important Configuration notes:

  • Nimbus provides public IP addresses for user's VMs. Thus, you will not need private network software to work with Nimbus.
  • Nimbus works with version 11 or later of the Nimbus cloud client (see instructions for download).

To start using Nimbus download the cloud client and follow the setup instructions. You will need the following:

EC2 clients:

Nimbus supports both the SOAP and Query EC2 interfaces.

For the EC2 Query interface to Nimbus, we recommend using one of the excellent available clients. For Python, we like boto. For Java, try typica.

Use this URL and port:

For the EC2 SOAP clients, download this EC2 client from Amazon.

The specific URL to use:

$ export EC2_URL=

See the EC2 client notes for more information. You will likely run into some of the EC2 client problems listed in the troubleshooting guide.

These requests are not perpetual like on Amazon. The current running time requested from the backend scheduler and authorization system is three hours. You will not be "charged" for the whole amount if you use "terminate-instances" to destroy the VMs earlier than this.