Software Farm

Software Farm with Windows

Software Farm for Windows is a remote software platform which gives you access to a diverse selection of software. You run the applications without having to install them on your own machine.

Norsk versjon - Programfarm med Windows

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Connecting to the Software Farm using Windows #

From Windows, there are three ways to access NTNU's Software Farm:    

1. Using a web browser such as Firefox.

2. Create shortcuts in the start menu on your local PC. 

3. Open the Software Farm as a remote desktop (remote desktop connection)

Which alternative is simplest and best is a matter of personal taste.

Alternative 1. Software Farm via your web browser #

  • We will use Firefox in our examples
  • If you use Internet Explorer on an NTNU-computer ("administered client"), the procedure will be almost identical. The differences to Firefox will be noted at the appropriate points.
  • The use of Microsoft Edge on Windows 10 is very uncomplicated (see below).
  • There is a user guide for using the Software Farm with Internet Explorer on privately owned computers ("non-administered clients"). The reason is that in that case you will be asked several security-related questions which it is not reasonable to expect that the common user can cope with. If you want to use the web-interface of the Software Farm from your private computer, it is less complicated to use another browser than IE.

Step 1: Open farm.ntnu.no in the browser

Type farm.ntnu.no in the address field. This takes you to the Software Farm's login page. Save it to your "Favorites" (Internet Explorer) or "Bookmarks" (Firefox), or as a bookmark on "My page" in "Innsida".

Step 2: Log in.

Fill in your regular NTNU username and password. Press "Sign in".

The Software Farm's website will then display icons of all the programs you have access to.

  When you run a program from this site, it will behave as if you ran it from your own computer. See "Using the Software Farm", below.

  • The printers available on your own computer will be forwarded to the running program.
  • The folder "Documents" is a link to the "Documents"-folder on your home area on the NTNU net (normally disk M:\).
  • For employees, any other network disks you use in your work (e.g. disk K:\) will be forwarded to the remote application.
  • The disk on your own computer is also accessible.
  • The cut-and-paste function works across the remote computer and your own.

Step 3: Run a program

Click an application icon to launch it.

a) The first time you launch a program from this website, the browser will ask what you want it to do with "rdp files".

Internet Explorer knows how to handle this, so if you use IE, this question will not be asked.

Choose "Remote Desktop Connection" from the scroll-menu. Tick "Do this automatically for files like this from now on", and press "OK".

As can be seen in the dialog-box, this is a setting which can be done in Firefox from the menu Tools->Options->Applications.

If "Remote Desktop Connection" is not shown in the dialog-box's scroll-menu, see "If Remote Desktop Connection is not shown..." at the end of this document.

b) The process has started.

In this example we have clicked on "Word 2013" on the web-site, and we get a message to tell us that the process is running:

c) The first time  you launch an application from the web-site, you will be asked to accept a certificate.

Tick "Don't ask me again for remote connections from this publisher", and press "Connect".

In Internet Explorer this question will not look exctly like this. Among other things, the check-box for "Don't ask me again... " is not present.  See "Software Farm with Internet Explorer on a privately owned computer".

By pressing "Details" in the lower left corner of this dialog box, you will see that the remote session gives you access to the local disk and the printers registered on you own computer, and that the cut-and-paste function will be common to the remote session and your own computer.

d) Password once more (Not with Internet Explorer)

For the first applicaton you launch after being logged in on the Software Farm, you will once more be asked for your username and password.

If the username which is shown in this password-dialog, is the local username for your private computer, you will have to press "Use another account", and then give your NTNU password  prepended with the NTNU domain "win-ntnu-no\<myNTNUusername>",  e.g. "win-ntnu-no\olavgun".

e) The program is running

Then your program, in this example Word,  opens - as if it was running locally on your computer:

By pressing "Computers" in the Open or Save menus of the program, you get access to the documents on your home area (network disk M:).  In the example we see that I have recently opened a documents called desc03_b.docx from M:\Documents . See below: Drives and storage.

We also see that the remote program shows its icon on the taskbar of your local computer, just as if it was an ordinary, local program.

Microsoft Edge on Windows 10.

Edge seems to be the simplest browser to use for accessing farm.ntnu.no. The method is like the one for Firefox above. Except that you will be asked fewer questions on the way. Except for this:

Every time you you click on a program on the Farm's web site, an "rdp file" will be downloaded, and you will be asked whether you want to open the file.  Click on "Open", and the program you have chosen will be launched.

We have not found a way to set "Open with Remote Desktop Application" as the standard action so as to be exempted from this question every time. Another inconvenience is that the folder "Downloads" will be filled with rdp-files, so that you will have to do some manual clean-up once in a while.

Alternative 2: Shortcuts in the start menu on your local computer #

This is an alternative to using the browser:

You can install shortcuts to the applications on the Farm in the start menu on your local computer. In this way they are accessible in nearly the same way as if they were installed locally.

The method is simple. But the somewhat cramped space in the list of programs in the start-menu would make the perspicuity of what is available somewhat better on the website.

  • Go to Start->Control Panel
  • Here you will find "Remote App and Desktop Connections". Open it.    
  • If you don't find it, use the search field and search for "remote".

Programfarm_Windows18

Programfarm_Windows

You will then be led through this process:

1. Ready to connect Press "Next".

2. Give your credentials.

If your are logged in on your own computer with a local and not your NTNU username, prepend your username with "win-ntnu-no\".

3. We are entertained by the progressbar for "Adding resources".

4. Success!

Press "Finish", and then "Close" in the information window you are returned to.

You can now go to  Start -> All programs ->RemoteApp and Desktop Connections -> NTNU Programfarm.  You will find all the software here.

The list of available software is very long, so if you know what you are looking for, the fastest way is to search for it from "Search programs and files".

In Windows 10 you press the startmenu symbol, then "All apps", and scroll down to "N" to find  "NTNU Programfarm":

Manually update the list of RemoteApps

By default, this list is updated once a day and at every login. So there is no need for a manual update. But if you still feel the need to update it manually, here is the method:

Start "Remote Apps and Desktop Connections" from the Control Panel (see above).

Open the connection to farm.ntnu.no.  This window will then be opened:

Press "Properties". This will open another window in which you have to press the button "Update now".

Alternative 3: Software Farm via Remote Desktop Connection #

We have now gone through two methods for accessing the Software Farm:

(1) Using a web browser.

(2) Making shortcuts on the start menu.

The third alternative is to connect to one of the Farm's own desktops:

(3) This time we find the connection-program in the start menu:

Start -> Remote Desktop Connection

Adminfarm, officefarm, edgefarm, calcfarm, devfarm, legacyfarm, kavlifarm og ielfarm #

The farm has 8 available desktops:    

Remote DesktopWho are to use it
adminfarm.ntnu.noEmployees of NTNU. Not businesses on the NTNU perimeter (SINTEF etc.)
officefarm.ntnu.noStudents at NTNU. Also accessible for employees of NTNU with a student account.
edgefarm.it.ntnu.noEmployees of the NTNU perimeter businesses
calcfarm.ntnu.noStudents and employees who need scientific software and software for mathematics and statistics
devfarm.ntnu.noStudents and employees who need access to developer software such as Visual Studio
legacyfarm.ntnu.noEmployees at the NTNU administration who need the outdated interfaces required to access NTNU's accounting software: legacy versions of Internet Explorer and Java
kavlifarm.it.ntnu.noPersons affiliated with the Kavli institutions.
ielfarm.it.ntnu.noDepartment of Electric Power Engineering

In adminfarm, officefarmand edgefarm, you will find all the Microsoft Office applications and a rich diversity of other office tools.

On calcfarm you find various mathematical and statistical programs. It can be used by employees and students alike.

(Identifiers of these different farms are indicated under the program icon in the Farm's web-interface (Alternative 1, above), as [A], [O], [E], [C], [D], [L], [K] og [IEL]. Anyway, this is irrelevant for the user of the web interface.)

When you have pressed "Remote Desktop Connection" in the start menu, the following dialog box will open. Write the address of the farm you want to open, and press "Connect".

Remote Desktop Connection

(Se below, "Configuration Details for Remote Desktop" for what is hidden behind the "Show Options"-button, low left in the dialog box.)

The first time you connect to the Farm, you will be asked whether you trust the connection. Tick "Don't ask me again for connections to this computer" and press "Connect".

You will then be asked for username and password:

If you are logged in on a private computer with a local username, you will have to press "Use another account", to be able to log on with your NTNU account. In that case you will also have to prepend your username with the NTNU domain and a backslash, like this: "win-ntnu-no\<myNTNUusername>".

Press "OK", and you will soon be connected to the Farm.

The desktop of the Farm will now be opened as if you were logged in on the Farm and not on your own PC.

At the bottom of the desktop we see the taskbar, and far left on the taskbar is a white Windows symbol. This is the icon for the start screen. The Farm displays the interface of Windows 8, and in Windows 8 there is no start menu but a start screen. Press the start screen icon, and the start screen replaces the desktop:

The tiles replaces the entries of our well-known start menu.  Simply click on a tile to launch the program.

The wide "Desktop"-tile (here shown in black, but normally filled with an orange color) will take you back to the Desktop.

We see that there are only a few program tiles on the start screen. At lower left of the screen we note a white circle with a down arrow in it. That icon opens the "All Apps"-screen. It is like opening "All programs" on the traditional start-menu:

In the lower left corner of the "All apps"-screen, the white circle now has an upward arrow in it (not shown in the figure), which brings you back to the startscreen.

The programs you launch run on the remote desktop. They are not shown on the taskbar of your local computer, but on the taskbar of the remote desktop.

The NTNU user profile, which is loaded to your computer every time you log on with NTNU username and password, is also loaded to the remote computer. It contains information which makes the computer connect automatically to your home directory (normally M:\) and other network resources. The profile does not connect printers, but there are default printers on the Farm, and printers registered on your local computer are forwarded to the remote and accessible there.

For more about this, see User interface of the remote desktop.

Configuration Details for Remote Desktop #

(When you use connection alternative 1 (browser) and alternative 2 (shortcuts in your start menu), these configurations are set automatically.)

The server has the touch screen-oriented, mouse-and-keyboard-hostile interface of Windows 8. (See User interface of the remote desktop.  Luckily, Windows 10 has reintroduced the elements we missed in Windows 8, especially the start menu.)

In order to not lose your orientation, it is best to set it up so you can use the familiar windows keys in the remote desktop. To do this in the configuration panel of the application "Remote Desktop Connection" on your computer: Click on Options and select the tab Local Resources.

Here you can choose "On the remote computer" for Keyboard.

It is also a good idea to tick Printers and clipboard under "Local devices and resources". These will then be available from the remote desktop.

Local Resources

By clicking on More under Local devices and resources , you can select other local resources to be redirected to the remote desktop. The remote desktop loads your NTNU user profile, so that network drive ("M:") and other drives which are in your profile will be available anyway. But it is handy to have your local disk ("C:") is forwarded to the remote computer. (We have heard sinister rumours that forwarding your local disk might not always be possible, due to inscrutable security measures...)

Under the tab Screen (skjerm) you can select the screen size for the remote desktop. If you set the slider to max, the remote desktop covers the entire screen of your local computer.

Tick the box for "Display the connection bar when I use the full screen". Then is a small toolbar will be shown at the top of the remote desktop. This toolbar allows you to adjust the size of the window once you are connected. It is very convenient to have the remote desktop in a window on the local desktop, so that you can easily switch from one to the other.

Screen

In the tab "Experience" there is a setting "Choose your connecton speed to optimize performance".  With the present day speed of broadbands, there is really no reason to set this to any other value than max, i.e. "LAN". Choosing a lower speed means that less of the bandwidth is used for graphics quality. This might be a good idea if you are connected by way of so-called mobile broadband.

Using Software Farm #

The user interface of the remote desktop #

The user interface on the Farm is that of Windows 8. If you want to know more about it, see User interface on the Software Farm.

Clipboard #

You can cut and paste between applications running in the remote session and those running locally on your own computer.

Drives and Storage #

Pressing  "Save" or "Open File" from within a program running on the Farm brings up "Documents" (Mine dokumenter) from your home directory, normally known as "M:\Documents".  That is: what is shown as "Documents" in the remote apps, is your own M:\Documents.

The examples shows "Open File"/"Save as" in Word 2013.

  • By choosing Save As (Lagre Som) and then Computer (Datamaskin) and finally This PC, you can see all the disks and drives that are available in the remote session.
  • In the figure below Network Locations (Nettverksplasseringer) is the server's connection of my network drives based on my user profile.
  • Devices and drives are local drives on my own computer, which are not included in my NTNU user profile, but are forwarded from the local to the remote computer.
  • The inquisitive person will see that the forwarded local disks also can be found under "tsclient", at the bottom of the left sidebar.

Printing and adding printers #

The example below shows the print menu in Word 2013 on the Farm.

  • Printers registered on your local computer are available. They are marked "redirected" (2 in the figure).
  • Standard printers on the Farm, or printers which you have added on the Farm (see below), are not marked "redirected" (1 in the figure: This is the default printer on adminfarm).

It is not possible to use the "Add printer"-menu entries within each program to add printers. Point 3 in the figure does not work. This is the standard for the NTNU network. The reason for this is that NTNU's printers are on a separate network behind a firewall to protect them from being hacked, which has been a problem in the past.

To add a printer, you have to open Control Panel -> Devices and Printers on the Software Farmand then press "Add a printer".

Accessing "Devices and Printers" on the Farm requires a different method according to the connection alternative you have chosen.

Connection alternative 1: via the browser

You will find "Devices and Printers" in the folder Geek!

Connection alternative 2: shortcuts in start menu

You will find Devices and printers as "Printers" at Start->All programs-> RemoteApp and DesktopConnections->NTNU Programfarm.  Scroll down to get to "Printers" (or "Skrivere")

Connection alternative 3: Full desktop.

If you are connected to one of the Farm's desktops, you press on the tile "Control Panel" in the start screen, and then choose "Devices and printers".

Adding a printer

In Control Panel -> Devices and printers, we see the printers accessible to us, and which of them are redirected local printers and which are not.

To add a printer, press "Add a printer" in the top taskbar.

You will then get a dialog box saying "No printers were found". Press The printer that I want isn't listed.

The dialog "Find a printer by other options" will open. Fill in the text-box "Select a shared printer by name" with \\followprint.win.ntnu.no\

The final backslash is important, as it brings up the list of printers accessible at followprint.win.ntnu.no

Chose your printer, and press "Next".  A couple of unimportant dialog boxes will follow, and then your printer is installed.

The printer is saved to your local profile on the Software Farm, and will be accessible also for your future use of the Farm.

If you are connected by alternative 3: Remote Desktop, it seems that the printer will only be saved to the local profile on the particular farm you are logged on to. Printers chosen in adminfarm are not saved to officefarm.

Appendix: If "Remote Desktop Connection" is not shown in the scroll-menu #

This pertains  to the use of Firefox under alternative 1 above, the use of a web browser. It does not concern the use of Internet Explorer.

Some have experienced that "Remote Desktop Connection"  is not shown in the scroll menu for "Open with...". In that case one will find that the scroll menu shows "Browse...".

By selecting "Browse" and then pressing "OK", you will be shown "Select Helper Application", a list of possible application with wich to open the rdp file. But the one you need is not listed here.

So, once more, press "Browse": A file explorer window will open. Find C:\Windows\System32\mstsc.exe. Press "Open".

From now on rdp-files from the Software Farm will  make applications open automatically from Firefox.

Contact #

Orakel Support Services can help if you encounter difficulties. If you are an NTNU employee, consult your local IT Support.

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