Connecting To Mercury

Accessing Mercury requires using a Secure Shell (SSH) client and having Booth credentials (i.e. Booth ID and password). Faculty and PhD students are automatically granted usage rights. Staff members wishing to use Mercury must first contact to request access.

Connection Type


Host Name

Port Number



Mac and Linux systems have a built-in Terminal that can be used to access Mercury. In these systems, simply open a Terminal window and type the SSH command at the prompt.

$ ssh <BoothID>

At the prompt, enter your Booth password. The screen will not show characters as you type your password.


You must use your Booth ID, not CNET ID!


Windows users will need to first download a terminal emulator. The university’s IT Services provides support for the terminal emulator PuTTY which can be used as a Secure Shell (SSH) client. The official PuTTY download page can be found here.

Once downloaded, a connection to Mercury can be initiated by entering the host name, port number, and connection type.


PuTTY configuration for initiating an SSH connection to Mercury

A new window will pop up where you can enter your Booth ID and password. You should then see Mercury’s welcome banner if the log in has been successful.

X11 Forwarding

On occasion, it may be useful to use X11 forwarding when using an application that provides a graphical interface. To do so, you may have to download an X server before connecting to Mercury. You can verify that X11 forwarding is working as expected by typing xeyes at a prompt. When X11 forwarding is working properly, a window will pop up with a pair of eyes that follow the mouse cursor as it moves.


  1. Log in to Mercury with X11 forwarding enabled ssh -X <BoothID>

  2. Test X11 forwarding by typing xeyes


  1. Install an X Server (e.g. XQuartz)

  2. Log in to Mercury with X11 forwarding enabled ssh -X <BoothID>

  3. Test X11 forwarding by typing xeyes


  1. Install an X Server (e.g. VcXsrv)

  2. Enable X11 forwarding in Putty

    1. From the left side menu, select ConnectionSSHX11

    2. Check the box labeled X11 Forwarding

  3. Click Open to log in to Mercury with X11 forwarding enabled

  4. Test X11 forwaring by typing xeyes

SSH keys

SSH Keys are automatically generated for each mercury user upon launching their first interactive session on a compute node (i.e. via srun --account=<accountname> --pty bash --login). You can use them to connect to Mercury or copying files from/to Mercury without typing your password.

# Check if private key id_rsa and public key are present on Mercury
# If these files do not exist, please contact us for additional support
$ ls  /home/${USER}/.ssh/


  1. Copy the private key from Mercury to your local machine. Do this from your local machine.

# copy the private key from Mercury to your local machine
$ scp <Booth_ID> ~/.ssh/id_rsa_mercury

# create a symbolic link to the private key
$ ln -s ~/.ssh/id_rsa_mercury ~/.ssh/id_rsa
  1. Try logging to Mercury. You should see the Mercury’s welcome banner without having to enter your password.


  1. If you installed PuTTY, you can copy the private key from the Windows Powershell with pscp command.

PS C:\Users\BoothID> pscp <Booth_ID><Booth_ID/.ssh/id_rsa C:\my_folder\ #copy private key to Windows C drive
  1. Convert id_rsa to id_rsa.ppk with PuTTYgen

    1. Launch Puttygen and click conversions -> Import key (import id_rsa saved in my_folder)

    2. Under Actions / Save the generated key, select Save private key and save key as id_rsa.ppk


PuTTYgen import and convert private key id_rsa to id_rsa.ppk

  1. Connecting to Mercury via PuTTY as described in the paragraph Connecting to Mercury-Windows and upload the private key id_rsa.ppk by navigating to Connection> SSH > Auth, upload the key via the browse button under Authentication parameters and click open.


PuTTY configuration for connecting with ssh keys