Custom Software Environments for Duke Courses

Instructors can request custom virtual machines (access to full Windows or Linux OS) and Linux Docker containers with pre-loaded software packages (like Rstudio and Jupiter Notebooks) for Duke courses and workshops. These environments are intended for coursework, software development, and as test servers for projects.  They are not intended for long-term use or projects with expectations of reliability and uptime. They should be considered ‘disposable’, and only used for the duration of the project, course, or assignment.

 

Once built, students can claim and access resources through our Virtual Computing Manager service.  With containers, faculty and their designees have the opportunity to update the container’s software packages throughout the semester using the OIT GitLab(link is external) project set up when the container automation was created. In addition to private storage space for each student, course storage space is provided for the instructor to share large datasets; the course storage space is  made available as a read-only volume for the student containers. The container reservation system currently supports a wide variety of courses at Duke with > 2,000 active reservations each semester.

Kits: VCM for courses

Faculty wishing to incorporate the usage of VCM resources (VMs or Containers) for their class should start by requesting a resource in Kits (kits.duke.edu).  Using Kits ensures that there are enough resources available, and also allows for faculty to access custom VMs or containers with specific applications or computing resources for the course, as well as automatically allow access to those resources to individuals enrolled in the course.  Additionally, course-specific VMs used by students do not count toward their maximum usage limit.

To request a new container or use virtual machines in your course, complete and submit a request at least 3 weeks prior to date needed (potentially more time will be needed at the start of the semester).
 

To Request a Virtual Machine for a course:

  • Faculty must initiate any request for using virtual machines in their class through Kits – kits.duke.edu
  • Click “Add App”
  • Click “Add App to Kit” under Virtual Computing Manager
  • Give a display name and additional details (date needed, number of vms required)
  • If applications are required to be pre-installed on the VM, please list them in the Notes, including versions if necessary.
  • Once the request is made, you will be contacted by a member of the VCM management team to clarify any questions we may have, test, and confirm that the resources are appropriately designed for your course.
  • Once the VM is created and sufficient resources provisioned, students can visit vcm.duke.edu, and request the custom VM for their class.  It will be named with the class listing and semester/year.

To Request a Container for a course:

  • Faculty must initiate any request for using containers in their class through Kits – kits.duke.edu
  • Click “Add App”
  • Click “Add App to Kit” under “Virtual Computing Manager”
  • Give a display name and additional details (date needed, number of vms/containers required
  • Select Container
  • Please include any details about any custom needs for this container.
  • Once the request is made, you will be contacted by a member of the VCM management team to clarify any questions we may have, test, and confirm that the resources are appropriately designed for your course.  Please note that container creation can take up to two weeks.
  • Testing – In order to accurately provision resources, a test script (the most resource-intensive assignment is a good candidate) will be required. 
  • Once the container is created, students can visit vcm.duke.edu, and request the container for their class, which will be named with the class listing and semester/year.

VCM Frequently Asked Questions

How to get help