Virtual Computing Lab

The Virtual Computing Lab is an online resource that allows students to use a virtual machine in order to work with Matlab 8.2 as well as NI Multisim 11. The virtual lab can be accessed from anywhere on campus and is available 24/7. This lab provides a high performance work environment for Matlab and NI Multisim without the need to use one of the on-campus computer labs or install the software locally. While it is always available, there are restrictions on the blocks of time for which a user can reserve a virtual machine. Please see below for more information on VCL reservations.


Install Software on Your Computer

Depending on your personal computer operating system (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux), you might need additional connection software such as Remote Desktop Connection.

  • Windows - Remote Desktop Connection is included in Windows XP, Vista, and 7.
  • Mac OS X - Remote Desktop Connection can be downloaded from iTunes:
  • Linux/Unix - Although Microsoft does not provide a client for these operating systems, the open source community has developed rdesktop. Most modern distro's include this package. If not, the tool can be downloaded from the rdesktop web site:

Getting Started

First time users of the Virtual Computing Lab should reserve a machine for the purpose of making sure it works properly with their computer. Don't wait until the day before an assignment is due to become familiar with this new tool. It does not take long: 10-30 minutes depending on your knowledge of remote desktop technologies. Always test the waters first.

ALL files on a VCL computer will be DELETED at the end of a reservation.

Follow the instructions below to ensure you can save your work!

Start the reservation process:

  • Go to the VCL Log In page, select one of The Claremont Colleges from the list, and use a valid network ID and password from that institution to log in.
  • Click the 'Make a Reservation' link.
  • You will be presented with a menu of application environments to choose from.
  • Select the VCL application environment that contains the desired software.
  • Select a time to start the reservation. For immediate access, select 'Now'.
  • Select the duration of the reservation: by default the initial duration is 1 hour. Once the reservation is active it can be extended up to 4 hours total.
  • Submit your request.
  • If a future time/date is requested, a confirmation message will appear concerning the reservation. If the request is for immediate access, a new page will provide real-time information concerning the provisioning of the virtual computer. Click on the 'Pending...' link for details.


  • It can take anywhere from 1 to 20 Minutes for the provisioning process to complete.
  • Once ready, a 'Connect' button will appear.
  • Click the Connect button to access the details of the virtual computer. The details can include the remote IP address, a single one-time password (depending on the environment) and information on how to connect to the remote computer running the application environment selected. Also note the details regarding the connect information will change for each reservation you make.
  • Click 'Get RDP File' to download a pre-configured connection file. Open the connection file using one of the Remote Desktop Connection clients discussed at the beginning of this guide. A prompt for a user name and password will appear. Use the information provided by the reservation system.
  • If the prompt for user name and password includes a DOMAIN field, leave it blank.
  • Passwords are CaSe SeNsiTiVe. Most of the Remote Desktop Connection software from Microsoft does not allow cutting and pasting the password so it must be re-typed with this in mind.

Saving Your Work:

  • If you use the pre-configured connection file to connect to the Virtual Computing Lab, your computer's local drives are automatically connected to the Virtual Computer. Double click the "Lab Computer" icon on the desktop of the Virtual Computer and then look for drives in the "Other" category. You should see your computer's drive(s). You can interact with the drives just like you would on your computer (drag and drop files, etc.).
  • Save files to the Virtual Computer's desktop first, and then copy them to your local computer. This will ensure the most stable experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

  • I clicked "Remember my selection" on the page where I selected my institution before logging in. How do I change it?
    • The following link will allow you to change your selection:

VCL Reservations

  • How do I print from a remote VCL computer?
    • The connection file (RDP) that is provided by the VCL web interface is configured to connect your local printers to the virtual computer over the network. Microsoft calls this printer redirection and it works with a good number of printers. However, some printers are not supported by Microsoft's drivers. If this is the case you may find that it appears that the printer is working properly, but the printer produces a paper of jibberish. For this purpose, the virtual computers are also configured with a PDF printer called CutePDF. From any application select print and choose CutePDF as the printer. You will be prompted to save a PDF document of your print job. Transfer this file over to your personal computer and print from there.
  • Can I reconnect to a computer if my reservation time has not expired but I disconnected?
    • Yes. Just run Remote Desktop Connection again and login with the same user name and password. You will have 15 minutes to reconnect before your reservation is timed out.

Modifying Reservations

  • I need more time than I thought. How can I get it?
    • Log into the web interface and click Current Reservations. Find your reservation, and click the Edit button. Find the drop-down box that has a time in it, and change it to a longer time. You will only be able to extend the length if the computer your reservation is on has time available before the next reservation.
  • What happens at the end of my reservation?
    • You will receive warning at 10 minutes and 5 minutes before your reservation expires. Once time is up, you are disconnected and any unsaved changes you have made will be permanently lost.
  • I did not receive an email confirming my reservations
    • Email notification can be enabled/disabled under User Preferences->General Preferences. If email notification is enabled and you are not receiving email please contact the VCL Team at