Need a Personal Research Computer? Consider JetStream2!

Do you ever wish that you had access to a more powerful computer than your personal system? Perhaps you need additional memory, processors, storage, or even a GPU to tackle a pesky research project. Or maybe you can’t reliably run an analysis for hours or days at a time on your laptop. Leveraging ACCESS resources can be a great solution, though the dizzying amount of choices can be confusing, and identifying the right option for your specific project is often daunting.

Enter JetStream2, an exceptionally user-friendly ACCESS service offered through Indiana University. With JetStream2, it is straightforward to create a no-cost personal VM (a “virtual machine” – essentially a private computer in the cloud) with your choice of a Linux operating system, offering both command-line and graphical desktop interfaces, all accessible through any web browser. You can add 1TB of storage and even attach a powerful GPU, as well as easily transfer files to/from a local system. One amazing feature is that you can install your own software and fully customize your environment – it really is like having your own personal computer! Your VM can persist essentially indefinitely (annual renewals are required), and you can have multiple separate VMs.

Getting started is relatively simple and starts with creating an ACCESS ID (make sure to select Register with an existing identity and choose Swarthmore College so that you can use your regular credentials as your ACCESS ID). Once you have an ID, you can request an allocation of credits (an Explore ACCESS allocation is a good place to start) that can be used with JetStream2 (or any other ACCESS service), but you can also reach out to Jason Simms ( or Andrew Ruether (, and we can add you to our Campus Champion allocation to provide you with some credits even more quickly.

Note that while your VM is running, it will consume credits, and more powerful VMs, or those with GPUs, will consume greater amounts. Still, even a basic allocation can provide sufficient credits for a substantial amount of work, and you can (and should) suspend your VM when not actively using it so that it does not consume credits.

In sum, JetStream2 is an excellent option to provide an on-demand, powerful, customizable VM accessible from nearly anywhere. Please let us know should you have any questions!