Connecting to Linux computers usually requires communications software that can use the SSH protocol. This enables encrypted communications between your computer and the remote site.
Many systems (MacOS X, Linux and UNIX variants) have the ssh command that allows connections built into their command line interfaces. The general format of the command to connect to a computer "remote.node.name" with the login name "username" is:
There are several ssh client programs that can be downloaded for Windows, but PuTTY is one of the most widely used. As file transfer also occurs over SSH connections, a file transfer program such as WinSCP is also recommended.
An additional note for MicroSoft Windows users is that the Linux clusters use the X11 windows system protocol for graphical displays. While this is supported natively under Linux and MacOS X, Windows users will need an X11 server to run on their computers. One freely available system is Xming, for which there is also a "donate ware" version that is newer. (The MESA download is recommended.)
If the Xming version does not fulfill your needs, an alternative environment is Cygwin/X - a Linux like experience with a newer X11 server.
You will likely need to permit the X11 server to accept connections in the Windows firewall.
PuTTY users can easily set up an automatic connection to their X11 server through the session settings under Configuration. An example of how this is set is shown below.