Google Cloud Platform
Google Cloud Platform (GCP) services allows one to create virtual machines in Google's computing cloud. One can choose the computer type (CPU's, RAM, disk) and OS (linux, Windows). While this is a commercial service, the cost can be surprisingly low (<$1/day), and even lower if the instance is run only when needed. There are many other advantages, such as zero initial capital cost and no hardware maintenance. We have found cloud computing to be an ideal solution for deploying WebMO and computational chemistry engines, especially for educational purposes.
Setup a Google Cloud Platform account
Log into your Google (gmail) account.
In a new tab, go to
and sign up for a Google Cloud Platform free trial ($300 of credit or 60 days, whichever comes first). You will need to supply billing information to verify that you are a real person, but you will not be charged unless you upgrade your account after your trial ends.
Create a virtual machine instance
and click the My console link (near top right) that brings you to the Developers Console, which is a web interface for managing and interacting with your virtual machines.
In the Projects dropdown menu (initially My First Project), select Create a project... and give your project a new name, e.g., WebMO, and click Create. Wait until it initializes.
Open the Menu panel (near top left) and go to Compute Engine -> VM instances. Click Create instance or New instance. Supply the following options:
Zone: change to a location near you (us-central#-#)
Machine type: 1 vCPU, 3.75 GB Memory (n1-standard-1)
Boot disk: CentOS 7.1.####
Boot disk type: Standard persistent disk
Size (GB): 50
Firewall: select Allow HTTP traffic
Click Create. Let Google do its magic! When the green check comes up, the instance is up and running.
Verify SSH access
In the Developers Console, click the SSH link under Connect (near bottom right). When the terminal screen comes up, test some unix commands:
Note: Ctrl-+ or Apple-+ will enlarge the text size in the terminal screen.
In your SSH session, download and run the Server in the Cloud (sitc) script:
$ curl -O https://www.webmo.net/cloud/sitc.tar.gz
$ tar xzf sitc.tar.gz
Follow prompts to:
- update the operating system and add some components
- configure the operating system
- install webmo
- obtain and/or specify webmo license number
- create a webmo user
- install mopac7
Set a WebMO administrator password
In the Developers Console, click the ###.###.###.### link under External IP (near bottom right). In the newly opened tab, navigate to
Log in with the username "admin" and a blank password. Set an administrative password when prompted. Enter your registration information. You are brought to the WebMO administration menu. Since a user was already created and mopac was already installed, simply click Logout.
Access and use WebMO
If a browser tab to your virtual machine is not displayed, click the External IP link for your virtual machine in the Developers Console. Navigate to
<displayed IP address>/webmo
Log in with the username and password you supplied to the installation script. Run a test job.
Shutdown virtual machine
When WebMO is not being actively used, you will want to shut it down to avoid incurring CPU usage charges. From the Developers Console, select your virtual machine and click the Stop icon.
Note that you still incur disk storage charges ($2/month for 50GB) even if the virtual machine is not running.
Restarting virtual machine
To start up the machine again, login to your gmail account, go to cloud.google.com, click the My console link, select your project, From the menu navigate to Compute Engine -> VM instances, select your virtual machine, and click the Start icon. When the green check is displayed, the instance is up and running again.
A complete guide to installing WebMO on a Google Cloud virtual machine is available at:
This guide also includes additional information such as:
- Cost examples
- Administrative tips
- Supported Linux distributions