Frequently asked questions

Access and connections

How do I change my password?

Please consult Lost, expiring or changing passwords.

I forgot my password - what should I do to recover it?

Please consult Lost, expiring or changing passwords.

What is the ssh key fingerprint for our systems?

Please consult this page.

Connecting to the cluster

Typically users connect to our clusters with an SSH client. Please consult this page for additional details.

How can I access a compute node from the login node?

Log in to the login node, for instance Fram:

$ ssh myusername@fram.sigma2.no

Then connect to the compute node (on Fram and Saga):

$ ssh c3-5

Or on Betzy:

$ ssh b4296

Notice that you typically can only log into a compute node where you have a running job.

My ssh connections are freezing. How to fix it?

If your ssh connections more or less randomly are freezing, try to add the following to ~/.ssh/config file on your computer/laptop:

ServerAliveCountMax 3
ServerAliveInterval 10

The above configuration is for OpenSSH, if you’re using PUTTY you can take a look at this page explaining keepalives for a similar solution.


Installing software

I need to use Python but I am not satisfied with system default

You can choose different Python versions using either the Software module scheme or Anaconda/Miniconda. In Anaconda, you typically load first the Anaconda module you like and then from within that you can chose and configure the Python version and environment. Please consult the Anaconda documentation for details.

In cases where these routes still do not solve your problem or you would like to install a package yourself, please consult this page about Installing software as user. If you are still stuck or would like support, please contact the Support line.

Can I install software as a normal user without sudo rights or a root account?

Yes. In fact, this is the recommended approach to install software that we do not offer to all users. Please consult this page about Installing software as user.


Compute and disk usage, in addition to allocated quota

How can I check my disk quota and usage?

Please consult the page on Usage and quota.

How can I check my CPU hours quota and usage?

Please consult the page on Projects and accounting.


Graphical interfaces

How can I export the display from a compute node to my desktop?

Please consult this note on X11 forwarding.

This example assumes that you are running an X-server on your local desktop, which should be available for most users running Linux, Unix and Mac Os X. If you are using Windows you must install some X-server on your local PC.


Jobs, submission, and queue system

I am not able to submit jobs longer than the maximum set walltime

For all Job Types there is a maximum walltime. If you try to set a walltime that is larger than this, the job will not be accepted when you submit it. We recommend you to try to segment the job using Job Scripts. If this does not suit your need, please contact the Support line. The main intention to have a limit on the max walltime is to make sure the queue system works as best as possible and as such would give a better experience for most users.

Where can I find an example of job script?

Here we have examples for Job Scripts on Fram and Job Scripts on Saga.

When will my job start?

To find out approximately when the job scheduler thinks your job will start, use the command:

$ squeue --start -j <job_id>

where <job_id> is the number of the job you want to check. This command will give you information about how many CPUs your job requires, for how long, as well as when approximately it will start and complete. It must be emphasized that this is just a best guess, queued jobs may start earlier because of running jobs that finishes before they hit the walltime limit and jobs may start later than projected because new jobs are submitted that get higher priority.

How can I see the queue situation of my job(s)?

How can I see how my jobs are doing in the queue, if my jobs are idle, blocked, running etc. by issuing:

$ squeue -u <username>

where <username> is your username. You can of course also check the queue by not adding a username. For additional details on how to monitor job(s), please consult page about Monitoring jobs.

Why are my devel/short/preproc jobs put in the “normal” queue even though I specify --qos in my job script?

The --qos specified jobs, like devel, short and preproc, by default run in the standard partition - i.e. normal but will have different properties. For detailed explanation see Queue system concepts. In order to see your jobs in the devel queue, use the following command, (you can replace devel with short or preproc to see the respective queues)

$ squeue -q devel -u <username>

Why does my job not start or give me error feedback when submitting?

Most often the reason a job is not starting is that the resources are busy. Typically there are many jobs waiting in the queue. But sometimes there is an error in the job script and you are asking for a configuration (say a combination of memory and cores) that is not possible. In such a cases you do not always get a message that the options are invalid on submission and they might not be, but the combination will lead to a job that never starts.

To find out how to monitor your jobs and check their status see Monitoring jobs.

Priority means that resources are in principle available, but someone else has higher priority in the queue. Resources means the at the moment the requested resources are not available.

How can I run many short tasks?

The overhead in the job start and cleanup makes it not practical to run thousands of short tasks as individual jobs on our resources.

The queueing setup, or rather, the accounting system generates overhead in the start and finish of a job. About a few seconds at each end of the job for instance. This overhead is insignificant when running large parallel jobs, but creates scaling issues when running a massive amount of shorter jobs. One can consider a collection of independent tasks as one large parallel job and the aforementioned overhead becomes the serial or unparallelizable part of the job. This is because the queuing system can only start and account one job at a time. This scaling problem is described by Amdahl’s Law.

If the tasks are extremely short, you can use the example below. If you want to spawn many jobs without polluting the queueing system, please use Array Jobs.

By using some shell trickery one can spawn and load-balance multiple independent task running in parallel within one node, just background the tasks and poll to see when some task is finished until you spawn the next:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

# Jobscript example that can run several tasks in parallel.
# All features used here are standard in bash so it should work on
# any sane UNIX/LINUX system.
# Author: roy.dragseth@uit.no
#
# This example will only work within one compute node so let's run
# on one node using all the cpu-cores (here using Fram as an example):
#SBATCH --nodes=1
#SBATCH --ntasks-per-node=16

# We assume we will (in total) be done in 10 minutes:
#SBATCH --time=0-00:10:00

# Let us use all CPUs:
maxpartasks=$SLURM_TASKS_PER_NODE

# Let's assume we have a bunch of tasks we want to perform.
# Each task is done in the form of a shell script with a numerical argument:
# dowork.sh N
# Let's just create some fake arguments with a sequence of numbers
# from 1 to 100, edit this to your liking:
tasks=$(seq 100)

cd $SLURM_SUBMIT_DIR

for t in $tasks; do
  # Do the real work, edit this section to your liking.
  # remember to background the task or else we will
  # run serially
  ./dowork.sh $t &

  # You should leave the rest alone...

  # count the number of background tasks we have spawned
  # the jobs command print one line per task running so we only need
  # to count the number of lines.
  activetasks=$(jobs | wc -l)

  # if we have filled all the available cpu-cores with work we poll
  # every second to wait for tasks to exit.
  while [ $activetasks -ge $maxpartasks ]; do
    sleep 1
    activetasks=$(jobs | wc -l)
  done
done

# Ok, all tasks spawned. Now we need to wait for the last ones to
# be finished before we exit.
echo "Waiting for tasks to complete"
wait
echo "done"

And here is the dowork.sh script:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

# Fake some work, $1 is the task number.
# Change this to whatever you want to have done.

# sleep between 0 and 10 secs
let sleeptime=10*$RANDOM/32768

echo "Task $1 is sleeping for $sleeptime seconds"
sleep $sleeptime
echo "Task $1 has slept for $sleeptime seconds"