Submitting jobs

The HPC clusters are resources that are shared between many users, and to ensure fair use everyone must do their computations by submitting jobs through a queue system (batch system) that will execute the applications on the available resources. In our case SLURM is used as workload manager and job scheduler.

When you log in to a cluster, you are logged in to a login node shared by all users. The login nodes are meant for logging in, copying files, editing, compiling, running short tests (no more than a couple of minutes), submitting jobs, checking job status, etc. Jobs started via SLURM run on the compute nodes.

Note that it is not allowed to run jobs directly on the login nodes.


There are two ways of starting jobs with SLURM; either interactively with srun or as a job script with sbatch.

Interactive jobs are a good way to test your setup before you put it into a script or to work with interactive applications like MATLAB or python. You immediately see the results and can check if all parts behave as you expected. See interactive for more details.

To run a computations on the cluster, you submit a job script into a job queue, and the job is started when one or more suitable compute nodes are available.

Job scripts are submitted with the sbatch command:

sbatch YourJobscript

The sbatch command returns a jobid, number that identifies the submitted job. The job will be waiting in the job queue until there are free compute resources it can use. A job in that state is said to be pending (PD). When it has started, it is called running (R). Any output (stdout or stderr) of the job script will be written to a file called slurm-<jobid>.out in the directory where you ran sbatch, unless otherwise specified.

It is also possible to pass arguments to the job script, like this:

sbatch YourJobscript arg1 arg2

These will be available as the variables $1, $2, etc. in the job script, so in this example, $1 would have the value arg1 and $2 the value arg2.

All commands in the job script are performed on the compute-node(s) allocated by the queue system. The script also specifies a number of requirements (memory usage, number of CPUs, run-time, etc.), used by the queue system to find one or more suitable machines for the job.

More information about SLURM

Job Queue

Jobs in the job queue are started on a priority basis, and a job gets higher priority the longer it has to wait in the queue. A detailed description can be found in Job Scheduling.

To see the list of running or pending jobs in the queue, use the command squeue. Some useful squeue options:

-j jobids   show only the specified jobs
-w nodes    show only jobs on the specified nodes
-A projects show only jobs belonging to the specified projects
-t states   show only jobs in the specified states (pending, running,
            suspended, etc.)
-u users    show only jobs belonging to the specified users

All specifications can be comma separated lists. Examples:

squeue -j 14132,14133    # shows jobs 4132 and 4133
squeue -w c23-11         # shows jobs running on c23-11
squeue -u foo -t PD      # shows pending jobs belonging to user 'foo'
squeue -A bar            # shows all jobs in the project 'bar'

To see all pending jobs, in priority order, you can use pending, which is a small wrapper for squeue. See pending --help for details and options.

For a description of common job states, see Job States.

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