deal.II in Spack

Denis Davydov edited this page Jan 17, 2017 · 44 revisions

Using deal.II on Mac OS X and Linux via Spack

The deal.II suite is also available on Spack ( -- a flexible package manager developed with High-Performance-Computing in mind. It is intended to let you build for many combinations of compiler, architectures, dependency libraries, and build configurations, all with a friendly, intuitive user interface.

Quick installation

Add the following to ~/.bash_profile (or equivalent)


SPACK_ROOT is the destination where you want Spack to be installed (i.e. /Users/john/spack).

Now clone Spack

git clone .
git checkout master

master branch contains stable releases, whereas develop is the current development branch.

Make sure C/C++/Fortran compilers are in path (if that's not the case or you use macOS, see below), and install the complete deal.II suite

spack install dealii

DONE! No extra (preliminary) configuration steps are needed on most Linux distributions. Before configuring your project you need to set DEAL_II_DIR by

export DEAL_II_DIR=$(spack location -i dealii)

You may jump ahead and read best practices using spack. Also a good starting point is Getting Started Guide.

Installation example on a cluster (Emmy cluster of RRZE, Erlangen, Germany)

Here is a brief step-by-step instruction to install deal.II on Emmy cluster of RRZE, Erlangen, Germany:

(1) Download spack

module load git
mkdir $WOODYHOME/spack
git clone $WOODYHOME/spack
export PATH=$WOODYHOME/spack/bin:$PATH

(2) Load openmpi and let Spack find GCC compiler which is also loaded as a dependency:

module load openmpi/2.0.1-gcc
spack compiler find

(3) Add openmpi as an external package, along with python and a few other self explanatory setting for deal.ii. That is done by adding the following to ~/.spack/linux/packages.yaml

    compiler: [gcc]
      mpi: [openmpi]
      blas: [openblas]
      lapack: [openblas]
    version: [2.7.12]
      python@2.7.12: /usr/
    buildable: False
    version: [2.0.1]
      openmpi@2.0.1%gcc@4.8.5: /apps/OpenMPI/2.0.1-gcc/
    buildable: False
    version: [develop]
    variants: ~oce~python

(4) Now install deal.II: spack install dealii.

Environment Modules

Spack provides some integration with Environment Modules and Dotkit to make it easier to use the packages it installs. For a full description, read

To add the support for Environment Modules run

spack install environment-modules

and then add to ~/.bash_profile (or equivalent)

MODULES_HOME=`spack location -i environment-modules`
source ${MODULES_HOME}/Modules/init/bash
. $SPACK_ROOT/share/spack/

If you install deal.II before setting up environment modules, the module files have to be regenerated

spack module refresh

Then run

spack load dealii
spack load cmake

Now DEAL_II_DIR environment variable should be set appropriately and cmake executable will be available in path. Keep in mind that spack load dealii will also set LD_LIBRARY_PATH accordingly, this may or may not be what you need. An alternative is to use export DEAL_II_DIR=$(spack location -i dealii).

System provided packages

Spack is flexible to use both self-compiled and system provided packages. In most cases this is desirable for MPI, which is already installed on computational clusters. To configure external packages you need to edit ~/.spack/linux/packages.yaml. For openmpi this could be

    version: [1.8.8]
      openmpi@1.8.8%gcc@6.2.0: /opt/openmpi-1.8.8
    buildable: False

In order to make sure that we use to build packages 1.8.8 version of openmpi and not the most recent one (i.e. 2.0.2), we specified conretization preferences with version: [1.8.8].

One can also specify which packages should be used to provide mpi, blas/lapack , preferred compilers and preferred variants:

    compiler: [gcc,clang]
      mpi: [openmpi]
      blas: [openblas]
      lapack: [openblas]
      variants: +python

For more elaborated discussion, see Configuration Files in Spack.

Installing GCC

If your system does not provide any Fortran compiler or you want to have the most recent gcc, you can install it by

spack install gcc

Assuming that you configured Environment Modules, load gcc and let Spack find the newly installed compilers:

spack load gcc
spack compiler find

Now you can install deal.II with gcc

spack install dealii%gcc

If you are on the mac, read the following instructions on Mixed Toolchains.

On following these instructions, you will be able to install deal.II with clang+gfortran

spack install dealii%clang

Best practices using Spack:

Spack is complicated and flexible package manager primarily aimed at High-Performance-Computing. Below are some examples of using Spack to build and develop deal.II:


If you are not sure which options a given package has, simply run

spack info <package>

The output will contain available versions, variants, dependencies and description:

$ spack info dealii
Package:    dealii

Safe versions:
    develop    [git]

    Name        Default   Description

    arpack      on        Compile with Arpack and PArpack (only with MPI)
    doc         off       Compile with documentation
    gsl         on        Compile with GSL
    hdf5        on        Compile with HDF5 (only with MPI)
    metis       on        Compile with Metis
    mpi         on        Compile with MPI
    netcdf      on        Compile with Netcdf (only with MPI)
    oce         on        Compile with OCE
    p4est       on        Compile with P4est (only with MPI)
    petsc       on        Compile with Petsc (only with MPI)
    slepc       on        Compile with Slepc (only with Petsc and MPI)
    trilinos    on        Compile with Trilinos (only with MPI)

Build Dependencies:
    zlib  blas  graphviz  netcdf  arpack-ng  bzip2  cmake  lapack  oce  astyle  boost  trilinos  muparser  p4est  mpi  suite-sparse  tbb  doxygen  hdf5  slepc  numdiff  metis  petsc  netcdf-cxx  gsl

Link Dependencies:
    zlib  blas  graphviz  netcdf  arpack-ng  bzip2  lapack  oce  astyle  boost  trilinos  muparser  p4est  mpi  suite-sparse  tbb  doxygen  hdf5  slepc  numdiff  metis  petsc  netcdf-cxx  gsl

Run Dependencies:

Virtual packages:

    C++ software library providing well-documented tools to build finite
    element codes for a broad variety of PDEs.

Extra options:

One can specify extra options for packages in the deal.II suite. For example if you want to have boost with python module, this can be done by

spack install dealii@develop+mpi ^boost+python

If you want to specify blas/lapack/mpi implementations, this can be done similarly

spack install dealii@develop+mpi ^mpich

To check which packages implement mpi run

spack providers mpi

One can also specify which Blas/Lapack implementation to use. For example to build deal.II suite with atlas run

spack install dealii ^atlas

Different versions coexisting:

One can easily have slightly different versions of deal.II side-by-side, e.g. to compile development version of deal.II with complex-valued PETSc and gcc compiler run

spack install dealii@develop+mpi+petsc%gcc ^petsc+complex~hypre

The good thing is that if you already have deal.ii built with real-valued petsc, then only petsc, slepc and deal.ii itself will be rebuild. Everything else (trilinos, mumps, metis, etc) will be reused.

One can use environment-modules (see above) to automatically set DEAL_II_DIR to the complex version:

spack load dealii%gcc^petsc+complex

Filesystem Views:

If you prefer to have the whole dealii suite (and possible something else) symlinked into a single path (like /usr/local), one can use Filesystem Views:

spack view -v symlink dealii_suite dealii@develop

You can also add to this view other packages, i.e.

spack view -v symlink dealii_suite the_silver_searcher

Check before build:

It is often convenient to check which version of packages, compilers, variants etc will be used before actually starting installation. That can be done by examining the concretized spec via spack spec command, e.g.

spack spec dealii@develop+mpi+petsc%gcc ^petsc+complex~hypre

Develop using Spack

There are several ways to use Spack while contributing patches to the deal.II. The simplest is to create a Filesystem view for an already installed library and then compile patched version of deal.II manually by providing path to the view for each dependency. For example on macOS with openblas:

export DEAL_II_VIEW=/Users/davydden/spack/_dealii_suite

Here we specify locations of libraries in ${DEAL_II_VIEW} and also point to mpi compilers by ${DEAL_II_VIEW}/bin/mpicc and alike. Keep in mind that the autodetection of LAPACK is turned off and therefore we specified full path to libs as ${DEAL_II_VIEW}/lib/libopenblas.dylib. You would need to adjust the suffix if you are on Linux.

MKL and Licensed software

Spack supports installation of licensed software. For example in order to install MKL on Linux:

  1. add the license.lic file to ${SPACK_ROOT}/etc/spack/licenses/intel/.
  2. manually download Intel MKL archive l_mkl_11.3.2.181.tgz
  3. cd to the folder with archive and run spack install mkl@

One can then run spack install dealii ^mkl@

Freeze package versions

Currently Spack does not try to re-use already installed packages. On another hand, by default the most recent version of a package will be installed. When updating deal.II build (for example to use the new version of trilinos), the combination of the two factors may lead to recompilation of many other packages used in the deal.II suite when one of the main build dependency like cmake has a new version.

To circumvent the problem, the user can specify preferred versions of packages in ~/.spack/packages.yaml:

    version: [3.6.1]
    version: [7.50.3]
    version: [1.0.2j]
    version: [2.7.12]

This settings will be taken into account during conretization process and thus will help to avoid rebuilding most of the deal.II suite when, for example, openssl is updated to the new version.