Getting started

Kenneth Hoste edited this page Dec 4, 2012 · 6 revisions
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This is a concise step-by-step tutorial to using EasyBuild.

Getting started with EasyBuild is almost trivial: just follow these simple steps and you can start building and deploying software with EasyBuild yourself.

## Step 0: Install EasyBuild

A pretty obvious prerequisite to using EasyBuild is to have it installed; see Installing EasyBuild.

## Step 1: Configure EasyBuild

The first step consists of configuring EasyBuild: see Configuration for full details if you have not done this yet.

It is essential that you make sure to extend the MODULEPATH environment variables with <install_path>/modules/all before continuing. This is required for allowing EasyBuild to determine whether builds were already performed, and also to resolve dependencies.

## Step 2: Test your configuration

Once you have EasyBuild configured, test your configuration by installing a simple software package, e.g., the open-source software package gzip. This package has no dependencies, so this makes it a great first example.

Follow these steps to build your first software package using EasyBuild.

Step 2.1: Create easyconfig file

Create an easyconfig (.eb file) named gzip.eb anywhere on your system (for example, in your home directory). Put the following contents in this file.

name = 'gzip'
version = '1.4'

homepage = ''
description = "gzip (GNU zip) is a popular data compression program as a replacement for compress"

# dummy toolchain, rely on system C compiler
toolchain = {'name': 'dummy', 'version': 'dummy'}

# specify that GCC compiler should be used to build gzip
preconfigopts = "CC='gcc'"

# source tarball filename
sources = ['%s-%s.tar.gz'%(name,version)]

# download location for source files
source_urls = ['']

# make sure the gzip and gunzip binaries are available after installation
sanity_check_paths = {
                      'files': ["bin/gunzip", "bin/gzip"],
                      'dirs': []

# run 'gzip -h' and 'gzip --version' after installation
sanity_check_commands = [True, ('gzip', '--version')]

If the gzip source tarball that is specified in the .eb file is not yet available in the source path -- which is defined in the EasyBuild configuration file -- EasyBuild will try to download the gzip source tarball and store it in the g/gzip subdirectory under the source path.

Note that the easyconfig is basically just (valid) Python code.

In this first example, we are using a dummy compiler toolchain, and explicitely specify to build gzip with the GCC compiler by setting preconfigure options. Although this works, it is not a typical way of installing software with EasyBuild; see step 3.

Step 2.2: Install with EasyBuild

Run EasyBuild, and specify the location of the gzip.eb file you created in step 2.1:

eb gzip.eb

This will make EasyBuild build and install the gzip software using a dummy toolchain.

## Step 3: Set up a compiler toolchain

EasyBuild uses compiler toolchains to build software. These consist a (set of) compiler(s) to build software, and a set of libraries to provide extra functionality -- MPI support, BLAS and/or LAPACK routines, etc.

'''Note''': text below is not longer correct, dummy toolchain will not use system compilers

In step 2.1, a dummy compiler toolchain was specified. This means that EasyBuild relies on the compilers and libraries provided by the system for building software packages. While this may be a good fit for you, it is usually not the most desirable or best scenario. First, you may have licenses for other compilers, that co-exist next to your system compiler. Second, if the system is updated, the compiler version and its assorted libraries can change due to an upgrade. This could break dependencies for existing software builds. Third, relying on the system compiler and libraries also makes reproducing software package builds quite involved or even impossible across different systems.

To avoid these issues, the first time you fire up EasyBuild, it is a good idea to start by constructing your own (preferred) compiler toolchains. Note that by design, EasyBuild allows building and using several (different) toolchains next to each other.

For more details on how to build your own toolchain, we kindly refer to the compiler toolchains wiki page and the step-by-step guide.

## Step 4: Build a software package using a compiler toolchains

Once you have specified and built your own compiler toolchain, it is time to install gzip using that toolchain.

Note that EasyBuild will install a completely new build of gzip when doing this, without removing or overwriting the previous build using the dummy toolchain.

The first step involves changing the gzip.eb file. Simply adjust the toolchain variable in the gzip.eb easyconfig, detailing the name and version of your toolchains. For example:

toolchain = {'name': 'myToolchain', 'version': '1.2.3'}

Make sure this matches the actual name and version of the installed toolchains.

Then, rerun the eb command while supplying it the gzip.eb easyconfig file:

eb gzip.eb
## Step 5: Load the module, and use the built software

Finally, you can load the module created by EasyBuild to start using the gzip version built with your own compiler toolchain:

module load gzip/1.4-myToolchain-1.2.3


Congratulations, you've just mastered the basics of EasyBuild!

At this point, you are ready to start using EasyBuild for building your favorite set of software packages.

For a detailed example of setting up a compiler toolchain and using it, see the step-by-step demo.

More advanced topics include: