Notes on EasyBuild promotion at Supercomputing'2012

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  • lightning talk at "Python for HPC" BoF session (by JT) (pic)
  • present EasyBuild in BoF session "Common Practices for Managing Small HPC clusters" (by KH/JT)
  • slides feeding the discussion
  • mailing list
  • paper presentation at PyHPC workshop (by KH)
  • paper, slides
  • promoting EasyBuild on SC'12 exhibit floor (by JT/KH)
  • list of exhibitors here


BoF: Python for HPC


Monte Lunacek @ University of Colorado

  • mlunacek @ GitHub
  • was really interested in ability to build/install things with a single command, will look into it (uses GCC/Intel/PGI compiler)

David Brown @ Pacific Northwest National Lab Environmental Molecular Science Laboratory (EMSL)

Graham Markall @ Imperial College London

  • gmarkall @ GitHub
  • currently installs DOLFIN+deps manually, will be contributing easyblocks for e.g. PyOp2+deps (CUDA, requires CUDA compiler)

Adam Deconinck @ Santa Clara/NVIDIA:

  • has to administer some NVIDIA clusters (blue gene, cray, dell?)
  • played around with v0.8
  • came to thank us
  • will likely add support for CUDA compiler

Exhibit floor

University of Tennesee (NICS)

  • Daniel Lucio and Robert Whitten
  • NICS and NCCS (home of Titan, #1 in Top500) both use 'SWtools', a collection of Python scripts for building/installing software
  • original author: Mark Fahey
  • 'maintainer': Lonnie Crosby
  • [ list of software built with SWtools @ Kraken supercomputer]
  • SWtools still requires manual procedure for building+installing
  • no longer actively developed, they are happy with it, it works
  • doesn't create environment modules automatically, that's still a manual job
  • software built on login nodes, workernodes have no access to NFS mount where software is installed
  • login nodes have different architecture than workernodes
  • building ATLAS: performance tests are submitted to workernodes during build, build takes forever
  • software is statically linked, and copied to workernode when job starts by ''aprun'' tool (Cray's mpirun)
  • important feature in SWtools: only redo linking step instead of rebuilding from scratch when e.g. MPI library was replaced by Cray
  • old version may be incompatible, e.g. due to changes in drivers
  • so all software needs to be relinked, rebuilding from scratch would take forever (only login nodes can be used!)
  • another project is being developed @ Oak Ridge?
  • contact Robert Whitten, ask for contact at DoE (Tony something)

University of Utah:

Clemson University

  • Galen Collier
  • currently rpms, but users can't use these, so interested and will look into it

University of Virginia

  • Uvacse does the installations, passed on business card

Mississippi State

  • do every install by hand, are interested

OSC (Ohio State)

  • will look Into easybuild

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

  • Use blue gene with xlc compiler, but think it is very interesting to share documentation, if it is in form of python implementation this is ok for sure

TACC (Texas Austin)

  • use RPMs, are happy with this
  • they had paper last year at SC11 about this, by William L.
  • Barth: RPMs work for them, expect the first one Jens brought up (WRF) is a special case
  • they have some people who know how to build this and build this in users home directories separately
  • after explaining how EasyBuild also works for users there was some more interest


  • 7 groups in france, they don't colaborate wrt software installation (yet)
  • Jens spoke to someone from Bordeaux, he will pass cards and go to PyHPC workshop on friday


  • will pass info along to technical guys


  • will pass info to user support software installation team

Indiana University

  • Scott Michael
  • RHEL based
  • only two/ three build of an app, retire oldest versions on monthly basis
  • collect stats on module usage
  • motivation is migrating of software to new systems
  • build for common denominator across 3 arch, optimized build on request
  • modules are generated manually, build prod is manual
  • very interested, will try it out

NCSA (home of Blue Waters)

  • got contact (Trish Barker) to ask for user support on how they handle software vuilds
  • WRF is one of the 5 sustained petascale apps


  • mostly in-house software, some pushed out to communities
  • Earth System Grid (ESG) is a nightmare
  • same kind of problem as HPC sites
  • rely on RPMs for some software stacks


  • Kevin Peterson
  • no tools for building end-user software
  • might be interesting to provide to users
  • mail slides, ask for Luis


  • Craig West
  • Australian consultancy company for HPC
  • interest in EasyBuild
  • are working on a "module test" feature to test whether modules are broken


  • package EasyBuild for Qluster (Debian-based), rely on it to support commercial software that can't be packaged

Virginia Bioinformatics Institute

  • interested, will look into it
  • use packaging system from Bright Computing

Virginia Tec

  • very interested,e.g. for building OpenFOAM

TU Dresden (M. Kludge)

  • no user support guy available, but will be passed

South Ural State Univ (Russia)

  • very interested, will pass to project manager


  • very interested (3 cards), Sebastian & Gunnar
  • suggestion: look into FPM (Ruby), which converts rpm to .deb, and vice versa

Rolls Royce (Indianapolis)

  • mainly questions:
  • staging of sources with EasyBuild? because workernodes have no access online
  • how many FTEs are requiredfor how many cores/clusters

ADMIN magazine

  • mentioned EasyBuild to editor, was going to pass it through to article writer

David Byte (SuSe)

  • briefly described EasyBuild, sees orthogonality with OpenSuSe build system (e.g. make EasyBuild produce .spec files or RPMs for it)


  • have trouble delivering dependencies to end users, so EasyBuild looks interesting


  • there is nothing that does what module commands does
  • but if we can compile it on windows we should just add a modulecmd windowsshell and this should work

Student Cluster Competition competing teams

Univ of Texas

  • big issues with CAM app

Team Venus

  • no prior knowledge of Linux, spent 2-3 weeks to build a single app
  • EasyBuild would be a great help
  • looking for paid internships (7 months)

Texas Tech

  • competing again next year, will check it out

Purdue SCC

  • building CAM/CESM is a huge pain, but they've figured it out now
  • guy who does the CAM is familiar with Python, asked him to contribute back


  • note: missing in presentation: cloud of supported software


  • switching easily between shared and static library builds
  • partial rebuilds, e.g. only one library, how would you do that?

David Wade (General Atomics):

  • do you work together with commercial companies e.g. Bright Computing w.r.t. supporting software builds
  • they claim to help users out with this, they might want to use EasyBuild and contribute back?
  • interested in support for building OpenFOAM (used in a Linux-Windows setup, communication between two OSs via shared FS)
  • what's being used for run_cmd_qa?
  • Sundials, diff eq solver, used by NASA

William Spotz (Sandia National Labs)

  • guy behind Trilinos:
  • issue with using GCC on OS X: no gfortran provided, mixed language software requires same GCC compiler versions, which is a pain on OS X
  • can EasyBuild offer a solution for that? yes.

Andy Terrel (TACC)

  • any way to figure out what EasyBuild supports, e.g. for doing partially-featured software builds (e.g. DOLFIN)
  • make EasyBuild generate pkgconfig files (*.pc), so DOLFIN can rely on those to figure out what compiler flags were being used, etc.
  • very good remark: Windows does matter, in same way as OS X does: people use it on their laptop all the time, and want to build and use the software there as well

Scott Rostrup (Univ. of Toronto)

  • interested in EasyBuild, will spread the word in Toronto/Canada

guy from Norway

  • interested in EasyBuild for using it, just switched to lmod, went quite ok
  • is interested to contribute support for lmod (put him in contact with other guy (David?))

licensing discussion

  • GPL is a big issue for companies, and even for some Python hackers
  • see [ issue #335]
  • A. Terell usually doesn't touch GPL software
  • Python is almost always BSD, and it seems like EasyBuild should be as well, so re-license (ASAP)?