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Getting Started

Getting Started

In the pages here we will first review some important concepts about the Singularity Registry Global Client, and then provide install instructions and tutorials for using the client, both on the command line and from within Python.

  • Commands: a general review of the sets of commands found for particular client endpoints.
  • Database: The SRG client maintains a record of the images you are managing via a local database.
  • Settings: Settings are managed via environment variables.
  • Client: The client itself is a shell that intuitively responds to environment configuration hints to connect you to different storage endpoints.
  • Endpoints: The endpoints are generally cloud hosted services and storage for images. We push and pull from our local registry to and from endpoints. This means that you can

How does Singularity Global Client relate to Singularity?

With Singularity, you can pull images from Singularity Hub, or assemble Docker layers into an image with any of the action commands like run, exec, etc. The Singularity client is ideal for creating and using images. The Singularity Global Client specializes in one particular thing - movement of images. This maps nicely only the "singularity pull" functionality, and there is both overlap and some key differences.


We want the sregistry client to support the current workflow of using Singularity images. This means that the local file database created sregistry lives alongside the cache folders:

tree -L 1 $HOME/.singularity
├── docker
├── shub
└── sregistry.db

It also means that when you interact with a storage endpoint using Singularity registry, it will honor your Singularity cache folder. This means that if you use sregistry to manage images, when you run Singularity proper those images will be found.


You can best think of the sregistry client as an extension to Singularity, one that adds a layer of organization to images that live on your system. It fits the niche of the local user, whether on his personal machine or home node on a cluster, to be able to move images between common places, search, and generally manage them. A few additional keys points:

  • the sregistry client, in that it can be served from a Singularity image, has many fewer constraints to the modules that can be installed. For example, instead of using older python libraries for web requests that are supported on the oldest operating systems, we can use a modern library called requests. This makes it much easier for development, and for integration with third party libraries.
  • the sregistry client itself is also internally modular, because each endpoint integration is a submodule. This is great because it means that the user can customize the installation based on needs and preferences. If you don't need a connection to Dropbox or Globus, you don't install them. If a third party wants to add a new integration, the dependencies and code can plug in nicely.

It's entirely up to you how you want to (or don't want to) use sregistry clients. If you have a preference for a particular kind of storage, this will be very useful to you. If you want to integrate Singularity into your own software, this will also be useful.


When you start a client, whether it be in an interactive python environment or running natively on your host or via a Singularity container, a client for an endpoint of choice is started up, and this client will give you access, minimally, to a core set of commands:

let you do any or a subset of the following:


The following commands are considered "local" in that they come with every client, and are specifically created to interact with your local registry (the database and storage). If you disable the database and storage, then you will logically not have these commands.

  • add: [local]: corresponds with adding an image file on your host directly to your registry. Not everything is downloaded from the cloud!
  • get: [local]: given a uri, return the full path to the image in your storage. A common use case would be to pipe a get command into a singularity command, for example.
  • images: [local]: list images in your local database, optionally with filters to search.
  • inspect [local]: prints out an image manifest and metadata retrieved from its endpoint.
  • mv: [local]: move an image in your storage to another location on your system, and update the database.
  • rm [local]: remove an image and record from the database.
  • shell [local]: want to work with a client interactively? Just shell in and go!

These specific commands are demonstrated with more examples.

Client (remote)

This next set of commands, while they interact with local resources, are primarily implemented by the specific clients. For example, a pull from Singularity Hub is going to have particular commands using the Singularity Hub API.

  • delete: [remote]: delete an image from a remote endpoint. You likely will need some kind of credential.
  • pull: [remote->local] is a common use case. It says "there is this image somewhere remote and I want to pull it from there to my local host."
  • push: [local->remote] takes an image in your local resource and puts it in some remote one.
  • search: [remote]: list images for a remote endpoint, optionally with a search term.

Each of these commands will be detailed with examples in the various client walkthroughs, and if you are implementing an endpoint, there are also details about how you should "fill in the space" to implement your custom client.


By default, using sregistry will help you manage a local database of images for personal use. This is an sqlite3 database, so you should not use it for scaled write operations - you would use sregistry to push pull, search, and then run scaled operations with singularity proper with the path from sregistry. If you need to manage images at scale, you should consider hosting a Singularity Registry or building on Singularity Hub.


The database itself stores metadata and paths for images. You can imagine pulling an image, perhaps that looks like this:

sregistry pull shub://vsoch/hello-world

and then you would want to be able to search your local database, and find the image.

sregistry search vsoch/hello-world

On the back end, this means that we are storing (minimally) some path, and metadata about the image. But where does the image actually live?

  • The "where" depends on the kind of integration you are working with. If you pull the image, it will be a path on your file system.
  • SRegistry can promise that, given that you retrieve an image using it, it will organize and keep images in your singularity cache (or another location you've specified).
  • If you manually go in and remove an image, the database cannot know. However when you try to retrieve the image, a best effort will be taken to fix the manual change. For example, a record is kept of the url and associated method used to get the image, and it will redo this operation if not found. With the strategy, you can delete the files in your cache and re-create your database by downloading them again.


The sregistry client is driven by environment variables. Since each call is quick, you can have a lot of power to switch between endpoints and clients just by way of changing an environment variable for the call. Here we review the most important defaults, and then a robust list of all that you can set.


Each client might have slight variability in the functions that it supports. For example, you can push to a Singularity Registry that you have credentials for, but you can't push to Singularity Hub directly. We will discuss clients at a high level here. When you use the client, whether from within Python or command line:

  1. The environment is parsed for SREGISTRY_CLIENT. If it's found, then you have specified a particular client to use and that choice is honored.
  2. We look for an activated client name in SREGISTRY_CLIENT_SECRETS.
  3. If a specified client is not declared, then we step through looking for client-specific exports. Finding a path to a SREGISTRY_CLIENT_SECRETS for example means it is likely you want to interact with a Singularity Registry, so the client is loaded.
  4. If no environment variables can be determined, the default client is optimized to work with Singularity Hub.

In all cases, after we create a client, given that we have not disabled it, a local database is generated or connected to:

from sregistry.main import get_client
client = get_client()
# Database: /home/vanessa/.singularity/sregistry.db

And following this step, operations that we do across all clients interact with our local database.


An endpoint is a remote place to put or get images. It could be Singularity Hub (pulling images from Google Cloud Storage), Dropbox (saving and retrieving images from a personal Dropbox) or Globus (moving images to and from endpoints that you control). You might even host one of these endpoints locally, so for the purposes of the client, just remember that it will interact with both your hosted endpoints and others (with appropriate permissions).


The most tested approach has been to install sregistry in your local python using pip, or from Github:

pip install sregistry
git clone
cd sregistry-cli
python install

If you need to install dependencies for a particular client, just provide the name:

pip install -e .[google-storage]


Now that we've discussed these concepts, let's jump into using the client. We have two getting started guides:

  • command-line: a getting started for command line use of the client.
  • developers: a getting started for developers that want to interact with the client from within Python.

Once you've mastered the basics, take a look at the specific clients documentation

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