How to install abaqus 2017 in a singularity container and get hardware-accelerated graphics
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assets Remove a superfluous UserIntentions file Jan 31, 2018
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Singularity container for Abaqus 2017

Abaqus works well under Centos but is much less likely to work well under a bleeding edge distro like Arch, so let's run Abaqus within a Singularity container, setting things up in such a way that we can run Abaqus CAE with hardware-accelerated (NVIDIA) graphics.


  1. Make sure you have Singularity 2.4.2 installed.

  2. Symlink the .iso installer for Abaqus 2017 into a clone of this repository.

  3. Ensure that the license server(s) listed in assets/cae-UserIntentions_CODE.xml (see licenseServer1/licenseServer2/licenseServer3 in that file) are accessible i.e. if they are only reachable after bringing up a VPN connection, then bring that up now.

  4. If /tmp is 'small' (e.g. 'only' 16GB) then Singularity will run out of space when trying to build your Abaqus image, so you may want to create a directory somewhere else for Singularity to write temporary files to:

    mkdir -p -m 0700 $HOME/.cache/singularity 

Building the image

Right, let's start building our Singularity image. The build process as defined in our .def file:

  1. Unpacks the installer ISO;
  2. Installs install-time and run-time OS dependencies. The run-time dependencies include VirtualGL and libjpeg-turbo.
  3. Kicks off the Abaqus installer, using 'UserIntentions' files to automate the install.
sudo SINGULARITY_TMPDIR=$HOME/.cache/singularity singularity build ~/imgs/sing/abaqus-2017-centos-7.img abaqus-2017-centos-7.def

Running the container

To run Abaqus CAE with (NVIDIA) hardware-accelerated graphics:

singularity run --nv ~/imgs/sing/abaqus-2017-centos-7.img 

which is equivalent to:

singularity exec --nv ~/imgs/sing/abaqus-2017-centos-7.img vglrun abaqus cae

I need to prefix the above command(s) with optirun to ensure I use my NVIDIA GPU and not my on-board graphics chip.

Alternatively, to run Abaqus without hardware-accelerated graphics:

singularity exec --nv ~/imgs/sing/abaqus-2017-centos-7.img abaqus cae -mesa

How the 'UserIntentions' files were generated

These were produced by going through the Abaqus install process interactively within a Singularity 'sandbox' (writable directory-based container):

pushd some/dir
tar xfp Abaqus2017.iso

# Build a writable container in a directory called 'centos-7-abaqus-2017-singuarity-sandbox'
sudo singularity build --sandbox centos-7-abaqus-2017-singuarity-sandbox  docker://centos:7

# Get a shell in that container
sudo singularity shell --bind some/dir:/iso-unpacked another/dir:/cfgs centos-7-abaqus-2017-singuarity-sandbox

# Within the container...
rpm --import /etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY-CentOS-7
yum install -y ksh redhat-lsb-core perl && yum clean all
cd /iso-unpacked
# Run the Abaqus installer
ksh 1/
# Find the '*UserIntentions* files generated during the install process and save them outside the container