Difference between revisions of "FAQ"

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Revision as of 12:50, 9 September 2022


About us

Who are we and what do we do?

We are the high-performance computing (HPC) group and we provide services to the scientific community at ETH Zurich.

How much do our services cost?

Guest users can use the cluster for free and get access to a limited amount of resources. These resources (public share) are not guaranteed and can only be used if enough free resources are available in the cluster. If you need a guaranteed share of resources, then you can become a shareholder of the cluster by buying a share of the clusters resources. The service description and the current price list are available on the IT service catalogue. contact us if you are interested in getting more information.

Where can I find more information?

If you would like to get more information about the HPC group or the services that we provide, then please have a look at this wiki or contact cluster support.


Who can use the central clusters of ETH?

Any member of ETH Zurich may use the central clusters operated by ID SIS HPC. Professors and institutes who participated in the financing of the clusters — the so-called shareholders — are guaranteed a share of the resources proportional to their investment. Other users — guest users — share the public resources financed by the IT Services. Researchers from other Swiss and international institutions can use the services, as long as they have a collaboration with an institute of ETH Zurich.

How do I get an account?

The procedure depends on the service you intend to use:

  • Everybody at ETH Zurich can use the Euler cluster. On first login of a new user a verification code is sent to the users ETH email address (USERNAME@ethz.ch, with USERNAME being the ETH account name). The user is then prompted to enter the verification code and by entering the correct code, the cluster account of the user is created.
  • For the CLC Genomics Server, please open a support ticket or email cluster support

How can I become shareholder?

If you need a more computing resources than you would get as a guest user, then your research group/institute/department can become a shareholder by financing a share of a cluster. Refer to the Scientific Compute Clusters service page of the IT Services for further details. Traditionally only groups within ETH Zürich could become shareholders. Since July 2016, this privilege has been expanded to other institutions in the ETH Domain, namely EAWAG, EMPA, PSI and WSL.

Request share

Why can't my browser access euler.ethz.ch?

Euler is a cluster, not a website. The address euler.ethz.ch can therefore only be reached via SSH (see below how), not HTTP.

How do I open a terminal session (shell)?

For security reasons, you can only access our services from within the ETH network. If you are outside the ETH network, you have to establish a VPN connection first. From a Linux or a Mac OS X computer, you can login with

ssh username@euler.ethz.ch

Using a Windows computer, you might need to install a third-party SSH client, like MobaXterm and PuTTY, or use WSL 2 from Windows.

How do I open a graphical session (X11)?

Graphical sessions on Euler are based on X11. This does not provide you with a remote desktop, but allow you to launch graphical applications on the cluster and forward their windows to your local workstation. To do this, you need a so-called X11 Server program on your workstation:

  • On most Linux distributions, X11 is built-in, you do not need to install anything
  • On macOS, you need to install XQuartz
  • On Windows, you need to install for example MobaXterm, Cygwin/X, Xming or XWin-32

Once you have installed and launched the X11 Server program on your workstation, use ssh -Y to login:

ssh -Y username@euler.ethz.ch

The -Y option creates an SSH tunnel between your workstation and the cluster, which allows X11 to communicate between the client and server.

X11-forwarding with -X does not work, what am I doing wrong?

As described above, you have to use the -Y option for X11-forwarding. Log in with:

ssh -Y username@hostname

How can I change my password?

You cannot change your password on Euler because this system uses ETH authentication. If you want to change your ETH password, go to http://password.ethz.ch.

Can I change my default shell?

Do you really want to do that? Bash is the default shell for all users. The configuration of our services is complex and everything is tested extensively using bash. It is therefore the only shell that we fully support. You are free to use a different shell, but you are doing so at your own risks.


Do you provide any software on your clusters?

On our clusters, we provide a wide range of centrally installed applications and libraries. Our software stack contains commercial as well as open source software. An overview on all centrally installed applications can be found in our application tables.

We are currently setting up a new software stack with the package manager SPACK on Euler as well as on Leonhard.

New SPACK software stack on Euler

Python installations on Euler

Why does my 32-bit executable not work on your clusters?

Our clusters are pure 64-bit systems. Your 32-bit executable might runs without problems in some cases, but there are certain limitations. A 32-bit executable can only use up to 3 GB of virtual memory. If you try to use more, this might results in a segmentation fault or an out of memory error message. The solution for this problem is to recompile your application for 64-bit.

Can I run Windows executables on the clusters?

Windows executables do not run under Linux. In order to be able to run your application on our clusters, you need to make sure that it is a 64-bit binary for Linux.

Can you please update GLIBC on the clusters?

The libc is part of the operating system. Updating libc is equivalent to updating the operating system on the cluster. Therefore we can not just update libc. If your executable requires a newer version of libc (GLIBC), then please consider recompiling the executable from its source code directly on the cluster, where you would like to run it.

Is it necessary to recompile or can I just copy my application to a cluster ?

Statically linked, single-processor executables built on standard x86 Linux platforms should run without any problem on our clusters. Recompliling may improves the performance, though. Dynamically linked executables will not run if the required shared libraries are either not available or not compatible (e.g. 32-bit executable and 64-bit library). Recompiling is recommended.

Are development tools available on the clusters?

On our clusters we provide different versions of the standard compilers from gcc, intel and pgi. To identify the actual versions that are installed on the cluster, please use the module available command:

module available gcc
module available intel
module available pgi

Executables corresponding to the compilers:

gcc       ←  GNU C compiler
g++       ←  GNU C++ compiler
gfortran  ←  GNU Fortran 90/95 compiler
icc       ←  Intel C compiler
icpc      ←  Intel C++ compiler
ifort     ←  Intel Fortran 90/95 compiler
pgcc      ←  PGI C compiler
pgCC      ←  PGI C++ compiler
pgf77     ←  PGI Fortran 77 compiler
pgf90     ←  PGI Fortran 90 compiler
pgf95     ←  PGI Fortran 95 compiler
pghpf     ←  PGI High-Performance Fortran compiler

How do I set up my environment for these compilers?

On our clusters, we use environment modules to prepare the environment for applications and compilers. By loading the corresponding module with the module load command, e.g.,

module load gcc/6.3.0

the environment variables as PATH, LD_LIBRARY_PATH and so on are adapted to the compiler you were loading.

How do I compile MPI applications?

The compilation of parallel applications based on the Message Passing Interface (MPI) is slightly more complicated. Once you have loaded the compiler of your choice, you must also decide which MPI library you want to use. Two MPI libraries are available on Euler:

  • Open MPI (recommended)
  • Intel MPI

Applications compiled with Open MPI run on nodes connected to the InfiniBand network.

Open MPI is recommended for all applications.

Two series of modules — open_mpi and intel — are available to configure your environment for a particular MPI library. In addition, these modules define wrappers — e.g. mpicc, mpif90 — that greatly simplify the compilation of MPI applications. These wrappers are compiler-dependent and invoke whichever compiler was active (loaded) when you loaded the MPI module. For this reason, the MPI module must absolutely be loaded after the compiler module.

To summarize, the compilation of an MPI application should look somewhat like this:

module load compiler
module load MPI library
mpicc program -o executable     ←  C program
mpiCC program -o executable     ←  C++ program
mpif77 program -o executable    ←  Fortran 77 program
mpif90 program -o executable    ←  Fortran 90 program

Can I use another implementation of MPI?

Yes. We provide Intel MPI and MPICH, but we do not compile libraries with support for those MPI implementations. We strongly recommend to use the centrally installed Open MPI library.

What about OpenMP applications?

You can use OpenMP but do not forget to set OMP_NUM_THREADS=#threads and submit it with the bsub option -n #threads.

What scientific libraries are available on the clusters?

On our clusters, we provide a large range of scientific libraries and/or applications. Please check the following wiki pages for an overview:

New SPACK software stack on Euler

New SPACK sofware stack on Leonhard

Can you please allow me to run sudo for installing my code?

Due to security reasons, we can not allow users to run sudo for installing their application of choice. The clusters are shared by more than 2000 people, and if we would allow them to use sudo, this could cause a lot of problem, which would affect all other cluster users. We recommend that you install software in your home directory, such that you do not need to run sudo for the installation step.

Why can't I install my application into /usr/bin and /usr/lib64?

The directories /usr/bin and /usr/lib64 are primarily used by the operating system for installing packages through the packet manager and only our system administrators have write access to them. The centrally installed applications and libraries are located in /cluster/apps and user software should be installed in the home directory.

Is there a license available for application XYZ?

The ID SIS HPC team operates and maintains the HPC clusters and provides some more services, but we do not provide any software license at all. Licenses for commercial applications are either provided by the central license administration of ETH or directly by a research group or an institute/department.

Environment modules

Can I automatically load modules on login?

There is the possibility to add module load commands either to your $HOME/.bashrc or $HOME/.bash_profile file. These commands will be executed, when you log in to the cluster. We recommend to not load modules automatically on login, because at some point you might forget that there are modules already loaded and load one of the smart modules (like open_mpi/1.6.5), which depend on the modules that you have already loaded. Then you might not get the result that you were looking for. If you would like to load modules automatically, then please add them to the .bash_profile and not to the .bashrc file, as the latter could potentially break some of your workflows.

Is it possible to load modules in a script?

It is possible to load modules in a script. Please find below an excerpt of the script, that we use to install OpenFOAM:

echo "-> Loading modules required for build"
module list &> /dev/null || source /cluster/apps/modules/init/bash

module purge
module load legacy new gcc/4.8.2 open_mpi/1.6.5 cmake/2.8.12 python/2.7.6_UCS4 qt/4.8.4 boost/1.59.0_pyucs4 gmp/5.1.3 mpfr/3.1.2

Module load does not work properly, what am I doing wrong?

Could it be, that you did not load all the modules that the software that you would like to use depends on ? For some applications and libraries, it is required that you load a compiler module first. Please have a look at the wiki page about the application and check which modules need to be loaded for using that software.

In the application table version X is listed, why does module avail not list it?

If a particular version of an application is listed either in the new or in the legacy module category, then you first need to load the new or legacy module, before the module avail command will show this particular version. Be default, module avail only shows the modules in the supported module category.

Version X of the application that I am using is gone, why did you delete it?

We do not delete old versions of software or libraries that are centrally installed. If they become obsolete, then the module will be moved (during a quarterly change) from the supported module category to the legacy module category. The module is still available, but you first need to load the legacy module, before that particular version becomes again visible for the module avail command. You can find information about our the application life-cycle policies on the wiki

Submitting jobs

Can I run an application on the login nodes?

Login nodes are the gateway to the cluster. They are used to compile programs and submit job requests to the compute nodes, not to run applications. You are allowed to run really short programs interactively on the login nodes for testing and debugging purposes, or for pre- or post-processing. Anything else is prohibited, and if you overload the login nodes, your processes will be killed without prior notice.

Can I access a compute node via ssh or rsh?

You can not access a compute node to run a program or a command directly, via ssh, rsh or any other means. From a user's point of view, compute nodes do not exist. If you have submitted a job through the batch system, it is possible to access the node (for advanced job monitoring), where the job is running, with the bjob_connect command, which expects the job id of the job as argument.

bjob_connect jobID

How do I execute a program on the cluster?

Every command, program or script that you want to execute on the cluster must be submitted to the bach system (LSF). The command


is used to submit a batch job and to indicate what resources are required for that job. On Euler, two types of resources must be specified: number of processors and computation time:

bsub -n #CPUs -W HH:MM
When LSF receives a job, it checks its requirement and either accepts or rejects it. If accepted, the job is dispatched to a batch queue that meets its requirements. The job will remain in the queue until enough resources are available to execute it.

LSF operates like a "black box". You do not need to know anything about the underlying queue structure to use it. Just tell LSF what you want, and you'll get it -- or not.

How do I submit a simple command?

To execute a simple Unix command on one processor, use:

bsub [-W HH:MM] [-n 1] command [arguments]

The time limit can be expressed as HH:MM or in minutes; "-W 2:30" is equivalent to "-W 150". The default time limit is four hours. Since batch jobs are executed on one processor, the argument "-n 1" can be omitted. All environment variables defined in your current shell -- including the current working directory -- are automatically passed to your job by LSF.

How do I submit a shell script?

To execute a shell script, you can use either:

bsub [optional flags] ./script
bsub [optional flags] < script
These forms are not equivalent. In the first case, the script -- which must have "execute" permission -- is read only when the job starts; any change made to it between submission and execution will be "seen" by your job. In the second case, however, the script is read by LSF when you submit it and copied into a special "spool" directory; you cannot change it later on.

If your scirpt contains "#BSUB" statements, you must use the second form.

How do I submit a parallel job?

To execute a parallel program on N processors, you need to specify the number of processors. In addition the parallel code itself must be launched with the corresponding command, as for instance "mpirun".

If you launch a script with the mpirun command, the whole script will be executed in parallel. Therefore you have to be careful to not use any command that can cause a race condition, such as "cp","mv", etc. For this reason, it is often preferable to execute the script on a single processor (without "mpirun") and place "mpirun" inside the script before each command that must be executed in parallel.

What are the processor and time limits?

Because the processor limits are not fully static and may change over time it is difficult to give hard numbers. However the number of processors that you can use at any given time is limited. This "user limit" is defined on a group or individual basis. You can use the command busers or bqueues to see your own limit:

[sfux@euler01 ~]$ busers -w
sfux               -     48      0      0      0      0      0      0  10000 

The MAX value specifies an absolute maximum in terms of number of cores that you can use at the same time. It does not mean that you are entitled to get this amount of resources.

[sfux@euler01 ~]$ bqueues
system           99  Open:Active       -    -    -    -     0     0     0     0
shunt            95  Open:Active       -    -    -    -  8284  8284     0     0
clc              91  Open:Active     256    -    -    -    24     0    24     0
ultramem.4h      65  Closed:Inact      -    -    -    -     0     0     0     0
ultramem.24h     64  Closed:Inact      -    -    -    -     0     0     0     0
ultramem.120h    63  Closed:Inact      -  960    -    -     0     0     0     0
ultramem.fair    60  Closed:Inact      -    -    -    -     0     0     0     0
bigmem.4h        55  Open:Active       -    -    -    -  3590  3501    89     0
bigmem.24h       54  Open:Active       -    -    -    -  3035  2445   590     0
bigmem.120h      53  Open:Active       -  960    -    -  4559  2425  2134     0
bigmem.fair      50  Closed:Inact      -    -    -    -     0     0     0     0
normal.4h        45  Open:Active       -    -    -    - 70305 60479  9826     0
normal.24h       44  Open:Active       -    -    -    - 89240 78705 10535     0
normal.120h      43  Open:Active       -    -    -    - 40893 25592 15301     0
normal.30d       42  Open:Active       -    -    -    -    62    39    23     0
normal.fair      40  Closed:Inact      -    -    -    -     0     0     0     0
light.5d         20  Open:Active       -    -    -    -     0     0     0     0
purgatory         1  Open:Inact        -    -    -    -     0     0     0     0

Please note that the time limits are not based on CPU-time, but on the wall clock time. Furthermore, it is possible to request more processors than we have in our cluster (you can basically also request one million processors for a job). LSF will not reject the job, but it will be pending in the queue forever (except if at some point the cluster has more than one million processors and enough resources are free).

What is the maximal amount of memory that I can use?

If you are member of a shareholder group, then the maximal amount of memory that you can use in a single core job is 3 TB (even though you are might facing very long queuing times if the share of your shareholder group does not explicitly contain so called ultra-fat memory nodes). For parallel jobs the theoretical limit is higher than 100 TB.

Can I use GPUs?

GPUs in Euler and Leonhard Open are restricted to shareholder groups that invested into GPU nodes. Guest users don't have access to GPUs in Euler or Leonhard Open.

Which queue should I choose?

In principle, you should not choose a queue at all. It is sufficient if you request the amount of resources that your job will require. The batch system will then take care of dispatching your job to the appropriate queue.

How many jobs can I submit?

As described above, there is on one hand a limit of concurrent jobs that you can run, but on the other hand, there is also a limit for the maximum of pending jobs that you can have. It amounts to 10000 as can be seen by using the busers -w command.

How much time should I request for my job?

The time you request has a direct influence on the scheduling of your job. Short jobs have higher priority than long jobs. In addition, short jobs can use processors reserved by a large parallel job, if LSF determines that your job will finish before the expected start time of the large job.

Therefore, you have a pretty good reason to request as little time as possible. On the other hand, you want to make sure that your job has enough time to complete.

What happens when a job reaches its time limit?

To give the application a chance to exit gracefully, LSF first sends a "friendly" signal (USR2) to all processes of a job when its time limit is about to expire. If the job is still running after a short grace period, LSF sends increasingly "unfriendly" signals (INT, QUIT, TERM and KILL). The last one can not be caught or ignored; it effectively kills the job.

The KILL signal is brutal -- it may kills your job in the middle of a write operation, possibly causing data loss. Some applications do not like this at all ... For this reason, letting an application run until it is killed by LSF is not recommended at all. If you use an iterative method, reduce the number of iterations per job. Alternatively you can program your application to catch the USR2 signal and exit before its time is up. To extend the time, add the -wa USR2 -wt [hh:]mm bsub arguments.

For example the following specifies that 12 minutes before the job reaches its runtime limit, an USR2 signal is sent to the job:

bsub -W 24:00 -wt '12' -wa 'USR2' myjob

How do I submit a series of jobs (job chaining)?

Job chaining can be used to split a very long computation into a series of jobs that fit within the allowed time limits. LSF offers the possibility to set dependency conditions, e.g. job2 should start only when job1 is don, job3 after job2, etc. This is done using bsub -w (wait)

bsub -J job1 command1
bsub -J job2 -w "done(job1)" command2
bsub -J job3 -w "done(job2)" command3
All jobs in a series may be submitted at once. Each job must be given a name (option -J) that will be used to define the dependency condition of the subsequent job. The condition "done(job1)" is true only if job1 completed successfully. If job1 crashed or was killed by LSF when it reached its run-time limit, the dependency condition becomes "invalid or never satisfied" and job2 will not be executed, ever. (Invalid jobs stay in the queue until they are deleted, which is done periodically.)

Use the condition "ended(job1)" if job2 ought to be executed no matter what happened to job1.

If job1,job2,job3 are merely iterations of the same program, it may be more convenient to use a single name for all jobs, such as "job_chani"; in that case the dependency is based on the order in which the jobs were submitted:

bsub -J job_chain command
bsub -J job_chain -w "done(job_chain)" command
bsub -J job_chain -w "done(job_chain)" command

In the example above, "command" is generally a shell script that will retrieve data from the previous job, check if there was any error, prepare the input for the current job and execute it.

Monitoring jobs

When does my job start?

It is very hard to give an accurate estimate, when a job will start. The starting time of a job is depending on two factors.

  1. Can the resource request of a job be fulfilled on a compute node in the cluster ?
  2. Is the user priority of the person that submitted the job higher than all other persons job that have the same or very similar resource requirements ?

The batch system has a heartbeat of about 1 minute, which means that it checks every minute the available resources. The user priorities are calculated in real time and depend on how much resources a user has already used and how much resources he is on average entitled due to the fairshare policy. The fairshare policy is there to ensure that members of a shareholder group get on average an amount of resources that is proportional to their investment in the cluster.

How can I check the status of my job(s)?

Use the LSF command bjobs to see all your jobs (in all states) with their unique job identifier. Additional details can be obtained with the option "-l" (lowercase "L").

The command bjobs -p lists only pending jobs and indicates why they are pending. The most common reasons are explained in the table below.

New job is waiting for scheduling Your jobs's requirements are being analyzed
Individual host based reasons A complicated way to say that not enough processors are available (literally, all hosts are unable to run your job for various, individual reasons)
The user has reached his/her job slot limit Don't you think you are using enough processors already?
Job dependency condition not satisfied Your job is waiting for another job to complete
The queue is inactivated by its time windows This queue is active only during pre-defined time windows; your job will be considered for execution when the next window is open
Dependency condition invalid or never satisfied Your job's dependency condition is false or can not be determined (usually because the status of the previous job in the chain is unknown)

In the last case the job will never run. The simplest solution is to kill it and resubmit it with the correct dependency condition (or none at all). Alternatively, you can remove the dependency condition using the command bmod -w JOBID

Why is my job waiting for a long time in the queue?

The most likely explanation is that your job is just waiting until enough resources are available. Use the bjobs -p JOBID to see why it is pending.

If your job is part of a chain, LSF may report that its dependency condition is "invalid or never satisfied" and that it will never run. This may or may not be true -- LSF has a relatively short memory and in some cases it "forgets" about the previous job in the chain.

If this happens, a simple solution is to kill the pending job; unfortunately this may break the whole chain (domino effect). A more elegant solution is to remove the dependency condition using the command:

bmod -wn JOBID

This will allow your job to run without affecting the subsequent jobs in the chain.

Where is my job's output?

By default, your job's output (and error) is stored in a file called lsf.oJOBID, where JOBID corresponds to the job id of the job. If you use the "-o" or "-e" argument for the bsub command, you can give the output and the error file different names.

bsub -o job.out -e job.err ...

Can I see my job's output in real time?

You can check the output of a particular running job with the bpeek command. You can specify the job either via its job id, or via its job name:

bpeek JOBID
bpeek -J JOBNAME

Add the -f option to follow the output in realtime:

bpeek -f JOBID

How do I know when my job is done?

You can instruct LSF to notify you by e-mail when your job begins and ends using bsub -B and bsub -N respectively. Notifications are sent to your official ETH e-mail address. The combination bsub -N -o job.out is valid and offers an elegant way to separate the job information written by LSF from your program's "real" output -- the former will be sent by e-mail while the latter will be stored into "job.out".

Can I see the resources used by my job(s)?

You can display the load and resource usage (memory, swap, etc.) of any specific job with the command bbjobs JOBID.

[sfux@euler01 ~]$ bbjobs 25445659
Job information
  Job ID                          : 25445659
  Status                          : RUNNING
  Running on node                 : 8*e1374 
  User                            : sfux
  Queue                           : normal.4h
  Command                         : mpirun solve_Basel_problem -accuracy 10e-8 
  Working directory               : $HOME/unsolved_problems/basel_problem
Requested resources
  Requested cores                 : 8
  Requested memory                : 1024 MB per core
  Requested scratch               : not specified
  Dependency                      : -
Job history
  Submitted at                    : 13:42 1735-08-22
  Started at                      : 13:43 1735-08-22
  Queue wait time                 : 34 sec
Resource usage
  Updated at                      : 13:44 1735-08-22
  Wall-clock                      : 59 sec
  Tasks                           : 12
  Total CPU time                  : 7 min
  CPU utilization                 : 99.8 %
  Sys/Kernel time                 : 0.1 %
  Total resident memory           : 8150 MB
  Resident memory utilization     : 99.2 %
Affinity per Host
  Host                            : e1374
  Task affinity                   : by core
  Cores                           : /0/0/0
  Memory affinity                 : not defined

How do I kill a job?

The LSF command bkill is used to kill pending or running jobs. For obvious reasons, you can kill only jobs that you own. Use bkill JOBID to kill a particular job, or bkill 0 (zero) to kill all your jobs (running and pending). You can kill a job by name using bkill -J jobname (this will kill the last job with that name) or a whole series of jobs with bkill -J jobname 0 (zero again)

You can use bkill to send a signal to a job without necessarily killing it. For example, if your application is programmed to save results when it receives a USR2 signal (i.e. the signal sent by LSF when the time limit is reached), you can trigger this action manually with the command bkill -s USR2 JOBID

Data management and file transfer

How much disk space is available on the clusters?

Every user gets a home directory with a quota of 20 GB and 100'000 files and directories. In addition every user gets his own personal scratch directory, where he can store up to 2.5 TB of data for a short time (scratch space is per definition used for temporary storage of data). If you plan to use your personal scratch directory, then please carefully read the usage rules first in order to avoid misunderstandings. The usage rules can be displayed with the command


If you are the owner of a central NAS share hosted by the ID Storage group, then this can also be mounted on the cluster. Private NAS systems can also be mounted on the cluster, but we do not provide any support for them.

Shareholders have the option to buy more permanent storage in the cluster.

How much space can I use?

You can store up to 20 GB of data in your home directory (permanent storage) and temporary up to 2.5 TB in your personal scratch directory (temporary storage). Shareholders can additionally buy as much storage as they need.

How can I check my quota usage?

We provide the command lquota for users to check their quota usage

[sfux@eu-login-36 ~]$ lquota
| Storage location:           | Quota type: | Used:            | Soft quota:      | Hard quota:      |
| /cluster/home/sfux          | space       |          8.17 GB |         17.18 GB |         21.47 GB |
| /cluster/home/sfux          | files       |            33431 |            80000 |           100000 |
| /cluster/shadow             | space       |          8.19 kB |          2.15 GB |          2.15 GB |
| /cluster/shadow             | files       |                3 |            50000 |            50000 |
| /cluster/scratch/sfux       | space       |         20.48 kB |          2.50 TB |          2.70 TB |
| /cluster/scratch/sfux       | files       |                5 |          1000000 |          1500000 |
[sfux@eu-login-36 ~]$

For checking quotas of project and work storage, you can provide the path to the storage share as argument to the script

[sfux@eu-login-36 ~]$ lquota /cluster/project/sis
| Storage location:           | Quota type: | Used:            | Soft quota:      | Hard quota:      |
| /cluster/project/sis        | space       |         13.17 TB |                - |         16.50 TB |
| /cluster/project/sis        | files       |          1676434 |                - |         31876696 |
[sfux@eu-login-36 ~]$ lquota /cluster/work/sis
| Storage location:           | Quota type: | Used:            | Soft quota:      | Hard quota:      |
| /cluster/work/sis           | space       |         15.42 TB |         30.00 TB |         33.00 TB |
| /cluster/work/sis           | files       |          1606372 |         10000000 |         11000000 |
[sfux@eu-login-36 ~]$

What happens when I reach my quota?

Quotas have both soft and hard limits. The soft limit is the amount of disk space you can use on a day-to-day basis. You may exceed it temporarily but you can never go beyond the hard limit.

You will be warned by e-mail before you reach the soft limit. At this point you will have 5 days to reduce your disk usage. If you are still over quota after this so-called "grace period", you will not be allowed to write a single file in your home directory.

What if I need more space?

If you need more space, then you can for instance become a shareholder and buy storage directly inside the cluster. Another option would be to buy a central NAS share from the ID storage group and mount it on the cluster or you can also mount your private group NAS (we do not provide support for this).

Why is there a limit for the number of files in my home/scratch directory?

There is a nightly backup for the Home directories of all users on Euler. If there are too many files (before introducing these limits, there were in total about 100 Million files), then the nightly backup cannot finish and users don't have a backup of their data anymore. Therefore we had to introduce strict limits on the Home directories. Users are informed by email, when they reach 80% of the file/directory quota.

The limit on the scratch directory had to be introduced, because having a lot of small files (on the order of Millions) slows down the storage system where the personal scratch directories are located and this affects all users. The storage system is optimized for medium and large files. Small file, here means on the order of KB. Medium files are considered to have a size of multiple MB's.

Why is storage in the cluster more expensive than cheap external USB 3 hard drives?

  • Enterprise class hardware
  • Much better network
  • Managed by ID SIS HPC

How long can I keep files in the scratch directories?

[sfux@euler06 ~]$ grep -A1 "2)" $SCRATCH/__USAGE_RULES__
2)  Files older than 15 days will be automatically DELETED without prior

Why did you delete my files in scratch?

If the files in your personal scratch directory have been deleted, then they were older than 15 days and were deleted due to the purge policy of the personal scratch directory. Please read again the usage rules that can be displayed with the command


There it is clearly indicated that files older than 15 days will be deleted without prior notice to the user. If you need storage space for a longer time (or permanent storage), then please check out the different options that we provide for our clusters.

Are my files backed up regularly?

Home directories are saved every hour and backed up every night. Project and work storage shares are backed up on a weekly basis for disaster recovery.Shareholders have the option to buy a daily backup for their project or work shares.Scratch directories are not backed up at all. Do not use them to store valuable important data over long periods of time.

How do I restore a file from a backup?

Only a system administrator can restore backed up files. Please contact the cluster support and indicate the exact location (full path) of the file(s) you wish to recover.
However, your $HOME does provide a "hidden" .snapshot directory in every subdirectory, which holds exact copies of the status of that directory at different times. If you like to restore individual files (or whole directory structures) from this location, then you may simply copy them out. The .snapshots are read only.

[sfux@eu-login-02:~ ]$ ls -al .snapshot/
total 84
drwxrwxrwx 20 root root  8192 Oct 12 08:05 .
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Oct 10 13:55 ..
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Sep 26 06:59 daily.2017-10-07_0120
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Sep 26 06:59 daily.2017-10-08_0120
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Sep 26 06:59 daily.2017-10-09_0120
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Sep 26 06:59 daily.2017-10-10_0120
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Oct 10 13:55 daily.2017-10-11_0120
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Oct 10 13:55 daily.2017-10-12_0120
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Oct 10 13:55 hourly.2017-10-12_0005
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Oct 10 13:55 hourly.2017-10-12_0105
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Oct 10 13:55 hourly.2017-10-12_0205
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Oct 10 13:55 hourly.2017-10-12_0305
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Oct 10 13:55 hourly.2017-10-12_0405
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Oct 10 13:55 hourly.2017-10-12_0505
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Oct 10 13:55 hourly.2017-10-12_0605
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Oct 10 13:55 hourly.2017-10-12_0705
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Oct 10 13:55 hourly.2017-10-12_0805
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Sep 15 09:11 weekly.2017-09-24_0636
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Sep 26 06:59 weekly.2017-10-01_0636
drwxr-x---  2 sfux T0000 4096 Sep 26 06:59 weekly.2017-10-08_0636

What is the recommended way to transfer files from/to the cluster?

For smaller and medium amount of data, we recommend to use the standard command line tools scp or rsync to transfer files from/to the cluster.

scp source/file username@hostname:destination
scp username@hostname:source/file destination
scp -r source/directory username@hostname:destination
scp -r username@hostname:source/directory destination

For sftp, it is usually easier to use a drag-and-drop graphical interface as it is for instance provided by WinSCP (Windows). But be aware of possible incompatibilities between Windows and Linux. There are some handy conversion tools called dos2unix and unix2dos.

Why is file transfer very slow?


How can I create a support request?

If you would like to create a support request, then send an email to


Alternatively, you can also use the smartdesk interface


to create a support request.

What information should I provide in a support request?

Please make sure that you provide all relevant information about your problem, otherwise we cannot provide help.

  • Which software are you using?
  • Which modules did you load?
  • If you report a problem about a job, then please always provide the corresponding jobid, the complete bsub command that you used and if possible the lsf.o* logfile
  • Always provide the complete error message, not just parts
  • If you report a problem with a file or storage system, provide the complete path to the file or storage system

The more information we have about the problem, the higher is the chance that we can resolve the issue.


How can I credit or acknowledge the usage of the central clusters of ETH in a publication?

We are very thankful if our users acknowledge the usage of the central HPC clusters in their publications, but it is not mandatory at all.

If you are using Euler as a guest user, we kindly ask you to acknowledge this in your publications (acknowledgment section). This will help us keep Euler open to all members of ETH, as the cluster's public share is financed by the (limited) budget of Scientific IT Services.

There is no standard sentence how Euler should be cited, but please find below some examples from publications from this list:

  • "The numerical simulations were performed on the Euler cluster operated by the High Performance Computing group at ETH Zürich."
  • "Numerical simulations were performed on the ETH Zürich Euler cluster"
  • "The calculations were run on the Euler cluster of ETH Zürich"
  • "The simulations were performed on the ETH Euler cluster"
  • "All simulations were performed on the ETH-Zürich Euler cluster"
  • "Calculations were carried out on the ETH Euler cluster"

A list of scientific publications referencing the HPC clusters of ETH is provided on our wiki.

Do I need to be logged in when a job is executed?

No, after submitting a job, you can log out without any consequences. Since the job is submitted to the batch system, LSF will take care about its execution on the compute nodes. For this you do not need to be logged in.

Can I let my co-workers run jobs from my account?

No, you cannot. The HPC clusters of ID SIS HPC are subject to ETH's acceptable use policy for IT resources (Benutzungsordnung für Telematik an der ETH Zürich, BOT), which states that accounts are strictly personal. But you can share your input files with your co-workers, and they can run the jobs with their ETHZ account.

What are your recommendations regarding security?

First, keep your own account secure. Do not share your account with anyone. Choose a strong password and change it regularly. Please inform us immediately if you suspect that someone has been using your account without authorization.

Second, keep your personal workstation secure. Do not believe that your workstation is safe just because it's not running Windows. Linux is an easy target for hackers, especially if you have not installed the latest security patches. So please keep your system up-to-date, whether you are using Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, or any other flavor of UNIX.

I have a problem, can I come to your office and bring my laptop?

We are a small team and provide services to more than 3000 users. It would be very nice if we could meet all of our users, but our schedule does not allow for this. We would prefer, if you first use the main support channels as for instance the ticket system, the service desk, or our support email address. If this does not help, or if it is about a very difficult case, then please ask us for scheduling a meeting with you, where we can discuss the problem more detailed. This way we can make sure, that the specialists for the topic that you would like to discuss are present.