Frequently asked questions


I forgot my password - what now?

You can reset it here:

How do I change my password on Stallo?

The passwd command does not seem to work. My password is reset back to the old one after a while. Why is this happening?

The Stallo system is using a centralised database for user management. This will override the password changes done locally on Stallo.

The password can be changed on the password metacenter page, log in using your username on Stallo and the NOTUR domain.

Installing software

I need a Python package X but the one on Stallo is too old or I can not find it

I need a newer version of Scipy, Numpy, etc. Can you install it?

We often have newer versions of software packages installed which may not be visible with the default user settings. Find out more about it here:

In cases where this still doesn’t solve your problem and you would like to install it yourself, please read the next section below about installing without sudo rights.

If we don’t have it installed, and installing it yourself is not a good solution for you, please contact us and we will do our best to help you.

Can I install Python software as a normal user without sudo rights?

Yes. The recommended way to achieve this is using virtual environments:

Example (as an example we install the Biopython package):

$ module load gcc/4.9.1
$ virtualenv venv
$ source venv/bin/activate
$ pip install biopython

Next time you log into the machine you have to activate the virtual environment:

$ source venv/bin/activate

And you do not have to call it “venv”. It is no problem to have many virtual environments in your home directory.

If you want to inherit system site packages into your virtual environment, do this instead:

$ virtualenv --system-site-packages venv
$ source venv/bin/activate
$ pip install biopython

Running software

Why is a specific node so incredibly slow compared to others?

The node is probably swapping.

What does swapping mean and why should I care?

If the jobs consume more memory than the node physically has, the node starts to swap out memory to the disk. This typically means a significant slowdown of the calculation. And this is why you need to care about swapping: your calculation will slow down to a grinding halt. You can also crash the node which is bad for us.

How can I check whether my calculation is swapping?

Option 1 (inside the university network) is to check Click on “nodes” and then the node in question. On the right hand panel you see “Memory last hour”. If memory is above the red mark, the node will swap.

Option 2 is to log into the node and run “top”. On the top you see how much memory is consumed and whether the node is swapping.

Compute and storage quota

How can I check my disk quota and disk usage?

To check how large your disk quota is, and how much of it you have used, you can use the following command:

$ quota -s

Only home and project partitions have quota.

How many CPU hours have I spent?

For a simple summary, you can use the command cost, for more details, you can use:

$ gstatement --hours --summarize -p PROSJEKT -s YYYY-MM-DD -e YYYY-MM-DD

For a detailed overview over usage you can use:

$ gstatement --hours -p PROSJEKT -s YYYY-MM-DD -e YYYY-MM-DD

For more options see:

$ gstatement --help

Connecting via ssh

How can I export the display from a compute node to my desktop?

If you needs to export the display from a compute node to your desktop you should

  1. First login to Stallo with display forwarding.
  2. Then you should reserve a node, with display forwarding, trough the queuing system.

Here is an example:

$ ssh -Y                 # log in with port forwarding
$ srun -N 1 -t 1:0:0 --pty bash -I     # reserve and log in on a compute node

This example assumes that you are running an X-server on your local desktop, which should be available for most users running Linux, Unix and Mac Os X. If you are using Windows you must install some X-server on your local PC.

How can I access a compute node from the login node?

Log in to and type e.g.:

$ ssh compute-1-3

or use the shorter version:

$ ssh c1-3

My ssh connections are dying / freezing

How to prevent your ssh connections from dying / freezing.

If your ssh connections more or less randomly are dying / freezing, try to add the following to your local ~/.ssh/config file:

ServerAliveCountMax 3
ServerAliveInterval 10

(local means that you need to make these changes to your computer, not on stallo)

The above config is for OpenSSH, if you’re using PUTTY you can take a look at this page explaining keepalives for a similar solution.

Jobs and queue system

I am not able to submit jobs longer than two days

Please read about Partitions (queues) and services.

Where can I find an example of job script?

You can find job script examples in Job script examples.

Relevant application specific examples (also for beginning users) for a few applications can be found in Application guides.

When will my job start?

How can I find out when my job will start?

To find out approximately when the job scheduler thinks your job will start, use the command:

squeue --start -j <job_id>

This command will give you information about how many CPUs your job requires, for how long, as well as when approximately it will start and complete. It must be emphasized that this is just a best guess, queued jobs may start earlier because of running jobs that finishes before they hit the walltime limit and jobs may start later than projected because new jobs are submitted that get higher priority.

How can I see the queing situation?

How can I see how my jobs are doing in the queue, if my jobs are idle, blocked, running?

On the webpage you can find information about the current load on stallo, some information about the nodes, and the information you would get from the showq command, which is described below. You can also find information about your job and if you the job is running, you can find graphs about its usage of the CPUs, memory and so on.

If you prefer to use the command line, to see the job queue use:

$ squeue

Why does my job not start or give me error feedback when submitting?

Most often the reason a job is not starting is that Stallo is full at the moment and there are many jobs waiting in the queue. But sometimes there is an error in the job script and you are asking for a configuration that is not possible on Stallo. In such a case the job will not start.

To find out how to monitor your jobs and check their status see Monitoring your jobs.

Below are a few cases of why jobs don’t start or error messages you might get:

Memory per core

“When I try to start a job with 2GB of memory pr. core, I get the following error:

sbatch: error: Batch job submission failed: Requested node configuration is not available

With 1GB/core it works fine. What might be the cause to this?”

On Stallo we have two different configurations available; 16 core and 20 core nodes - with both a total of 32 GB of memory/node. Currently only the 20 core nodes have been enabled for the SLURM batch system, these have no local disk and thus no swap space. If you ask for full nodes by specifying both number of nodes and cores/node together with 2 GB of memory/core, you will ask for 20 cores/node and 40 GB of memory. This configuration does not exist on Stallo. If you ask for 16 cores, still with 2GB/core, it seems to be a sort of buffer within SLURM no allowing you to consume absolutely all memory available (system needs some to work). 2000MB seems to work fine, but not 2 GB for 16 cores/node.

The solution we want to push in general, see First time you run a Gaussian job?, is this:

Specify number of tasks:

#SBATCH -ntasks=80 # (number of nodes * number of cores, i.e. 5*16 or 4*20 = 80)

If you then ask for 2000MB of memory/core, you will be given 16 cores/node and a total of 16 nodes. 4000MB will give you 8 cores/node - everyone being happy. Just note the info about PE CPU-hour quota and accounting; mem-per-cpu 4000MB will cost you twice as much as mem-per-cpu 2000MB.

Step memory limit

“Why do I get slurmstepd: Exceeded step memory limit in my log/output?”

For slurm, the memory flag seems to be a hard limit, meaning that when each core tries to utilize more than the given amount of memory, it is killed by the slurm-deamon. For example $SBATCH --mem-per-cpu=2GB means that you maximum can use 2 GB of memory pr core. With memory intensive applications like comsol or VASP, your job will likely be terminated. The solution to this problem is to, like we have said elsewhere, specify the number of tasks irrespectively of cores/node and ask for as much memory you will need.

For instance:

#SBATCH --ntasks=20
#SBATCH --time=0-24:05:00
#SBATCH --mem-per-cpu=6000MB


QOSMaxWallDurationPerJobLimit means that MaxWallDurationPerJobLimit has been exceeded. Basically, the user has asked for more time than is allowed for the QOS associated with the job.

Priority vs. Resources

Priority means that resources are in principle available, but someone else has higher priority in the queue. Resources means the at the moment the requested resources are not available.

CPU v.s. core

In this documentation we are frequently using the term CPU, which in most cases are equivalent to the more precise term processor core / core. The multi core age is here now :-)

Running many short tasks

Recommendations on how to run a lot of short tasks on the system. The overhead in the job start and cleanup makes it unpractical to run thousands of short tasks as individual jobs on Stallo.


The queueing setup on stallo, or rather, the accounting system generates overhead in the start and finish of a job of about 1 second at each end of the job. This overhead is insignificant when running large parallel jobs, but creates scaling issues when running a massive amount of shorter jobs. One can consider a collection of independent tasks as one large parallel job and the aforementioned overhead becomes the serial or unparallelizable part of the job. This is because the queuing system can only start and account one job at a time. This scaling problem is described by Amdahls Law.

Without going into any more details, let’s look at the solution.

Running tasks in parallel within one job

By using some shell trickery one can spawn and load-balance multiple independent task running in parallel within one node, just background the tasks and poll to see when some task is finished until you spawn the next:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

# Jobscript example that can run several tasks in parallel.
# All features used here are standard in bash so it should work on
# any sane UNIX/LINUX system.
# Author:
# This example will only work within one compute node so let's run
# on one node using all the cpu-cores:
#SBATCH --nodes=1
#SBATCH --ntasks-per-node=20

# We assume we will be done in 10 minutes:
#SBATCH --time=0-00:10:00

# Let us use all CPUs:

# Let's assume we have a bunch of tasks we want to perform.
# Each task is done in the form of a shell script with a numerical argument:
# N
# Let's just create some fake arguments with a sequence of numbers
# from 1 to 100, edit this to your liking:
tasks=$(seq 100)


for t in $tasks; do
  # Do the real work, edit this section to your liking.
  # remember to background the task or else we will
  # run serially
  ./ $t &

  # You should leave the rest alone...
  # count the number of background tasks we have spawned
  # the jobs command print one line per task running so we only need
  # to count the number of lines.
  activetasks=$(jobs | wc -l)

  # if we have filled all the available cpu-cores with work we poll
  # every second to wait for tasks to exit.
  while [ $activetasks -ge $maxpartasks ]; do
    sleep 1
    activetasks=$(jobs | wc -l)

# Ok, all tasks spawned. Now we need to wait for the last ones to
# be finished before we exit.
echo "Waiting for tasks to complete"
echo "done"

And here is the script:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

# fake some work, $1 is the task number
# change this to whatever you want to have done

# sleep between 0 and 10 secs
let sleeptime=10*$RANDOM/32768

echo "task $1 is sleeping for $sleeptime seconds"
sleep $sleeptime
echo "task $1 has slept for $sleeptime seconds"