Environment and Modules

Environment Customization

After logging in, you may want to configure the environment. Write your preferred path definitions, aliases, functions and module loads in the .bashrc file

# ./bashrc

# Source global definitions
if [ -f /etc/bashrc ]; then
      . /etc/bashrc

# User specific aliases and functions
alias qs='qstat -a'
module load intel/2015b

# Display information to standard output - only in interactive ssh session
if [ -n "$SSH_TTY" ]
 module list # Display loaded modules


Do not run commands outputting to standard output (echo, module list, etc) in .bashrc for non-interactive SSH sessions. It breaks fundamental functionality (scp, PBS) of your account! Take care for SSH session interactivity for such commands as stated in the previous example.

Application Modules

In order to configure your shell for running particular application on Salomon we use Module package interface.

Application modules on Salomon cluster are built using EasyBuild. The modules are divided into the following structure:

 base: Default module class
 bio: Bioinformatics, biology and biomedical
 cae: Computer Aided Engineering (incl. CFD)
 chem: Chemistry, Computational Chemistry and Quantum Chemistry
 compiler: Compilers
 data: Data management & processing tools
 debugger: Debuggers
 devel: Development tools
 geo: Earth Sciences
 ide: Integrated Development Environments (e.g. editors)
 lang: Languages and programming aids
 lib: General purpose libraries
 math: High-level mathematical software
 mpi: MPI stacks
 numlib: Numerical Libraries
 perf: Performance tools
 phys: Physics and physical systems simulations
 system: System utilities (e.g. highly depending on system OS and hardware)
 toolchain: EasyBuild toolchains
 tools: General purpose tools
 vis: Visualization, plotting, documentation and typesetting


The modules set up the application paths, library paths and environment variables for running particular application.

The modules may be loaded, unloaded and switched, according to momentary needs.

To check available modules use

$ module avail **or** ml av

To load a module, for example the Open MPI module use

$ module load OpenMPI **or** ml OpenMPI

loading the Open MPI module will set up paths and environment variables of your active shell such that you are ready to run the Open MPI software

To check loaded modules use

$ module list **or** ml

To unload a module, for example the Open MPI module use

$ module unload OpenMPI **or** ml -OpenMPI

Learn more on modules by reading the module man page

$ man module

EasyBuild Toolchains

As we wrote earlier, we are using EasyBuild for automatized software installation and module creation.

EasyBuild employs so-called compiler toolchains or, simply toolchains for short, which are a major concept in handling the build and installation processes.

A typical toolchain consists of one or more compilers, usually put together with some libraries for specific functionality, e.g., for using an MPI stack for distributed computing, or which provide optimized routines for commonly used math operations, e.g., the well-known BLAS/LAPACK APIs for linear algebra routines.

For each software package being built, the toolchain to be used must be specified in some way.

The EasyBuild framework prepares the build environment for the different toolchain components, by loading their respective modules and defining environment variables to specify compiler commands (e.g., via $F90), compiler and linker options (e.g., via $CFLAGS and $LDFLAGS), the list of library names to supply to the linker (via $LIBS), etc. This enables making easyblocks largely toolchain-agnostic since they can simply rely on these environment variables; that is, unless they need to be aware of, for example, the particular compiler being used to determine the build configuration options.

Recent releases of EasyBuild include out-of-the-box toolchain support for:

  • various compilers, including GCC, Intel, Clang, CUDA
  • common MPI libraries, such as Intel MPI, MPICH, MVAPICH2, Open MPI
  • various numerical libraries, including ATLAS, Intel MKL, OpenBLAS, ScaLAPACK, FFTW

On Salomon, we have currently following toolchains installed:

Toolchain Module(s)
ictce icc, ifort, imkl, impi
intel GCC, icc, ifort, imkl, impi
gompi GCC, OpenMPI
iompi OpenMPI, icc, ifort
iccifort icc, ifort