Wednesday Exercise 1.2: Using a Pre-compiled Binary

In this exercise, we will run a job using a downloaded, pre-compiled binary. This exercise should take 10-15 minutes.


In the previous exercise, we used a piece of software that was available as source code, and could be compiled to a static binary. However, software is available in many different forms. You may also encounter scientific software provided as a static binary. Here, the software provider has compiled the software for you (typically on several operating systems). Using a pre-compiled binary means you can avoid compiling the code yourself; accessing the software and getting it ready to run is as simple as downloading the binary.

Our Software Example

The software we will be using for this example is a common tool for aligning genome and protein sequences against a reference database, the BLAST program.

  1. Search the internet for the BLAST software. Searches might include "blast executable

    or "download blast software". Hopefully these searches will lead you to a BLAST website page that looks like this: BLAST landing page

  2. Click on the title that says "Download BLAST" and then look for the link that has the latest installation and source code. You should end up on a page with a list of each version of BLAST that is available for different operating systems.

  3. We could download the source and compile it ourselves, but instead, we're going to use \

one of the pre-built binaries. \ Before proceeding, look at the list of downloads and try to determine which one you want. \

  1. Based on our operating system, we want to use the Linux binary, which is \

labelled with the x64-linux suffix. All the other links are either for source code or other operating systems. \ While logged into, create a directory for this exercise. Then download the appropriate tar.gz file and un-tar it. \ You can download the file directly from the BLAST website using wget or download our local copy with the command below: \

%UCL_PROMPT_SHORT% <strong>wget</strong>
%UCL_PROMPT_SHORT% <strong>tar -xzf ncbi-blast-2.6.0+-x64-linux.tar.gz</strong>
  1. We're going to be using the blastx binary in our job. Where is \

it in the directory you just downloaded?

Copy the Input Files

To run BLAST, we need an input file and reference database. For this example, we'll use the "pdbaa" database, which contains sequences for the protein structure from the Protein Data Bank. For our input file, we'll use an abbreviated fasta file with mouse genome information.

  1. Download these files to your current directory: \
%UCL_PROMPT_SHORT% <strong>wget</strong>
%UCL_PROMPT_SHORT% <strong>wget</strong>
  1. Untar the pdbaa database: \
%UCL_PROMPT_SHORT% <strong>tar -xzf pdbaa.tar.gz</strong>

Submitting the Job

We now have our program (the pre-compiled blastx binary) and our input files, so all that remains is to create the submit file. A typical blastx command looks something like this:

%UCL_PROMPT_SHORT% <strong> blastx -db database -query input_file -out results.txt</strong>
  1. Copy the submit file from the last exercise into your current directory. 2. Think about which lines you will need to change or add to your submit file in order to submit \

the job successfully. In particular:

\ 3. Try to answer these questions and modify your submit file appropriately. 4. Once you have done all you can, check your submit file against the lines below, which contain the necessary changes \ to run this particular job.

directory. We need to use the arguments line in the submit file to express the rest of the \ command. \ \

executable = ncbi-blast-2.6.0+/bin/blastx
arguments = -db pdbaa/pdbaa -query mouse.fa -out results.txt



transfer_input_files = pdbaa, mouse.fa



requirements = (OpSys == "LINUX")


  1. Submit the blast job using condor_submit. Once the job starts, it should run in just a few minutes and produce a file called results.txt.