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HTC Exercise 1.3: Run Jobs!

Exercise Goal

The goal of this exercise is to submit jobs to HTCondor and have them run on the PATh Facility. This is a huge step in learning to use an HTC system!

This exercise will take longer than the first two, short ones. If you are having any problems getting the jobs to run, please ask the instructors! It is very important that you know how to run jobs.

Running Your First Job

Nearly all of the time, when you want to run an HTCondor job, you first write an HTCondor submit file for it. In this section, you will run the same hostname command as in Exercise 1.1, but where this command will run within a job on one of the 'execute' servers on the PATh Facility's HTCondor pool.

First, create an example submit file called hostname.sub using your favorite text editor (e.g., nano, vim) and then transfer the following information to that file:

executable = /bin/hostname

output = hostname.out
error = hostname.err
log = hostname.log

request_cpus = 1
request_memory = 1GB
request_disk = 1GB


Save your submit file using the name hostname.sub.


You can name the HTCondor submit file using any filename. It's a good practice to always include the .sub extension, but it is not required. This is because the submit file is a simple text file that we are using to pass information to HTCondor.

The lines of the submit file have the following meanings:

Submit Command Explanation
executable The name of the program to run (relative to the directory from which you submit).
output The filename where HTCondor will write the standard output from your job.
error The filename where HTCondor will write the standard error from your job. This particular job is not likely to have any, but it is best to include this line for every job.
log The filename where HTCondor will write information about your job run. While not required, it is a really good idea to have a log file for every job.
request_* Tells HTCondor how many cpus and how much memory and disk we want, which is not much, because the 'hostname' executable is very small.
queue Tells HTCondor to run your job with the settings above.

Note that we are not using the arguments or transfer_input_files lines that were mentioned during lecture because the hostname program is all that needs to be transferred from the access point server, and we want to run it without any additional options.

Double-check your submit file, so that it matches the text above. Then, tell HTCondor to run your job:

username@ap1 $ condor_submit hostname.sub
Submitting job(s).
1 job(s) submitted to cluster NNNN.

The actual cluster number will be shown instead of NNNN. If, instead of the text above, there are error messages, read them carefully and then try to correct your submit file or ask for help.

Notice that condor_submit returns back to the shell prompt right away. It does not wait for your job to run. Instead, as soon as it has finished submitting your job into the queue, the submit command finishes.

View your job in the queue

Now, use condor_q and condor_q -nobatch to watch for your job in the queue!

You may not even catch the job in the R running state, because the hostname command runs very quickly. When the job itself is finished, it will 'leave' the queue and no longer be listed in the condor_q output.

After the job finishes, check for the hostname output in hostname.out, which is where job information printed to the terminal screen will be printed for the job.

username@ap1 $ cat hostname.out

The hostname.err file should be empty, unless there were issues running the hostname executable after it was transferred to the slot. The hostname.log is more complex and will be the focus of a later exercise.

Running a Job With Arguments

Very often, when you run a command on the command line, it includes arguments (i.e. options) after the program name, as in the below examples:

username@ap1 $ sleep 60

In an HTCondor submit file, the program (or 'executable') name goes in the executable statement and all remaining arguments go into an arguments statement. For example, if the full command is:

username@ap1 $ sleep 60

Then in the submit file, we would put the location of the "sleep" program (you can find it with which sleep) as the job executable, and 60 as the job arguments:

executable = /bin/sleep
arguments = 60

Let’s try a job submission with arguments. We will use the sleep command shown above, which does nothing (i.e., puts the job to sleep) for the specified number of seconds, then exits normally. It is convenient for simulating a job that takes a while to run.

Create a new submit file and save the following text in it.

executable = /bin/sleep
arguments = 60

output = sleep.out
error = sleep.err
log = sleep.log

request_cpus = 1
request_memory = 1GB
request_disk = 1GB


You can save the file using any name, but as a reminder, we recommend it uses the .sub file extension.

Except for changing a few filenames, this submit file is nearly identical to the last one, except for the addition of the arguments line.

Submit this new job to HTCondor. Again, watch for it to run using condor_q and condor_q -nobatch; check once every 15 seconds or so. Once the job starts running, it will take about 1 minute to run (reminder: the sleep command is telling the job to do nothing for 60 seconds), so you should be able to see it running for a bit. When the job finishes, it will disappear from the queue, but there will be no output in the output or error files, because sleep does not produce any output.

Running a Script Job From the Submit Directory

So far, we have been running programs (executables) that come with the standard Linux system. More frequently, you will want to run a program that exists within your directory or perhaps a shell script of commands that you'd like to run within a job. In this example, you will write a shell script and a submit file that runs the shell script within a job:

  1. Put the following contents into a file named

    # START
    echo 'Date: ' `date` 
    echo 'Host: ' `hostname` 
    echo 'System: ' `uname -spo` 
    echo "Program: $0" 
    echo "Args: $*"
    echo 'ls: ' `ls`
    # END
  2. Add executable permissions to the file (so that it can be run as a program):

    username@ap1 $ chmod +x
  3. Test your script from the command line:

    username@ap1 $ ./ hello 42 
    Date: Mon Jul 17 10:02:20 CDT 2017 
    System: Linux x86_64 GNU/Linux 
    Program: ./
    Args: hello 42
    ls: hostname.sub montage hostname.err hostname.log hostname.out

    This step is really important! If you cannot run your executable from the command-line, HTCondor probably cannot run it on another machine, either. Further, debugging problems like this one is surprisingly difficult. So, if possible, test your executable and arguments as a command at the command-line first.

  4. Write the submit file (this should be getting easier by now):

    executable =
    arguments = foo bar baz
    output = script.out
    error = script.err
    log = script.log
    request_cpus = 1
    request_memory = 1GB
    request_disk = 1GB

    In this example, the executable that was named in the submit file did not start with a /, so the location of the file is relative to the submit directory itself. In other words, in this format the executable must be in the same directory as the submit file.


    Blank lines between commands and spaces around the = do not matter to HTCondor. For example, this submit file is equivalent to the one above:

    executable =
    arguments =  foo bar baz
    output =     script.out
    error =      script.err
    log =        script.log

    Use whitespace to make things clear to you, the user.

  5. Submit the job, wait for it to finish, and check the standard output file (and standard error file, which should be empty).

    What do you notice about the lines returned for "Program" and "ls"? Remember that only files pertaining to this job will be in the job working directory on the execute point server. You're also seeing the effects of HTCondor's need to standardize some filenames when running your job, though they are named as you expect in the submission directory (per the submit file contents).

Extra Challenge


There are Extra Challenges throughout the school curriculum. You may be better off coming back to these after you've completed all other exercises for your current working session.

Below is a Python script that does something similar to the shell script above. Run this Python script using HTCondor.

#!/usr/bin/env python3

"""Extra Challenge for OSG School
Written by Tim Cartwright
Submitted to CHTC by #YOUR_NAME#

import getpass
import os
import platform
import socket
import sys
import time

arguments = None
if len(sys.argv) > 1:
    arguments = '"' + ' '.join(sys.argv[1:]) + '"'

print(__doc__, file=sys.stderr)
print('Time    :', time.strftime('%Y-%m-%d (%a) %H:%M:%S %Z'))
print('Host    :', getpass.getuser(), '@', socket.gethostname())
uname = platform.uname()
print("System  :", uname[0], uname[2], uname[4])
print("Version :", platform.python_version())
print("Program :", sys.executable)
print('Script  :', os.path.abspath(__file__))
print('Args    :', arguments)