Priorities and Preemption

HTCondor has two independent priority controls: job priorities and user priorities.

The HTCondor system calculate a “fair share” of machine slots to allocate to each user. Whether each user can use all of these slots depends on a number of factors. For example, if the user’s jobs only match to a small number of machines, perhaps the user will be running fewer jobs than allocated. This fair share is based on the user priority. Each user can then specify the order in which each of their jobs should be matched and run on the fair share, this is based on the job priority.

Job Priority

Job priorities allow a user to sort their own jobs to determine which are tried to be run first. A job priority can be any integer: larger values denote better priority. So, 0 is a better job priority than -3, and 6 is a better than 5. Note that job priorities are computed per user, so that whatever job priorities one user sets has no impact at all on any other user, in terms of how many jobs users can run or in what order. Also, unmatchable high priority jobs do not block lower priority jobs. That is, a priority 10 job will try to be matched before a priority 9 job, but if the priority 10 job doesn’t match any slots, HTCondor will keep going, and try the priority 9 job next.

The job priority may be specified in the submit description file by setting

priority = 15

If no priority is set, the default is 0. See the Dagman section for ways that dagman can automatically set the priority of any or all jobs in a dag.

Each job can be given a distinct priority. For an already queued job, its priority may be changed with the condor_prio command; see the example in the Managing a Job section, or the condor_prio manual page for details. This sets the value of job ClassAd attribute JobPrio. condor_prio can be called on a running job, but lowering a job priority will not trigger eviction of the running job. The condor_vacate_job command can preempt a running job.

A fine-grained categorization of jobs and their ordering is available for experts by using the job ClassAd attributes: PreJobPrio1, PreJobPrio2, JobPrio, PostJobPrio1, or PostJobPrio2.

User priority

Slots are allocated to users based upon user priority. A lower numerical value for user priority means proportionally better priority, so a user with priority 5 will be allocated 10 times the resources as someone with user priority 50. User priorities in HTCondor can be examined with the condor_userprio command (see the condor_userprio manual page). HTCondor administrators can set and change individual user priorities with the same utility.

HTCondor continuously calculates the share of available machines that each user should be allocated. This share is inversely related to the ratio between user priorities. For example, a user with a priority of 10 will get twice as many machines as a user with a priority of 20. The priority of each individual user changes according to the number of resources the individual is using. Each user starts out with the best possible priority: 0.5. If the number of machines a user currently has is greater than the user priority, the user priority will worsen by numerically increasing over time. If the number of machines is less then the priority, the priority will improve by numerically decreasing over time. The long-term result is fair-share access across all users. The speed at which HTCondor adjusts the priorities is controlled with the configuration variable PRIORITY_HALFLIFE , an exponential half-life value. The default is one day. If a user that has user priority of 100 and is utilizing 100 machines removes all his/her jobs, one day later that user’s priority will be 50, and two days later the priority will be 25.

HTCondor enforces that each user gets his/her fair share of machines according to user priority by allocating available machines. Optionally, a pool administrator can configure the system to preempt the running jobs of users who are above their fair share in favor of users who are below their fair share, but this is not the default. For instance, if a low priority user is utilizing all available machines and suddenly a higher priority user submits jobs, HTCondor may vacate jobs belonging to the lower priority user.

User priorities are keyed on <username>@<domain>, for example The domain name to use, if any, is configured by the HTCondor site administrator. Thus, user priority and therefore resource allocation is not impacted by which machine the user submits from or even if the user submits jobs from multiple machines.

The user priority system can also support backfill or nice jobs (see the condor_submit manual page). Nice jobs artificially boost the user priority by ten million just for the nice job. This effectively means that nice jobs will only run on machines that no other HTCondor job (that is, non-niced job) wants. In a similar fashion, an HTCondor administrator could set the user priority of any specific HTCondor user very high. If done, for example, with a guest account, the guest could only use cycles not wanted by other users of the system.

Details About How HTCondor Jobs Vacate Machines

When HTCondor needs a job to vacate a machine for whatever reason, it sends the job an operating system signal specified in the KillSig attribute of the job’s ClassAd. The value of this attribute can be specified by the user at submit time by placing the kill_sig option in the HTCondor submit description file.

If a program wanted to do some work when asked to vacate a machine, the program may set up a signal handler to handle this signal. This clean up signal is specified with kill_sig. Note that the clean up work needs to be quick. If the job takes too long to exit after getting the kill_sig, HTCondor sends a SIGKILL signal which immediately terminates the process.

The default value for KillSig is SIGTERM, the usual method to nicely terminate a Unix program.