HTCondor Quick Start Guide¶
To users, HTCondor is a job scheduler. You give HTCondor a file containing commands that tell it how to run jobs. HTCondor locates a machine that can run each job within the pool of machines, packages up the job and ships it off to this execute machine. The jobs run, and output is returned to the machine that submitted the jobs.
This guide provides enough guidance to submit and observe the successful completion of a first job. It then suggests extensions that you can apply to your particular jobs.
This guide presumes that
HTCondor is running
that you have access to a machine within the pool that may submit jobs, termed a submit machine
that you are logged in to and working on the submit machine. (If you just finished getting HTCondor, the one machine you just installed is your submit machine.)
that your program executable, your submit description file, and any needed input files are all on the file system of the submit machine
that your job (the program executable) is able to run without any interactive input. Standard input (from the keyboard), standard output (seen on the display), and standard error (seen on the display) may still be used, but their contents will be redirected from/to files.
A First HTCondor Job¶
For HTCondor to run a job, it must be given details such as the names and location of the executable and all needed input files. These details are specified in a submit description file.
Before presenting the details of the submit description file, consider this first HTCondor job. It is a sleep job that waits for 6 seconds and then exits. While most aspects of HTCondor are identical on Linux (or Mac) and Windows machines, awareness of the platform of the submit machine will lead to a better understanding of jobs and job submission.
This first executable program is a shell script (Linux or Mac) or batch file
(Windows). The file that represents this differs based on operating
system; the Linux (or Mac) version is shown first, and
the Windows version is shown second. To try this example,
log in to the submit machine, and use an editor to type in or copy and paste
the file contents. Name the resulting file
sleep.sh if the submit machine
is Linux (or Mac) operating system, and name the resulting file
if the submit machine is running Windows. Note that you will need to
know whether the operating system on your submit machine is a Linux (or Mac)
operating system or Windows.
#!/bin/bash # file name: sleep.sh TIMETOWAIT="6" echo "sleeping for $TIMETOWAIT seconds" /bin/sleep $TIMETOWAIT
:: file name: sleep.bat @echo off set TIMETOWAIT=6 echo sleeping for %TIMETOWAIT% seconds choice /D Y /T %TIMETOWAIT% > NUL
For a Linux (or Mac) submit machine only, change the
sleep.sh file to be
executable by running the following command:
chmod u+x sleep.sh
The submit description file describes the job. To submit this sample
job, again use an editor to create the file
sleep.sub. The submit
description file contents for this job differs on Linux (or Mac) and Windows
machines only in the name of the script or batch file:
# sleep.sub -- simple sleep job executable = sleep.sh log = sleep.log output = outfile.txt error = errors.txt should_transfer_files = Yes when_to_transfer_output = ON_EXIT queue
# sleep.sub -- simple sleep job executable = sleep.bat log = sleep.log output = outfile.txt error = errors.txt should_transfer_files = Yes when_to_transfer_output = ON_EXIT queue
The first line of this submit description file is a comment. Comments begin with the # character. Comments do not span lines.
Each line of the submit description file has the form
command_name = value
The command name is case insensitive and precedes an equals sign. Values to right of the equals sign are likely to be case sensitive, especially in the case that they specify paths and file names.
Next in this file is a specification of the
executable to run. It
specifies the program that becomes the HTCondor job. For this example, it
is the file name of the Linux (or Mac) script or Windows batch file. A full
path and executable name, or a path and executable relative to the current
working directory may be specified.
log command causes a job event log file named
sleep.log to be
created on the submit machine once the job is submitted. A log is not
necessary, but it can be incredibly useful in figuring out what happened or
is happening with a job.
If this script/batch file were to to be invoked from the command line, and outside of HTCondor, its single line of output
sleeping for 6 seconds
would be sent to standard output (the display). When submitted as an
HTCondor job, standard output of the execute machine is on that execute
machine, and thus unavailable. HTCondor captures standard output in a file
due to the
output command in the submit description file. This example
names the redirected standard output file
outfile.txt, and this file is
returned to the submit machine when the job completes. The same structure
is specified for standard error, as specified with the
should_transfer_files = Yes when_to_transfer_output = ON_EXIT
direct HTCondor to explicitly send the needed files, including the executable, to the machine where the job executes. These commands will likely not be necessary for jobs in which the submit machine and the execute machine access a shared file system. However, including these commands will allow this first sample job to work under a large variety of pool configurations.
queue command tells HTCondor to run one instance of this job.
Submitting the job
With this submit description file, all that remains is to hand off the job
to HTCondor. With the current working directory being the one that contains
sleep.sub submit description file and the executable (
sleep.bat), this job submission is accomplished with the command line
If the submission is successful, the terminal will display a response that identifies the job, of the form
Submitting job(s). 1 job(s) submitted to cluster 6.
Monitoring the job
Once the job has been submitted, command line tools may help you follow along
with the progress of the job. The
condor_q command prints a listing of
all the jobs currently in the queue. For example, a short time after Kris
submits the sleep job from a Linux (or Mac) submit machine on a pool that has
no other queued jobs, the output may appear as
$ condor_q -- Submitter: example.wisc.edu : <22.214.171.124:56550> : example.wisc.edu ID OWNER SUBMITTED RUN_TIME ST PRI SIZE CMD 6.0 kris 2/13 10:49 0+00:00:03 R 0 97.7 sleep.sh 1 jobs; 0 completed, 0 removed, 0 idle, 1 running, 0 held, 0 suspended
The queue might contain many jobs. To see only Kris’ jobs, add an option to
condor_q command that specifies to only print Kris’ jobs:
$ condor_q -submitter kris
The first column of output from
condor_q identifies the job; the
identifier is composed of two integers separated by a period. The first
integer is known as a cluster number, and it will be the same for each of
the potentially many jobs submitted by a single invocation of
condor_submit. The second integer in the identifier is known as a
process ID, and it distinguishes between distinct job instances that have
the same cluster number. These values start at 0.
Of interest in this output, the job is running, and it has used 3 seconds of time so far.
At job completion, the log file contains
000 (006.000.000) 02/13 10:49:04 Job submitted from host: <126.96.36.199:46062> ... 001 (006.000.000) 02/13 10:49:24 Job executing on host: <188.8.131.52:43051?PrivNet=cs.wisc.edu> ... 006 (006.000.000) 02/13 10:49:30 Image size of job updated: 100000 0 - MemoryUsage of job (MB) 0 - ResidentSetSize of job (KB) ... 005 (006.000.000) 02/13 10:49:31 Job terminated. (1) Normal termination (return value 0) Usr 0 00:00:00, Sys 0 00:00:00 - Run Remote Usage Usr 0 00:00:00, Sys 0 00:00:00 - Run Local Usage Usr 0 00:00:00, Sys 0 00:00:00 - Total Remote Usage Usr 0 00:00:00, Sys 0 00:00:00 - Total Local Usage 23 - Run Bytes Sent By Job 113 - Run Bytes Received By Job 23 - Total Bytes Sent By Job 113 - Total Bytes Received By Job Partitionable Resources : Usage Request Allocated Cpus : 1 1 Disk (KB) : 100000 100000 2033496 Memory (MB) : 0 98 2001 ...
Each event in the job event log file is separated by a line containing three periods. For each event, the first 3-digit value is an event number.
Removing a job
Successfully submitted jobs will occasionally need to be removed from the
queue. Invoke the
condor_rm command specifying the job identifier as
a command line argument. Kris’ job may be removed from the queue with
Specification of the cluster number only as with the command
will cause all jobs within that cluster to be removed.
The science Job Example¶
A second example job illustrates aspects of file specification for the
job. Assume that the program executable is called
program does not use standard input or output; instead, the command line
to invoke this program specifies two input files and one output file. For
this example, the command line to invoke
science.exe (not as an HTCondor
job) will be
science.exe infile-A.txt infile-B.txt outfile.txt
While the name of the executable is specified in the submit description file
executable command, the remainder of the command line will be
specified with the
Here is the submit description file for this job:
# science1.sub -- run one instance of science.exe executable = science.exe arguments = "infile-A.txt infile-B.txt outfile.txt" transfer_input_files = infile-A.txt,infile-B.txt should_transfer_files = IF_NEEDED when_to_transfer_output = ON_EXIT log = science1.log queue
The input files
infile-B.txt will need to be
available on the execute machine within the pool where the job
runs. HTCondor cannot interpret command line arguments, so it cannot know
that these command line arguments for this job specify input and output
files. The submit command
transfer_input_files instructs HTCondor to
transfer these input files from the machine where the job is submitted to the
machine chosen to execute the job. The default operation of HTCondor is to
transfer all files created by the job on the execute machine back to the
submit machine. Therefore, there is no specification of the
This example submit description file modifies the commands that direct the transfer of files from submit machine to execute machine and back again.
should_transfer_files = IF_NEEDED when_to_transfer_output = ON_EXIT
These values are the HTCondor defaults, so are not needed in this
example. They are included to direct attention to the capabilities
of HTCondor. The
should_transfer_files command specifies whether
HTCondor should assume the existence of a file system shared by the
submit machine and the execute machine. Where there is a shared file
system, a correctly configured pool of machines will not need to transfer
the files from one machine to the other, as both can access the shared file
system. Where there is not a shared file system, HTCondor must transfer
the files from one machine to the other. The specification
asks HTCondor to use a shared file system when one is detected, but to
transfer the files when no shared file system is detected. When files are
to be transferred, HTCondor automatically sends the executable as well as a
file representing standard input; this file would be specified by the
input submit command, and it is not relevant to this example. Other
files are specified in a comma separated list with
as they are in this example.
When the job completes, all files created by the executable as it ran are transferred back to the submit machine.
Expanding the science Job and the Organization of Files¶
A further example promotes understanding of how HTCondor makes the
submission of lots of jobs easy. Assume that the
is to be run 40 times. If the input and output files were exactly the
same for each run, then only the last line of the given submit description
file changes: from
It is likely that this does not produce the desired outcome, as the output
outfile.txt, has the same name for each queued instance
of the job, and thus this file of results for each run conflicts. Chances
are that the input files also must be distinct for each of the 40 separate
instances of the job. HTCondor offers the use of a macro that can uniquely
name each run’s input and output file names. The
$(Process) macro causes
substitution by the process ID from the job identifier. The submit
description file for this proposed solution uniquely names the files:
# science2.sub -- run 40 instances of science.exe executable = science.exe arguments = "infile-$(Process)A.txt infile-$(Process)B.txt outfile$(Process).txt" transfer_input_files = infile-$(Process)A.txt,infile-$(Process)B.txt should_transfer_files = IF_NEEDED when_to_transfer_output = ON_EXIT log = science2.log queue 40
The 40 instances of this job will have process ID values that run from 0 to
39. The two input files for process ID 0 are
infile-0B.txt, the ones for process ID 1 will be
infile-1B.txt, and so on, all the way to process ID 39, which will be
infile-39B.txt. Using this macro for
the output file naming of each of the 40 jobs creates
process ID 0;
outfile1.txt for process ID 1; and so on, to
outfile39.txt for process ID 39.
This example does not scale well as the number of jobs increases,
because the number of files in the same directory becomes unwieldy. Assume
now that there will be 100 instances of the
science.exe job, and each
instance has distinct input files, and produces a distinct output file. A
recommended organization introduces a unique directory for each job
instance. The following submit description file facilitates this organization
by specifying the directory with the
initialdir command. The directories
for this example are named
run1, etc. all the way to
for the 100 instances of the following example submit file:
# science3.sub -- run 100 instances of science.exe, with # unique directories named by the $(Process) macro executable = science.exe arguments = "infile-A.txt infile-B.txt outfile.txt" should_transfer_files = IF_NEEDED when_to_transfer_output = ON_EXIT initialdir = run$(Process) transfer_input_files = infile-A.txt,infile-B.txt log = science3.log queue 100
The input and output files for each job instance can again be the initial
simple names that do not incorporate the
$(Process) macro. These files are
distinct for each run due to their placement within a uniquely named
directory. This organization also works well for executables that do not
facilitate command line naming of input or output files.
Here is a listing of the files and directories on the submit machine within this suggested directory structure. The files created due to submitting and running the jobs are shown preceded by an asterisk (*). Only a subset of the 100 directories are shown. Directories are identified using the Linux (and Mac) convention of appending the directory name with a slash character (/).
science.exe science3.sub run0/ infile-A.txt infile-B.txt * outfile.txt * science3.log run1/ infile-A.txt infile-B.txt * outfile.txt * science3.log run2/ infile-A.txt infile-B.txt * outfile.txt * science3.log
Where to Go from Here¶
Consider watching our video tutorial for new users.
Slides from past HTCondor Weeks – our annual conference – include the tutorials given there.
The Users’ Manual is a good reference.
If you like what you’ve seen but want to run more jobs simultaneously, the administrator’s quick start guide will help you make more of your machines available to run jobs.