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FAIR Storage Service

:!: DRAFT: Doc in preparation
Comments, suggestions and corrections are really appreciated

Lorentz Institute offers its members a data storage option that complies with the FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship.1) The goal is to offer a standard platform that enables, facilitates, and promotes the implementation of robust data-management plans complying with the most stringent professional requirements (scientific publications, research grants applications, etc..). Our FAIR storage server is powered by the iRODS Data Management Software2), the de facto standard in scientific data management. Below you will find brief instructions on how to interact (store/view/retrieve data) with our storage, nonetheless you are strongly advised to read the official iRODS documentation before operating on our server.

The IL FAIR storage system is fault tolerant to prevent any catastrophic data loss. Data-loss protection occurs on two levels: hardware and software.

The first protection layer against data loss is provided by ad hoc enterprise-grade storage servers that constitute the backend of the iRODS system. Our main storage system is a TrueNAS Enterprise R50 with disks arranged in a RAIDZ2 array with a fault tolerance of two disks.

The second layer of protection against data loss is provided by iRODS replicas (copies of data across multiple storage backends). We offer a storage resource in which two copies of each data object are kept at any time across two different enterprise-graded storage systems essentially increasing fault tolerance.

:!: Research data older than 10 years could be moved to different storage systems.

FAIR Storage Access

Access to this server must be requested by sending an email to

Once access has been granted, you can interact with the server via any of the supported iRODS clients. For the sake of simplicity, we have set up all the IL GNU/Linux workstations and the xmaris cluster with the following iRODS clients so that you can start using our storage system immediately

iCommands is the most flexible and powerful client, but it might require a basic prior knowledge of the GNU/Linux command line.

At the Lorentz Institute we also offer several automated data-ingestion rules that post-process submitted data to our storage system using iCommands, for instance

  • automatic storage of metadata of jupyter notebooks
  • automatic storage of EXIF metadata of JPG, PNG images
  • automatic addition of metadata to any data object from simple templates

:!: Please note that the automatic post-processing functionality has currently been tested only with iCommands and DavRODS.

iCommands Setup

Create an iRODS configuration file at ${HOME}/.irods/irods_environment.json. If the directory ${HOME}/.irods does not exist, then create it

mkdir -p ${HOME}/.irods

Create/edit in the directory mentioned above a file named irods_environment.json starting from the following simple template

    "irods_default_number_of_transfer_threads": 4,
    "irods_host": "<HOSTNAME>",
    "irods_maximum_size_for_single_buffer_in_megabytes": 32,
    "irods_port": <PORT>,
    "irods_default_resource": "<RESOURCE_NAME>",
    "irods_transfer_buffer_size_for_parallel_transfer_in_megabytes": 4,
    "irods_user_name": "<USERNAME>",
    "irods_zone_name": "<ZONE_NAME>",
    "irods_authentication_scheme": "PAM_password"

Edit the lines above at your convenience by looking at the available options and their meaning in the docs. The advice here is to keep your conf file simple at the beginning by just copying the template above to the specified location and by appropriately replacing the tags denoted by < > with the desired values. To connect to the IL FAIR storage you have the following possible options

HOSTNAME Access limited to IL subnet
PORT 1247
RESOURCE_NAME ilorentzNoReplicaResource 135 TB. Quota 20 GB. Use: Archiving
ilorentzResource 20 TB, Quota: 20 GB. Use: Archiving Important Data
USERNAME Your_IL_username Request access to
anonymous Anonymous access to public share

Please not that even if you specify a default resource name in your iRODS configuration file, it is always possible to overwrite the resource destination during iCommands operations by specifying the option -R.

In a terminal window, load the iCommands module

module load icommands

and initiate a connection to our storage server by typing iinit

remote [878] $ iinit 
Enter your current PAM password:
remote [879] $ 

Upon a successful authentication you will be able to interact with our FAIR storage server. Many iRODS commands have the same names and use of common GNU/Linux terminal commands with the only difference that they are prefixed by the letter i. For example to list the contents of your home collection (that is your home directory on the storage server), just type ils

remote [879] $ ils 
  C- /ilZone/home/bongo/TEST1

A more detailed output is obtained by using the options -l (long output) or -L (super long output) and an overview of the available options is obtained by passing the option -h.

A list of available commands is given by typing ihelp or by browsing to the iRODS online documentation.

Common IRODS Operations

:!: In what follows iRODS objects are either data objects (e.g. a file) or collection objects (e.g. a directory).

Session Management and Info
Login iinit
Logout iexit
List icommands Available ihelp
List Client Settings ienv
List User Info iuserinfo
List Available Storage Resources ilsresc
More Info: ils -h
Collection Listing ils
Collection Listing including Replicas Information ils -l
Collection Listing with Replicas Information and Actual Object Location on Server ils -L
Collection Listing including ACL Information ils -A
Objects Upload
More Info: iput -h, irsync -h
Upload New Data Object iput source_data
Upload and Overwrite Existing Data Object on Server iput -f source_data
Add metadata to Data Object when Uploading it iput [-f] object_name –metadata=“A;V;[U];A;V;[U]“
Local Directory Upload iput -r source_directory
Synchronize local Data to remote Data and viceversa irsync source destination_object
Upload local file to Specific Collection iput source_data destination_collection
Upload Data Object and Store its Checksum iput source_data -k
Files Removal from Server
More Info: irm -h
Remove Data Object (moves it to Trash) irm data_object
Permanently Remove Data Object irm -f data_object
Permanently Remove Collection and its Contents irm -rf collection
Purge Trash Binirmtrash
Object Organisation
More Info: icp -h, imv -h, ilocate -h
Change Working Collection on Server icd collection
Print Working Collection ipwd
Locate Objectilocate search_pattern
Copy Objects on Server (No Metadata) icp source_object destination_object
Move Object imv source_object object_destination
Files Download From Server
More Info: get -h
Display Remote File Contents iget data_object -
Save Remote File to Local Disk iget data_object local_destination
Save Remote File to Local Disk even if it Exists iget -f data_object local_destination

iRODS metadata are defined by Attribute-Value-Unit (AVU) triplets, for instance Length 10 meters

More Info: imeta -h, iquest -h
Add Metadata to [Data, Collection] Object imeta add [-d -C] object AttName AttValue [AttUnits]
Add metadata to Object when Uploading it iput [-f] object_name –metadata=“A;V;[U];A;V;[U]“
List Metadata Associate to Object [Data, Collection] imeta ls [-d -C] object
List Available Metadata Attributes iquest “select META_DATA_ATTR_NAME”
Search Object from Metadataiquest “select DATA_NAME, COLL_NAME, META_DATA_ATTR_VALUE where META_DATA_ATTR_VALUE like '%pattern%'“
List Available iquest select Attributes iquest attrs
Object Permissions: ACLs
More Info: ichmod -h
List Object ACLs ils -A object
Grant Other IL User READ Access to Data Object and its Metadata ichmod read IL_USERNAME data_object_path
Grant Other IL User READ/WRITE Access to Data Object and its Metadata ichmod write IL_USERNAME data_object_path
Remove Access for IL User to Object ichmod null IL_USERNAME object_path
Grant group READ Access to Data Object and its Metadata ichmod read group_name data_object_path
Grant Other IL User Recursive READ Access to Collection ichmod -r read IL_USERNAME collection_path
List Existing Groups iquest “select USER_GROUP_NAME”
External Collaborators

iRODS lets you easily share your data with external collaborators (users unknown to the IL systems). The only requirement is that they have access to iCommands or have a web browser. See the examples below

iCommands: Tickets

iRODS tickets constitute a powerful and flexible way to share your data with external collaborators who have access to iCommands at their institutions. In the example session below an IL user creates a read-only access ticket for a data object called results.dat and shares this unique alphanumeric code with his collaborator who will use it to gain access to the data.

# IL user iRODS session
iticket create read results.dat
# Take note of the ticket id and pass it to your collaborator with 
# the full pat to your data object
iticket ls 68CK4jheDK924Jz
ticket type: read
obj type: data
owner name: bongo
owner zone: ilZone
expire time: none
data-object name: results.dat
data collection: /ilZone/home/bongo
No host restrictions
No user restrictions
No group restrictions
# External collaborator iRODS session
# Must first login as anonymous on the IL iRODS system (see above)
iget -t 68CK4jheDK924Jz /ilZone/home/bongo/results.dat
# IL user iRODS session
# delete the ticket if no longer needed
iticket delete 68CK4jheDK924Jz

If your collaborator has no access to icommands, then place the object you would like to share in the folder /ilZone/home/anonymous and ichmod to give the user anonymous reading access to your object which will be shared using the web browser at .

Integrity: Checksums
More Info: iput -h, irsync -h, ichksum -h
Check Object Integrity during Transfer iput -[r]K object
Check Object Integrity during Transfer irsync -[r]K source i:dest_object

= Web Browsers: webdav =

Without creating a ticket for a data object, you could login to our FAIR storage system place any object you would like to share in a special collection called /ilZone/home/public. Any external collaborator can then access it (READ ONLY) by browsing to in a similar fashion to the example here.

Custom Lorentz Institute Ingestion Rules

To facilitate the uploading of objects metadata – an important component of any FAIR storage system – the IL storage system is programmed to automatically add the most basic piece of metadata upon each data object upload making sure that each stored data object has a minimal metadata consinstency. The metadata added to each data object is summarised in the table below

displayName IL Employee Directory Listing: Employee Full Name John Smith
uid IL Employee Directory Listing: Employee Username smith

Further, the uploading of .ipynb, .png and .jpg files will automatically add to the storage metadata information found in any jupyter notebook and in the EXIF of .png and .jpg images.

Another powerful data ingestion rule allows you to upload metadata to an arbitrary data object by uploading a file template whose name follows a certain convention. Let us suppose you have just uploaded a data object whose iRODS path is /zoneName/home/username/collection_name/results.dat, then to add metadata to this object create locally a template file with name results.dat.metadata where each line has the format Attribute Name = Attribute Value

#cat results.dat.metadata
cluster = xmaris
node = maris048
cmd = script input1 input2
date = Aug 2022

and uploaded it to the IL storage server via DevRODS or iCommands, for instance

iput results.dat.metadata /zoneName/home/username/collection_name/results.dat.metadata

A suggested (but by no means exhaustive) list of metadata attribute names that you should add to any of your data files is given below

title The title of your dataset Average Gas Consumption
description Concise Description of what your data Represent Average Gas Consumption per month in Year 2022 across Europe
field Research Field Physics Astronomy Mathematics
version Data Versioning Number 0.0.2
tagsKeywords to your Data Blackhole Gravity Quantum Computers
doi If related to published material, Digital object Identifier3) 10.1103/PhysRevD.97.043511
pi Name of Principal Investigator John B. Smith
funder Name organization funding this research NWO
grantGrant number/ID as issued by the funding organization SFT625344
authors Authors Names M.U.M. Prigles, Jack Smith, Leo Leon
affiliation Authors Affiliation Leiden University, Oxford

WebDAV Access

This method lets you access the IL FAIR Storage with the comfort of a GUI. Note though that differently than when using iCommands, it is not possible to select a different destination resource than ilorentzNoReplicaResource if you use WebDAV.

Web Browser Access

Username IL Username
Password IL Password
Acessibility IL Subnets Only
Operation Mode READ ONLY

Anonymous access

File Explorer Access

Acessibility IL Subnets Only
Operation Mode READ + WRITE
GNU/Linux OS

Menu → Places → Connect to Server4)

Port 443
TypeSecure WebDAV (HTTPS)
Username IL Username
Password IL Password
Mac OS

Finder → Go → Connect to Server

Specify your IL credentials when prompted and click on Connect.

This may vary depending on the OS. If in trouble search for Connect To Server.
institute_lorentz/irods_fair_storage.txt · Last modified: 2022/09/30 11:56 by lenocil