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Slurm: A quick start tutorial

Slurm is a resource manager and job scheduler. Users can submit jobs (i.e. scripts containing execution instructions) to slurm so that it can schedule their execution and allocate the appropriate resources (CPU, RAM, etc..) on the basis of a user's preferences or the limits imposed by the system administrators. The advantages of using slurm on a computational cluster are multiple. For an overview of them please read these pages.

Slurm is free software distributed under the GNU General Public License.

What is parallel computing?

A parallel job consists of tasks that run simultaneously. Parallelization can be achieved in different ways. Please read the relevant wiki page here to know more.

Slurm's architecture

Slurm is made of a slurmd daemon running on each compute node and a central slurmctld daemon running on a management node (with the possibility of setting up a fail-over twin). If `accounting' is enabled, then there is a third daemon called slurmdbd managing the communications between an accounting database and the management node.

Common slurm user commands include sacct, salloc, sattach, sbatch, sbcast, scancel, scontrol, sinfo, smap, squeue, srun, strigger and sview and they are available on each compute node. Manual pages for each of these commands are accessible in the usual manner, that is man sbatch for example (see below).


A node in slurm is a compute resource. This is usually defined by particular consumable resources, i.e. memory, CPU, etc…


A partition (or queue) is a set of nodes with usually common characteristics and/or limits.

Partitions group nodes into logical (even overlapping if necessary) sets.


Jobs are allocations of consumable resources assigned to a user under specified conditions.

Job Steps

A job step is a single task within a job. Each job can have multiple tasks (steps) even parallel ones.

Common user commands

  • sacct: used to report job or job step accounting information about active or completed jobs.
  • salloc: used to allocate resources for a job in real time. Typically this is used to allocate resources and spawn a shell. The shell is then used to execute srun commands to launch parallel tasks.
  • sbatch: used to submit a job script for later execution. The script typically contains an srun command to launch parallel tasks plus any other environment definitions needed.
  • scancel: used to cancel a pending or running job or job step.
  • sinfo: used to report the state of partitions and nodes managed by Slurm.
  • squeue: used to report the state of running and pending jobs or job steps.
  • srun: used to submit a job for execution or initiate job steps in real time. srun allows users to requests arbitrary consumable resources.


Determine what partitions exist on the system, what nodes they include, and the general system state.

$ sinfo

A * near a partition name indicates the default partition. See man sinfo

Display all active jobs by user bongo?

$squeue -u <username>

See man squeue.

Report more detailed information about partitions, nodes, jobs, job steps, and configuration

$ scontrol show partition notebook
$scontrol show node maris004
novamaris [1087] $ scontrol show jobs 1052

See man scontrol.

Create three tasks running on different nodes

novamaris [1088] $ srun -N3 -l /bin/hostname
2: maris007
0: maris005
1: maris006

Create three tasks running on the same node

novamaris [1090] $ srun -n3 -l /bin/hostname
2: maris005
1: maris005
0: maris005

Create three tasks running on different nodes specifying which nodes should at least be used

 srun -N3 -w "maris00[5-6]" -l /bin/hostname
1: maris006
0: maris005
2: maris007

Allocate resources and spawn job steps within that allocation

novamaris [1094] $ salloc -n2
salloc: Granted job allocation 1061
novamaris [997] $ srun /bin/hostname
novamaris [998] $ exit
salloc: Relinquishing job allocation 1061
novamaris [1095] $ 

Create a job script and submit it to slurm for execution

Suppose has the following contents

#!/bin/env bash
#SBATCH -n 2
#SBATCH -w maris00[5-6]
srun hostname

then submit it using sbatch

See man sbatch.

Less-common user commands

  • sacctmgr
  • sstat
  • sshare
  • sprio
  • sacct


Display info on configured qos

$ sacctmgr show qos format=Name,MaxCpusPerUser,MaxJobsPerUser,Flags


Displays information pertaining to CPU, Task, Node, Resident Set Size (RSS) and Virtual Memory (VM) of a running job

$sstat -o JobID,MaxRSS,AveRSS,MaxPages,AvePages,AveCPU,MaxDiskRead 8749.batch

       JobID     MaxRSS     AveRSS MaxPages   AvePages     AveCPU MaxDiskRead
------------ ---------- ---------- -------- ---------- ---------- ------------
8749.batch      196448K    196448K        0          0  01:00.000 7.03M

:!: Note that in the example above the job is identified by id 8749.batch in which the word `batch' is appended to the id displayed using the squeue command. This is a necessary addition whenever a running program is not parallel i.e. not using `srun'.


Display the shares associated to a particular user

$ sshare -U -u <username>
             Account       User  RawShares  NormShares    RawUsage  EffectvUsage  FairShare 
-------------------- ---------- ---------- ----------- ----------- ------------- ---------- 
xxxxx                    yyyyyy          1    0.024390    37733389      0.076901   0.112428


Display priority information of a pending job id xxx

sprio -l -j xxx

To find what priority a running job was given type

squeue -o %Q -j <jobid>


It displays accounting data for all jobs and job steps in the Slurm job accounting log or Slurm database. For instance

sacct -o JobID,JobName,User,AllocNodes,AllocTRES,AveCPUFreq,AveRSS,Start,End -j 13180,13183
       JobID    JobName      User AllocNodes  AllocTRES AveCPUFreq     AveRSS               Start                 End 
------------ ---------- --------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ------------------- ------------------- 
13180             test2   xxxxxxx          1 cpu=8,mem+                       2017-04-10T13:34:33 2017-04-10T14:08:24 
13180.batch       batch                    1 cpu=8,mem+    116.13M    354140K 2017-04-10T13:34:33 2017-04-10T14:08:24 
13183             test3   xxxxxxx          1 cpu=8,mem+                       2017-04-10T13:54:52 2017-04-10T14:26:34 
13183.batch       batch                    1 cpu=8,mem+         2G     10652K 2017-04-10T13:54:52 2017-04-10T14:26:34 
13183.0         xpyxmci                    1 cpu=8,mem+      1.96G     30892K 2017-04-10T13:54:53 2017-04-10T14:26:34 

:!: Use –noconvert if you want sacct to display consistent units across jobs.


To minimize the time your job spends in the queue you could specify multiple partitions so that the job could start as soon as possible. Use –partition=notebook,playground,computation for instance.

To have a rough estimate of when your queued job will start type squeue –start

To translate a job script written for a scheduler different than slurm to slurm's own syntax consider using

top-like node usage

Should you want to monitor the usage of the cluster nodes in a top-like fashion type

sinfo -i 5 -S"-O" -o "%.9n %.6t %.10e/%m %.10O %.15C"

top-like job stats

To monitor the resources consumed by your running job type

watch -n1 sstat --format JobID,NTasks,nodelist,MaxRSS,MaxVMSize,AveRSS,AveVMSize,AveCpuFreq <jobid>[.batch]

Make local file available to all nodes allocated to a slurm job

To transmit a file to all nodes allocated to the currently active Slurm job use sbcast. For instance

 > cat my.job
   #!/bin/env bash
   sbcast my.prog /tmp/my.prog
   srun /tmp/my.prog

 > sbatch --nodes=8 my.job
   srun: jobid 145 submitted

Specify nodes for a job

For instance #SBATCH –nodelist=maris0xx

Environment variables available to slurm jobs

Type printenv | grep -i slurm to display them.

slurm_tutorial.txt · Last modified: 2019/01/16 08:35 by lenocil