In addition to the software provided on the cluster, you are welcome to install your own software. Before installing software yourself, first check if it is already provided on the cluster by running module avail and looking to see if the software is listed. Please note that some modules are listed hierarchically, and will only appear on the list after the parent module has been loaded (e.g. libraries for C compilers will only appear after you’ve loaded the respective parent module.)

Requirements for software on Savio

Software you install on the cluster will need to:

  • Be runnable (executable) on Scientific Linux 7 (i.e. essentially Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7). Choose the x86_64 tarball where available.
  • Run in command line mode, or - if remote, graphical access is required - provide such access via X Windows (X11).
  • Be capable of installation without root/sudo privileges. This may involve adding command line options to installation commands or changing values in installation-related configuration files, for instance; see your vendor- or community-provided documentation for instructions.
  • Be capable of installation in the storage space you have available. (For instance, the source code, intermediate products of installation scripts, and installed binaries must fit within your 10 GB space provided for your home directory, or within a group directory if the software is to be shared with other members of your group.)
  • If compiled from source, be capable of being built using the compiler suites on Savio (GCC and Intel), or via user-installed compilers.
  • Be capable of running without a persistent database running on Savio. An externally hosted database, to which your software on Savio connects, is OK. So is a database that is run on Savio only during execution of your job(s), which is populated by reading files from disk and whose state is saved (if necessary) by exporting the database state to files on disk.
  • If commercial or otherwise license-restricted, come with a license that permits cluster usage (multi-core, and potentially multi-node), as well as a license enforcement mechanism (if any) that’s compatible with the Savio environment.

If your software has installation dependencies – such as libraries, interfaces, or modules – first check whether they are already provided on the cluster before installing them yourself. Make sure that you’ve first loaded the relevant compiler, interpreted language, or application before examining the list of provided software, because that list is dynamically adjusted based on your current environment.

Installation location

The most important part of installing software on Savio is identifying where you should install it, and how you should modify the installation script to point to the right location.

If you are installing software exclusively for your use, you can install it in your Home directory (/global/home/users/YOUR-USER-NAME). More often, people are installing software for their whole group to use; in that case, you should install it in your group directory (/global/home/groups/YOUR-GROUP-NAME). If your group does not have a shared directory defined, and you need one, please email In any case, be cognizant of space limitations in your Home directory (10GB) or group directory (see documentation on storage limits for different types of groups).

If you will be doing a lot of software installation, you may want to add sub-directories for sources (source files downloaded), modules (the installed software), scripts (if you want to document and routinize your installation process using a script – which is recommended), and modfiles (to create module files that will make software installed in a group directory visible to your group members via the modules command).

Example installation process

The following example illustrates how to install the GDAL geospatial library. It assumes that you have set up sub-directories as discussed above.

  • Find the URL for the Linux binary tarball for your source code.
  • Change to the directory where you want to install the software (e.g. your Home directory or group directory.) If you have a created sources sub-directory to help keep things tidy, move there; otherwise, you can simply download the source within your installation directory. Example:

    `cd /global/home/groups/my_group/sources`
  • Download the source tarball. Example:

  • Untar the file you downloaded. Example:

    `tar -zxvf gdal-2.2.1.tar.gz`
  • Change to the new directory that was created with the contents of the tarball. Example:

    `cd gdal-2.2.1`
  • Check the documentation for your software to determine where and how you can set the parameters for where the software will be installed. This varies from package to package, and may require modifying the configuration files in the source code itself. Make those changes as needed.
    • For the gdal example (and this is the case for lots of other software), the documentation indicates that we can specify the installation location by adding --prefix=/path/to/your/location when running the config file.
  • Run the config file, adding in any required parameters for specifying location. If you’ve created a modules subfolder in your target directory, you may want to additionally create a directory for the software package, and a subdirectory for each version. If your software doesn’t have a config file, you will have to modify the Makefile itself to build it. Building the software can be done from any directory where you have the correct permissions. Once you have a binary, you can copy it to the correct location. Example:

    `mkdir -p /global/home/groups/my_group/modules/gdal/2.2.1`
    `./configure --prefix=/global/home/groups/my_group/modules/gdal/2.2.1`
  • Debug the configuration process as needed.
    • If the configuration fails due to insufficient permissions, then something in the process is probably trying to use a default path. Double-check that you’ve overridden the default paths for every aspect of the configuration process, to ensure that files are written to directories for which you have write permission.
    • One way to log everything from the configuration process for later debugging is as follows:

      `script /global/home/groups/my_group/sources/logfile-software-version`
    • When you want to stop logging, run exit. All the output will be logged to the file logfile-software-version (e.g., logfile-gdal-2.2.1) in the sources sub-directory. Build and install the software
  • Build the software:

  • Install the software:

    `make install`
  • In most cases, we recommend using the default compiler; in SL7, this is GCC 6.3.0. If you have a particular reason to use the Intel compiler, you’ll need to load it first with module load intel, which loads the default version.

  • Change the permissions. You’ll want other people in your group to be able to modify and run the software.
    • To allow the group to modify the software, change the UNIX group of the installed software. Example:

      `cd modules; chgrp -R my_group gdal/`
  • Make the software executable. Example:

    `chmod -R g+rwX gdal`

OPTIONAL: Create a modulefile. Adding a modulefile will mean that your software will appear on the list when people with the right set of permissions run module avail. Here is an example of a modulefile for gdal:

#%Module1.0 ## gdal 2.2.1 ## by Lizzy Borden`

proc ModulesHelp { } { puts stderr "loads the environment for gdal 2.2.1" }

module-whatis "loads the environment for gdal 2.2.1"

set GDAL_DIR /global/home/groups/my_group/modules/gdal/2.2.1/
prepend-path PATH $GDAL_DIR/bin
prepend-path LD_LIBRARY_PATH $GDAL_DIR/lib
prepend-path MANPATH $GDAL_DIR/man

Name the module file using the version number, in the case of the example “2.2.1”. Place the module file in the modfiles sub-directory and allow access by your group. For the example:

mkdir modfiles/gdal
mv 2.2.1 modfiles/gdal
cd modfiles
chgrp -R my_group gdal
chmod -R g+rwX gdal

Finally, tell your group members they will need to add /global/home/groups/my_group/modfiles to their MODULEPATH environment variable, which would usually be done in one’s .bashrc file:

export MODULEPATH=$MODULEPATH:/global/home/groups/my_group/modfiles

Example installation scripts

These examples use tee instead of script to create log files. They also compile the software in parallel with the -j8 flag.


make distclean
./configure --prefix=/global/home/groups/my_group/modules/gnuplot/4.6.0 --with-readline=gnu --with-gd=/usr 2>&1 | tee gnuplot-4.6.0.configure.log
make -j8 2>&1 | tee gnuplot-4.6.0.make.log
make check 2>&1 | tee gnuplot-4.6.0.check.log
make install 2>&1 | tee gnuplot-4.6.0.install.log
make distclean


module load gcc/4.4.7 openmpi/1.6.5-gcc qt/4.8.0 cmake/ boost/1.54.0-gcc
make distclean
cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/global/home/groups/my_group/modules/cgal/4.4-gcc . 2>&1 | tee cgal-4.4-gcc.cmake.log
make -j8 2>&1 | tee cgal-4.4-make.log
make install 2>&1 | tee cgal-4.4-install.log
make distclean


What if the software doesn’t come with a configure script?

If the software doesn’t come with a configure script, you will have to modify the Makefile itself to build it. Building the software can be done from any directory where you have the correct permissions. Once you have a binary, you can copy it to the correct location.

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