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Research Cyberinfrastructure

Tutorials and Documentation

Using the PBS Queue

Frequently Used Commands

Command Description
qsub [script] Submit a pbs job
qstat [job_id] Show status of pbs batch jobs
qdel [job_id] Delete pbs batch job
qhold [job_id] Hold pbs batch jobs
qrls [job_id] Release hold on pbs batch jobs

Check Queue and Job Status

Command Description
qstat -q List all queues
qstat -a List all jobs
qstat -au <userid> list jobs for userid
qstat -r List running jobs
qstat -f <job_id> List full information about job_id
qstat -Qf <queue> List full information about queue
qstat -B List summary status of the job server
pbsnodes List status of all compute nodes

Job Submission Options for qsub

When submitting a job to the queue with qsub you can specify options either within your script, or as command line options. If given within the script, they must be at the beginning of the script and preceded by #PBS (as shown in the following table). If given on the command line, drop the #PBS and just use the option as usual.

Command Description
#PBS -N myjob Set the job name
#PBS -m ae Mail status when the job completes
#PBS -M your@email.address Mail to this address
#PBS -l nodes=4 Allocate specified number of nodes
#PBS -l file=150gb Allocate disk space on nodes
#PBS -l walltime=1:00:00 Inform the PBS scheduler of the expected runtime
#PBS -t 0-5 Start a job array with IDs that range from 0 to 5
#PBS -l host=<hostname> Run your job on a specific host (cl1n0[1-64]-ib)
#PBS -V Export all environment variables to the batch job

Basic Usage

Torque dynamically allocates resources for your job. All you need to do is submit it to the queue (with qsub) and it will find the resources for you. Note though that Torque is not aware of the details of the program that you are wanting to run and so may need to tell it what resources you require (memory, nodes, cpus, etc.).

Submitting a job

To submit a job to the queue you must write a shell script that torque will use to run your program. In its simplest form, a torque command file would look like the following:


This shell script simply runs the program, my_prog. To submit this job to the queue, use the qsub command,

> qsub

where the contents of the file is code snippet above. Torque will respond with the job number and ib-net,


In this case Torque has identified your job with job number 45. You have now submitted your job to the default queue and will be run as soon as there are resources available for it. By default, the standard error and output of your script are redirected to files in your home directory. They will have the name <job_name>.o<job_no>, and <job_name>.e<job_no> for standard output and error, respectively. Thus, for our example, standard output will be written to, and standard error will be written to

Deleting a job

If you want to delete a job that you already submitted, use the qdel command. This immediately removes your job from the queue and kills it if it is already running. To delete the job from the previous example (job number 45),

>qdel 45

Check the status of a job

Use qstat to check the status of a job. This returns a brief status report of all your jobs that are either queued or running. For example,

       Job id                    Name             User            Time Use S Queue
       ------------------------- ---------------- --------------- -------- - -----
       45.nick		        STDIN            username               0 R workq
       46.nick		        STDIN            username               0 Q workq

In this case, job number 45 is running ('R'), and job number 46 is queued ('Q'). Both have been submitted to the workq.

Advanced Usage

As mentioned before, Torque is not aware of what resources your program will need and so may need to give it some hints. This can be done on the command line when calling qsub or within your Torque command file. Torque will parse comments within your command file of the form #PBS. Text that follows this is interpreted as if it were given on the command line with the qsub command. please see the qsub man page for a full list of options (man qsub).

Job Submission: There are options in the shell script that can be used to customize your job. Continuing with the example of the previous section, the command script could be customized,

#PBS -N example_job
#PBS -l mem=2gb
#PBS -o my_job.out
#PBS -e my_job.err

Here we have renamed the job to be example_job, tell Torque that the job will use 2GB of memory, and redirect standard output and error to the files my_job.out and my_job.err, respectively. Torque looks for lines that begin with #PBS at the beginning of your command file (ignoring a first line starting with #!). Once it encounters a non-comment line (that isn't blank), it ignores any other directives that might be present.

#PBS -r n                       # The job is not rerunnable.
#PBS -r y                       # The job is rerunnable
#PBS -q testq                   # The queue to submit to
#PBS -N testjob                 # The name of the job
#PBS -o testjob.out             # The file to print the output to
#PBS -e testjob.err             # The file to print the error to
# Mail Directives
#PBS -m abe                     # The points durring the execution to send an email
#PBS -M  		      # Who to Mail to
#PBS -l walltime=01:00:00       # Specify the walltime
#PBS -l pmem=100mb              # Memory Allocation for the Job
#PBS -l nodes=4                 # Number of nodes to Allocate
#PBS -l nodes=4:ppn=3           # Number of nodes and the number processors per node

You can use any of the above options in the script to customize your job. If all of the above options are used, the job will be named testjob and be put into the testq. It will only run for 1 hour and mail at the beginning and end of the job. It will use 4 nodes with 3 processors per node, with a total of 12 processors and 100 mb of memory.

Job Arrays

Sometimes you may want to submit a large number of jobs based on the same script. An example might be a Monte Carlo simulation where each simulation uses a different input file or set of input files. Torque uses job arrays to handle this situation. Job arrays allow the user to submit a large number of jobs with a single qsub command. For example,

> qsub -t 10-23

would submit 14 jobs to the queue with each job sharing the same script and running in a similar environment. When the script is run for each job, torque defines the envrionment variable PBS_ARRAYID that is set to the array index of the job. For the above example, the array indices would range from 10 to 23. The script then is able to use the PBS_ARRAYID variable to take particular action depending on its id. For instance, it could gather particular input files that are identified by its id.

Torque references the set of jobs generated by such a command with a slightly different naming convention,

> qsub -t 100,102-105
> qstat
45-100.nick ...
45-102.nick ...
45-103.nick ...
45-104.nick ...
45-105.nick ...

You can now refer to all of the jobs as a group or individual jobs. For example, if you would like to stop all of the jobs

> qdel 45

If you would like to stop a single job of the group

> qdel 45-103

Torque environment variables

Before Torque runs your script it defines a set of environment variables that you can use anywhere within your script. That is, either in PBS directives or in commands. For example,

#PBS -N example_job
#PBS -l mem=2gb
#PBS -o my_job.out
#PBS -e my_job.err
my_prog ${IN_FILE}

Torque has set the environment variable PBS_O_HOME to be the home directory on which the qsub command was run.

The following environment variables relate to the machine on which qsub was executed:

Variable Name Description
PBS_O_HOST The name of the host machine.
PBS_O_LOGNAME The login name of the user running qsub.
PBS_O_HOME Home directory of the user running qsub.
PBS_O_WORKDIR The working directory (the directory where qsub was executed).
PBS_O_QUEUE The original queue to which the job was submitted.

The following variables relate to the environment on the machine where the job is to be run:

Variable Name Description
PBS_ENVIRONMENT Evaluates to PBS_BATCH for batch jobs and to PBS_INTERACTIVE for interactive jobs.
PBS_JOBID The identifier that PBS assigns to the job.
PBS_JOBNAME The name of the job.
PBS_NODEFILE The file containing the list of nodes assigned to a parallel job.
PBS_ARRAYID ID assigned to a job of a job array

Check the status of a job

You can check the status of your jobs with Torque.

Torque provides the qstat command to check job status. Please see the qstat man page for a full list of options (man qstat). Some useful options that were not listed above include:

Option Description
qstat -n Show which nodes are allocated to each job.
qstat -f Show a full status display.
qstat -u Show status for jobs owned by a specified user.
qstat -q Show status for a particular queue.