Serial Jobs

See also

This assumes you have read the interactive jobs tutorial first.


Triton is a large system that combines many different individual computers. At the same time, hundreds of people are using it. Thus, we must use a batch queuing system (slurm) in order to allocate resources.

The queue system takes computation requests from everyone, figures out the optimal use of resources, and allocates code to nodes. You have to start your code in a structured way in order for this to work. Our previous tutorial showed how to run things directly from the command line, without any scripting needed.

Now let’s see how to put these into scripts. Scripts allow jobs to run asynchronously, in batch, and without human supervision.

A basic script

Let’s say we want to run echo 'hello world'. We have to tell the system how to run it. Here is a simple submission script:

#SBATCH --time=0-00:05:00    # 5 mins
#SBATCH --mem-per-cpu=500    # 500MB of memory

srun echo 'hello, world'

(Need to edit a file? You can use the editor nano.) Each srun is a job step, and appears as a separate row in your history - which is useful for monitoring. Then submit it with sbatch:

$ sbatch

This sends it to the queue to wait. Since the time requested is short, it will probably run on the debug partition, which is reserved for small test jobs (see below). Let’s see if it is in the queue:

Checking job status

$ slurm q
13031249           debug              0:00              N/A  PENDING (None)

Keep rerunning slurm q until you see it finish.

The output is then saved to slurm-13031249.out in your current directory (the number being the job ID).

Job parameters

As you can see, the above script is limited to 5 minutes and 500MB of memory. All scripts have to have limits, otherwise they can’t be efficiently scheduled. If you exceed the limits, the jobs will be killed. At least you need to set --time, --mem-per-cpu or --mem.

See the previous tutorial, the reference page or the details page for more information and advanced usage.

The same parameters can be used in

  • The sbatch script, prefixed by #SBATCH
  • The sbatch command line program directly (like -p debug above)
  • sinteractive/srun from the command line, which lets you run programs without a batch script.

It is important to note that slurm is a declarative system. You declare what you need, and slurm handles finding the resources without you having to worry about details. The more resources you request, the harder it will be to schedule and the longer you may have to wait. So, you should ask for enough to make sure your job can complete, but once you get experience with your code reduce resources to just what is needed.

In general, you don’t want to go submitting too short jobs (under 5 minutes) because there is a lot of startup, accounting, and scheduling overhead. If you are testing, short things are fine, but once you get to bulk production try to have each job take at least 30 minutes if possible. If you have lots of things to run, combine them into fewer jobs.

Status of the jobs

Once you submit jobs, it goes into a queue. You need to be able to see the status of jobs. There are commands to do this.

slurm j <jobid> Status on single job (still running)
slurm history [2hours|5days|…] Info on completed jobs, including mem/cpu usage.
Command Description
slurm q ; slurm qq Status of your queued jobs (long/short)
slurm partitions Overview of partitions (A/I/O/T=active,idle,other,total)
slurm cpus <partition> list free CPUs in a partition
slurm history [1day,2hour,…] Show status of recent jobs
seff <jobid> Show percent of mem/CPU used in job
slurm j <jobid> Job details (only while running)
slurm s ; slurm ss <partition> Show status of all jobs
sacct Full history information (advanced, needs args)

Full slurm command help:

$ slurm

Show or watch job queue:
 slurm [watch] queue     show own jobs
 slurm [watch] q   show user's jobs
 slurm [watch] quick     show quick overview of own jobs
 slurm [watch] shorter   sort and compact entire queue by job size
 slurm [watch] short     sort and compact entire queue by priority
 slurm [watch] full      show everything
 slurm [w] [q|qq|ss|s|f] shorthands for above!
 slurm qos               show job service classes
 slurm top [queue|all]   show summary of active users
Show detailed information about jobs:
 slurm prio [all|short]  show priority components
 slurm j|job      show everything else
 slurm steps      show memory usage of running srun job steps
Show usage and fair-share values from accounting database:
 slurm h|history   show jobs finished since, e.g. "1day" (default)
 slurm shares
Show nodes and resources in the cluster:
 slurm p|partitions      all partitions
 slurm n|nodes           all cluster nodes
 slurm c|cpus            total cpu cores in use
 slurm cpus   cores available to partition, allocated and free
 slurm cpus jobs         cores/memory reserved by running jobs
 slurm cpus queue        cores/memory required by pending jobs
 slurm features          List features and GRES

 slurm q
 slurm watch shorter
 slurm cpus batch
 slurm history 3hours

Other advanced commands (many require lots of parameters to be useful):

Command Description
squeue Full info on queues
sinfo Advanced info on partitions
slurm nodes List all nodes

See the full list of status commands on the reference page.


There are different partitions, which have different limits. The “debug” partition is for short debugging, so is designed to always be available. The “batch” partition is designed for all the normal long jobs. There are also partitions for GPUs, huge memory nodes, interactive shells, and so on. Most of the time, you should leave the partition off, and slurm will use all possible partitions. You can specify your partitions with -p PARTITION_NAME to whatever command you are running, which is mainly needed if you want to force interactive or a test partition. The available partitions are listed on the reference page.

You can see the partitions in the quick reference.


  1. Basics
    1. Submit a batch job
    2. Set time to 1 hour and 15 minutes, memory to 500MB.
    3. Change the job’s name and output file
    4. Monitor the job with slurm watch queue
  2. Create a simple batch script with multiple job steps (srun): e.g. hostname, echo Hello, world!, and date. How does this appear in slurm history. When would you use extra srun commands, and when not?
  3. Create a batch script which does nothing (or some pointless operation for a while), for example sleep 300 (wait for 300 seconds) in the debug partition. Check the queue to see when it starts running. Then, cancel the job. What output is produced?
  4. (Advanced) Create a batch script that runs in another language. Does it run? What are some of the advantages and problems here?

Next steps

There is a full description of running jobs on Triton, and the reference page lists many useful commands.