About Science-IT and Triton¶
This is the first tutorial. The next is Connecting to Triton.
Science-IT is an Aalto infrastructure for scientific computing. Its roots was a collaboration between the Information and Computer Science department (now part of CS), Biomedical Engineering and Computational Science department (now NBE), and Applied Physics department. Now, it still serves all Aalto and is organized from the School of Science.
You are now at the first step of the Triton tutorial.
Triton is a mid-sized heterogeneous computational Linux cluster. This means that we are not at a massive scale (though we are, after CSC, the largest publically known known cluster in Finland). We are heterogeneous, so we continually add new hardware and incrementally upgrade. We are designed for scientific computing and data analysis. We use Linux as an operating system (like most supercomputers). We are a cluster: many connected nodes with a scheduling system to divide work between them. The network and some storage is shared, CPUs, memory, and other storage is not shared.
A real Ship of Theseus
In the Ship of Theseus thought experiment, every piece of a ship is incrementally replaced. Is it the same ship or not?
Triton is a literal Ship of Theseus. Over the ~10 years it has existed, every part has been upgraded and replaced, except possibly some random cables and other small parts. Yet, it is still Triton. Most clusters are recycled after a certain lifetime and replaced with a new one.
On an international scale of universities, the power of Triton is relatively high and it has a very diverse range of uses, though CSC has much more. Using this power requires more effort than using your own computer - you will need to get/be comfortable in the shell, using shell scripting, managing software, managing data, and so on. Triton is a good system to use for learning.
Main article: Training
As time goes on, computers are getting easier and easier to use. However, research is not a consumer product, and the fact is that you need more knowledge to use Triton than most people learn in academic courses.
Science-IT has created a (still under development) modular training plan, which divides useful knowledge into levels. In order to use Triton well, you need to be somewhat proficient at Linux usage (C level). In order to do parallel work, you need to be good at the D-level and also somewhat proficient at the HPC level (E-level). This tutorial and user guide covers the D-level, but it is up to you to reach the C-level first.
Main article: Getting Triton help
There are many ways to get help. Most daily questions should go to our issue tracker (direct link), which is hosted on Aalto Gitlab (login with the HAKA button). This is especially important because many people end up asking the same questions, and in order to scale everyone needs to work together.
Please, don’t send us personal email, because not everyone is here all the time and you may end up asking someone other than the best person. Personal email is also very likely to get lost. By the same token, we have a service email address, but this should only be used for account matters. If it affects others (software, usage problems, etc), use the issue tracker, otherwise we will point you there and spend lots of time answering the same questions over and over.
Also, always search this scicomp docs site and old issues in the issue tracker.
We have weekly “SciComp garage” sessions where we provide help in person.
However, the most important thing is to be able to continually develop your skills to help yourself and your colleagues. See the previous section for our solution for this.
Triton, being a shared system, has more complicated software requirements. In an upcoming tutorial, you will learn how to use existing software. Be aware that installing your own is possible (and people do it all the time), but does require some attention to details. Either way, you will need to know the basics of software on Linux.