Software modules

Learn about the software modules.

Scientfic software environment module

On a HPC system, it is necessary to make available a wide choice of software packages in multiple versions, it can be quite difficult to set up the user environment so as to always find the required executables and libraries.

This is particularly true where different implementations or versions use the same names for files. Environment modules provide a way to selectively activate and deactivate modifications to the user environment which allow particular packages and versions to be found.

Module commands

The basic command to use is module:

   (no arguments)             // print usage instructions
   avail or av                // list available software modules 
   whatis                     // as above with brief descriptions
   load <modulename>          // add a module to your environment
   unload <modulename>        // remove a module
   purge                      // remove all modules

Modules work by setting environment variables such as PATH and LD_LIBRARY_PATH. Therefore if you need to modify variables directly it is essential to retain the original values to avoid breaking loaded modules (and potentially rendering essential software "not found") - e.g. do the following:

export PATH=$PATH:/home/abc123/custom_bin_directory
export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=$LD_LIBRARY_PATH:/home/abc123/custom_lib_directory

Some modules refer to administrative software and are not of interest to users and also some modules load other modules. It is possible to make use of various versions of Intel compiler and parallel libraries by explicitly loading some of the above modules.

By default the login environment loads several modules required for the normal operation of the account: e.g. the default versions of the Intel compilers and Intel Math Kernel Library, batch scheduling system and the recommended MPI for the particular flavour of compute node hardware. One can list the modules actually loaded by issuing the command module list. Which produce the following example output:

module list
Currently Loaded Modulefiles:
    1) kvm/3.4.5+6             4) switcher/1.0.13
    2) default-manpath/1.0.1   5) oscar-modules/1.0.5
    3) torque-pbs/2.3.7

Using modules in batch files

To use software package foo in a batch job script (discussed later) it is a simple matter of specifying module load foo See the appropriate packages entry in the software page (and the output of the module list) for details of the expected package name for this flag.

Creating your own modules

Apart from the available system environment modules, you can define your own modules and load module load use.own. This will set up the $HOME/privatemodules directory with an initial module file called null. It will also change your MODULEPATH environment variable to ensure that the module command looks for the modules in your home directory. See man modulefile for further information on writing your own modules.