Centos7 Desktops

The 64bit Centos7 desktops are intended to be a combination of a standard Linux desktop, interactive node, grid UI and low priority batch node.

The desktop should be labelled with a model number and identifying DIC number. Be sure to quote both if you are having any problems.

gamma.ph.liv.ac.uk, phi.ph.liv.ac.uk, kappa.ph.liv.ac.uk and hepcuda1.ph.liv.ac.uk are available for use with Centos7 HEP build.

Logging in

Use your normal HEP linux login. The default desktop environment is GNOME 3. You can choose a different environment by clicking on the cog icon after entering your username (before entering the password). We do not mandate any particular environment and all should run the full range of software, but GNOME tends to have better compatibility with some services particularly printing. For an interface more similar to that in SL6 choose the GNOME Classic or Cinnamon interfaces.

Desktops can be accessed via SSH from any system on-site (there is no external SSH access for any system other than gateway), and via VNC if you create a VNC session on the desktop. Please do not set up sessions on other people's desktops unless agreed beforehand.

Accessing VNC sessions

VNC sessions running on the desktop can be accessed on and off site. You will need to set up your session with a session number of 10 or lower (eg vncserver :1). On site you can connect your VNC viewer directly to this session eg
  • vncviewer hep140:1
Some sessions crash when using certain applications (eg ROOT with graphical windows), this is usually mitigated by passing the "-bs" switch when setting up the session eg
  • vncserver hep140:1 -bs
Off site you will need to tunnel through gateway. You can set this up manually but in SL6 or later this is built in, using eg
  • vncviewer -via gateway.ph.liv.ac.uk hep140:1


There is 230GB of temporary storage under /tmp. The standard $HEPTMP variable points to a directory under this. Please do not store files permanently in this area, use your main user area ( $HOME) or hepstore. Files under /tmp are not guaranteed to be kept after a reboot or to be on reliable storage and are cleaned up after 30days by default. Desktops are also intended to be stateless and easily replaced in case of faults.

Be careful with external drives. If they are left connected when a system is upgraded it could be reformatted and the data wiped. Always remove external drives if the system is left unattended or to be rebooted.


If you delete files using the graphical interface the files will be sent to Trash, where they can be retrieved later or permanently deleted. Be aware that files in trash still count towards your quota. Also on volumes other than your user area files sent to Trash will not be visible in the Trash folder. They will be stored in VOLUME/.Trash-uid eg for a user with uid 1234 on hepstore files will be placed in /hepstore/.Trash-1234. As this is not obvious and is awkard to clean up we recommend graphical file tools aren't used for file operations on bulk data storage areas ie hepstore, bundle, scratch etc.

WISP cloud storage

Centos7 supports the latest Owncloud synchronisation clients meaning you can synchronise files in your user area with the WISP cloud storage system. See the WispStorageGuide for more information on how to set this up.


Pine is now known as 'alpine'.

Mozilla Thunderbird is installed.

Webmail is available at https://hep.ph.liv.ac.uk/webmail/ .

Grid UI

The desktops (and all other standard SL6 and Centos7 systems eg batch nodes) are configured with a grid UI by default, you do not need to configure anything to enable it. Ensure you have a valid proxy before submitting any batch jobs that will access grid resources. Some deprecated tools (eg lcg-cp) are missing, please use the gfal-* equivalents. Please report any grid tool you can't find an alternative for.

The Centos 7 UI has caused problems with ATLAS configuration in the past (particularly rucio) but we believe it has been fixed. If you experience problems let us know on helpdesk.

Batch Jobs

The Centos 7 desktops and nodes uses a new batch system, Slurm. Access isn't automatic, if you are denied access to submit jobs please email helpdesk to be added.

There is lots of documentation on the Slurm website.

To make the transition easier Slurm provides wrapper scripts to give similar utilities to the old PBS batch system, eg qsub, qstat, pbsnodes. PBS-style job scripts can be used with these wrappers, usually with no modifications. There are some subtle differences in the way the commands work compared to the old system (eg the way stdout/stderr files are handled) so be sure to check your scripts first.

Slurm has native commands for submitting jobs and querying the system (most tools give instructions with the --help switch or man pages). The equivalent of the PBS 'queue' is the Slurm 'partition'.
Slurm Command Action Notes PBS Equivalent
sbatch Submit a batch script job

-p to specify partition (queue)

-t HH:MM:SS to request walltime

-c N to request N CPUs

--mem=N(KMG) to request N RAM

srun Start an interactive job or jobstep Usually called within a jobscript qsub
squeue List queued jobs and their state -l for long form output qstat
sshare List user usage and job priority

-a to show all users

Values updated every 5mins

sinfo List partitions or nodes -N for node format, -l for more info qstat -Q
scancel Cancel job(s) Give a list of jobids qdel
smap Text view of jobs and nodes -i N to update every N seconds  
sview Graphical view of jobs and nodes    

Job accounting details

eg CPU, RAM consumption

-j to show specific job

-a to show all jobs


There are currently two partitions ('queues') but the partitions and their resources may vary:
Queue name Max RAM/CPU Max CPUs/job Default/Max Walltime CPUs Notes
short 1900MB 8 4hrs/8hrs 40 Dedicated older batch nodes, fast network
compute 5300MB 24 24hrs/48hrs 96 Default. Dedicated batch nodes, fast network.
All queues can have jobs submitted from desktops, but advanced operations that require connecting directly to the compute nodes will only work from interactive nodes (most job scripts shouldn't need this).

A simple example jobscript to be submitted with sbatch (for a job that runs with 4 threads per process, and needs 4hrs 30minutes to run on the 'medium' partition)
#SBATCH -c 4
#SBATCH -p compute
#SBATCH -J myfirstjob
#SBATCH -t 04:30:00

#run the application:

Or a job that needs 1GPU of any type and 2CPUs
#SBATCH --gres=gpu:1
#SBATCH -p gpu
#SBATCH -c 2
#SBATCH -J gpujob

Job resources are constrained by Linux cgroups. This effectively means that job processes won't be allowed to exceed their CPU or RAM limits (default or requested) eg if your job requests 1 CPU but runs 4 processes they will only get 25% of a CPU each.

GPU Acceleration

Some Centos7 systems (phi, hepcuda1 interactive nodes and some batch nodes) contain a NVidia graphics card with a minimum of 6GB video RAM. They are available for CUDA and OpenCL GPGPU processing tasks. The CUDA development kit is available under /usr/local/cuda/ and is enabled by default.

Configuring Development tools

Centos7 comes with a number of development packages. This is supplemented by local installs located in /user/software. If you require a package that isn't installed let the admins know on helpdesk.

Note that the short commands below (eg gccSetup) only work in login shells eg SSH logins or batch jobs.


The system compiler provided with Centos7 is version 4.8.5 and is enabled by default.

Newer versions of GCC are available. They can be configured by calling the setup script eg for version 6.2.0
  • gccSetup 6.2.0
  • or source /user/software/gcc/gccSetup.sh 6.2.0
If you supply a version that doesn't exist all available versions for the current OS and architecture will be listed.

By default the compiler will optimise for a generic 64bit intel CPU. You can enable extra CPU optimisations with the -march=ARCH switch. Suggested architecture levels for use on the HEP linux network are
  • core2 (all Linux systems including desktops)
  • westmere (all interactive, batch and grid nodes)
  • haswell (some newer interactive nodes and all 'compute' batch nodes)
  • native (only for use on the node being compiled on)
The optimisations enable more math-based instructions which could speed up CPU-bound simulations.


The system version of Python provided with Centos7 is 2.7.5. Most standard Python add-ons eg numpy, are installed.

Newer versions of Python are available, including Python 3.x. They can be configured by calling the setup script eg for version 3.6.3
  • pythonSetup 3.6.3
  • or source /user/software/python/pythonSetup.sh 3.6.3
If you supply a version that doesn't exist all available versions for the current OS and architecture will be listed.


Extra Python modules can be installed in virtual environment in your home directory using the virtualenv command.

Configure the version of Python you wish to use. Then create the directory to contain your new environment eg
  • virtualenv myenv
Activate your environment with
  • source myenv/bin/activate
You can then use standard Python package managers eg pip to install extra modules eg
  • pip install module_name
The virtual environment will copy some base Python packages as well your additional modules. This will take up space on whichever device you have placed your environment directory on. Be aware this could impact on quotas.

Adding additional modules can be done simply without a virtual environment, although it requires more work and configuration. Some modules may not work properly with this method.

Create a directory you want to use for this eg ~/python. Configure whichever version of Python you want eg

  • pythonSetup.sh 3.6.3
Add your personal python directory to the PYTHONPATH environment variable eg

  • export PYTHONPATH=~/python:$PYTHONPATH
When installing the module specify this directory as the home for the installation with eg

  • python setup.py install --home=~/python


We provide a central install of Anaconda. This includes a large number of extra packages, usually more recent versions than supplied with Centos7 itself. This can be configured with
  • source /user/software/anaconda/anaconda-2019.03-python3.7-x86_64/bin/activate
for python 3.6 or
  • source /user/software/anaconda/anaconda-5.2.0-python2.7-x86_64/bin/activate
for python 2.7.

If you need any packages which aren't included by default please contact Helpdesk.


ROOT is supplied in the local software area and enabled by default.

Many versions of ROOT are available. They can be configured by calling the setup script eg for version 6.06.08
  • rootSetup 6.06.08
  • or source /user/software/root/rootSetup.sh 6.06.08
If you supply a version that doesn't exist all available versions for the current OS and architecture will be listed.


A newer version of CMake is supplied in the local software area.

Many versions of CMake are available. They can be configured by calling the setup script eg for version 3.7.1
  • cmakeSetup 3.7.1
  • or source /user/software/cmake/cmakeSetup.sh 3.7.1
If you supply a version that doesn't exist all available versions for the current OS and architecture will be listed.


Geant4 is available in /user/software/geant4 and can be configured with the built in scripts eg
  • source /user/software/geant4/geant4.10.03-x86_64-cc7-48/bin/geant4.sh
  • source /user/software/geant4/geant4.10.03-x86_64-cc7-48/share/Geant4-10.3.0/geant4make/geant4make.sh

LCG Views

CERN provides extensive collections of HEP-related software and development tools (eg gcc, python, root, lhapdf, geant4) via CVMFS. These can be configured using
  • source /cvmfs/sft.cern.ch/lcg/views/setupViews.sh <LCG_directory> <arch-os-compiler>
  • source /cvmfs/sft.cern.ch/lcg/views/setupViews.sh LCG_101 x86_64-centos7-gcc11-opt
Running the script with no arguments will show the available releases and options.

Individual package releases can be configured directly if you don't want the full suite. eg to configure GCC11 and ROOT (note that for compatibility extra packages should be sourced from LCG release directory, LCG_101 in this case, not the package directories directly)
  • source /cvmfs/sft.cern.ch/lcg/releases/gcc/11.1.0/x86_64-centos7/setup.sh
  • source /cvmfs/sft.cern.ch/lcg/releases/LCG_101/ROOT/6.24.06/x86_64-centos7-gcc11-opt/bin/thisroot.sh
These software installs should also be available on any system where CVMFS is available (eg lxplus, grid jobs etc).

There is further information on the CERN LCG website https://lcgdocs.web.cern.ch/lcgdocs/lcgreleases/introduction/.


Newer versions of Boost are available in
  • /user/software/boost/
CADENCE can be configured with
  • source /eda/cadence-config.sh
Sentaurus TCAD can be configured with
  • source /eda/tcad-config.sh
Newer versions of the full Texlive suite and Texstudio graphical editor are available locally
  • source /user/software/texlive/texliveSetup.sh
  • /user/software/texstudio/texstudio-latest.sh


Centos7 systems should come with one print queue enabled: StaffQueueSouth. This prints to the University Ricoh printer system. You will need to input your MWS username and password for the print jobs to be accepted. Most GNOME tools will ask for this information, but many KDE or other non-standard tools may not, in which case the print jobs will not be accepted.

Further instructions are available on the CSD website http://www.liv.ac.uk/csd/printing/staff-printing/ .


The audio system should be working. There are two possible microphone and headphone outputs; the rear ports or the front panel. You will need to select which microphone/capture device you are using with eg the Gnome Sound Preferences application (this should also work with most USB headsets).

Gnome Sound Preferences Input

Gnome Sound Preferences Output

Using Zoom

The Zoom client should be installed and available from the applications menu under tje Internet section.

Follow the instructions for accessing the Zoom meeting as per any other operating system.

To change the audio/video devices click the up arrow next to the microphone or camera icons in the meeting window. On board sound will be listed as "Built-in", USB headsets should show as USB devices. Ignore HDMI devices as these are graphics card outputs for monitors.

Known Issues

  • There are no screensavers, the desktop can be locked but only with a blank screen.
  • Vidyo clients can be unreliable, but this is hardly unique to Centos7.
Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
soundpreferences.pngpng soundpreferences.png manage 29 K 18 Nov 2016 - 09:10 JohnBland  
soundpreferences2.pngpng soundpreferences2.png manage 37 K 18 Nov 2016 - 09:10 JohnBland  
vidyodevices.pngpng vidyodevices.png manage 40 K 18 Nov 2016 - 09:10 JohnBland  
Topic revision: r38 - 31 May 2022, JohnBland
This site is powered by FoswikiCopyright © by the contributing authors. All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
Ideas, requests, problems regarding Foswiki? Send feedback