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StarCluster is a utility for creating and managing computing clusters hosted on Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

Project description


StarCluster is a utility for creating and managing computing clusters hosted on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). StarCluster utilizes Amazon’s EC2 web service to create and destroy clusters of Linux virtual machines on demand.

All that’s needed to create your own cluster(s) on Amazon EC2 is an AWS account and StarCluster. StarCluster features:

  • Simple configuration - with examples ready to go out-of-the-box

  • Create/Manage Clusters - simple start command to automatically launch and configure one or more clusters on EC2

  • Automated Cluster Setup - includes NFS-sharing, Open Grid Scheduler queuing system, Condor, password-less ssh between machines, and more

  • Scientific Computing AMI - comes with Ubuntu 11.10-based EBS-backed AMI that contains Hadoop, OpenMPI, ATLAS, LAPACK, NumPy, SciPy, IPython, and other useful libraries

  • EBS Volume Sharing - easily NFS-share Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) volumes across a cluster for persistent storage

  • EBS-Backed Clusters - start and stop EBS-backed clusters on EC2

  • Cluster Compute Instances - support for “cluster compute” instance types

  • Expand/Shrink Clusters - scale a cluster by adding or removing nodes

  • Elastic Load Balancing - automatically shrink or expand a cluster based on Open Grid Scheduler queue statistics

  • Plugin Support - allows users to run additional setup routines on the cluster after StarCluster’s defaults. Comes with plugins for IPython parallel+notebook, Condor, Hadoop, MPICH2, MySQL cluster, installing Ubuntu packages, and more.

Interested? See the getting started section for more details.

Getting Started:

Install StarCluster using easy_install:

$ easy_install StarCluster

or using pip:

$ pip install StarCluster

or manually:

$ (Download StarCluster from
$ tar xvzf starcluster-X.X.X.tar.gz  (where x.x.x is a version number)
$ cd starcluster-X.X.X
$ sudo python install

After the software has been installed, the next step is to setup the configuration file:

$ starcluster help
StarCluster - (
Software Tools for Academics and Researchers (STAR)
Please submit bug reports to

!!! ERROR - config file /home/user/.starcluster/config does not exist

[1] Show the StarCluster config template
[2] Write config template to /home/user/.starcluster/config
[q] Quit

Please enter your selection:

Select the second option by typing 2 and pressing enter. This will give you a template to use to create a configuration file containing your AWS credentials, cluster settings, etc. The next step is to customize this file using your favorite text-editor:

$ vi ~/.starcluster/config

This file is commented with example “cluster templates”. A cluster template defines a set of configuration settings used to start a new cluster. The example config provides a smallcluster template that is ready to go out-of-the-box. However, first, you must fill in your AWS credentials and keypair info:

[aws info]
aws_access_key_id = #your aws access key id here
aws_secret_access_key = #your secret aws access key here
aws_user_id = #your 12-digit aws user id here

The next step is to fill in your keypair information. If you don’t already have a keypair you can create one from StarCluster using:

$ starcluster createkey mykey -o ~/.ssh/mykey.rsa

This will create a keypair called mykey on Amazon EC2 and save the private key to ~/.ssh/mykey.rsa. Once you have a key the next step is to fill-in your keypair info in the StarCluster config file:

[key key-name-here]
key_location = /path/to/your/keypair.rsa

For example, the section for the keypair created above using the createkey command would look like:

[key mykey]
key_location = ~/.ssh/mykey.rsa

After defining your keypair in the config, the next step is to update the default cluster template smallcluster with the name of your keypair on EC2:

[cluster smallcluster]
keyname = key-name-here

For example, the smallcluster template would be updated to look like:

[cluster smallcluster]
keyname = mykey

Now that the config file has been set up we’re ready to start using StarCluster. Next we start a cluster named “mycluster” using the default cluster template smallcluster in the example config:

$ starcluster start mycluster

The default_template setting in the [global] section of the config specifies the default cluster template and is automatically set to smallcluster in the example config.

After the start command completes you should now have a working cluster. You can login to the master node as root by running:

$ starcluster sshmaster mycluster

You can also copy files to/from the cluster using the put and get commands. To copy a file or entire directory from your local computer to the cluster:

$ starcluster put mycluster /path/to/local/file/or/dir /remote/path/

To copy a file or an entire directory from the cluster to your local computer:

$ starcluster get mycluster /path/to/remote/file/or/dir /local/path/

Once you’ve finished using the cluster and wish to stop paying for it:

$ starcluster terminate mycluster

Have a look at the rest of StarCluster’s available commands:

$ starcluster --help


  • Amazon AWS Account

  • Python 2.6+

  • Boto 2.23.0+

  • Paramiko 1.12.1+

  • WorkerPool 0.9.2

  • Jinja2 2.7

  • decorator 3.4.0+

  • iptools 0.6.1+

  • optcomplete 1.2-devel+

  • PyCrypto 2.5+

  • scp 0.7.1+

  • iso8601 0.1.8+

Learn more…

Watch an ~8 minute screencast @

To learn more have a look at the documentation:


StarCluster has a mailing list for users and developers:

Join our IRC channel #starcluster on freenode. If you do not have an IRC client you can join the #starcluster channel using your web browser:


StarCluster is licensed under the LGPLv3 See COPYING.LESSER (LGPL) and COPYING (GPL) for LICENSE details

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