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Run AliEn JDLs with Makeflow

Project description

Run AliEn JDLs on multiple platforms using Makeflow.


Makeflow needs to be installed on your system. Makeflow is part of the Cooperative Computing tools (cctools). To install it, download the latest version of cctools then unpack, compile and install it (we are assuming 6.1.1 is the latest, check the download page first):

cd /tmp
curl -L | tar xzf -
cd cctools-*-source/
./configure && make -j10
sudo make install

Run the last command (make install) as root to install it system-wide. Adjust -j10 to the number of parallel cores you want to use during the build. If you do not have root privileges:

cd /tmp
curl -L | tar xzf -
cd cctools-*-source/
./configure --prefix=$HOME/cctools && make -j10 && make install
echo 'export PATH=$HOME/cctools/bin:$PATH' >> ~/.bashrc
echo 'export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=$HOME/cctools/bin:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH' >> ~/.bashrc

We are installing under ~/cctools but you can use the directory you want. Also, we are assuming your shell configuration file is ~/.bashrc, adjust it according to your shell.

Get jdl2makeflow

As easy as:

sudo pip install alien-jdl2makeflow

If you cannot install it as root, you will probably have to export some Python variables to make it work. If you have a user installation of some Python distribution like Anaconda this is probably already done for you.

Basic usage

Get and configure the JDL used to run a Monte Carlo on AliEn, and all the required files. Normally you would only require the Custom.cfg file. The JDL can contain variable overrides in a way that AliEn will ignore them and they will only be considered by the Makeflow workflow: this allows you to keep a single JDL that works both locally and on the Grid.


jdl2makeflow /path/to/job.jdl

By default, it will print a summary and create all necessary files under a working directory called work (override with -w). You then need to move to the working directory and run:

cd work

Relevant JDL variables

Not all JDL variables are used for local use, and some of them are interpreted in a different way.

  • Executable: the AliEn path of the executable to run. For local use, we will only consider the program name and strip the path, and search for it in the following directories in order:
    1. full path first
    2. basename (must be in $PATH)
    3. $ALIDPG_ROOT/bin
    4. current working directory
  • SplitArguments: arguments to pass to the executable.
  • InputFile: list of files that need to be made available in the job’s working directory for the job to run. Only the basename of the file will be considered and it will be searched for in the current directory. No AliEn access will be performed.
  • Output: a list telling what of the files produced by the job need to be copied to the destination. Files can also be placed in zip archives. See the example JDL for more information.
  • OutputDir: the output directory for each job. This is normally an AliEn path, but locally we can either specify a XRootD path (root://...) or a local path. Note that XRootD paths might require authentication information to be available to the job.
  • Packages: packages to be loaded in the Grid environment. They are expected from CVMFS, and CVMFS must be available locally. You can also use local installations for testing, see SourceEnvScript below.
  • JDLVariables: list of arbitrary variables from the JDL that will be exported in the job’s environment. The variable name will be altered. If, for instance, you want to export the JDL variable ArbitraryVar, this will be available to your jobs as ALIEN_JDL_ARBITRARYVAR. The same convention is used by AliEn for Grid jobs.
  • Split: determine how many jobs have to be run of the kind specified by the JDL. The syntax production:123-456 tells the script to run jobs with a different ID from 123 to 456 included (that’s 334 jobs). You will probably want to change it for local use as the range is very large on the Grid. The job index is made available to some other variables through the #alien_counter# variable, see below.

Since the same JDL will be used for running many jobs, it is in some cases useful to distinguish between output directories, and to tell the job what is its index. You can use in variable values:

  • #alien_counter#: will be replaced with the job index
  • #alien_counter_05i#: will be replaced with the job index zero-padded to 5 digits (any format supported by printf can be specified of course)

See the examples for more information.

Extra JDL variables

The following JDL variables are interpreted only by jdl2makeflow and will be ignored by AliEn.

  • SourceEnvScript: path to an environment script to be sourced in order to load the required packages. If this script is defined, it will be automatically loaded by each job, and Packages will be ignored. This is useful for local development when one wants to test changes with a local AliRoot build. If SourceEnvScript is specified, CVMFS is not required for packages.
  • ExtraVariables: same as JDLVariables, but the variables listed (which must be defined in the JDL) will be exported in the job environment as-is, with their name not manipulated. So, the variable ArbitraryVar will be exported as ArbitraryVar.
  • NextStages: the toplevel JDL runs several jobs of the same kind, but other tiers of processing will follow (merging stages mostly). This list tells the local workflow what are the next stages (order does not matter). For the moment, only the values FinalQA and SpacePointCalibration are supported. This variable allows you to run those stages without supplying their respective JDLs (parameters will be deduced from the current one and modified accordingly).
  • QADetectorInclude: string with a list of space-separated detector names to be included when generating the QA plots. Leave empty for including all detectors. In order to expose it to the job you must add it to JDLVariables.
  • QADetectorExclude: exclude detectors from QA plots. Same format as QADetectorInclude. Has to be added to JDLVariables too.
  • DontArchive: set it to 1 to store output files, as specified in Output, as they are, without compressing them. Useful for debug.
  • SaveAll: set it to 1 to save all files produced by jobs, ignoring Output completely. Files will not be compressed in zip files. Useful for debug.

Overriding JDL variables

AliEn JDL files have variables of type “string” and “list”:

StringVar = "this is a string";
ListVar = { "this", "is", "a", "list" };

In the most common case you need to override some variables for the local use. For instance, the variable OutputDir represents the AliEn output directory and does not have any sense locally. You can override every variable by defining a new variable with the same name and _override appended:

OutputDir = "/alien/path/not/making/sense/locally";
OutputDir_override = "/home/myuser/joboutput";

The latter will be considered by Makeflow. You can also append to strings and lists. For instance, the SplitArguments variable is a string representing the arguments to pass to the executable, but in the local scenario you might want to pass more arguments. Appends work the same as overrides, but you will use the _append name at the end:

SplitArguments = "--run 244411 --mode full --uid #alien_counter# --nevents 200 --generator Pythia8_Monash2013 --trigger Custom.cfg";
SplitArguments_append = " --ocdb $OCDB_PATH";

or, you need to provide the input directory with credential informations:

InputFile = { "LF:/alice/" };
InputFile_append = { "my-proxy" };

Bugs and issues

This project was originally conceived to run ALICE Monte Carlos locally, or on local batch farms (including Mesos!) with Makeflow, using the exact same JDL files one would use on the AliEn Grid.

Its support is therefore very limited to the ALICE Monte Carlo use cases, but we are extending it to support more use cases more flexibly.

In case of problems please open an issue.


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