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Revision as of 16:17, 15 March 2018 by Hasch (Talk | contribs) (How to renew an account at the Centre for Advanced Computing)

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Account Renewals

This is a guide to the account renewal process at the Centre for Advanced Computing. It explains what you need to do in order to keep your account active. It also explains details of our present effort to bring our accounts up to date and synchronize the account structure with the one at Compute Canada.

How to renew an account at the Centre for Advanced Computing

Almost all accounts that entitle users to access to our Frontenac cluster require an active Compute Canada Role. The exception are temporary and teaching accounts. If you have a username starting with "hpc", you had to obtain Compute Canada credentials to obtain it. Compute Canada conducts annual renewals of their accounts/roles and will notify you with a deadline. Please follow those instructions. A separate renewal of your account at the Centre for Advanced Computing is not necessary as long as you keep the associated Compute Canada role active.

Please note that the converse is also true: If you let your Compute Canada role expire without renewing it, it will be deactivated. The CAC account that is associated with this role will also be de-activated and you will loose access to your CAC account.

Important: The next deadline for active Compute Canada accounts is April 30, 2018.
CAC accounts whose associated CCRI is not active after that date, will be de-activated.

If your account at the Centre for Advanced Computing is de-activated because you failed to renew or activate the associated Compute Canada role, you can re-activate it by contacting us at with a request for re-activation. However, you must supply us with an active CCRI from Compute Canada, which means that you have to renew your or re-activate your Compute Canada role first.

Migrating to the new Frontenac cluster

This is a basic guide for users of our current CentOS 6 production systems ("SW cluster") to explain and facilitate migration to our new CentOS 7 systems ("Frontenac", "CAC cluster").

Note: We are in the final phase of the migration process. All users will gain access to the new systems by mid-November, and lose acess to the old systems in early January 2018. Scheduling of new jobs on the old system will stop in mid-December! Please make yourself familiar with the new systems.

Why migrate ?

Our systems underwent a substantial refresh last year with the retirement of the Solaris-based M9000 systems, and their replacement by new X86/Intel based hardware. This hardware was largely added to the existing "SW cluster" and eventually replaced it completely. However, this gradual replacement did not address issues in the base structure of that cluster, such as an old scheduler system, and a less than cutting-edge file system. To enable our users to make efficient use of the new hardware, we decided that it is time for a re-design of our main compute cluster. Some of our storage components reach their "end of life" phase and will be retired within a year.

Rather than permanently operating two separate clusters, we will move both our users and the compute hardware from one cluster/network to the other. In the interest of consistency, we can not make this process optional. We must move all our users to the new cluster by early 2018 when service contracts for the old components run out.

What's Different ?

The new cluster is based on a newer version of the same CentOS operating system. We have replaced the scheduler with SLURM, which is the same as is used on the new Compute Canada "GP" systems. We also replaced the "use" system by the more powerful and standard "lmod". Here are the main changes in table format.

new SW (Linux) cluster new CAC (Frontenac) cluster
Operating system CentOS 6 CentOS 7
File system type ZFS GPFS
Scheduler Sun Grid Engine (SGE) SLURM
Software manager usepackage lmod
Backup management samfs Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM)

Migration Time Table

Different users will migrate at different times. We have been moving data to the new file system for months, so that at the time when "it's your turn" your data will already be available on the new system. Here is a month-by-month outline of who will move when. If you want to migrate ahead of schedule, or you have compelling reasons to delay the move, please get in touch with us at

Month (2017) Who moves ?
  • De-actived users
  • User who have not run a scheduled job for > 6 months
  • Volunteers
  • New accounts (i.e. new users will be going straight to Frontenac)
  • User who have not run a scheduled job for > 3 months
  • Volunteers
  • New accounts (i.e. new users will be going straight to Frontenac)
  • New accounts (i.e. new users will be going straight to Frontenac)
  • Everyone

We will transfer hardware from the "old" cluster (SW) to the new one (Frontenac) to accommodate the migrated users. This means that in the transition period, the old cluster will gradually become smaller while the new one grows. Dedicated hardware will be moved when its users migrate.


In the final phase of the migration process, all users receive a notification email and are asked to make themselves familiar wit the new systems. Here is a list of important dates that our users should keep in mind when planning to use our systems in the time period between November 2017 and February 2018.

Date Migration Event System
November 6, 2017 Scheduling halted for all nodes with more than 24 cores SW ("old system")
December 1, 2017
  • User notification by email
  • All users receive access to new systems
Frontenac ("new system")
January 3, 2017
  • Data synchronization stops
  • User data that differ after this date must be transferred by users
  • Grid Engine scheduling disabled (nodes "draining")
SW ("old system")
January 19, 2018
  • All running jobs are terminated
  • Remaining hardware is transferred to new system
SW ("old system")
January 26, 2018
  • User access to sflogin0/swlogin1 closed
  • SNOlab (SX) cluster jobs terminated
  • SNOlab (SX) login nodes closed
SW ("old system")

Until year-end, we are continuously "syncing" user data from the old to the new systems. Note that these are two independent copies of the data. This synchronization stops after January 3, 2018. After this date, it is the responsibility of the user to transfer data from the old to the new system if desired. If you encounter inconsistencies and need assistance, please contact us.

Migration Schedule

The migration proceeds according to a scheme that was devised to minimize the impact on operations and user's research activities. Research groups migrate as a whole during a 1-month week time period. The migration procedure has three steps:

  • 1 - Initiation of migration process
    • Email notification of the user (mid-November).
    • Create account on new cluster.
    • Issue temporary credentials to the new cluster and request initial login to change password.
  • 2 - Rolling rsync of user data
    • Will be repeated until update requires less than 2 hrs
      • /home/hpcXXXX
      • /u1/work/hpcXXXX
      • /scratch/hpcXXXX if required
      • other directories if required
    • Users can access both new and old systems for 1 month.
      • Data on the old system that are newer than on the new one are rsync'ed.
  • 3 - Final migration
    • Final rsync.
    • Jobs on old cluster are terminated.
    • User access to old system closed.

Migration Q&A

  • Q: Who migrates ?
A: All of our users will migrate from the old SW cluster to the new "Frontenac" cluster
  • Q: Can I use my old "stuff" ?
A: Much of the old data and software will be usable on the new systems. However, the data will have to be copied over as the new systems use a separate file system, and cross access is not possible.
  • Q Do I have to re-compile ?
A: It is possible that you will have to re-compile some of the software you are using. We will assist you with this.
  • Q: Do I copy my files over myself ?
A: Initially, we transfer your data for you. This synchronization process will end on December 15. If you are still altering your data after this date, it is your responsibility to transfer the data manually.
  • Q: Is this optional ?
A: No. We move both user data and hardware according to a schedule.
  • Q: Can I decide when to move ?
A: We are open to "early adopters", but we cannot grant extensions on the old systems.
  • Q: Will this disrupt my research ?
A: The moving of hardware and users causes unavoidable scheduling bottlenecks, as substantial portions of the clusters have to be kept inactive to "drain". Also, in the intermediate period when one cluster is dismantled and the other is being built up, both are substantially smaller. Especially larger jobs will be hard or impossible to schedule in the period between November'17 and February'18.
  • Q: How are resources allocated on the new cluster ?
A: Pleased read through our help file "Resource Allocations on Frontenac"


If you have questions that you can't resolve by checking documentation, email to