SLURM Interactive

Interactive Jobs

The SLURM system on CIRCE/SC allows users to run applications on available compute nodes while in a full shell session. This allows users to run applications that require direct user input and full graphical applications that require more extensive compute resources.

Directly via SRUN

Interactive jobs can be run within a scheduled shell using the srun command. You’ll want to see the User’s Guide for more information about these options. Here is an example:

[user@login0 ~]$ srun --pty /bin/bash
[user@svc-3024-6-25 ~]$

You can now run any compute-intensive task interactively.

Let us say that you require a minimum of 4GB of RAM for your interactive task. We can ask the scheduler to put us on a node with >4GB of RAM by requesting the mem constraint like so:

[user@login0 ~]$ srun --mem=4096 --pty /bin/bash
[user@svc-3024-6-25 ~]$ free
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:      16396468    8315580    8080888          0     246772    3247420
-/+ buffers/cache:    4821388   11575080
Swap:     18612216          0   18612216

You can specify a wide variety of complexes. See Using Features

Please note: Unless the “—time=HH:MM:SS” constraint is used, all jobs submitted to SLURM (interactive or batch) will receive the default runtime of 1 hour!


If you need to create an interactive session that you can connect to and disconnect from on-demand (while the job is running), you can:

  1. use salloc to create the resource allocation
  2. use srun to connect to it.

To do so, you'd run the command below (customized as needed):

salloc --ntasks=1 --time=00:30:00

This will display the following:

[user@itn0 ~]$ salloc --ntasks=1 --time=00:30:00
salloc: Pending job allocation 12345678
salloc: job 12345678 queued and waiting for resources
salloc: job 12345678 has been allocated resources
salloc: Granted job allocation 12345678

[user@itn0 ~]$ 

Notice that the prompt did not change. This is because while SLURM granted your job an allocation, you are not yet connected to that allocation interactively. To connect to it, you'd then run:

srun --jobid=12345678 --pty /bin/bash

This will then result in your prompt changing, as such:

[user@itn0 ~]$ srun --jobid=12345678 --pty /bin/bash
[user@svc-3024-6-25 ~]$ 

Graphical Jobs

The same rules apply for graphical jobs. Your X11 connection will not automatically be forwarded to the remote compute node. You must first obtain your DISPLAY variable by performing the following actions:

[user@itn0 ~]$ echo $DISPLAY
[user@itn0 ~]$ export DISPLAY=$(hostname)$DISPLAY
[user@itn0 ~]$ echo $DISPLAY
[user@itn0 ~]$ $ srun --time=00:05:00 --pty /bin/bash
srun: job 12345678 queued and waiting for resources
srun: job 12345678 has been allocated resources

[user@svc-3024-6-25 ~]$

Please note:

  • the login node ( and DISPLAY (:158.0) will most likely not be the same, therefore it is imperative that you take note. Once you have exported the display, you will be able to use GUI applications on compute nodes within the cluster.
  • as this is a scheduled/dispatched job (just like SBATCH jobs), it may take some time for the "has been allocated resources" message to appear, and the prompt to change.

We highly recommend using the CIRCE/SC Desktop Environment if you plan to utilize any graphical applications on the cluster.