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Common Job Failures

Your jobs haven't failed, you have just found ways to run them that won't work. Here are some common error messages and steps to correct them.

Memory Limits

Jobs can fail due to an insufficient memory being requested. Depending on the job, this failure might present as a Slurm error:

slurmstepd: error: Detected 1 oom-kill event(s).
Some of your processes may have been killed by the cgroup out-of-memory handler.

This means Slurm detected the job hitting the maximum requested memory and then the job was killed.

When process inside a job tries to access memory outside what was allocated to that job (more than what you requested) the operating system tells your program that address is invalid with the fault Bus Error. A similar fault you might be more familiar with is a Segmentation Fault, which usually results from a program incorrectly trying to access a valid memory address.

These errors can be fixed in two ways.

Request More Memory

The default is almost always --mem-per-cpu=5G

In a batch script:

#SBATCH --mem-per-cpu=8G

In an interactive job:

salloc --mem-per-cpu=8G

Use Less Memory

This method is usually a little more involved, and is easier if you can inspect the code you are using. Watching your job's resource usage, attending a workshop, or getting in touch with us are good places to start.

Disk Quotas

Since the clusters are shared resources, we have quotas in place to enforce fair use of storage. When you or your group reach a quota, you can't write to existing files or create new ones. Any jobs that depend on creating or writing files that count toward the affected quota will fail. To inspect your current usage, run the command getquota. Remember, your home quota is yours but your project, scratch60, and any purchased storage quotas are shared across your group.

Archive Files

You may find that some files or direcories for previous projects are no longer needed on the cluster. We recommend you archive these to recover space.

Delete Files

If you are sure you no longer need some files or direcories, you can delete them. Unless files are in your home directory (not project or scratch60) they are not backed up and may be unrecoverable. Use the rm -rf command very carefully.

Buy More Space

If you would like to purchase more than the default quotas, we can help you buy space on the clusters.

Rate Limits

We rate-limit job submissions to 200 jobs per hour on each cluster. This limit helps even out load on the scheduler and encourages good practice. When you hit this limit, you will get an error when submitting new jobs that looks like this:

sbatch: error: Reached jobs per hour limit
sbatch: error: Batch job submission failed: Job violates accounting/QOS policy (job submit limit, user's size and/or time limits)

You will then need to wait until your submission rate drops.

Use Job Arrays

To avoid hitting this limit and make large numbers of jobs more manageable, you should use Dead Simple Queue or job arrays. If you need help adapting your workflow to dsq or job arrays contact us.

Software Modules

We build and organize software modules on the cluster using toolchains. The major toolchains we use produce modules that end in foss-yearletter or intel-yearletter, e.g. foss-2018b or intel-2018a. If modules from different toolchains are loaded at the same time, the conflicts that arise often lead to errors or strange application behavior. Seeing either of the following messages is a sign that you are loading incompatible modules.

The following have been reloaded with a version change:
  1) FFTW/3.3.7-gompi-2018a => FFTW/3.3.8-gompi-2018b
  2) GCC/6.4.0-2.28 => GCC/7.3.0-2.3.0
  3) GCCcore/6.4.0 => GCCcore/7.3.0


GCCcore/7.3.0 exists but could not be loaded as requested.

Match or Purge Your Toolchains

Where possible, only use one toolchain at a time. When you want to use software from muliple toolchains run module purge between running new module load commands. If your work requires a version of software that is not installed, contact us.

Conda Environments

Conda environments provide a nice way to manage python and R packages and modules. Conda acieves this by setting functions and environment variables that point to your environment files when you run conda activate. Unlike modules, conda environments are not completely forwarded into a job; having a conda environment loaded when you submit a job doesn't forward it well into your job. You will likely see messages about missing packages and libraries you definitely installed into the environment you want to use in your job.

Load Conda Environments Right Before Use

To make sure that your environment is set up properly for interactive use, wait until you are on the host you plan to use your environment on. Then run conda activate my_env.

To make sure batch jobs function properly, only submit jobs without an environment loaded (conda deactivate before sbatch). Make sure you load miniconda and your environment in the body of your batch submission script.

Last update: September 9, 2022