The road to using HTCondor effectively is a short one. The basics are quickly and easily learned.
Here are all the steps needed to run a job using HTCondor.
The vanilla universe provides a way to run jobs that cannot be relinked. There is no way to take a checkpoint or migrate a job executed under the vanilla universe. For access to input and output files, jobs must either use a shared file system, or use HTCondor's File Transfer mechanism.
Choose a universe under which to run the HTCondor program, and re-link the program if necessary.
Write a submit description file to go with the job, using the examples provided in section 2.5 for guidance.
Once submitted, HTCondor does the rest toward running the job. Monitor the job's progress with the condor_q and condor_status commands. You may modify the order in which HTCondor will run your jobs with condor_prio. If desired, HTCondor can even inform you in a log file every time your job is checkpointed and/or migrated to a different machine.
When your program completes, HTCondor will tell you (by e-mail, if preferred) the exit status of your program and various statistics about its performances, including time used and I/O performed. If you are using a log file for the job (which is recommended) the exit status will be recorded in the log file. You can remove a job from the queue prematurely with condor_rm.
A universe in HTCondor defines an execution environment. HTCondor Version 8.5.8 supports several different universes for user jobs:
The universe under which a job runs is specified in the submit description file. If a universe is not specified, the default is vanilla, unless your HTCondor administrator has changed the default. However, we strongly encourage you to specify the universe, since the default can be changed by your HTCondor administrator, and the default that ships with HTCondor has changed.
The standard universe provides migration and reliability, but has some restrictions on the programs that can be run. The vanilla universe provides fewer services, but has very few restrictions. The grid universe allows users to submit jobs using HTCondor's interface. These jobs are submitted for execution on grid resources. The java universe allows users to run jobs written for the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). The scheduler universe allows users to submit lightweight jobs to be spawned by the program known as a daemon on the submit host itself. The parallel universe is for programs that require multiple machines for one job. See section 2.9 for more about the Parallel universe. The vm universe allows users to run jobs where the job is no longer a simple executable, but a disk image, facilitating the execution of a virtual machine. The docker universe runs a Docker container as an HTCondor job.
In the standard universe, HTCondor provides checkpointing and remote system calls. These features make a job more reliable and allow it uniform access to resources from anywhere in the pool. To prepare a program as a standard universe job, it must be relinked with condor_compile. Most programs can be prepared as a standard universe job, but there are a few restrictions.
HTCondor checkpoints a job at regular intervals. A checkpoint image is essentially a snapshot of the current state of a job. If a job must be migrated from one machine to another, HTCondor makes a checkpoint image, copies the image to the new machine, and restarts the job continuing the job from where it left off. If a machine should crash or fail while it is running a job, HTCondor can restart the job on a new machine using the most recent checkpoint image. In this way, jobs can run for months or years even in the face of occasional computer failures.
Remote system calls make a job perceive that it is executing on its home machine, even though the job may execute on many different machines over its lifetime. When a job runs on a remote machine, a second process, called a condor_shadow runs on the machine where the job was submitted. When the job attempts a system call, the condor_shadow performs the system call instead and sends the results to the remote machine. For example, if a job attempts to open a file that is stored on the submitting machine, the condor_shadow will find the file, and send the data to the machine where the job is running.
To convert your program into a standard universe job, you must use condor_compile to relink it with the HTCondor libraries. Put condor_compile in front of your usual link command. You do not need to modify the program's source code, but you do need access to the unlinked object files. A commercial program that is packaged as a single executable file cannot be converted into a standard universe job.
For example, if you would have linked the job by executing:
% cc main.o tools.o -o program
Then, relink the job for HTCondor with:
% condor_compile cc main.o tools.o -o program
There are a few restrictions on standard universe jobs:
The vanilla universe in HTCondor is intended for programs which cannot be successfully re-linked. Shell scripts are another case where the vanilla universe is useful. Unfortunately, jobs run under the vanilla universe cannot checkpoint or use remote system calls. This has unfortunate consequences for a job that is partially completed when the remote machine running a job must be returned to its owner. HTCondor has only two choices. It can suspend the job, hoping to complete it at a later time, or it can give up and restart the job from the beginning on another machine in the pool.
Since HTCondor's remote system call features cannot be used with the vanilla universe, access to the job's input and output files becomes a concern. One option is for HTCondor to rely on a shared file system, such as NFS or AFS. Alternatively, HTCondor has a mechanism for transferring files on behalf of the user. In this case, HTCondor will transfer any files needed by a job to the execution site, run the job, and transfer the output back to the submitting machine.
Under Unix, HTCondor presumes a shared file system for vanilla jobs. However, if a shared file system is unavailable, a user can enable the HTCondor File Transfer mechanism. On Windows platforms, the default is to use the File Transfer mechanism. For details on running a job with a shared file system, see section 2.5.8 on page . For details on using the HTCondor File Transfer mechanism, see section 2.5.9 on page .
The Grid universe in HTCondor is intended to provide the standard HTCondor interface to users who wish to start jobs intended for remote management systems. Section 5.3 on page has details on using the Grid universe. The manual page for condor_submit on page has detailed descriptions of the grid-related attributes.
A program submitted to the Java universe may run on any sort of machine with a JVM regardless of its location, owner, or JVM version. HTCondor will take care of all the details such as finding the JVM binary and setting the classpath.
The scheduler universe allows users to submit lightweight jobs to be run immediately, alongside the condor_schedd daemon on the submit host itself. Scheduler universe jobs are not matched with a remote machine, and will never be preempted. The job's requirements expression is evaluated against the condor_schedd's ClassAd.
Originally intended for meta-schedulers such as condor_dagman, the scheduler universe can also be used to manage jobs of any sort that must run on the submit host.
However, unlike the local universe, the scheduler universe does not use a condor_starter daemon to manage the job, and thus offers limited features and policy support. The local universe is a better choice for most jobs which must run on the submit host, as it offers a richer set of job management features, and is more consistent with other universes such as the vanilla universe. The scheduler universe may be retired in the future, in favor of the newer local universe.
The local universe allows an HTCondor job to be submitted and executed with different assumptions for the execution conditions of the job. The job does not wait to be matched with a machine. It instead executes right away, on the machine where the job is submitted. The job will never be preempted. The job's requirements expression is evaluated against the condor_schedd's ClassAd.
Please see section 2.11 for details.