Running the OpenQuake Engine on multiple nodes (cluster/zmq)#

If you have a HPC cluster using the SLURM scheduler you are on the wrong page and you should go here instead. This page documents how to run the engine on a bare cluster of Linux machine without any scheduler.


Shared filesystem#

OpenQuake 2.4 introduced the concept of shared directory (aka shared_dir). This shared directory allows the workers to read directly from the master’s filesystem, thus increasing scalability and performance; starting with OpenQuake 3.3 this feature is mandatory on a multi-node deployment.

The shared directory must be exported from the master node to the workers via a POSIX compliant filesystem (NFSv4 is higly recommended). The export may be (and should be) exported and/or mounted as read-only by the workers.

Starting from OpenQuake 2.3 the software and all its libraries are located in /opt/openquake. Also that folder must be exported from the master node to the workers.

As soon as the shared export is in place, the shared_dir config parameter in openquake.cfg must be configured to point to the path of the exported dir on the master node and to where the export is mounted on each worker node.

# the base directory containing the <user>/oqdata directories:
# if set, it should be on a shared filesystem; this is **mandatory** on a multi-node cluster
# if not set, the oqdata directories go into $HOME/oqdata,
# unless the user sets his own OQ_DATADIR variable
shared_dir = /home

It is recommended to set as shared dir the /home folder: in such case oqdata will have the default path /home/<user>/oqdata and setgid is not required. Please note that the openquake user on workers still needs to get access to the oqdata content, so make sure that permission are properly set (traverse on the user home and read access to oqdata).

When shared_dir is set to a differente value, the oqdata folders will be stored under $shared_dir/<user>/oqdata instead of /home/<user>/oqdata. See the comment in the openquake.cfg for further information. You need then to give RWX permission to the shared_dir on master to the openquake group (which is usually created by packages) and add all the cluster users to the openquake group. For example:

$ mkdir /oq_shared
$ chown openquake.openquake /oq_shared
# Enable setgid on the tree
$ chmod 2770 /oq_shared

On the workers the shared_dir should be mounted as the openquake user too

shared_dir = /oq_shared

It is not necessary to configure openquake.cfg for /opt/openquake

Network and security considerations#

The worker nodes should be isolated from the external network using either a dedicated internal network or a firewall. Additionally, access to the DbServer ports should be limited (again by internal LAN or firewall) so that external traffic is excluded.

The following ports must be open on the master node:

  • 1908 for DbServer (or any other port allocated for the DbServer in the openquake.cfg)

  • 1912-1920 for ZeroMQ receivers

  • 8800 for the API/WebUI (optional)

The following port must be open on the workers node:

  • 1909 for the ZeroMQ workerpools

The master node and the worker nodes must be able to communicate on the specified ports.

Moreover the user openquake on the master must be able to access the workers via ssh. This means that you have to generate and copy the ssh keys properly, and the first time you must connect to the workers manually. Then the engine will be able to start and stop zworker processes at each new calculation.

Storage requirements#

Storage requirements depend a lot on the type of calculations you want to run. On a worker node you will need just the space for the operating system, the logs and the OpenQuake installation: less than 20GB are usually enough. Workers can be also diskless (using iSCSI or NFS for example).

On the master node you will also need space for:

  • the shared_dir directory (usually located under /home): it contains the calculations datastore (hdf5 files located in the oqdata folder)

  • the OpenQuake database (located under /var/lib/openquake/oqdata/): it contains only logs and metadata, the expected size is tens of megabyte

  • the temporary folder (/tmp). A different temporary folder can be customized via the openquake.cfg

On large installations we strongly suggest to create a separate partition for /home.

Swap partitions#

Having swap active on resources dedicated to the OpenQuake Engine is strongly discouraged because of the performance penality when it’s being used. It will likely increase by many orders of magnitude the time required to complete the job, thus making the job actually stuck. It is much better to get a MemoryError and then reduce the size of the job.


Please use the Universal installation script in server mode or devel_server mode. The installer will save the Python code in the folder /opt/openquake/venv. Since /opt/openquake is exported to the workers via NFS there will be no need to install anything on the worker nodes except Python.

OpenQuake Engine ‘master’ node configuration File#

Enable zmq distribution#

The following file (on all nodes) should be modified to enable zmq support:


# enable celery only if you have a cluster
oq_distribute = zmq

file = /var/lib/openquake/oqdata/db.sqlite3
# daemon bind address; must be a valid IP address
listen = < IP address of master>
# address of the dbserver; can be an hostname too
# on multi-node cluster it must be the IP or hostname
# of the master node (on the master node cfg too)
host = < IP address of master>
port = 1908
receiver_ports = 1912-1920
authkey = somethingstronger

host_cores = < IP address of worker1> -1, < IP address of worker2> -1
ctrl_port = 1909

Notice that the -1 in < IP address of worker1> -1 means that all the cores in that worker will be used. You can use a number between 0 and the maximum number of available core to limit the resource usage. The engine will automatically start and stop zmq processes on the worker nodes at each new calculation, provided the user openquake has ssh access to the workers. Please note that you must list explicitly the workers that you want to use.

NB: when using the zmq mechanism you should not touch the parameter serialize_jobs and keep it at its default value of true.

Configuring daemons#

The required systemd services are configured from the universal installer into the folder /etc/systemd/system/

Master node#

  • OpenQuake Engine DbServer - openquake-dbserver.service

  • OpenQuake Engine WebUI - openquake-webui.service (optional)

Monitoring zmq#

oq workers status can be used to check the status of the worker nodes and the task distribution. An output like this is produced:

$ oq workers status
[('', 1, 64), ('', 7, 64), ('', 7, 64)]

For each worker in the cluster you can see its IP and the cores which are currently running with respect to the number of cores available (for instance on the host only 1 core of 64 is running, while in the other two workers 7 cores are running each).

There are a few useful commands to manage the workers, to be run as user openquake:

  • oq workers start is used to start the workers

  • oq workers stop is used to stop the workers nicely

  • oq workers kill is used to send a hard kill -9 to the workers

  • oq workers debug is used to test that the installation is correct

If a calculation is stuck in the “executing” state due to an IT problem (like the cluster running out of memory followed by an oq workers kill) you can fix its status with the command oq abort XXX where XXX is the calculation ID.

Running calculations#

Jobs can be submitted through the master node using the oq engine command line interface, the API or the WebUI if active. See the documentation about how to run a calculation or about how to use the WebUI