Research IT Software Archive

What is RISA ?

The Research IT Software Archive (​RISA pronounced /ˈraɪsə/) is a set of software packages that have been compiled for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, and can be easily used from any computer running a compatible operating system (RHEL7 or CentOS7). This archive contains software packages useful for most research disciplines including biological and chemical computation, and statistical analysis. The word archive does not mean that the software is old; it just means it is all in one place.

RISA allows you to focus on what is most important: your research. It is composed of a set of scripts, modules, and compiled binaries that simplify using disparate, and often complex, research computing tools. The Research IT staff handles compiling, testing, and distributing the software packages to your server, desktop, and workstation computers.

I'm in a hurry. Give me an example.

You're a researcher who wants to run MrBayes software to analyze phylogenetic trees. You log into a Linux machine that has RISA on it. You load the mrbayes module and run the mb command to start the mrbayes program.

$ module load mrbayes
$ mb

That's all! No compiling! No finding obscure dependencies! We've already done all that. All you have to do is load a module and start issuing commands.

How does RISA work?

In most cases, RISA uses the Linux rsync command to keep the packages on your local machine updated. Optionally, this archive can be run directly over NFS, but only if your server is on campus.

We are starting to roll out RISA on the research infrastructure maintained by the Research IT group. A full list of available software is located on our Research IT site.

To install RISA on your own machine, please follow the instructions in the README file located on the repository. 

Using RISA

When using RISA, most programs that you will need to use are not automatically accessible from your environment. To load these programs, use the module command. The module command is a built-in shell script that allows you to load (and unload) programs from your working environment.

Using the 'module' command

To use the module command, simply type module in your shell prompt, followed by the command you want to use. To display the help menu, you can type 'module help'. This command will display everything that you can do with the module system. 

Some of the more useful commands (and their use) include:

  • module help: Displays a help menu. The Research IT group has written our own. 
  • module avail: Short for 'available'. This command shows you a list of every module that can be loaded into your environment, and their modulefile (a set of instructions telling your environment how to access the program).
  • module load <modulefile>: Loads the specified modulefile into your environment.
  • module unload <modulefile>​: Remove the specified modulefile from your working environment.
  • module keyword <string>: Searches through all of the modulefiles, looking for the specified keyword. When finished, it will print the matching modulefiles to the terminal.
  • module list: Shows a list of the modulefiles currently loaded into the environment

Requesting new software

Often, researchers will compile software into their own home directories. In some cases, this is okay. But, many times other researchers will compile the exact same program into other directories, wasting time and space. Biology IT administrators are actively compiling and performance-optimizing new software for RISA daily. To request a software installation, please send a list of software to We will contact you about your requirements.