Slurm basics


Main Slurm Commands

  • sbatch - submit a job script.
  • srun - run a command on allocated compute node(s).
  • scancel - delete a job.
  • squeue - show state of jobs.
  • sinfo - show state of nodes and partitions (queues).
  • smap - show jobs, partitions and nodes in a graphical network topology.
  • scontrol - modify jobs or show information about various aspects of the cluster


The sbatch command submits a batch processing job to the slurm queue manager. These scripts typically contain one or more srun commands to queue jobs for processing.


The srun command is used to submit jobs for execution, or to initiate steps of jobs in real time. For the full range of options that can be passed to the srun command, see the UNIX man page for srun (type man srun at the command prompt).


The scancel command will terminate pending and running job steps. You can also use it to send a unix signal to all processes associated with a running job or job step.


The squeue command will report the state of running and pending jobs.


The sinfo command will report the status of the available partitions and nodes.


The smap command is similar to the sinfo command, except it displays all of the information in a pseudo-graphical, ncurses terminal.


The scontrol command is used to tweak a number of slurm things. You'll most likely use it to modify your jobs while they're in the queue, either number of nodes or number of tasks/cpus.

Example Scripts

Single node script

Here we have a submission script for a single node job. If you've previously used one of the ResearchIT machines and are used to running your commands in a shell, this is the example you'll want to pay attention to. The fields that you'll most often edit are the --cpus-per-task, --time, and --mem arguments.


#SBATCH --nodes=1 # request one node

#SBATCH --cpus-per-task=8  # ask for 8 cpus

#SBATCH --mem=128G # Maximum amount of memory this job will be given, try to estimate this to the best of your ability. This asks for 128 GB of ram.

#SBATCH --time=2-02:30:02 # ask that the job be allowed to run for 2 days, 2 hours, 30 minutes, and 2 seconds.

# everything below this line is optional, but are nice to have quality of life things

#SBATCH --output=job.%J.out # tell it to store the output console text to a file called job.<assigned job number>.out

#SBATCH --error=job.%J.err # tell it to store the error messages from the program (if it doesn't write them to normal console output) to a file called job.<assigned job muber>.err

#SBATCH --jobname="example job" # a nice readable name to give your job so you know what it is when you see it in the queue, instead of just numbers

# under this we just do what we would normally do to run the program, everything above this line is used by slurm to tell it what your job needs for resources

# let's load the modules we need to do what we're going to do

module load gcc/7.3.0-xegsmw4

module load bamtools/2.5.1-7rljcju

# let's make sure we're where we expect to be in the filesystem tree

cd /work/LAS/whatever-lab/user/thing-im-working-on

# the commands we're running are below

bamtools sort -in input.bam -out input_sorted.bam -byname


To submit the script, just run

$> sbatch jobscript

Multiple Node script

If you have a job that'll actually scale across multiple nodes (in almost all circumstances this'll need to be an MPI enabled program. If you don't know what this means there's a very good chance that this isn't for you and doesn't apply to your program.)


#SBATCH --nodes=2 # request one node

#SBATCH --ntasks=544 # the number of tasks that our mpi process will run(this is equal to the -np argument you may have used with mpirun in the past)

#SBATCH --mem=128G #128GB of ram PER NODE, if you need more granular control lookup the --mem-per-cpu argument in the man page for sbatch

#SBATCH --time=24-00:00:00 # ask that the job be allowed to run for 24 days

# optional nice stuff below

#SBATCH --error=job.%J.err # tell it to store the error messages to a file

#SBATCH --output=job.%J.out # tell it to store the console text output to a file

#SBATCH --jobname="gromacs I guess" # a nice name for the job to have

# let's load some modules

module load gromacs/2018.1-openmpi3-5ds3yf7

# here we use the srun command in place of mpirun, since it has much better integration with the scheduler.

srun --ntasks=544 gmx_mpi mdrun -s science.tpr -maxh 0.80

To submit the script, just run

$> sbatch jobscript

Interactive session example

To get an interactive session for an hour on one node with 8 cpus. Any of the arguments you've seen for sbatch can be provided here too

srun --time=01:00:00 --nodes=1 --cpus-per-task=8 --pty /usr/bin/bash

I want a GPU!

Alright calm down, that's pretty easy to do. Just add the following line to your existing sbatch script

#SBATCH --gres=gpu:1 #If you just need one gpu, you're done, if you need more you can change the number

#SBATCH --partition=gpu #specify the gpu partition

I want to run on a specific machine!

Alright, this is done by selecting a specific partition if you're looking to for example use the 'biocrunch' machines.

#SBATCH --partition=biocrunch # specify which partition your job should be submitted to

if you want to get even more advanced, and for some reason you need a specific node

#SBATCH --partition=gpu # ask for the gpu machine partition

#SBATCH --nodelist=crysis # specifically say that you need to run on this list of nodes, in this case the single node crysis

I want to know more

Cool. You should use the man command then.

man sbatch

That'll tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the arguments that sbatch takes. You can also use man for any other command that you have questions about.