11 Things Every RC User Should Know

1. Odyssey

(Not to be confused with the epic ancient Greek poem written by Homer in the 8th century BC)

Research Computing’s monster supercomputer with more than 60,000 CPUs and 14 petabytes of storage and counting. Odyssey takes on more than 1.5 million job runs per month. While the average desktop computer would take hundreds if not thousands of years to run computations, Odyssey gets the job done in hours, days, weeks, and at the extreme end, months.


(Not to be confused with the highly addictive soft drink from Futurama)

Cluster management and job scheduling system for Odyssey. In order to run a job on Odyssey you do so through SLURM by using its many delightful commands, the most popular being #SBATCH to run a batch job.

3. Home Directory

(Not to be confused with the Home Office, the department in the British government under which the cool sounding MI5 falls)

The disk storage location where users’ shell sessions start upon login to Odyssey. The home directory offers a very comfortable 40GB of space and is backed-up and check-pointed.


(Not to be confused with meth lab and the psychopathic adventures of Walter White, everyone’s favorite TV anti-hero)

A popular scripting language and “interactive environment for numerical computation, visualization, and programming.” MATLAB allows users to analyze data, plot functions, develop models and algorithms, and interface with other programming languages such as C, C++, Java, Fortran, and Python. MATLAB is available to RC users for use on their desktops, laptops, and Odyssey.

5. Regal

(Not to be confused with the movie theater at the Fenway stop on the beloved and ever on-time Green line)

A short-term, shared storage space for large data analysis projects. Regal has 1.2 petabytes of storage, but more importantly it is NOT backed up, and data is dumped every 90 days. Regal is best used for I/O intensive jobs.


(Not to be confused with spinal cord, spinal tap (lumbar puncture), or Spın̈al Tap (parody English heavy metal band))

Research Computing’s instrument sign-up interface. Users with RC accounts can login to SPINAL and book time on core instruments, as well as pay for that time.

7. Scratch Space

(Not be confused with the space on the side or back of your couch where objectively speaking your cutest cat in the world files its claws)

Storage space for temporary files. All scratch space is shared, and there is local scratch and networked, high-performance scratch. Local scratch is useful for large temporary files created while running an application. Local scratch is NOT backed up and NOT retained. Networked, high-performance scratch is split between regal and holyscratch, both of which are for short-term storage of large data analysis projects. Both are NOT backed up and both have a 90-day retention policy.

8. Linux

(Not to be confused with Unix, same same but different)

The operating system used by Odyssey. In order to run jobs and applications on Odyssey, users must use Linux commands under the bash shell. Having good Linux and Unix (same same but different) skills are vital for successful interaction with and use of Odyssey. If you don’t know how to traverse directories, create files, remove files, copy files, and do the same with directories, get thee to RC training faster than a hipster downing a PBR on a single speed while listening to Obscure (a slow jam underground band that no one knows about).

9. Filezilla

(Not to be confused with Godzilla the dinosaur like monster that reigns down terror and destruction on the people of Tokyo)

RC’s preferred SFTP client. Filezilla works across platforms (Mac, Windows, and Linux), is free, and continually updated. Filezilla is easy to download and install and best of all RC provides detailed instructions for installation and file transfer.

10. Module

(Not to be confused with modular the latest fad in modern home design which will hopefully dethrone the great American architectural achievement: The McMansion)

The system used on Odyssey to manage and run software applications. There is a list of all modules available on Odyssey here or you can use the module avail command to call them in your terminal window. If you want certain modules to automatically load when you login to Odyssey, add them to your .bashrc file in your home directory.

11. Support

(Not to be confused with the monthly check your parents still send you to help fund ‘life in the big city’)

Available for all RC users to ensure research never sleeps. RC users can connect with RC support through email, OdyBot Real-Time Chat, or office hours, held each Wednesday, 12pm-3pm at 38 Oxford Street, room 206. Get in touch. No problem or question is too big or small. We are here to help YOU succeed!!

Last updated: November 29, 2017 at 16:34 pm

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