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Install software

General options

Local installation

This option means that the user installs the desired software by his/her own means anywhere into his/her home directory.

Variant 1: install from within interactive job (>= 5 min lasting installation)

# first start an interactive job with scratch directory
qsub -I -l select=1:ncpus=1:mem=4gb:scratch_local=10gb -l walltime=2:00:00

# after the job starts, redirect temporary files into scratch
mkdir $SCRATCHDIR/tmp

# make an installation directory anywhere in your home
mkdir /storage/CITY_XY/home/user123/my_fancy_sw

# then install into this directory
cd /storage/CITY_XY/home/user123/my_fancy_sw 
install ...

Variant 2: install without interactive job (<= 5 min lasting installations ONLY)

# first redirect temporary files into any directory in your home
mkdir /storage/city_XY/home/user123/tmp
export /storage/city_XY/home/user123/tmp

# make an installation directory anywhere in your home
mkdir /storage/CITY_XY/home/user123/my_fancy_sw

# then install into this directory
cd /storage/CITY_XY/home/user123/my_fancy_sw 
install ...

why do I have to redirect to TMPDIR?

By default the variable TMPDIR points to system directory /tmp. This directory is writable to all, but users have a small quota of only 1 GB in /tmp. Therefore installations with default value of TMPDIR often fail due to insufficient space.

Features of local installation:

  • no need to contact user support, to wait or to ask for aything (unless help is needed),
  • if the CITY_XY storage is down, the software will not be available,
  • it is up to user to figure out how to install the software,
  • suitable for cases when the installation works out-of-the-box and the user wants to try the software ASAP.

We recommend this option in case:

  • you are not sure whether this software will be really useful and want to test it first,
  • the calculations run with this software will take hours rather than days and weeks,
  • as far as you know, there are no other users who would like to use this software,
  • the installation process seems to be manageable with your skills,
  • you do not want to interact with User support in any way.


With software installed in your home directory, the availability is limited to the availability of that particular /storage/city_XY. That is why, in case you have tested the software and intend to use it for long running jobs, we encourage users to ask us for system wide installation.


Often users try to install a minor and easy-looking software locally and fail. This is very common. If this happens (and you still want to keep the installation to your home directory), do not hesitate to contact User support at for help. They will reproduce the errors you get, find a solution and send it back to you in step-by-step guide. Any installation process, no matter how straightforward it looks at the beginning, can get tricky.

System-wide installation

This option means that the user sends request for software installation to The User support team will install the software into system directories and make a modulefile through which the software can be loaded.

Features of system-wide installation:

  • you have to contact user support and wait for several days before the thing is done (hours if you are lucky, but most often several days),
  • no need to go into the installation process peculiarities,
  • availability of the software is independent on particular /storage availability.

We recommend this option in case:

  • it is a new version of already installed and/or commonly used software in MetaCentrum,
  • you are confident about the new software's usability,
  • you know the software will be useful to more users.

How to write software install request

There exists plethora of scientific software, sometimes with identical names. If you want us to install something, please give us as much of the following as possible:

  1. Software name (required),
  2. Version ("latest" or specific version) (required),
  3. Link to where the source can be downloaded from (required),
  4. Link to documentation,
  5. Link to installation guide (if there is any) ,
  6. Link to test suite or an example calculation (if there is any),
  7. Any dependencies, modules or optional parts you need to be compiled together with the main software (if there are any).

Common installation methods

When you download a software, it's usually compressed in some way and need to be extracted.


tar -x -f package.tar       # extract .tar archive


gunzip package.gz           # unzip .gz file

.tgz, .tar.gz

tar -xvf package.tgz        # unzip tarred and gzipped file
tar -xvf package.tar.gz     # dtto


unzip           # unzip .zip file


Some software is available as a ready-made binary file. In this case the only thing you need to do is to download and unpack the files.


user123@skirit:~$ mkdir binaries ; cd binaries # prepare directory for the software (noc necessarry)
user123@skirit:~/binaries$ wget https://sw_xy.tgz ; tar -xvf sw_xy.tgz # download and unpack 
user13@skirit:~/binaries$ chmod 755 exec_file # set the binary to be executable
user13@skirit:~/binaries$ ./exec_file # run the executable file

R packages

To install R packages locally, first create some directory to serve as your local R library:

mkdir /storage/CITY_N/home/USERNAME/Rpackages/

Then install the package as:

export R_LIBS_USER="/storage/CITY_N/home/USERNAME/Rpackages"
module add r/

and load the package


Python packages

Python packages can be installed using pip, which is a part of several Python modules.

We recommend to use a module py-pip/21.3.1-gcc-10.2.1-mjt74tn.

General setup

First, start an interactive job with scratch directory and redirect temporary files to scratch dir:


Then start the installation with pip.

module add py-pip/21.3.1-gcc-10.2.1-mjt74tn
pip search <module name>
pip install <module name> --root /some/user/specific/python/modules/folder # Install everything relative to this alternate root directory
pip install <module name> --prefix /some/user/specific/python/modules/folder # Installation prefix where lib, bin and other top-level folders are placed
pip install git+https://path/to/git/file


Don't forget to properly set the PATH and PYTHONPATH environment variables if you are not using one of ours python-modules and installing modules to some new dir.

Detailed walkthrough

A very convenient feature is to use the --user option of pip install. This will install modules, additional to the available system python install, in the location defined by the PYTHONUSERBASE environment variable. A convenient choice for this variable is a location visible from the NFSv4 infrastructure, which means you could use for example export PYTHONUSERBASE=/storage/home/<user_name>/.local.

If you install such modules at this location, you will also need to add them to your path and pythonpath so that they are accessible from any folder you wish to execute your code. For this purpose, export PATH=$PYTHONUSERBASE/bin:$PATH and export PYTHONPATH=$PYTHONUSERBASE/bin:$PYTHONPATH will do the job.

If you wish to execute such commands at each login on a front end, you will therefore have to add the following lines to you .profile:

module add py-pip/21.3.1-gcc-10.2.1-mjt74tn
# Set pip path for --user option
export PYTHONUSERBASE=/storage/city/home/<user_name>/.local
# set PATH and PYTHONPATH variables
export PYTHONPATH=$PYTHONUSERBASE/lib/python2.7/site-packages:$PYTHONPATH

With this, you can install any module you need with the following command:

pip install <module-name> --user --process-dependency-links

without any need for administrator rights, and you will be able to use it. When launching jobs from the scheduler, remember that you .profile is not executed, you will therefore need to do module add and to define the relevant environment variables before the job is actually executed.

Conda packages

Conda is an open-source, cross-platform, language-agnostic package manager and environment management system. MetaCentra users can use conda and create new environments on their own and install application tools from various channels. The most straightforward way how to install the required tool is via the general module conda-modules-py37 in the user's home directory.

module add conda-modules-py37
conda --help
conda create --help
conda install --help
... etc

The following tutorial will briefly explain all the necessary steps on how to create and activate a new conda environment and install the selected application tool. As an example, we will install BLAST from the Bioconda channel. Detailed information can be found in the official documentation.

module add conda-modules-py37
conda create --prefix /storage/city/home/user_name/my_blast_env

First of all, load module conda-modules-py37. The second command will create a new environment (basically a new folder with some necessary components) named my_blast_env in the specified path.

Absolute or relative paths can be used, and folder name can be changed at will. The default python version is 3.6. If needed, a different python version can be installed by the python flag. E.g. conda create --prefix ... my_blast_env python=3.10. When the new environment is created, it has to be activated before the installation.

conda activate /storage/city/home/user_name/my_blast_env
conda install -c bioconda blast

After the installation, everything is ready, and a new tool can be immediately used. When the calculation is finished, the loaded environment should be deactivated.

blastn -db DATABASE_NAME -query INPUT_FASTA -out OUTPUT_NAME ...
conda deactivate

Later on, within interactive and/or batch jobs, just activate the already existing environment and start the calculation:

module add conda-modules-py37
conda activate /storage/city/home/user_name/my_blast_env
blastn ...
conda deactivate

Alternativelly, the creation of a new environment and the installation can be done by one command:

conda create -n my_blast_env -c bioconda blast

In this case, the environment can be created only without the path specification (/ character is not allowed) and will be placed in the home directory in a hidden folder .conda.

All available environments (prepared by MetaCentrum admins and by user) can be listed by the command:

conda env list

If for some reason the general conda installation is not suitable enough, users can use the local installation of miniconda client. Miniconda is a free minimal installer for conda. It is a small, bootstrap version of Anaconda that includes only conda, Python, the packages they depend on, and a small number of other useful packages, including pip, zlib and a few others.

# and follow the interactive installation procedure

Miniconda contains the conda package manager and Python. Once Miniconda is installed, you can use the conda command to install any other packages and create environments as usual.

/storage/city/home/user_name/miniconda3/bin/conda --help

During the installation of huge and complex packages, native conda can be very slow, especially in Solving environment phase. To speed up the entire installation process, users can use the mamba installer, which is a reimplementation of the conda package manager with the same functionalities and syntax but much faster. There are two easy ways how to use mamba (instead of conda) or micromamba (instead of miniconda), respectively.

Usage of mamba in conda environments

A quite direct usage of mamba is to create a conda environment as described before and install mamba prior to the installation of the required tool.

module add conda-modules-py37
conda create --prefix /storage/city/home/user_name/my_env
conda activate /storage/city/home/user_name/my_env
conda install -c conda-forge mamba
mamba install some_tool
# perform your calculation
conda deactivate

The installation of mamba is fast, and following speed up is significant. For the installation of other tools just replace "conda" by "mamba", further syntax is the same. 100% compatibility between conda and mamba can not be guaranteed, but in most cases it works well.

Mamba from the module

Possibly users can directly use mamba from the module mambaforge-22.9.0

module add mambaforge-22.9.0
mamba create ...

Usage of micromamba

Micromamba supports a subset of all mamba or conda commands and is distributed as a stand-alone precompiled binary. Basic but fully functional usage should be as follow.

module add micromamba-1.1.0
# load micromamba installed in MetaCentrum

micromamba info
# show information about micromamba configuration

micromamba config append channels conda-forge
micromamba config append channels bioconda
# for more convenient future usage, the user can set some default channels; conda-forge and bioconda are pretty popular

micromamba create -n my_new_env
# create a new and empty environment; the name should be changed at will

micromamba env list
# show a list of all available environments

micromamba activate my_new_env
# activate the selected environment

micromamba install blast=2.12.0
# now it is possible to install specific tool, for example blast version 2.12.0

# if the appropriate channels were not previously set as default, they would have to be additionally specified using the -c flag in micromamba install command
micromamba install -c bioconda -c conda-forge blast=2.12.0

blastn --help
# run the calculation

micromamba deactivate
# leave the activated environment



Usage of software "satsuma" distributed as binary file.

user123@skirit:~$ mkdir satsuma ; cd satsuma # prepare dir for software "satsuma"
user123@skirit:~/satsuma$ wget # download it
user13@skirit:~/satsuma$ tar -xvf satsuma2-linux.tar.gz # unpack it
user13@skirit:~/satsuma$ cd product/bin ; ls # list and run the executables


Install package segemehl from Conda repository.

To install Conda package "segemehl":

module add conda-modules-py37
# create new Conda environment called segemehl-0.3.4 (with python 3.8)
conda create --prefix /storage/city/home/user_name/segemehl-0.3.4 python=3.8 -y
# activate the environment
conda activate /storage/city/home/user_name/segemehl-0.3.4
# install the package
conda install -c bioconda -c conda-forge segemehl -y
# leave the environment
conda deactivate

Activation of this environment (e.g. within batch jobs) is as:

module add conda-modules-py37
conda activate /storage/city/home/user_name/segemehl-0.3.4
segemehl.x ... # run the job
conda deactivate


Install software package "spektral".

First redirect TMPDIR variable to SCRATCHDIR.

qsub -I -l select=1:ncpus=1:mem=4gb:scratch_local=10gb -l walltime=2:00:0
export TMPDIR=$SCRATCHDIR # store temporary files in SCRATCHDIR

module add py-pip/py-pip-19.3-intel-19.0.4-hudzomi # this will load python 3.7.7 (python/python-3.7.7-intel-19.0.4-mgiwa7z)
mkdir my_pip_libs_py3.7 # make a local directory to install to
pip3 install spektral --root /storage/cityN/home/user123/my_pip_libs_py3.7/ # install spektral and its dependencies to a local dir
After the installation is done, setup system variables:

export PYTHONUSERBASE=/storage/cityN/home/user123/my_pip_libs_py3.7:/cvmfs/
export PYTHONPATH=$PYTHONUSERBASE/lib/python3.7/site-packages:$PYTHONPATH

To run the package:

module add  python/python-3.7.7-intel-19.0.4-mgiwa7z 
export PYTHONUSERBASE=/storage/cityN/home/user123/my_pip_libs_py3.7:/cvmfs/
export PYTHONPATH=$PYTHONUSERBASE/lib/python3.7/site-packages:$PYTHONPATH
spektral ... # run the package


Apptainer (Singularity) images can be deployed and run directly on MetaCentrum machines.

If your software is released as Docker container, you have more option.