Compiling OpenSees on the Janus cluster

We said this blog was about “research” not just “water-related research” so here’s a completely random set of instructions for you!

I recently had a conversation with a structural engineer about combining some of our optimization techniques with an open source earthquake engineering performance simulation called OpenSees. Talk about long evaluation times… this simulation takes minutes! Maybe even, 10 minutes! And it contains thousands of files! But here goes.

First, go to the website (the link is above), and sign up for an account. Once you have an account, the website is pretty easy to navigate. The download link allows you to get executables, but what we really want is the source code. If you click the source code link, you find a list of all the files… but what they want you to do is actually use Subversion to download the code to your own machine.

Here’s the trick! I found a helpful forum post linked here, that explains where to find the download instructions. When you click on the Source Code link, you’re going to see a bunch of folders. Navigate to trunk/MAKES/ and you should see a whole bunch of Makefiles for different systems. If you’re using one of the big computing clusters such as STAMPEDE, follow the instructions for their file. You’ll probably not need to do anything else, but sometimes you have to adjust things here and there for your own system.

So if you’re at the University of Colorado, you are going to be compiling on Janus, which uses the REDHAT operating system. So click on the Makefile.def.EC2-REDHAT-ENTERPRISE link. Here’s a link to it but I’m not sure if the link works properly because it’s a complicated URL.

See where it says “Following are commands to build OpenSees”? That’s what you want to follow! But, a lot of these commands aren’t needed on your own system because the packages like gcc and tcl are already installed. Ok so here goes.

1. Log on to Janus in the normal way. You need to load some modules for yourself that will help you. To load them, type (each line should be followed by an ‘enter’):

module load tcl/tcl-8.5.13
module load gcc
module load tcl/activetcl-8.5.13

2. When you are first logged in, you are typically in your home directory. Type ‘pwd’ to ensure where you are. It will look like /home/[your identikey]. Remember, you can always get back to your home directory by typing cd ~.
3. The first thing the commands want you to do is to create two special directories in your home folder called bin, where executable programs are stored, and lib, where libraries are stored. These commands are:

mkdir bin
mkdir lib

4. Now, use svn to obtain the code. Note, I am copying the commands here but please refer to the actual list of commands in the Makefile from the website, because those will be the latest commands!

svn co svn:// OpenSees

This will take a few minutes. What it is doing, is downloading all these source code files to your account on Janus, to get ready for you to compile. If you need a refresher on what compiling is, I have some comments about this on a related post here, and I’ve also posted about makefiles too.
5. At this point, you’ve created the special directories in your home directory, and also downloaded all the data. Next, you’ll want to change into the new directory that you just created:

cd OpenSees

and of course, you can make sure you’re in the proper place by running the pwd command.
6. Now that you’re in the OpenSees directory, you want to basically pick out the proper Makefile for you to use. The commands show you how to do this:

cp ./MAKES/Makefile.def.EC2-REDHAT-ENTERPRISE ./Makefile.def

What this command does, is it says, “There are like, dozens of makefiles in the directory… which one am I supposed to use?” and what you do is copy the specific makefile into a generic makefile in your OpenSees directory called, simply, Makefile.def.
7. Now you’re going to want to use a text editor to edit the Makefile.def for your own purposes. I like to use emacs, but there are others. To open the file for editing, type:

emacs Makefile.def

This is a really nice makefile, the folks at Berkeley have done a great job. However, there are a few things you need to edit to make this work for the University of Colorado system, in my experience. They are listed in the following items
8. If you scroll down to section 2, the value of the BASE variable is set to /usr/local. I got rid of this and just wrote BASE =
9. Take a look at section 3, which lists the libraries. The nice thing, all these libraries are going to be created for you and placed in the lib folder you created in your home directory. But watch for the tcl library! The path for this library is not correct. By my calculation, on the University of Colorado computer the path should be:

TCL_LIBRARY = /curc/tools/x_86_64/rh6/tcl/8.5.13/lib/

10. Section 4 tells the makefile where to look for the compilers. This also needs to change on the Colorado computer! The default commands have /usr/bin in front of them but we need to change them to:

C++ = g++
CC = gcc
FC = gfortran

11. The last part of Section 4 gives flags to the compiler that gives the compiler options on how to actual compile and link the code. In the LINKFLAGS variable, there are two options: -rdynamic and -Wl. Remove the -Wl option.
12. To save the file, hold Control and type ‘X s’. Then, to exit the program, Control and ‘x c’.
13. We are almost ready to compile, but first triple check you are in the correct directory. When you type ‘pwd’ you should see:


If you don’t see that, type: cd ~/OpenSees.
14. Type:


and if everything went right, you should be all set! Note, this will take about 15 minutes.
15. To run the program from any directory, type ~/bin/OpenSees. In other words, the executable is in the /bin/ folder in your home directory.

Now don’t ask me the first thing about what this program does… I just helped you compile it. 🙂


4 thoughts on “Compiling OpenSees on the Janus cluster

  1. Pingback: How to Use Opensees on the JANUS Supercomuter | Travis Marcilla

  2. Pingback: How to Use Opensees on the JANUS Supercomputer | Travis Marcilla

  3. Pingback: How to use Opensees on the JANUS Supercomputer |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s