17.1 History of PBS

17.1 History of PBS

In the past, computers were used in a completely interactive manner. Background jobs were just processes with their input disconnected from the terminal. As the number of processors in computers continued to increase, however, the need to be able to schedule tasks based on available resources rose in importance. The advent of networked compute servers, smaller general systems, and workstations led to the requirement of a networked batch scheduling capability. The first such Unix-based system was the Network Queueing System (NQS) funded by NASA Ames Research Center in 1986. NQS quickly became the de facto standard for batch queuing.

Over time, distributed parallel systems began to emerge, and NQS was inadequate to handle the complex scheduling requirements presented by such systems. In addition, computer system managers wanted greater control over their compute resources, and users wanted a single interface to the systems. In the early 1990s NASA needed a solution to this problem, but after finding nothing on the market that adequately addressed their needs, led an international effort to gather requirements for a next-generation resource management system. The requirements and functional specification were later adopted as an IEEE POSIX standard (1003.2d). Next, NASA funded the development of a new resource management system compliant with the standard. Thus the Portable Batch System was born.

PBS was quickly adopted on distributed parallel systems and replaced NQS on traditional supercomputers and server systems. Eventually the entire industry evolved toward distributed parallel systems, taking the form of both special-purpose and commodity clusters. Managers of such systems found that the capabilities of PBS mapped well onto cluster systems.

The PBS story continued when Veridian (the research and development contractor that developed PBS for NASA) released the Portable Batch System Professional Edition (PBS Pro), a complete workload management solution. After three years of commercial success, in March 2003, the PBS technology and associated engineering team was acquired by Altair Engineering, Inc. Altair set up the PBS team as a seperate, subsiderary company (Altair Grid Technologies) focused on continued development of the PBS product line, and created a world-wide PBS support network via the Altair international offices.

The cluster administrator can now choose between two versions of PBS: an older restricted-use Open Source release (Altair OpenPBS); and Altair PBS Pro, the new hardened and enhanced commercial version.

This chapter gives a technical overview of PBS and information on installing, using, and managing both versions of PBS. However, it is not possible to cover all the details of a software system as feature-rich as PBS in a single chapter. Therefore, we limit this discussion to the recommended configuration for Linux clusters, providing references to the various PBS documentation where additional, detailed information is available.

While this chapter describes only single-operating system clusters, the reader should note that PBS Pro is not limited to this configuration. Heterogenous clusters containing UNIX, Linux, and Windows systems are also supported.

17.1.1 Acquiring PBS

While both OpenPBS and PBS Pro are bundled in a variety of cluster kits, the best sources for the most current release of either product are the official Altair PBS Web sites: www.OpenPBS.org and www.PBSpro.com. Both sites offer downloads of the software and documentation, as well as FAQs, discussion lists, and current PBS news. Hardcopy documentation, media kits, and training classnotes are available from the PBS Online Store, accessed through the PBS Pro Web site.

17.1.2 PBS Features

PBS Pro provides many features and benefits to the cluster administrator. A few of the more important features are the following:

Enterprisewide resource sharing provides transparent job scheduling on any PBS system by any authorized user. Jobs can be submitted from any client system, both local and remote, crossing domains where needed.

Multiple user interfaces provide a graphical user interface for submitting batch and interactive jobs; querying job, queue, and system status; and monitoring job progress. Also provided is a traditional command line interface.

Security and access control lists permit the administrator to allow or deny access to PBS systems on the basis of username, group, host, and/or network domain.

Job accounting offers detailed logs of system activities for charge-back or usage analysis per user, per group, per project, and per compute host.

Automatic file staging provides users with the ability to specify any files that need to be copied onto the execution host before the job runs and any that need to be copied off after the job completes. The job will be scheduled to run only after the required files have been successfully transferred.

Parallel job support works with parallel programming libraries such as MPI, PVM, and HPF. Applications can be scheduled to run within a single multiprocessor computer or across multiple systems.

System monitoring includes a graphical user interface for system monitoring. PBS displays node status, job placement, and resource utilization information for both standalone systems and clusters.

Job interdependency enables the user to define a wide range of interdependencies between jobs. Such dependencies include execution order, synchronization, and execution conditioned on the success or failure of another specific job (or set of jobs).

Computational Grid support provides an enabling technology for meta-computing and computational Grids, including support for the Globus Toolkit.

Comprehensive API includes a complete application programming interface for sites that wish to integrate PBS with other applications or to support unique job-scheduling requirements.

Automatic load-leveling provides numerous ways to distribute the workload across a cluster of machines, based on hardware configuration, resource availability, keyboard activity, and local scheduling policy.

Distributed clustering allows customers to use physically distributed systems and clusters, even across wide area networks.

Common user environment offers users a common view of the job submission, job querying, system status, and job tracking over all systems.

Cross-system scheduling ensures that jobs do not have to be targeted to a specific computer system. Users may submit their job and have it run on the first available system that meets their resource requirements.

Job priority allows users the ability to specify the priority of their jobs; defaults can be provided at both the queue and system level.

Full configurability makes PBS easily tailored to meet the needs of different sites. Much of this flexibility is due to the unique design of the scheduler module, which permits complete customization.

Broad platform availability is achieved through support of Windows 2000 and XP, and every major version of Unix and Linux, from workstations and servers to supercomputers. New platforms are being supported with each new release.

User name mapping provides support for mapping user account names on one system to the appropriate name on remote server systems. This allows PBS to fully function in environments where users do not have a consistent username across all the resources they have access to.

System integration allows PBS to take advantage of vendor-specific enhancements on different systems (such as supporting cpusets on SGI systems and interfacing with the global resource manager on the Cray T3E).

For a comparison of the features available in the latest versions of OpenPBS and PBS Pro, visit the PBS Product Comparison web page: www.OpenPBS.org/product_comparison.html.

17.1.3 PBS Architecture

PBS consists of two major component types: user-level commands and system daemons. A brief description of each is given here to help you make decisions during the installation process.

PBS supplies both command-line programs that are POSIX 1003.2d conforming and a graphical interface. These are used to submit, monitor, modify, and delete jobs. These client commands can be installed on any system type supported by PBS and do not require the local presence of any of the other components of PBS. There are three classifications of commands: user commands that any authorized user can use, operator commands, and manager (or administrator) commands. Operator and manager commands require specific access privileges. (See also the security sections of the PBS Administrator Guide.)

The job server daemon is the central focus for PBS, fulfilling the queueing and accounting roles of workload management (see Chapter 16 for details). Within this document, this daemon process is generally referred to as the Server or by the execution name pbs_server. All commands and the other daemons communicate with the Server via an Internet Protocol (IP) network. The Server's main function is to provide the basic batch services such as receiving or creating a batch job, modifying the job, protecting the job against system crashes, and running the job. Typically, one Server manages a given set of resources.

The job executor is the daemon that actually places the job into execution. This daemon, pbs_mom, is informally called MOM because it is the mother of all executing jobs. (MOM is a reverse-engineered acronym that stands for Machine Oriented Mini-server.) MOM places a job into execution when it receives a copy of the job from a Server. MOM creates a new session as identical to a user login session as possible. For example, if the user's login shell is csh, then MOM creates a session in which .login is run as well as .cshrc. MOM also has the responsibility for returning the job's output to the user when directed to do so by the Server. One MOM daemon runs on each computer that will execute PBS jobs. The MOM daemons, collectively, are responsible for the monitoring and resource management (and part of accounting) roles of workload management.

The job scheduler daemon, pbs_sched, implements the site's policy controlling when each job is run and on which resources (i.e. fulfiling the scheduling role of workload management). The Scheduler communicates with the various MOMs to query the state of system resources and with the Server to learn about the availability of jobs to execute. The interface to the Server is through the same API (discussed below) as used by the client commands. Note that the Scheduler interfaces with the Server with the same privilege as the PBS manager.

Part III: Managing Clusters