Rivanna is the University of Virginia’s High-Performance Computing (HPC) system. As a centralized resource and has many software packages available. Currently, the Rivanna supercomputer has 603 nodes with over 20476 cores and 8PB of various storage. Rivanna has multiple nodes equipped with GPUs including RTX2080, RTX3090, K80, P100, V100, A100-40GB, A100-80GB.


We have a team discord at: uva-bii-community


please subscribe if you work on rivanna and are part of the bii_dsc_community.

Rivanna at UVA

The official Web page for Rivanna is located at

In case you need support you can ask the staff using a ticket system at

It is important that before you use Rivanna to attend a seminar that upon request is given every Wednesday. To sign up, use the link:

Please note that in this introduction we will provide you with additional inforamation that may make the use of Rivanna easier. We encourage you to add to this information and share your tips,

Getting Permissions to use Rivanna

To use Rivanna you need to have special authorization. In case you work with a faculty member you will need to be added to a special group (or multiple) to be able to access it. The faculty member will know which group it is. This is managed via the group management portal by the faculty member. Please do not use the previous link and instead communicate with your faculty member first.

  • Note: For BII work conducted with Geoffrey Fox or Gregor von Laszewski, please contact Gregor at laszewski@gmail.com


Once you are added to the group, you will receive an invitation email to set up password for the research computing support portal. If you do not recive such an email, please visit the support portal at


This password is also the password that you will use to log into the system.


After your account is set up, you can try to log in through the Web-based access. Please test it to make sure you have the proper access already.

However, we will typically notuse the online portal but instead use the more advanced batch system as it provides significant advantages for you when managing multiple jobs to Fivanna.

Accessing an HPC Computer via command line

If you need to use X11 on Rivanna you can finde documentation at the rivanna documentation. In case you need to run jupyter notebooks directly on Rivanna, please consult with the Rivanna documentation.

VPN (required)

You can access rivanna via ssh only via VPN. UVA requires you to use the VPN to access any computer on campus. VPN is offered by IT services but oficially only supported for Mac and Windows.

However, if you have a Linux machine you can follow the VPN install instructions for Linux. If you have issues installing it, attend an online support session with the Rivanna staff.

Access via the Web Browser

Rivanna can be accessed right from the Web browser. Although this may be helpful for those with systems where a proper terminal can not be accessed it can not leverage the features of your own desktop or laptop while using for example advanced editors or keeping the file system of your machine in sync with the HPC file system.

Therefore, practical experience shows that you benefit while using a terminal and your own computer for software development.

Additiional documentation by the rivanna system staff is provided at

Access Rivanna from macOS and Linux

To access Rivanna from macOS, use the terminal and use ssh to connect to it. We will provide an in depth configuration tutorial on this later on. We will use the same programs as on Linux and Windows so we have to only provide one documentation and it is uniform across platforms.

Please remember to use

$ ssh-agent
$ ssh-add

To activate ssh in your terminal

Access Rivanna from Windows

While exploring the various choices for accessing Rivanna from Windows you can use putty and MobaXterm.

However, most recently a possible better choice is available while using gitbash. Git bash is trivial to install. However, you need to read the configuration options carefully. READ CAREFULLY Let us know your options so we can add them here.

To simplify the setup of a Windows computer for research we have prepared a separate

It addresses the installation of gitbash, Python, PyCharm (much better than VSCode), and other useful tools such as chocolate.

With git bash, you get a bash terminal that works the same as a Linux bash terminal and which is similar to the zsh terminal for a Mac.

Set up the connection (mac/Linux)

The first thing to do when trying to connect to Rivanna is to create an ssh key if you have not yet done so.

To do this use the command


Please make sure you use a passphrase when generating the key. Make sure to not just skip the passphrase by typing in ENTER but instead use a real not easy to guess passphrase as this is best practice and not in violation violation of security policies. You always can use use ssh-agent and ssh-add so you do not have to repeatedly enter your passphrase.

The ssh-keygen program will generate a public-private keypair in the directory ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub (public key) and ~/.ssh/id_rsa. Please never share the private key with anyone.

Next, we need to add the public key to Rivanna’s rivanna:~/.ssh/authorized_keys file. The easiest way to do this is to use the program ssh-copy-id.

ssh-copy-id username@rivanna.hpc.virginia.edu

Please use your password when using ssh-copy-id. Your username is your UVA computing id. Now you should be ready to connect with

ssh username@rivanna.hpc.virginia.edu

Commandline editor

Sometimes it is necessary to edit files on Rivanna. For this, we recommend that you learn a command line editor. There are lots of debates on which one is better. When I was young I used vi, but found it too cumbersome. So I spend one-day learning emacs which is just great and all you need to learn. You can install it also on Linux, Mac, and Windows. This way you have one editor with very advanced features that is easy to learn.

If you do not have one day to familiarize yourself with editors such as emacs, vim, or vi, you can use editors such as nano and pico.

The best commandline editor is emacs. It is extremely easy to learn when using just the basics. The advantage is that the same commands also work in the terminal.

Keys Action
CTRL-x c Save in emacs
CTRL-x q Leave
CTRL-x g If something goes wrong
CTRL a Go to beginning line
CTRL e Go to end of line
CTRL k Delete till end of line from curser
cursor Just works ;-)


The best editor to do python development is pyCharm. Install it on your desktop. The education version is free.


An inferior editor for python development is VSCode. It can be configured to also use a Remote-SSH plugin.

Moving data from your desktop to Rivanna

To copy a directory use scp

If only a few lines have changed use rsync

To mount Rivannas file system onto your computer use fuse-ssh. This will allow you to for example use pyCharm to directly edit files on Rivanna.

Developers however often also use GitHub to push the code to git and then on Rivanna use pull to get the code from git. This has the advantage that you can use pyCharm on your local system while synchronizing the code via git onto Rivanna.

However often scp and rsync may just be sufficient.

Example Config file

Replace abc2de with your computing id

place this on your computer in ~/.ssh/config

ServerAliveInterval 60

Host rivanna
     User abc2de
     HostName rivanna.hpc.virginia.edu
     IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub
Host b1
     User abc2de
     HostName biihead1.bii.virginia.edu
     IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub
Host b2
     User abc2de
     HostName biihead2.bii.virginia.edu
     IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub

Adding it allows you to just ssh to the machines with

ssh rivanna
ssh b1
ssh b2

Rivanna’s filesystem

The file systems on Rivanna have some restrictions that are set by system wide policies that you need to be inspecting:

  • TODO: add link here

we distinguish

  • home directory: /home/<uvaid> or ~
  • /scratch/bii_dsc_community/<uvaid>
  • /project/bii_dsc_community/projectname/<uvaid>

Y In your home directory, you will find system directories and files such as ~/.ssh , ~/.bashrcand ~/.zshrc

The difference in the file systems is explained at

Dealing with limited space under HOME

As we conduct research you may find that the file spece in your home directory is insufficient. This is especially the case when using conda. Therefore, it is recommended that you create softlinks from your home directory to a location where you have more space. This is typically soemwhere under /project.

We describe next how to relocate some of the directories to /project

In ~/.bashrc, add the following lines, for creating a project directory.

$ vi ~/.bashrc

$ PS1="\w \$"
$ alias project='cd /project/bii_dsc_community/$USER'
$ export PROJECT="/project/bii_dsc_community/$USER"

At the end of the .bashrc file use


So you always cd directly into your project directory instead of home.

The home directory only has 50GB. Installing everything on the home directory will exceed the allocation and have problems with any execution. So it’s better to move conda all other package installation directories to $PROJECT.

First explore what is in your home directory and how much space it consumes with the following commands.

cd $HOME
$ ls -lisa
$ du -h .

Select from this list directories that you want to move (thise that you not already have moved).

Let us assume you want to move the directories .local, .vscode-server, and .conda. Imporatnt is that you want to make sure that .conda and .local are moved as they may include lots of files and you may run out of memory quickly. Hence you do next the following.

$ mv ~/.local .
$ mv ~/.vscode-server .
$ mv ~/.conda .

Then create symbolic links to the home directory installed folder.

$ ln -s $PROJECT/.local ~/.local
$ ln -s $PROJECT/.vscode-server ~/.vscode-server
$ ln -s $PROJECT/.conda ~/.conda

Check all symbolic links:

$ ls -lisa

20407358289   4 lrwxrwxrwx    1 $USER users          40 May  5 10:58 .local -> /project/bii_dsc_community/djy8hg/.local
20407358290   4 lrwxrwxrwx    1 $USER users          48 May  5 10:58 .vscode-server -> /project/bii_dsc_community/djy8hg/.vscode-server

In case you use python venv, do not place them in home but under project.

module load python3.8
python -m venv $PROJECT/ENV3
source $PROJECT/ENV3/bin/activate

If you succesd, you can also place the source line in your .bashrcs file.

In case you use conda and python, we also recommend that you create a venv from the conda pythin, so you have a copy of that in ENV3 and if something goes wrong its easy to recreate from your default python. Thise that use that path ought to improve how to do this here.

Load modules

Modules are preconfigured packages that allow you to use a specific software to be loaded into your environment without needing you to install it from source. To find out more about a particular package such as cmake you can use the command

module spider cmake # check whether cmake is available and details

Load the needed module (you can add version info). Note that some modules are dependent on other modules (clang/10.0.1 depends on gcc/9.2.0 so gcc needs to be loaded first.

# module load gcc/9.2.0 clang/10.0.1
module load clanggcc
module load cmake/3.23.3 git/2.4.1 ninja/1.10.2-py3.8 llvm cuda/11.4.2

check currently loaded modules

module list

clean all the modules

module purge

Request GPUs to use interactively

TODO: explain what -A is

rivanna$ ijob -c number_of_cpus
              -A group_name
	      -p queue_name

An example to request 1 cpu with 1 a100 gpu for 10 minutes in ‘dev’ partition is

rivanna$ ijob -c 1 -A bii_dsc_community -p gpu --gres=gpu:a100:1 --time=0-00:10:00

Rivanna has different partitions with different resource availability and charging rate. dev is free but limited to 1 hour for each session/allocation and no GPU is available. To list the different partions use qlist to check partitions

Queue Total Free Jobs Jobs Time SU
(partition) Cores Cores Running Pending Limit Charge
bii 4640 4306 38 1949 7-00:00:00 1
standard 5644 1391 706 12 7-00:00:00 1
dev 456 426 2 1 1:00:00 0
parallel 5680 364 32 21 3-00:00:00 1
instructional 2320 2180 3-00:00:00 1
largemem 208 123 10 2 4-00:00:00 1
gpu 2372 1745 67 1 3-00:00:00 3
bii-gpu 608 554 4 3-00:00:00 1
bii-largemem 288 171 1 7-00:00:00 1

To list the limits, use the command qlimits

Queue Maximum Maximum Minimum Maximum Maximum Default Maximum Minimum
(partition) Submit Cores(GPU) Cores Mem/Node Mem/Core Mem/Core Nodes Nodes
per User per Job in MB in MB in MB per Job per Job
bii 10000 cpu=400 354000+ 9400 112
standard 10000 cpu=1000 255000+ 9000 1
dev 10000 cpu=16 127000+ 9000 6000 2
parallel 2000 cpu=1000 4 384000 9600 9000 25 2
instructional 2000 cpu=20 112000+ 6000 5
largemem 2000 cpu=32 1000000+ 64000 60000 2
gpu 10000 gres/gpu=32 128000+ 32000 6000 4
bii-gpu 10000 384000+ 9400 12
bii-largemem 10000 1500000 31000 2

Linux commands for HPC

Many useful commands can be found in Gregor’s book at

The following additional commands are quite useful on HPC systems

command description
allocations check available account and balance
hdquota check storage you has used
du -h --max-depth=1 check which directory uses most space

SLURM Batch Parameters

We present next a number of default parameters for using a variety of GPUs on rivanna. Please note that you may need to adopt some parameters to adjust for cores or memory according to your application.

Running on v100

#SBATCH --nodes=1
#SBATCH --ntasks=1
#SBATCH --time=12:00:00
#SBATCH --partition=bii-gpu
#SBATCH --account=bii_dsc_community
#SBATCH --gres=gpu:v100:1
#SBATCH --job-name=MYNAME
#SBATCH --output=%u-%j.out
#SBATCH --error=%u-%j.err

Running on a100-40GB

#SBATCH --nodes=1
#SBATCH --ntasks=1
#SBATCH --time=12:00:00
#SBATCH --partition=bii-gpu
#SBATCH --account=bii_dsc_community
#SBATCH --gres=gpu:a100:1
#SBATCH --job-name=MYNAME
#SBATCH --output=%u-%j.out
#SBATCH --error=%u-%j.err

Running on special fox node a100-80GB

#SBATCH --nodes=1
#SBATCH --ntasks=1
#SBATCH --time=12:00:00
#SBATCH --partition=bii-gpu
#SBATCH --account=bii_dsc_community
#SBATCH --gres=gpu:a100:1
#SBATCH --job-name=MYNAME
#SBATCH --output=%u-%j.out
#SBATCH --error=%u-%j.err
#SBATCH --reservation=bi_fox_dgx
#SBATCH --constraint=a100_80gb

Some suggestions

When compiling large projects, you may neeed to make surue you have enough time and memory to conduct such compiles. This can be best achieved by using an interactive node, possibly from the large memory partition.


Help Support

When requesting help from Gregor or anyone make sure to be completley specify the issue, alot of things cannot be solved if you are not clear on the issue and where it is occuring. Include:

  • The issue you are encountering.
  • Where it is occuring.
  • What you have done to try to resolve the issue.

A good example is:

I ran application xyz, from url xyz on Rivanna. I placed code in directory /project/…. or I placed the data in /project/… The download worked and I placed about 600GB. However when I uncompress the data with command xyz I get the error xyz. What should we do now?

Last modified May 8, 2023: update groups (01d57f0)