Setup of computers and codes


The Ssh transport plugin referenced below is available in the EPFL version.

Before being able to run the first calculation, you need to setup at least one computer and one code, as described below.

Remote computer requirements

A computer in AiiDA denotes any computational resource (with a batch job scheduler) on which you will run your calculations. Computers typically are clusters or supercomputers.

Requirements for a computer are:

  • It must run a Unix-like operating system
  • The default shell must be bash
  • It should have a batch scheduler installed (see here for a list of supported batch schedulers)
  • It must be accessible from the machine that runs AiiDA using one of the available transports (see below).

The first step is to choose the transport to connect to the computer. Typically, you will want to use the SSH transport, apart from a few special cases where SSH connection is not possible (e.g., because you cannot setup a password-less connection to the computer). In this case, you can install AiiDA directly on the remote cluster, and use the local transport (in this way, commands to submit the jobs are simply executed on the AiiDA machine, and files are simply copied on the disk instead of opening an SFTP connection).

If you plan to use the local transport, you can skip to the next section.

If you plan to use the SSH transport, you have to configure a password-less login from your user to the cluster. To do so type first (only if you do not already have some keys in your local ~/.ssh directory - i.e. files like

ssh-keygen -t rsa

Then copy your keys to the remote computer (in ~/.ssh/authorized_keys) with:


replacing YOURUSERNAME and YOURCLUSTERADDRESS by respectively your username and cluster address. Finally add the following lines to ~/.ssh/config (leaving an empty line before and after):

  HostKeyAlgorithms ssh-rsa
  IdentityFile YOURRSAKEY

replacing YOURRSAKEY by the path to the rsa private key you want to use (it should look like ~/.ssh/id_rsa).


In principle you don’t have to put the IdentityFile line if you have only one rsa key in your ~/.ssh folder.

Before proceeding to setup the computer, be sure that you are able to connect to your cluster using:


without the need to type a password. Moreover, make also sure you can connect via sftp (needed to copy files). The following command:


should show you a prompt without errors (possibly with a message saying Connected to YOURCLUSTERADDRESS).


Due to a current limitation of the current ssh transport module, we do not support ECDSA, but only RSA or DSA keys. In the present guide we’ve shown RSA only for simplicity. The first time you connect to the cluster, you should see something like this:

The authenticity of host 'YOURCLUSTERADDRESS (IP)' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is xx:xx:xx:xx:xx.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?

Make sure you see RSA written. If you already installed the keys in the past, and you don’t know which keys you are using, you could remove the cluster YOURCLUSTERADDRESS from the file ~/.ssh/known-hosts (backup it first!) and try to ssh again. If you are not using a RSA or DSA key, you may see later on a submitted calculation going in the state SUBMISSIONFAILED.


If the ssh command works, but the sftp command does not (e.g. it just prints Connection closed), a possible reason can be that there is a line in your ~/.bashrc that either produces an output, or an error. Remove/comment it until no output or error is produced: this should make sftp working again.

Finally, try also:


replacing QUEUE_VISUALIZATION_COMMAND by the scheduler command that prints on screen the status of the queue on the cluster (i.e. qstat for PBSpro scheduler, squeue for SLURM, etc.). It should print a snapshot of the queue status, without any errors.


If there are errors with the previous command, then edit your ~/.bashrc file in the remote computer and add a line at the beginning that adds the path to the scheduler commands, typically (here for PBSpro):

export PATH=$PATH:/opt/pbs/default/bin

Or, alternatively, find the path to the executables (like using which qsub)


If you need to ssh to a computer A first, from which you can then connect to computer B you wanted to connect to, you can use the proxy_command feature of ssh, that we also support in AiiDA. For more information, see Using the proxy_command option with ssh.

Computer setup and configuration

The configuration of computers happens in two steps.


The commands use some readline extensions to provide default answers, that require an advanced terminal. Therefore, run the commands from a standard terminal, and not from embedded terminals as the ones included in text editors, unless you know what you are doing. For instance, the terminal embedded in emacs is known to give problems.

  1. Setup of the computer, using the:

    verdi computer setup

    command. This command allows to create a new computer instance in the DB.


    The code will ask you a few pieces of information. At every prompt, you can type the ? character and press <enter> to get a more detailed explanation of what is being asked.


    You can press <CTRL>+C at any moment to abort the setup process. Nothing will be stored in the DB.


    For multiline inputs (like the prepend text and the append text, see below) you have to press <CTRL>+D to complete the input, even if you do not want any text.

    Here is a list of what is asked, together with an explanation.

    • Computer name: the (user-friendly) name of the new computer instance which is about to be created in the DB (the name is used for instance when you have to pick up a computer to launch a calculation on it). Names must be unique. This command should be thought as a AiiDA-wise configuration of computer, independent of the AiiDA user that will actually use it.

    • Fully-qualified hostname: the fully-qualified hostname of the computer to which you want to connect (i.e., with all the dots:, and not just bellatrix). Type localhost for the local transport.

    • Description: A human-readable description of this computer; this is useful if you have a lot of computers and you want to add some text to distinguish them (e.g.: “cluster of computers at EPFL, installed in 2012, 2 GB of RAM per CPU”)

    • Enabled: either True or False; if False, the computer is disabled and calculations associated with it will not be submitted. This allows to disable temporarily a computer if it is giving problems or it is down for maintenance, without the need to delete it from the DB.

    • Transport type: The name of the transport to be used. A list of valid transport types can be obtained typing ?

    • Scheduler type: The name of the plugin to be used to manage the job scheduler on the computer. A list of valid scheduler plugins can be obtained typing ?. See here for a documentation of scheduler plugins in AiiDA.

    • AiiDA work directory: The absolute path of the directory on the remote computer where AiiDA will run the calculations (often, it is the scratch of the computer). You can (should) use the {username} replacement, that will be replaced by your username on the remote computer automatically: this allows the same computer to be used by different users, without the need to setup a different computer for each one. Example:

    • mpirun command: The mpirun command needed on the cluster to run parallel MPI programs. You can (should) use the {tot_num_mpiprocs} replacement, that will be replaced by the total number of cpus, or the other scheduler-dependent fields (see the scheduler docs for more information). Some examples:

      mpirun -np {tot_num_mpiprocs}
      aprun -n {tot_num_mpiprocs}
    • Text to prepend to each command execution: This is a multiline string, whose content will be prepended inside the submission script before the real execution of the job. It is your responsibility to write proper bash code! This is intended for computer-dependent code, like for instance loading a module that should always be loaded on that specific computer. Remember to end the input by pressing <CTRL>+D. A practical example:

      export NEWVAR=1
      source some/file

      A not-to-do example:

      #PBS -l nodes=4:ppn=12

      (it’s the plugin that will do this!)

    • Text to append to each command execution: This is a multiline string, whose content will be appended inside the submission script after the real execution of the job. It is your responsibility to write proper bash code! This is intended for computer-dependent code. Remember to end the input by pressing <CTRL>+D.

At the end, you will get a confirmation command, and also the ID in the database (pk, i.e. the principal key, and uuid).
  1. Configuration of the computer, using the:

    verdi computer configure COMPUTERNAME

    command. This will allow to access more detailed configurations, that are often user-dependent and also depend on the specific transport (for instance, if the transport is SSH, it will ask for username, port, ...).

    The command will try to provide automatically default answers, mainly reading the existing ssh configuration in ~/.ssh/config, and in most cases one simply need to press enter a few times.


    At the moment, the in-line help (i.e., just typing ? to get some help) is not yet supported in verdi configure, but only in verdi setup.

    For local transport, you need to run the command, even if nothing will be asked to you. For ssh transport, the following will be asked:

    • username: your username on the remote machine
    • port: the port to connect to (the default SSH port is 22)
    • look_for_keys: automatically look for the private key in ~/.ssh. Default: True.
    • key_filename: the absolute path to your private SSH key. You can leave it empty to use the default SSH key, if you set look_for_keys to True.
    • timeout: A timeout in seconds if there is no response (e.g., the machine is down. You can leave it empty to use the default value.
    • allow_agent: If True, it will try to use an SSH agent.
    • proxy_command: Leave empty if you do not need a proxy command (i.e., if you can directly connect to the machine). If you instead need to connect to an intermediate computer first, you need to provide here the command for the proxy: see documentation here for how to use this option, and in particular the notes here for the format of this field.
    • compress: True to compress the traffic (recommended)
    • load_system_host_keys: True to load the known hosts keys from the default SSH location (recommended)
    • key_policy: What is the policy in case the host is not known. It is a string among the following:
      • RejectPolicy (default, recommended): reject the connection if the host is not known.
      • WarningPolicy (not recommended): issue a warning if the host is not known.
      • AutoAddPolicy (not recommended): automatically add the host key at the first connection to the host.
After these two steps have been completed, your computer is ready to go!


To check if you set up the computer correctly, execute:

verdi computer test COMPUTERNAME

that will run a few tests (file copy, file retrieval, check of the jobs in the scheduler queue) to verify that everything works as expected.


If you are not sure if your computer is already set up, use the command:

verdi computer list

to get a list of existing computers, and:

verdi computer show COMPUTERNAME

to get detailed information on the specific computer named COMPUTERNAME. You have also the:



verdi computer delete COMPUTERNAME

commands, whose meaning should be self-explanatory.


You can delete computers only if no entry in the database is using them (as for instance Calculations, or RemoteData objects). Otherwise, you will get an error message.


It is possible to disable a computer.

Doing so will prevent AiiDA from connecting to the given computer to check the state of calculations or to submit new calculations. This is particularly useful if, for instance, the computer is under maintenance but you still want to use AiiDA with other computers, or submit the calculations in the AiiDA database anyway.

When the computer comes back online, you can re-enable it; at this point pending calculations in the TOSUBMIT state will be submitted, and calculations WITHSCHEDULER will be checked and possibly retrieved.

The relevant commands are:

verdi computer enable COMPUTERNAME
verdi computer disable COMPUTERNAME

Note that the above commands will disable the computer for all AiiDA users. If instead, for some reason, you want to disable the computer only for a given user, you can use the following command:

verdi computer disable COMPUTERNAME --only-for-user USER_EMAIL

(and the corresponding verdi computer enable command to re-enable it).

Code setup and configuration

Once you have at least one computer configured, you can configure the codes.

In AiiDA, for full reproducibility of each calculation, we store each code in the database, and attach to each calculation a given code. This has the further advantage to make very easy to query for all calculations that were run with a given code (for instance because I am looking for phonon calculations, or because I discovered that a specific version had a bug and I want to rerun the calculations).

In AiiDA, we distinguish two types of codes: remote codes and local codes, where the distinction between the two is described here below.

Remote codes

With remote codes we denote codes that are installed/compiled on the remote computer. Indeed, this is very often the case for codes installed in supercomputers for high-performance computing applications, because the code is typically installed and optimized on the supercomputer.

In AiiDA, a remote code is identified by two mandatory pieces of information:

  • A computer on which the code is (that must be a previously configured computer);
  • The absolute path of the code executable on the remote computer.

Local codes

With local codes we denote codes for which the code is not already present on the remote machine, and must be copied for every submission. This is the case if you have for instance a small, machine-independent Python script that you did not copy previously in all your clusters.

In AiiDA, a local code can be set up by specifying:

  • A folder, containing all files to be copied over at every submission
  • The name of executable file among the files inside the folder specified above

Setting up a code


verdi code

command allows to manage codes in AiiDA.

To setup a new code, you execute:

verdi code setup

and you will be guided through a process to setup your code.


The code will ask you a few pieces of information. At every prompt, you can type the ? character and press <enter> to get a more detailed explanation of what is being asked.

You will be asked for:

  • label: A label to refer to this code. Note: this label is not enforced to be unique. However, if you try to keep it unique, at least within the same computer, you can use it later to refer and use to your code. Otherwise, you need to remember its ID or UUID.
  • description: A human-readable description of this code (for instance “Quantum Espresso v.5.0.2 with 5.0.3 patches, pw.x code, compiled with openmpi”)
  • default input plugin: A string that identifies the default input plugin to used to generate new calculations to use with this code. This string has to be a valid string recognized by the CalculationFactory function. To get the list of all available Calculation plugin strings, use the verdi calculation plugins command. Note: if you do not want to specify a default input plugin, you can write the string “None”, but this is strongly discouraged, because then you will not be able to use the .new_calc method of the Code object.
  • local: either True (for local codes) or False (for remote codes). For the meaning of the distinction, see above. Depending on your choice, you will be asked for:
      • Folder with the code: The folder on your local computer in which there are the files to be stored in the AiiDA repository, and that will then be copied over to the remote computers for every submitted calculation. This must be an absolute path on your computer.
      • Relative path of the executable: The relative path of the executable file inside the folder entered in the previous step.
      • Remote computer name: The computer name as on which the code resides, as configured and stored in the AiiDA database
      • Remote absolute path: The (full) absolute path of the code executable on the remote machine

For any type of code, you will also be asked for:

  • Text to prepend to each command execution: This is a multiline string,

    whose content will be prepended inside the submission script before the real execution of the job. It is your responsibility to write proper bash code! This is intended for code-dependent code, like for instance loading the modules that are required for that specific executable to run. Example:

    module load intelmpi

    Remember to end the input by pressing <CTRL>+D.

  • Text to append to each command execution: This is a multiline string, whose content will be appended inside the submission script after the real execution of the job. It is your responsibility to write proper bash code! This is intended for code-dependent code. Remember to end the input by pressing <CTRL>+D.

At the end, you will get a confirmation command, and also the ID of the code in the database (the pk, i.e. the principal key, and the uuid).


Codes are a subclass of the Node class, and as such you can attach any set of attributes to the code. These can be extremely useful for querying: for instance, you can attach the version of the code as an attribute, or the code family (for instance: “pw.x code of Quantum Espresso”) to later query for all runs done with a pw.x code and version more recent than 5.0.0, for instance. However, in the present AiiDA version you cannot add attributes from the command line using verdi, but you have to do it using Python code.


You can change the label of a code by using the following command:

verdi code relabel "ID"

(Without the quotation marks!) “ID” can either be the numeric ID (PK) of the code (preferentially), or possibly its label (or label@computername), if this string uniquely identifies a code.

You can also list all available codes (and their relative IDs) with:

verdi code list

The verdi code list accepts some flags to filter only codes on a given computer, only codes using a specific plugin, etc.; use the -h command line option to see the documentation of all possible options.

You can then get the information of a specific code with:

verdi code show "ID"

Finally, to delete a code use:

verdi code delete "ID"

(only if it wasn’t used by any calculation, otherwise an exception is raised)

And now, you are ready to launch your calculations! You may want to follow to the examples of how you can submit a single calculation, as for instance the specific tutorial for Quantum Espresso.