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Durham University


Connecting to COSMA

COSMA has 5 login servers, two for COSMA5, one for COSMA6, and two for COSMA6/7. To connect to COSMA, you will need an SSH keypair added to your authorized keys (follow steps 1 to 3). A single SSH keypair will be able to connect to all login nodes. Please note that each login node has a separate fingerprint, which will cause a warning and prompt you to accept it the first time you try to log in.

The same SSH keypair can also be used for git access (for example, see this guide for GitHub).

Logging in with SSH

If you have done that already, use SSH to connect:


where USER is your COSMA username. This will log you in via a secure shell to COSMA5 (the default). You can also login to a different machine by specifying a different login node:

  • for COSMA7
  • for COSMA6
  • for COSMA5
  • for a specific login node cosma-n
  • etc.

The login systems are also the developing nodes: so they know about the compilers, have access to modules, and the batch system. Unless otherwise specified, all of your interactive work should be done on the login nodes. For instructions on how to submit jobs to the batch quees, see

Running programmes with graphical interface

If you wish to open a graphical programme on a login node (i.e. to view a gnuplot/matplotlib window, open a PDF in an evince viewer or a picture in eog, view an HDF5 file in hdfviewer, etc.), you need to add -X flag to forward the X server:

ssh -X

You should then be able to have programmes forwarded to your local X server. For instance, typing

eog PICTURE.png

on a COSMA login node will open the file.

This should works out of the box on most Linux / BSD systems. If you are using macOS, you will need to install XQuartz on your machine.

Saving SSH Configuration

To save yourself from typing the full command every time, you can save your SSH configuration in a ~/.ssh/config file on your local machine. For instance, if your configuration file looks like this:

Host cosma
  User USER
  IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa
  ForwardX11 yes


ssh cosma

will be equivalent to

ssh -X

To learn about more advanced options, please refer to the manual: man 5 ssh_config.

Disk Usage

Your home quota is usually 10 GB. The contents of your $HOME are backed up every night, and should only be used for code and small datasets that are not easily recoverable.

All generated/large datasets should be stored in a separate space, located in /cosma[567]/data/project_name/USER. Your quota there is more generous and is currently set by default to 10 TB.

COSMA7 / COSMA[5,6] Differences

Due to differences in CPU architecture between COSMA5, 6 and 7, code compiled with strong optimisation on the COSMA7 login nodes may not work on the COSMA5 or 6 compute nodes, throwing illegal instructions errors. Therefore, please try to use COSMA5 or 6 login nodes to compile code for these queues, or add a recompilation step to your submission script.

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