3 NVIDIA Grace-Hopper nodes (GH200 480) are now available. See Using Bede for more information.



The default software environment on Bede is called “builder”. This uses the modules system normally used on HPC systems, but provides a system of intelligent modules. To see a list of what is available, executing the command module avail.

In this scheme, modules providing access to compilers and libraries examine other modules that are also loaded and make the most appropriate copy (or “flavour”) of the software available. This minimises the problem of knowing what modules to choose whilst providing access to all the combinations of how a library can be built.

For example, the following command gives you access to a copy of FFTW 3.3.8 that has been built against GCC 8.4.0:

$ module load gcc/8.4.0 fftw/3.3.8
$ which fftw-wisdom

If you then load an MPI library, your environment will be automatically updated to point at a copy of FFTW 3.3.8 that has been built against GCC 8.4.0 and OpenMPI 4.0.5:

$ module load openmpi/4.0.5
$ which fftw-wisdom

Similarly, if you then load CUDA, the MPI library will be replaced by one built against it:

$ which mpirun
$ module load cuda/10.2.89
$ which mpirun

Modules follow certain conventions:

  • Logs of software builds can be found under /opt/software/builder/logs/.

  • Installation recipes for modules can be found under directory /home/builder/builder/.

  • Although modules do their best to configure your environment so that you can use the software, it is sometimes useful to know where the software is installed on disk. This is provided by the <NAME>_HOME environment variable, e.g. if the gcc/8.4.0 module is loaded, environment variable GCC_HOME points to the directory containing its files.

  • Software provided by modules sometimes use other modules for their functionality. It is not normally required to explicitly load these prerequisites but it can be useful, for example to mirror R’s buld environment when installing an R library. Where this occurs, a list of modules is provided by the <NAME>_BUILD_MODULES environment variable, e.g. the r module sets environment variable R_BUILD_MODULES.

Software can be built on top of these modules in the following ways:

  • Traditional - loading appropriate modules, manually unpacking, configuring, building and installing the new software (e.g. ./configure; make; make install)

  • Spack - automated method of installing software. Spack will automatically find the multiple flavours (or variants, in spack-speak) of libraries provided by builder, minimising the number of packages needing to be built.

With Builder and Spack, the opportunity arises for a project to inherit and supplement software, and for users to then inherit and supplement that in turn. In this way, the centre can concentrate on providing core software of general use and allow projects and users to concentrate on specialist software elements that support their work.

In addition, there are two other types of software environment on Bede, which are not currently recommended:

  • The vendor-supplied set of modules that originally came with the machine. To use these, execute: echo ocf > ~/.application_environment and then login again.

  • Easybuild - an automated method of installing software, rival to Spack. To use this, execute: echo builder > ~/.application_environment and then login again.

In both cases, executing rm ~/.application_environment and login again will return you to the default software environment.