There are a few errors messages that frequently get sent in by XSEDE users on Gordon and Trestles here at SDSC, and they’re often unintuitive or cryptic to a point where I cannot fault users for not having a clue as to what they mean. In the interests of making these sorts of problems googleable, this page consists of common error messages (the symptoms), what these error messages actually mean (the diagnosis), and what needs to happen to solve the problem (the cure).

This page is a work in progress, and I try to add problems to it as I notice repeat questions coming in over and over. The last time I updated these questions was on December 2, 2013.


1. Encrypted SSH Keys

1.1. Symptom:

Your job status, either reported to you via e-mail or contained in your job’s error log, ends with errors that say

Error in init phase...wait for cleanup!


Unable to copy file /opt/torque/spool/ to
*** error from copy
Permission denied (publickey,gssapi-keyex,gssapi-with-mic,password).
lost connection
*** end error output
Output retained on that host in:

Unable to copy file /opt/torque/spool/ to
*** error from copy
Permission denied (publickey,gssapi-keyex,gssapi-with-mic,password).
lost connection
*** end error output
Output retained on that host in: 


(gnome-ssh-askpass:762): Gtk-WARNING **: cannot open display:
The application 'gnome-ssh-askpass' lost its connection to the display;
most likely the X server was shut down or you killed/destroyed the application.

1.2. Diagnosis: Your SSH key is encrypted

The MPI setup on SDSC Gordon and Trestles requires that users be able to ssh within the cluster without being prompted for a passphrase. This is accomplished using public-key authentication, which is configured the very first time you log into Trestles or Gordon. That very first time you logged in, you should have been given a prompt like this:

It doesn't appear that you have set up your ssh key.
This process will make the files:

Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/home/glock/.ssh/id_rsa): 
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):

If you entered anything as your passphrase, you will encounter the above errors. If you want to verify that this is in fact your problem, you can do

$ grep -c '^Proc-Type: 4,ENCRYPTED$' ~/.ssh/id_rsa

If you see anything other than “0”, this is the issue.

1.3. Cure: Generate new, unencrypted SSH keys

Provide the following two commands:

$ rm ~/.ssh/
$ bash /etc/profile.d/

You will see the message mentioned above:

It doesn't appear that you have set up your ssh key.
This process will make the files:

Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/home/glock/.ssh/id_rsa):

Accept the default location by just pressing return. Then you’ll get a message like this:

/home/glock/.ssh/id_rsa already exists.
Overwrite (y/n)?

Say “y” here. Then it will ask you to enter a passphrase. Be sure to leave this blank (again, just hit return):

Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase): 
Enter same passphrase again:

And then the problem should be resolved.

2. Node Failure

2.1. Symptom:

Your job stopped producing output but is still in the ‘R‘ (running) state according to qstat. When trying to qdel, you get this error:

qdel: Server could not connect to MOM

2.2. Diagnosis: Your job’s node is dead

“MOM” is the program that runs on each compute node and receives jobs from the queue to be executed. All of the q* commands (qsub, qdel, etc.) communicate with MOM and allow you to interact with compute nodes from the login nodes. When MOM cannot be contacted, the node is effectively (or literally) unavailable so none of the regular q* commands should be expected to work. In addition to qdel not working since MOM is not responding, MOM stops sending job updates to the queue manager so your job’s last known running state, R, gets frozen in time until the queue manager is told differently.

Nodes don’t often break to a point where MOM cannot be contacted, but the most common cause is running the node out of memory. If your application consumes more RAM than is available on the node, the whole node can crash and need to be rebooted. To get a better idea of if your job ran the node out of memory, you can first find out which nodes the job was using (copy and paste is helpful here):

$ qstat 1234567 -f -x | grep -o '<exec_host>.*</exec_host>' | grep -Eo '(gcn|trestles)-[^-]*-[^/]*' | uniq

where 1234567 is your job number and the output (trestles-10-32 in the example above) is your job’s node(s). Knowing this job node, then issue a command like this:

$ pbsnodes trestles-10-32 | grep -o 'availmem=[^ ,]*'

Bearing in mind that each node has 64 GB (that’s 67,108,864kb) of RAM, if the node has less than a gigabyte of RAM left (< 1,048,576kb), it is likely that your job did, in fact, run out of memory. The above example, where only ~80 MB of RAM was left, came from such a node.

2.3. Cure: Contact User Services

There is nothing you can do about a downed node as a user. Fortunately, the node’s MOM will send an update to the queue manager right after the downed node reboots, and your stuck job will clear the queue automatically. For what it’s worth, jobs that are terminated this way do not get charged SUs for the time they legitimately used before the node failure or the time spent frozen in that R state.

If your job remains stuck for longer than you’d like, you should send an e-mail to the XSEDE helpdesk so the administrators can purge the job for you. This may be necessary in the rare case where the primary node for a job (the mother superior node) goes down but the remaining compute nodes (sister nodes) remain up and running your stuck, half-dead job.

3. MPI Dies

3.1. Symptom:

Your job died and the obvious error message e-mailed to you says something like this:

[][readline] Unexpected End-Of-File on file descriptor 6. MPI process died?
[][mtpmi_processops] Error while reading PMI socket. MPI process died?
[][child_handler] MPI process (rank: 0, pid: 15024) exited with status 252

3.2. Diagnosis: Your job broke

This is a generic error message displayed whenever MPI terminates without calling MPI_Finalize(), and unfortunately it is not very helpful. Your job should have generated an error file in the directory from which you submitted it, and it should contain the more specific error messages that would make diagnosing the issue easier.

This section is not yet complete

3.3. Cure: Contact User Services

Contact the XSEDE helpdesk if your error file does not contain anything that helps you figure out why your job broke. This section is not yet complete

4. Wrong MPI Process Manager

4.1. Symptom:

Upon submission, your job promptly fails with this error message:

mpiexec_trestles-9-11.local: cannot connect to local mpd (/tmp/mpd2.console_case); possible causes:
 1. no mpd is running on this host
 2. an mpd is running but was started without a "console" (-n option)
In case 1, you can start an mpd on this host with:
and you will be able to run jobs just on this host.
For more details on starting mpds on a set of hosts, see
the MVAPICH2 User Guide.

4.2. Diagnosis: You are using the wrong mpirun command

There are two common causes of this error.

4.2.1. If you are trying to use OpenMPI…

This section is not yet complete. In brief, OpenMPI needs to be explicitly loaded from within the submit script when running OpenMPI jobs.

4.2.2. If you are NOT trying to use OpenMPI or aren’t sure…

You aren’t following directions. If you use the mpirun command on Trestles, you will probably see this behavior because Trestles does not support mpirun. According to the Trestles User Guide, you need to launch your MPI jobs using mpirun_rsh when using mvapich2.

4.3. Cure: Fix your submit script

This section is not yet complete

5. Java Won’t Start Due to Heap Error

5.1. Symptom:

You try to do something involving Java on either Gordon’s or Trestles’ login nodes (java, javac, ant, etc) but it won’t run because of this error:

$ ant
Error occurred during initialization of VM
Could not reserve enough space for object heap
Could not create the Java virtual machine.

5.2. Diagnosis: You are hitting memory limitations on the login nodes

Because the login nodes for Gordon and Trestles are shared across all users, there are limitations on how much memory any single user can consume (e.g., see the output of ulimit -m -v). Java manages memory is somewhat of a peculiar way, and it is not uncommon for certain Java applications to try to allocate more memory than we allow and throw these strange errors about the object heap.

5.3. Cure: Explicitly set your Java heap size

Most of the time, you can tell Java to not be so greedy when it starts by passing it the -Xmx256m option to force it to allocate only 256 MB of object heap when it starts. This might get annoying and doesn’t always work for Java-derived applications, so a more universal fix is to add the following environment variable definition to your .bashrc file:

export _JAVA_OPTIONS=-Xmx256m

You may find that 256 MB is not enough, so you can similarly try to use -Xmx512m if you continue to experience difficulties.

If you still need more heap, you will probably have to run your Java application on a compute node. Compute nodes have no limitation on the amount of memory you can use, so start an interactive job:

# For Trestles:
$ qsub -I -l nodes=1:ppn=32,walltime=1:00:00 -q normal
# Or for Gordon:
$ qsub -I -l nodes=1:ppn=16:native,walltime=1:00:00 -q normal

and then run your Java task there.

6. MVAPICH2 job fails with completion with error 12, vendor code=0x81

6.1. Symptom:

Your job ran for a minute or two, produced little or no output, then died with a bunch of errors that look something like this:

[0->17] send desc error, wc_opcode=0
[0->17] wc.status=12, wc.wr_id=0x18cc840, wc.opcode=0, vbuf->phead->type=55 = MPIDI_CH3_PKT_CLOSE
[][MPIDI_CH3I_MRAILI_Cq_poll] src/mpid/ch3/channels/mrail/src/gen2/ibv_channel_manager.c:586: [] Got completion with error 12, vendor code=0x81, dest rank=17

6.2. Diagnosis: MVAPICH2 could not communicate over InfiniBand

Unfortunately this error is pretty generic and only tells you that your job failed when an MPI call to a remote host over the InfiniBand fabric could not complete and timed out. This could be a problem with

  1. your code’s communication patterns and algorithms
  2. the MVAPICH2 settings being used
  3. the InfiniBand fabric itself
  4. a combination of all of these

The majority of the time this error comes up, the culprit is #4: a combination of InfiniBand congestion caused by other users and your code cause timeouts that can be fixed with a little bit of tweaking of the MVAPICH2 parameters.

6.3. Cure: Increase timeouts in MVAPICH2

6.3.1. Check your MVAPICH2 multi-rail settings

If you encounter this problem on Gordon (or any other system with a multi-rail InfiniBand fabric), first rule out that the problem is with your MVAPICH2 environment. Log into a compute node (this will NOT work on a login node) and issue the following command:

$ env|grep MV2

If this env|grep MV2 does not return the above two environment variables, there is a problem with your environment which will always cause MVAPICH2 to hang. The remedy is to add the following two lines to your ~/.bashrc file:

export MV2_IBA_HCA=mlx4_0
export MV2_NUM_HCAS=1

6.3.2. Increase your MVAPICH2 timeout thresholds

If your MV2_IBA_HCA and MV2_NUM_HCAS are set correctly on your job’s compute nodes, your code may just be running into very high latencies. This can happen on very large jobs and when doing global communications, and the solution is to try increasing your timeout settings for MVAPICH2 via the MV2_DEFAULT_TIME_OUT environment variable:

$ mpirun_rsh -np 2048 -hostfile $PBS_NODEFILE MV2_DEFAULT_TIME_OUT=23 ./mycode.x

or if you are using mpiexec.hydra,

$ MV2_DEFAULT_TIME_OUT=23 /home/diag/opt/hydra/bin/mpiexec.hydra ./mycode.x

If you still persistently get these Got completion with error 12, vendor code=0x81 errors, contact and provide the error log for your job as well as its submit script and the directory containing the job’s input files.