Infrastructure Guide

Compute Resources

We have two nodes not provisioned through the NCSA nebula system, and we have a quota for a sizable set of Nebula resources ( that are available for our use.

The two non-provisioned nodes (dxl1 and dxl2 at have 20 cores each allowing 2 threads per core for a total of 40 compute cores and are configured with 256GB of RAM. The storage available on them is networked in /dpool/ and each user will have their own directory in /dpool/. This is a good location for scratch and intermediate storage, but for long-term archiving we will use other locations.

These nodes are configured such that each user that logs in will be logged into a Docker container. This is accomplished by providing an ssh key to Kacper, and he will return to you the correct port to use to log in. This will then require you to log in to that specific port::

ssh -p 31425

where the port, here 31425, will be specific to your username. You can set a shorthand for this in ~/.ssh/config like this::

Host dxl1
  IdentityFile ~/.ssh/ssh_key_dxl
  Port 31425

Replace the values with the key you utilize and the port you are provided.

Additionally, you may be able to provision nodes directly through the Nebula interface.

NCSA has an allocation on the Illinois Campus Cluster ( ) which you may utilize for further computing needs. To gain access, request a new user listing Matt as the contact and request the NCSA queue.

Matt has a Blue Waters allocation you can be added to for judicious use of resources at that scale.


We have a few things that you can use varying in degrees of playfulness and utility.

Version Control

The preferred version control system for DXL projects was Mercurial but as a result of project transitions, we primarily now use Git and Github.

We have homes on both GitHub and Bitbucket:

A good guideline for version control is to version control any piece of code that rises above the level of a simple script for testing external software. Projects that directly relate to lab work should be stored under the lab team account. Pre-existing and external projects should reside in their original locations, and not all software projects are “lab” projects.


Lab members will have the following accounts:

  • NCSA account, which will provide access to most resources

  • UIUC account, which will be used for Campus Cluster.

  • Various accounts related to external providers: Github, BitBucket, Trello, and Slack (invitation will be issued).


This section will be filled out over time, but it will include links to software and hardware tools that may be of use.

We run several services.

  • curldrop: You can execute curl -T somefile to share a file up to several gigabytes. The return value will be the hash at which the file can be located.

  • Box: University of Illinois has a Box subscription that provides quote-unquote unlimited storage. You can

  • Hackpad: You can either use HackMD or our self-hosted CodiMD.

  • The yt pastebin at is hosted on DXL resources and can be accessed via the command line through the yt command line tool and the pastebin and pastebin_grab subcommands.

The dxl-tools repository includes tools to utilize our curlDrop server and to connect to remote Jupyter kernels on dxl resources. Until it is released on PyPI, you can install it manually or with pip install hg+ . To use it, you must create ~/.dxl/dxl.cfg and put in it::

upload_url =

You can then upload files with::

dxl upload file1 file2 file3

The dxl utility can also upload to Slack. To use that aspect, go to Slack Web API site, and generate an API key for yourself. Put that in ~/.dxl/dxl.cfg like so::


Now you can use the command::

dxl slack_upload file1

Optionally, you can specify --channel to send it to a specific channel. To send to a specific person, you have to specify @ at the start, i.e., --channel "@matt" .


To purchase equipment, whether that is computer hardware/accessories or intellectual materials such as books, send an email to Matt’s Illinois address with links to the equipment on CDW, Dell or Amazon along with prices and a sentence or two about what they are and why you need the items. If the purchase is okay, he will forward it on to the appropriate contact people.