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Contact & Support
For support for any of our services or for general advice and consultancy, email:

Thomas is the UK National Tier 2 High Performance Computing Hub in Materials and Molecular Modelling.

Applying for an account

Thomas accounts belong to you as an individual and are applied for through your own institution's Point of Contact. You will need to supply an SSH public key, which is the only method used to log in.

Creating an ssh key pair

An ssh key consists of a public and a private part, typically named id_rsa and by default. The public part is what we need. You must not share your private key with anyone else. You can copy it onto multiple machines belonging to you so you can log in from all of them (or you can have a separate pair for each machine).

Creating an ssh key in Linux/Unix/Mac OS X

ssh-keygen -t rsa

The defaults should give you a reasonable key. If you prefer to use ECDSA or ED25519 instead, and longer keys, you can. You can also tell it to create one with a different name, so it doesn't overwrite any existing key.

  • We strongly suggest you not use DSA as OpenSSH 7.0 has deprecated it and does not use it by default on client or server. Thomas currently accepts them but that may change.

You will be asked to add a passphrase for your key. A blank passphrase is not recommended; if you use one please make sure that no one else ever has access to your local computer account. How often you are asked for a passphrase depends on how long your local ssh agent keeps it.

You may need to run ssh-add to add the key to your agent so you can use it. If you aren't sure what keys your agent can see, running ssh-add -L will show all the public parts of the keys it is aware of.

Creating an ssh key in Windows

Have a look at Key-Based SSH Logins With PuTTY which has step-by-step instructions. You can choose whether to use Pageant or not to manage your key. You can again pick RSA, DSA, ECDSA etc but do not pick SSH-1 as that is a very old and insecure key type.

Information for Points of Contact

Points of Contact have some tools they can use to manage users and allocations, documented at Points of Contact.

Logging in

You will be assigned a personal username and your SSH key pair will be used to log in. External users will have a username in the form mmmxxxx and UCL users will use their central username.

You ssh directly to

SSH timeouts

Idle ssh sessions will be disconnected after 7 days.

Using the system

Thomas is a batch system. The login nodes allow you to manage your files, compile code and submit jobs. Very short (<15mins) and non-resource-intensive software tests can be run on the login nodes, but anything more should be submitted as a job.

Full user guide

Thomas has the same user environment as RC Support's other clusters, so the User guide is relevant and is a good starting point for further information about how the environment works. Any variations that Thomas has should be listed on this page.

Submitting a job

Create a jobscript for non-interactive use and submit it using qsub. Jobscripts must begin #!/bin/bash -l in order to run as a login shell and get your login environment and modules.

A job on Thomas must also specify what type of job it is (Gold, Free, Test) and the project it is being submitted for. (See Budgets and allocations below).

Memory requests

Note: the memory you request is always per core, not the total amount. If you ask for 128G RAM and 24 cores, that will run on 24 nodes using only one core per node. This allows you to have sparse process placement when you do actually need that much RAM per process.

Monitoring a job

In addition to qstat, nodesforjob $JOB_ID can be useful to see what proportion of cpu/memory/swap is being used on the nodes a certain job is running on.

qexplain $JOB_ID will show you the full error for a job that is in Eqw status.

Useful utilities

As well as nodesforjob, there are the following utilities which can help you find information about your jobs after they have run.

  • jobhist - shows your job history for the last 24hrs by default, including start and end times and the head node it ran on. You can view a longer history by specifying --hours=100 for example.
  • scriptfor $JOB_ID - show the script that was submitted for the given job.

These utilities live in GitHub at and

Queue names

On Thomas, users do not submit directly to queues - the scheduler assigns your job to one based on the resources it requested. The queues have somewhat unorthodox names as they are only used internally, but this is what they mean:

  • Jerry: single-node job
  • Tom: multi-node job
  • Spike: cross-CU job, using superqueue (any multi-node job may end up using this)

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Thomas mounts the RC Systems software stack.

Have a look at Applications for specific information on running some applications, including example scripts. The list there is not exhaustive.

Access to software is managed through the use of modules.

  • module avail shows all modules available.
  • module list shows modules currently loaded.

Access to licensed software may vary based on your host institution and project.

Requesting software installs

To request software installs, email us at the support address below or open an issue on our GitHub. You can see what software has already been requested in the Github issues and can add a comment if you're also interested in something already requested.

Installing your own software

You may install software in your own space. Please look at Compiling for tips.

Maintaining a piece of software for a group

It is possible for people to be given central areas to install software that they wish to make available to everyone or to a select group - generally because they are the developers or if they wish to use multiple versions or developer versions. The people given install access would then be responsible for managing and maintaining these installs.

Licensed software

Reserved application groups exist for software that requires them. The group name will begin with leg or lg. After we add you to one of these groups, the central group change will happen overnight. You can check your groups with the groups command.

Please let us know your username when you ask to be added to a group.

  • CASTEP: You/your group leader need to have signed up for a CASTEP license. Send us an acceptance email, or we can ask them to verify you have a license. You will then be added to the reserved application group lgcastep. If you are a member of UKCP you are already covered by a license and just need to tell us when you request access.
  • CRYSTAL: You/your group leader need to have signed up for an Academic license. Crystal Solutions will send an email saying an account has been upgraded to "Academic UK" - forward that to us along with confirmation from the group leader that you should be in their group. You will be added to the legcryst group.
  • DL_POLY: has individual licenses for specific versions. Sign up at DL_POLY's website and send us the acceptance email they give you. We will add you to the appropriate version's reserved application group, eg lgdlp408.
  • Gaussian: not currently accessible for non-UCL institutions. UCL having a site license and another institute having a site license does not allow users from the other institute to run Gaussian on UCL-owned hardware.
  • VASP: When you request access you need to send us the name and email of the main VASP license holder along with the license number. We will then ask VASP if we can add you, and on confirmation can do so. We will add you to the legvasp reserved application group. You may also install your own copy in your home, and we provide a simple build script on Github (tested with VASP 5.4.4, no patches). You need to download the VASP source code and then you can run the script following the instructions at the top.

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Suggested job sizes

The target job sizes for Thomas are 48-120 cores (2-5 nodes). Jobs larger than this may have a longer queue time and are better suited to ARCHER, and single node jobs may be more suited to your local facilities.

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Maximum job resources

Cores Max wallclock
864 48hrs

On Thomas, interactive sessions using qrsh have the same wallclock limit as other jobs.

Nodes in Thomas are 24 cores, 128G RAM. The default maximum jobsize is 864 cores, to remain within the 36-node 1:1 nonblocking interconnect zones.

Jobs on Thomas do not share nodes. This means that if you request less than 24 cores, your job is still taking up an entire node and no other jobs can run on it, but some of the cores are idle. Whenever possible, request a number of cores that is a multiple of 24 for full usage of your nodes.

There is a superqueue for use in exceptional circumstances that will allow access to a larger number of cores outside the nonblocking interconnect zones, going across the 3:1 interconnect between blocks. A third of each CU is accessible this way, roughly approximating a 1:1 connection. Access to the superqueue for larger jobs must be applied for: contact the support address below for details.

Some normal multi-node jobs will use the superqueue - this is to make it easier for larger jobs to be scheduled, as otherwise they can have very long waits if every CU is half full.

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Budgets and allocations

We have enabled Gold for allocation management. Jobs that are run under a project budget have higher priority than free non-budgeted jobs. All jobs need to specify what project they belong to, whether they are paid or free.

To see the name of your project(s) and how much allocation that budget has, run the command budgets.

Project  Machines Balance  
-------- -------- -------- 
UCL_Test ANY      22781.89

Pilot users temporarily had access to a project for their institution, eg. Imperial_pilot. These projects are no longer active and will not show up.


You might be in a subproject that does not itself have an allocation, but instead takes allocation from a different project:

Project       Machines Balance
--------      -------- -------- 
UCL_physM        ANY   474999.70
UCL_physM_Bowler ANY        0.00

In this case, you submit jobs using the subproject (UCL_physM_Bowler here) even though it says it has 0 budget and it takes Gold from the superproject.

Submitting a job under a project

To submit a paid job that will take Gold from a particular project budget, add this to your jobscript:

#$ -P Gold
#$ -A MyProject 

To submit a free job that will not use up any Gold, use this instead:

#$ -P Free
#$ -A MyProject 

You can also submit testing jobs that will not use up any Gold, and will have higher priority than normal free jobs, but are limited to 2 nodes (48 cores) and 1 hour of walltime:

#$ -P Test
#$ -A MyProject

Troubleshooting: Unable to verify membership of username in the policyjsv project

Unable to run job: Rejected by policyjsv
Unable to verify membership of <username> in the policyjsv project

You asked for a Free job but didn't specify #$ -A MyProject in your jobscript.

Gold charging

When you submit a job, it will reserve the total number of core hours that the job script is asking for. When the job ends, the Gold will move from 'reserved' into charged. If the job doesn't run for the full time it asked for, the unused reserved portion will be refunded after the job ends. You cannot submit a job that you do not have the budget to run.

Troubleshooting: Unable to verify sufficient material worth to submit this job

Unable to run job: Rejected by policyjsv 
Reason:Unable to verify sufficient material worth to submit this job:  
Insufficient balance to reserve job

This means you don't have enough Gold to cover the cores*wallclock time cost of the job you are trying to submit. You need to wait for queued jobs to finish and return unused Gold to your project, or submit a smaller/shorter job. Note that array jobs have to cover the whole cost of all the tasks at submit time.

Job deletion

If you qdel a submitted Gold job, the reserved Gold will be made available again. This is done by a cron job that runs every 15 minutes, so you may not see it back instantly.

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Email with any support queries. It will be helpful to include Thomas in the subject along with some descriptive text about the type of problem, and you should mention your username in the body.

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Acknowledging the use of Thomas in publications

All work arising from this facility should be properly acknowledged in presentations and papers with the following text:

"We are grateful to the UK Materials and Molecular Modelling Hub for computational resources, which is partially funded by EPSRC (EP/P020194/1)"


When publishing work that benefited from resources allocated by the MCC: please include the following acknowledgment:

"Via our membership of the UK's HEC Materials Chemistry Consortium, which is funded by EPSRC (EP/L000202), this work used the UK Materials and Molecular Modelling Hub for computational resources, MMM Hub, which is partially funded by EPSRC (EP/P020194)"


When publishing work that benefited from resources allocated by UKCP, please include:

"We are grateful for computational support from the UK Materials and Molecular Modelling Hub, which is partially funded by EPSRC (EP/P020194), for which access was obtained via the UKCP consortium and funded by EPSRC grant ref EP/P022561/1"

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