Data Access: Storage Locations and Butler

This document describes the file systems available at the LSST Data Facility.

Storage Locations

Personal space:
  • Home directory space is available at /sdf/home/<first_letter_of_account>/<account> - standard S3DF personal allocation (25 GB)

  • Rubin-allocated space: /sdf/data/rubin/user/<account_name> with a 1 TB quota (a symlink to this directory, called rubin-user, is auto-created in your home directory). If you need more space, request it in #ops-usdf, and a ticket will get opened to request the quota increase.

Web space:
  • “public_html” web access is available upon request: it will be visible at<user>

  • send email to usdf-help at requesting a personal web directory

  • a public_html directory will be created in your home directory after acknowledging a usage policy

  • note that this is for static pages - no server-side scripting.

  • no symlinks outside public_html will be followed.

Science data under /sdf/group/rubin/:
  • Much of this is still disorganized and contains vestiges of the structure from NCSA that was moved to USDF. Bear with us until we get it all straightened out.

  • shared/ contains various datasets for common usage. - shared/data-repos.yaml contains the list of aliases for Butler repos. - shared/data/test_data contains daily-updated test datasets. - shared/data/validation_data contains daily-updated validation datasets. - Other requested storage for particular groups or external datasets is also located under /sdf/group/rubin/shared/. - Request new shared storage via #ops-usdf, providing the name, purpose, storage quota needed, and owner. Storage will generally be given group rubin_users, giving all staff access; this can be read-only or read-write as desired.

  • repo/ contains Butler repo configurations. See the next section.

  • sw/ contains the “shared stack” of LSST Science Pipelines software.

Butler access

Butler repo configurations for most repos are located under /sdf/group/rubin/repo/, but we define aliases for them starting with /repo/ as a convenience. A few Butler repos that use S3 object stores have their configuration files defined there.

Available Butler repos:
  • main - All images taken of the real sky by HSC, DECam, LATISS, LSSTComCam, and LSSTCam and data products derived from them. (This repo only contains post-embargo images for the Rubin cameras.)

  • embargo - Embargoed data from Summit cameras (located in the Embargo Rack). After the embargo period, images and other data products in this repo will be copied to /repo/main and/or /repo/prompt. After a further delay, they will be removed from this repo.

  • prompt - Summit camera raw images and data products published as nightly post-embargo data products for LSST data rights holders.

  • dc2 - DESC DC2 simulated LSSTCam.

  • ir2 - LSSTCam and TS8 data taken at SLAC during testing.

  • bts - Equivalent of embargo for the Base Test Stand (located in the Embargo Rack).

  • tts - Equivalent of embargo for the Tucson Test Stand (not located in the Embargo Rack).

  • ops-rehearsal-3-prep - Images and data products used to prepare for Ops Rehearsals 3 and 4. Data products generated as a result of the Ops Rehearsals are elsewhere, starting in /repo/embargo..

  • hsc_pdr2_multisite - Special campaign for testing multi-site Data Release Production (DRP). (Does not have an alias defined.)

  • Future DRPs such as DP1, DP2, DR1, etc. will go into distinct Butler repos.

The USDF butler Registry can be accessed at

As of this writing, authentication to the Butler repos is by a single shared account and password. It will be set up for you automatically once you log in to the USDF RSP and start a notebook server. This will create ~/.lsst/postgres-credentials.txt and ~/.lsst/aws-credentials.ini files.

Requests for outages of the Butler repos should be handled by the USDF outage process.

Data Transfer Tools

SLAC supports bbcp and Globus. For now, see the s3df documentation:

Data transfer nodes are available at

Data compression

To reduce space usage in your home directory, an option for files that are not in active use is to compress them. The gzip utility can be used for file compression and decompression. Another alternative is bzip2, which usually yields a better compression ratio than gzip but takes longer to complete. Additionally, files that are typically used together can first be combined into a single file and then compressed using the tar utility.


Compress a file largefile.dat using gzip:

gzip largefile.dat

The original file is replaced by a compressed file named largefile.dat.gz.

To decompress the file:

gunzip largefile.dat.gz


gzip -d largefile.dat.gz

To combine the contents of a subdirectory named largedir and compress it:

tar -zcvf largedir.tgz largedir

The convention is to use extension .tgz in the file name.


If the files to be combined are in your home directory and you are close to the quota, you can create the tar file in the scratch directory (since the tar command may fail prior to completion if you go over quota):

tar -zcvf ~/scratch/largedir.tgz largedir

To extract the contents of the compressed tar file:

tar -zxvf largedir.tgz


ASCII text and binary files like executables can yield good compression ratios. Image file formats (gif, jpg, png, etc.) are already natively compressed so further compression will not yield much gains. Depending on the size of the files, the compression utilities can be compute intensive and take a while to complete. Use the compute nodes via a batch job for compressing large files. With gzip, the file is replaced by one with the extension .gz. When using tar` the individual files remain — these can be deleted to conserve space once the compressed tar file is created successfully. Use of tar and compression could also make data transfers between the Campus Cluster and other resources more efficient.