Using the lsst-dev Server

lsst-dev is the development server/cluster of servers run by NCSA for LSST DM development work. The cname directs to and this system serves as the primary development server for the team. (For information about the previous CentOS 6 version of this server, see Using the lsst-dev-old Server.)

To get an account, see the Onboarding Checklist.

This page is designed to assist developers in their work on lsst-dev01:

  1. Overview of Cluster Resources
  2. Account Password
  3. Set up SSH Keys
  4. Select Appropriate Developer Tools
  5. Load the LSST Environment
  6. Configure Remote Display with xpra

Overview of Cluster Resources

Account Password

You can log into LSST development servers at NCSA with your NCSA account and password. You can reset your NCSA password at the following URL:

Set up SSH Keys

You can establish public/private keys to access NCSA development machines via SSH. Here’s how to set up your SSH client to use keys:

1. Generate a key pair

If you haven’t already, generate your key pair on your local machine (you should always use a strong password for your passphrase). On most machines, you can use OpenSSH:

mkdir ~/.ssh
chmod 700 ~/.ssh
ssh-keygen -t rsa

Enter your passphrase at the prompts:

Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/home/username/.ssh/id_rsa):
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):
Enter same passphrase again:
Your identification has been saved in /home/username/.ssh/id_rsa.
Your public key has been saved in /home/username/.ssh/
The key fingerprint is:


If you used a program other than OpenSSH for this step, make sure your public key is formatted as a single line (most SSH clients provide it as an option). Otherwise, the next step will not work.

2. Install the public key on lsst-dev01

Install the public key on the remote server, ~/.ssh/, to

scp .ssh/


touch ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
cat >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

3. Login

Login without a password to lsst-dev01:

Enter passphrase for key '/home/username/.ssh/id_rsa': # type your key passphrase

For more information on using SSH public/private keys:

Select Appropriate Developer Tools

The lsst-dev01 system is configured with the latest CentOS 7.x as its operating system. This release of CentOS provides an old set of development tools, centered around version 4.8.5 of the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC). While this version of GCC does satisfy the prerequisites for building the LSST stack, it is still rather out of date. Therefore, you could enable the Red Hat Developer Toolset version 3 (devtoolset-3) which has been pre-installed. This provides an updated toolchain, including GCC 4.9.2.

Enable and test devtoolset-3 using the scl command as follows (replacing bash with your shell of choice if necessary):

scl enable devtoolset-3 bash
gcc --version
gcc (GCC) 4.9.2 20150212 (Red Hat 4.9.2-6)
Copyright (C) 2014 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software; see the source for copying conditions.  There is NO

The Developer Toolset includes version 1.9.3 of the Git version control system. If you prefer the (slightly) more recent version 1.9.4, you may also wish to enable the git19 package. This may be done at the same time as enabling devtoolset-3.

scl enable devtoolset-3 git19 bash

You may wish to automatically enable devtoolset-3 every time you log in to lsst-dev01 by adding it to your shell initialization files. For example, try adding the following to ~/.profile:

exec scl enable devtoolset-3 bash

Load the LSST Environment

Two ‘shared’ installations of the LSST software stack are available on lsst-dev01:

This is installed on local (SSD) storage. It provides for maximum performance when executing jobs on lsst-dev01 directly.
This is installed on networked storage (GPFS). As such, it may be slightly slower than local storage when running on lsst-dev01. However, the /software GPFS disk is cross-mounted to other development servers at NCSA, including those configured as part of the HTCondor pool and Verification Cluster. This stack can therefore be relied upon to be consistent when launching jobs across the cluster.

This installation is regularly updated to recent releases and weekly builds of the lsst_distrib top-level package; the most recent build is tagged as current. Add this shared stack to your environment and set up the latest build of the LSST applications by running:

source /ssd/lsstsw/stack/loadLSST.bash
setup lsst_apps

(substitute loadLSST.csh, loadLSST.ksh or loadLSST.zsh, depending on your preferred shell, and use /software/lsstsw/stack/loadLSST.bash to access the GPFS-backed stack).

Since this stack is shared, all members of the lsst group have permission to declare products within it, thereby making new products and versions available for other users. For example, to share myVersion of myProduct, which you have built and installed in directory productDir, run:

eups declare myProduct myVersion -r productDir

To declare a product for your own use without making it available for others to setup, tag it with your username:

eups declare myProduct myVersion -t $(whoami) -r productDir

Please make use of this capability responsibly: make public declarations only of those products which are of general use, and remove them when they become obsolete:

eups undeclare myProduct myVersion

Refer to the EUPS Tutorial for more information on working with EUPS product stacks.

Note that the SSD and GPFS-backed stacks are independent: while both will automatically contain the latest LSST software releases, other products declared in a given stack will not automatically become available in the other.

Administators may wish to note that the shared stack is automatically updated using the script ~lsstsw/shared-stack/, which is executed nightly by Cron.

Configure Remote Display with xpra

xpra can be thought of as “screen for X” and offers advantages over VNC. It can be very handy and efficient for remote display to your machine from the LSST cluster (e.g., debugging with ds9) because it is much faster than a regular X connection when you don’t have a lot of bandwidth (e.g., working remotely), and it saves state between connections. Here’s how to use it:

On lsst-dev01:

xpra start :10
export DISPLAY=:10

You may have to choose a different display number (>10) if :10 is already in use.

On your local machine, do:

xpra attach

You may leave that running, or put it in the background and later use:

xpra detach

Then you can open windows on lsst-dev01 (with DISPLAY=:10) and they will appear on your machine. If you now kill the xpra attach on your machine, you’ll lose those windows. When you reattach, they’ll reappear.