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HSI Usage

HSI is a flexible and powerful command-line utility to access the NERSC HPSS storage systems. Like FTP, you can use it to store and retrieve files but it has a much larger set of commands for listing your files and directories, creating directories, changing file permissions, etc. The command set has a UNIX look and feel (e.g. mv, mkdir, rm, cp, cd, etc.) so that moving through your HPSS directory tree is almost identical to what you would find on a UNIX file system. HSI can be used both interactively or in batch scripts.

The HSI utility is available on all NERSC production computer systems and it has been configured on these systems to use high-bandwidth parallel transfers. If you want to use HSI to access NERSC storage from a remote site, you will have to install a compatible version of the software on that machine.

Access Example

Using HSI from at NERSC

All of the NERSC computational systems available to users have the hsi client already installed. To access the Archive storage system you can type hsi with no arguments:

% hsi

That is, the utility is set up to connect to the Archive system by default. This is equivalent to typing:

% hsi -h

Beginning usage

You can run hsi commands in several different ways:

From a command line: % hsi
Single-line execution: % hsi "mkdir run123;  cd run123; put bigdata.0311
Read commands from a file: % hsi "in command_file"
Read commands from standard input: % hsi < command_file
Read commands from a pipe: % cat command_file | hsi

Just typing hsi will enter an interactive command shell, placing you in your home directory on the Archive system.  From this shell, you can run the ls command to see your files, cd into storage system subdirectories, put files into the storage system and get files from it.

If using the single-line execution method, you must quote the argument with commands separated by semicolons. 

Finally, you can place the hsi commands you want to execute in a text file and have hsi read and execute the commands. This can be done in several ways, either by having hsi read the command from standard input or by specifying the 'in' command.  See the hsi man page for details.

Specifying local and HPSS file names when storing or retrieving files

The HSI put command stores files from your local file system into HPSS and the get command retrieves them. The command:

% put myfile

will store the file named "myfile" from your current local file system directory into a file of the same name into your current HPSS directory. So, in order to store "myfile" into the "run123" subdirectory of your home in HPSS, you can type:

% hsi
A:/home/j/joeuser-> cd run123
A:/home/j/joeuser-> put myfile


% hsi "cd run123; put myfile"

The hsi utility uses a special syntax to specify local and HPSS file names when using the put and get commands:

  1. The local file name is always on the left and the HPSS file name is always on the right.
  2. Use a ":" (colon character) to separate the names

That is:

% put local_file : hpss_file
% get local_file : hpss_file

This format is convenient if you want to store a file named "foo" in the local directory as "foo_2010_09_21" in HPSS:

% hsi "put foo : foo_2010_09_21"

You can also use this method to specify the full or relative pathnames of files in both the local and HPSS file systems:

% hsi "get /scratch2/scratchdirs/joeuser/analysis/data : bigcalc/hopper/run123/datafile.0211.htar"

Frequently used commands

HSI has a rich command set, but most users will be able to get by with knowing a small subset. Here are some frequently used commands categorized by function:

HPSS File and Directory Commands

cd Change current directory
get, mget Copy one or more HPSS-resident files to local files
cget Conditional get - get the file only if it doesn't already exist
cp Copy a file within HPSS
rm mdelete Remove one or more files from HPSS
ls List a directory
put, mput Copy one or more local files to HPSS
cput Conditional put - copy the file into HPSS unless it is already there
pwd Print current directory
mv Rename an HPSS file
mkdir Create an HPSS directory
rmdir Delete an HPSS directory

Local File and Directory Commands

lcd Change local directory
lls List local directory
lmkdir Make a local directory
lpwd Print current local directory
command Issue shell command

File and Directory Administration Commands

chmod Change permissions of file or directory
chgrp Change group ownership for a file or directory

Miscellaneous HSI Commands

help Display help information
quit, exit, end Terminate HSI
in Read commands from a local file
out Write HSI output to a local file
log Write all HSI commands and responses to a local log file
prompt Toggles HSI prompting for mget, mput, and mdelete

For full HSI documentation see  Note that not all options are implemented at NERSC.

Example script for automated transfers


Batch script examples

In the following example, the batch job performs three actions:

  1. retrieve the application and input files from HPSS to a local scratch file system
  2. run the application
  3. save the output files to HPSS.

Note that when saving the output files, the script makes use of a "HEREIS" document to specify the hsi commands to run. 



# move to the local scratch directory where the job will be run
cd /scratch2/scratchdirs/joeuser/bigrun

# extract the application binary and input file from HPSS
hsi "cd my_app_dir; get bigcode; get infile"

# run the application
aprun -n 1000 -N 2 ./bigcode infile

# define a shell variable with the current date in YYYY-MM-DD format
TODAY=$(date '+%Y-%m-%d')

# save the input file and the output files to a new HPSS directory. 
hsi -h <<EOF
cd bigcode_out
mkdir run.$TODAY
cd run.$TODAY
put infile
put outfile.*
ls -l