Run neurodesktop in a high-performance computing environment

Ways of using Neurocommand in Linux:

  1. You can use Neurocontainers (i.e., download Singularity containers) directly via CVMFS: https://www.neurodesk.org/docs/getting-started/neurocontainers/cvmfs/
  2. or you can install Neurocommand as described here:


Required for installation

Required for use

NB: Your HPC will likely have lmod and Singularity already installed - check with your sysadmin

Command line mode (e.g. running on an HPC or CVL)

  • Load singularity and for best performance, it should be 3.x e.g.
module load singularity/3.5.0
# Note: Some HPCs install singularity/apptainer on the compute nodes directly (e.g. Bunya at UQ), so you don't need to do this step then.
  • Load or install aria2 to optimize the download performance of our containers (THIS IS OPTIONAL)
module load aria2c
  • To install the repository, run the following (make sure to clone this to a directory with enough storage, write permissions and NOT a symbolic link (to be sure run cd `pwd -P`)!). It is recommended to perform this setup in a Python venv or conda environment:
git clone https://github.com/NeuroDesk/neurocommand.git 
cd neurocommand 
pip3 install -r neurodesk/requirements.txt --user 
bash build.sh --cli
bash containers.sh
# OR

Install Containers

  • If these steps are successful, the help will be displayed
  • Install all or only specific containers by following the instructions, e.g.:

To search for containers that have “itksnap” in the name:

bash containers.sh itksnap

Then you can copy and paste the specific install command or you can install all containers with that name:

bash containers.sh --itksnap

By default, this will install all available versions of the container. To only install a single version, you can use:

./local/fetch_containers.sh itksnap 4.0.2 20240117

To download all containers (be careful - there are a lot of containers!):

bash containers.sh --all

Adding your containers to lmod

  • To add each container to the module search path, run the following:
module use $PWD/local/containers/modules/
  • It may be a good idea to add this to your .bashrc if it works. When adding to your .bashrc you will need to replace $PWD to point to the correct path, i.e.
module use ~/neurocommand/local/containers/modules/
  • It is very important to also set the SINGULARITY_BINDPATH or the APPTAINER_BINDPATH variable in your .bashrc. This variable must contain a comma-separated list of directories you want to access with the Neurodesk tools.


export SINGULARITY_BINDPATH=/scratch/,/data/
export APPTAINER_BINDPATH=/scratch/,/data/
#Note: User the correct line depending on your installation. Do not add a directory that does not exist, otherwise the containers will not start!
  • to see the installed containers at the top of the list (neurodesk containers will take preference over system modules with the same name), run:
module --ignore_cache avail

Starting a new shell

  • Every time you start a new shell you will need to run conda activate neurocommand. Unless you added it to your .bashrc, you will also need to run module use PathToYourContainers.

To update


git pull
bash build.sh --cli
  • this updates the neurocommand but not the modules
  • install.sh does not need to be run again to update containers go into the neurodesktop directory and run
bash containers.sh

Choose the module you want to update for example you want to update mrtrix3/3.0.2 module with the eddy_cuda fix:

~/neurocommand/local/fetch_containers.sh mrtrix3 3.0.2 20221108 mrview $@

or run this to update all containers

bash containers.sh --all

Example clusters

UQ Bunya

Neurodesk is already installed at UQ’s Bunya supercomputer. To access neurodesk tools you need to be in an interactive job (so either start a virtual desktop via Open On-Demand: https://bunya-ondemand.rcc.uq.edu.au/pun/sys/dashboard) or run:

salloc --nodes=1 --ntasks-per-node=1 --cpus-per-task=1 --mem=5G --job-name=TinyInteractive --time=01:00:00 --partition=debug --account=REPLACE_THIS_WITH_YOUR_AccountString srun --export=PATH,TERM,HOME,LANG --pty /bin/bash -l

Then load the neurodesk modules:

module use /sw/local/rocky8/noarch/neuro/software/neurocommand/local/containers/modules/
export APPTAINER_BINDPATH=/scratch,/QRISdata

Now you can list all modules (Neurodesk modules are the first ones in the list):

ml av

Or you can module load any tool you need:

ml qsmxt/6.4.1
Last modified July 23, 2024: changed to new cloudfront domain (8f3ddbb)