Quest Quick Start Guide

Quest and Kellogg Linux Cluster Downtime, June 8th-14th, 2024.

Quest, including the Quest Analytics Nodes, the Genomics Compute Cluster (GCC), the Kellogg Linux Cluster (KLC), and Quest OnDemand, will be unavailable for scheduled maintenance starting at 7 A.M. on Saturday, June 8, and ending approximately at 5 P.M. on Friday, June 14. During the maintenance window, you will not be able to login to Quest, Quest Analytics Nodes, the GCC, KLC, or Quest OnDemand submit new jobs, run jobs, or access files stored on Quest in any way including Globus. For details on this maintenance, please see the Status of University IT Services page.

This page provides help getting started with connecting to, accessing software on, and submitting jobs to the Quest computing cluster.

You will need to be logged in to Quest to get started. For further instructions, visit our Logging into Quest KB page or watch our Logging into Quest video tutorial.

See our Introduction To Quest video for a 90-minute interactive tutorial that takes you step-by-step through logging into Quest, editing a job submission script, launching and monitoring a job, as well as a deep dive into how Quest works.

Navigating Quest

If you'd prefer a video demonstration you can get started with basic commands and a demonstration of navigating home and project directories on Quest by watching our video tutorial Navigating Quest via Shell.

Once you've logged into Quest, you will begin in your Home directory: /home/<NetID>. The home directory has 80GB of storage and is backed up nightly. Backups are kept for two weeks.

Note that throughout this guide, items in angle brackets (<>) in example commands are parameters you need to change relative to your account and work. Do not include <> around the values you substitute into the commands.

You can navigate to the projects directory of your allocation by typing

cd /projects/<project_id>

Project directories are not backed up. You can check how much storage you have by typing

checkproject <project_id>

If you are unfamiliar with using the command line, this tutorial, Learning the Shell, will help you learn the basics.

Moving Files onto Quest

Please visit the Transferring Files on Quest web page for information about transferring files from your local machine, the Northwestern OneDrive/Sharepoint Endpoint, Research Data Storage Service, or elsewhere, to Quest.

Software available on Quest

Many applications are available on Quest. You can access them through modules, which modify your environment to enable you to run the software. Quest uses modules so that multiple versions of the same software can be available for different users.

See Modules Software Environment Manager for examples of loading software with modules and a list of common commands.

If you would like additional software packages installed on Quest, please fill out the Software Installation Request Form. Additionally, you can also install software in your own home or project directories. For details, review our Installing Software on Quest page.

Running Jobs on Quest

When you first log in to Quest, you will be on one of the four login nodes: quser21, quser22, quser23, or quser24. From the login nodes, you can submit jobs to the compute nodes, edit files, and perform small test jobs. Login node use is limited to 4 cores and 4 GB of RAM per user.

To take advantage of Quest's computing power, jobs can be submitted to the compute nodes in two ways: Interactive jobs, which are particularly useful for GUI applications, or Batch jobs, which are the most common jobs on Quest. Interactive jobs are appropriate for GUI applications like Stata, Visit, Paraview, etc., testing and prototyping of programs, running jobs with small core counts (< 6), and for short duration jobs. Batch jobs are appropriate for jobs with no GUI interface, large core counts, or long duration.

See Submitting a Job on Quest for more details, example job submission commands, and an example of a submission script.

Managing Your Jobs on Quest

Command Description
squeue -u <NetID> Shows your jobs on the queue
squeue -A <AllocationID> Shows your jobs belonging to specified allocation
checkjob <JobID> Shows detailed information about specified job
scancel <JobID> Cancels your job from the command line
scancel -u <NetID> Cancels all of your jobs from the command line

For more information about managing your jobs visit Managing Jobs on Quest.

Getting Help

Learn more about using Quest from our documentation or attend one of our Introduction to Quest trainings. If you need more personalized assistance, send an email stating your issue to and the Northwestern IT Research Computing Services team will assist you with your issue.

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Article ID: 1542
Thu 5/12/22 12:39 PM
Wed 5/1/24 9:16 AM