Job Submission and Management

This section explains how the Cylc scheduler submits jobs when they are ready to run, and how to define new job runner handlers.


For the requirements a command, script, or program, must fulfil in order to function as a Cylc task, see Task Implementation.

When a task is ready Cylc generates a job script (see Job Scripts). The job script is submitted to be run by the job runner from the platform chosen for the task. Like other runtime properties, you can set a workflow default platform and override it for specific tasks or families:

   [[root]] # workflow defaults
        platform = platform_with_loadleveler
   [[foo]] # just task foo
        platform = platform_with_at

Supported Job Submission Methods

Cylc provided built-in support for the following batch submission systems:

Cylc provides support for the following job runner handlers.

Submits job scripts to the rudimentary Unix at scheduler.


Runs job scripts as Unix background processes.


Submits job scripts to loadleveler by the llsubmit command.


Submits job scripts to IBM Platform LSF by the bsub command.


Submits job scripts to the Moab workload manager with msub.


Submits job scripts to PBS (or Torque) by the qsub command.


Submits job scripts to Sun/Oracle Grid Engine with qsub.


Submits job scripts to Simple Linux Utility for Resource Management.


SLURM job submission and manipulation.

See Custom Job Submission Methods for how to add new job submission methods.

Default Directives Provided

For job runners that use job file directives (PBS, Loadleveler, etc.) default directives are provided to set the job name, stdout and stderr file paths, and the execution time limit (if specified).

Cylc constructs the job name string using a combination of the task ID and the workflow name. PBS fails a job submit if the job name in -N name is too long. For version 12 or below, this is 15 characters. For version 13, this is 236 characters. The default setting will truncate the job name string to 236 characters. If you have PBS 12 or older at your site, you should modify your site’s global configuration file to allow the job name to be truncated at 15 characters using global.cylc[platforms][<platform name>]job name length maximum.

Directives Section Quirks (PBS, SGE, …)

To specify an option with no argument, such as -V in PBS or -cwd in SGE you must give a null string as the directive value in the flow.cylc file.

The left hand side of a setting (i.e. the string before the first equal sign) must be unique. To specify multiple values using an option such as -l option in PBS, SGE, etc., either specify all items in a single line:


(Left hand side is -l. A second -l=... line will override the first.)

Or separate the items:

-l select=28
-l ncpus=36
-l mpiprocs=18
-l ompthreads=2
-l walltime=12:00:00


There is no equal sign after -l.

(Left hand sides are now -l select, -l ncpus, etc.)

Task stdout and stderr Logs

When a task is ready to run Cylc generates a filename root to be used for the job script and log files. The file path contains the task name, cycle point, and a submit number that increments if the same task is re-triggered multiple times:

# job script:
# stdout:
# stderr:

How the stdout and stderr streams are directed into these files depends on the job runner. The background method just uses appropriate output redirection on the command line, as shown above. The loadleveler method writes appropriate directives to the job script that is submitted to loadleveler.

Cylc obviously has no control over the stdout and stderr output from tasks that do their own internal output management (e.g. tasks that submit internal jobs and direct the associated output to other files). For less internally complex tasks, however, the files referred to here will be complete job logs.

Some job runners, such as PBS, redirect a job’s stdout and stderr streams to a separate cache area while the job is running. The contents are only copied to the normal locations when the job completes. This means that cylc cat-log will be unable to find the job’s stdout and stderr streams while the job is running. Some sites with these job runners are known to provide commands for viewing and/or tail-follow a job’s stdout and stderr streams that are redirected to these cache areas. If this is the case at your site, you can configure Cylc to make use of the provided commands by adding some settings to the global site/user config. E.g.:

    [[HOST]]  # <= replace this with a real host name
        [[[batch systems]]]
                err tailer = qcat -f -e \%(job_id)s
                out tailer = qcat -f -o \%(job_id)s
                err viewer = qcat -e \%(job_id)s
                out viewer = qcat -o \%(job_id)s

Overriding The Job Submission Command

To change the form of the actual command used to submit a job you need to define a new global.cylc[platforms][<platform name>]job runner command template.

        hosts = host1, host2
        job runner = loadleveler
        # Use '-s' to stop llsubmit returning
        # until all job steps have completed:
        job runner command template = llsubmit -s %(job)s

The template’s %(job)s will be substituted by the job file path.

Job Polling

For supported job runners, jobs can be polled to check that their true state matches what the scheduler expects based on received job status messages or previous polls. The scheduler executes a process on the task host, by non-interactive ssh, to interrogate the job runner, and to read the job.status file of the task which is automatically generated by the job script as it runs.

Polling may be required to update the workflow state correctly after unusual events such as

  • a job gets killed by the untrappable SIGKILL signal (e.g. kill -9 PID)

  • a machine being rebooted with tasks running on it

  • network problems prevent task messages from getting back to the workflow host

  • the scheduler itself was down when active jobs finished

Tasks can be polled on demand by using the cylc poll command.

See also

  • cylc poll --help

Tasks are polled automatically, once, if they timeout while queueing in a job runner and submission timeout is set. (See [runtime][<namespace>][events] for how to configure timeouts).

Tasks are polled multiple times, where necessary, when they exceed their execution time limits. These are normally set with some initial delays to allow the job runners to kill the jobs. (See execution time limit polling intervals for how to configure the polling intervals).

Any tasks recorded in the submitted or running states at workflow restart are automatically polled to determine what happened to them while the workflow was down.

By default, regular polling also takes place every 15 minutes whilst a job is submitted or running. The default polling intervals can be overridden in the global configuration:

The polling intervals can also be configured for individual tasks:

Polling can be used as the sole method of determining task status on hosts that do not allow task messages to be routed back to the workflow host. See Polling to Track Job Status.


For polling to work correctly, the job runner queueing system must have a job listing command for listing your jobs, and that the job listing must display job IDs as they are returned by the job runner queueing system submit command. For example, for pbs, moab and sge, the qstat command should list jobs with their IDs displayed in exactly the same format as they are returned by the qsub command.

Job Killing

For supported job runners, the scheduler can execute a process on the task host, by non-interactive ssh, to kill a submitted or running job according to its job runner.

Tasks can be killed on demand by using the cylc kill command.

Execution Time Limit

You can specify an execution time limit for all supported job submission methods. E.g.:

        execution time limit = PT1H

For tasks running with background or at, their jobs will be wrapped using the timeout command. For all other methods, the relevant time limit directive will be added to their job files.

The execution time limit setting will also inform the workflow when a a job should complete by. If a job has not reported completing within the specified time, the workflow will poll the job. (The default setting is PT1M, PT2M, PT7M. The accumulated times for these intervals will be roughly 1 minute, 1 + 2 = 3 minutes and 1 + 2 + 7 = 10 minutes after a job exceeds its execution time limit.)

Execution Time Limit and Execution Timeout

If you specify an execution time limit the execution timeout event handler will only be called if the job has not completed after the final poll (by default, 10 min after the time limit). This should only happen if the submission method you are using is not enforcing wallclock limits (unlikely) or you are unable to contact the machine to confirm the job status.

If you specify an [events]execution timeout and not an execution time limit then the execution timeout event handler will be called as soon as the specified time is reached. The job will also be polled to check its latest status (possibly resulting in an update in its status and the calling of the relevant event handler). This behaviour is deprecated, which users should avoid using.

If you specify an [events]execution timeout and an execution time limit then the execution timeout setting will be ignored.