The module system is a command-line tool to help users manage their Linux environment variables (e.g. PATH, LD_LIBRARY_PATH). It works by grouping related environment variable settings together based on various usage scenarios, such as

  • Adding executables to a user’s PATH

  • Adding the location of specific software libraries to a user’s LD_LIBRARY_PATH

  • Adding documentation manual pages “man pages” to a user’s MANPATH

  • Creating custom environment variables to define the global path where a specific package is installed, e.g. FFTWHOME

These modules may be added/removed dynamically, allowing a user to have a great amount of control over her/his environment.

Possibly one of the greatest assets of the module system is that it provides a simple user interface, and can be queried to learn all of the available modules on a system, making it easier to know which packages are or aren’t already installed on a system.

The module system operates through the Linux executable, module, followed by the desired command. The primary module commands are as follows:

  • module avail – displays a list of all available modules on the system, e.g.

    $ module avail
    ------------------------------------ /hpc/modules/applications -------------------------------------
       aimall/17.01.25        gaussian/g16a     (D)    orca/4.0.0        sas/9.4
       allinea/forge-7.0.2    julia/0.5.2              orca/4.0.1 (D)    spack
       autodock_vina/1.1.2    lammps/2016.11.17        python/2          stata/mp-14
       cfour/2.00beta         matlab/r2017a            python/3   (D)    tensorflow/1.2_gpu
       charmm/c41b1           namd/2.12/cpu     (D)    q-chem/5.0        vmd/1.9.3/egl
       gaussian/g03e          namd/2.12/gpu            r/3.4.0           vmd/1.9.3/ogl      (D)
       gaussian/g09d          nbo/6.0                  r/3.4.1    (D)
    -------------------------------------- /hpc/modules/compilers --------------------------------------
       gcc-4.8.5    intel-17.0.4    pgi-12.10    pgi-16.5
       gcc-6.3      llvm-4.0.0      pgi-13.2     pgi-17.4
       D:  Default Module
    Use "module spider" to find all possible modules.
    Use "module keyword key1 key2 ..." to search for all possible modules matching any of the "keys".
  • module list – lists all currently loaded modules in your working environment. At first, we have none:

    $ module list
    No modules installed
  • module add and module load – loads a module into your working environment. For example, at the moment matlab is not in our PATH:

    $ matlab
    -bash: matlab: command not found

    but once we load the matlab module, it is now in our path

    $ module load matlab
    $ matlab -nodisplay -nosplash
                                          < M A T L A B (R) >
                                Copyright 1984-2017 The MathWorks, Inc.
                                 R2017a ( 64-bit (glnxa64)
                                             March 27, 2017
    To get started, type one of these: helpwin, helpdesk, or demo.
    For product information, visit

    and it is listed as being loaded in our environment (after quiting)

    $ module list
    Currently Loaded Modules:
      1) matlab/r2017a
  • module rm and module unload – undoes a previous “add” or “load” command, removing the module from your working environment, e.g.

    $ module load python
    $ module list
    Currently Loaded Modules:
      1) matlab/r2017a   2) python/3
    $ module unload python
    $ module list
    Currently Loaded Modules:
      1) matlab/r2017a
  • module switch and module swap – this does a combination unload/load, swapping out one module for another, e.g.

    $ module load gcc-6.3 
    $ module load mvapich2
    $ module list
    Currently Loaded Modules:
      1) gcc-6.3   2) mvapich2/2.2-qmt35td
    $ module swap mvapich2 openmpi
    $ module list
    Currently Loaded Modules:
      1) gcc-6.3   2) openmpi/2.1.1-ne4p6t6
  • module display and module show – this shows detaled information about how a specific module affects your environment, e.g.

    $ module display r
    whatis("Name : r")
    whatis("Version : 3.4.1")
    help([[R is 'GNU S', a freely available language and environment for statistical computing and graphics which provides a wide variety of statistical and graphical techniques: linear and nonlinear modelling, statistical tests, time series analysis, classification, clustering, etc. Please consult the R project homepage for further information.]])
  • module help – This displays a set of descriptive information about the module (what it does, the version number of the software, etc.). This only applies to packages where their “help” pages have been installed (none yet on ManeFrame).

Module Example#

As a simple example, let’s compare how to do the same task first without, and then with, the module system. Returning to our previous example on using Makefiles, we can compile that code using the Intel C++ compiler by using the command

/hpc/m3/apps/intel/oneapi/2023.1/compiler/2023.1.0/linux/bin/dpcpp driver.cpp \
one_norm.cpp vector_difference.cpp vector_product.cpp \
vector_sum.cpp -lm -o driver.exe

While this certainly works, it requires us to know the full path to the dpcpp compiler. Using the module system, this simplifies to

module load intel
dpcpp driver.cpp one_norm.cpp vector_difference.cpp \
vector_product.cpp vector_sum.cpp -lm -o driver.exe

Even for this simple example where we only need to add something to our $PATH, the module system can be invaluable since it is rare that you know the global location of a file when you first log into a new system.

Module Resources:#