How to get help using the MERCED Cluster

The MERCED Cluster is a campus-wide resource. We have over 250 users and more people than ever are using the system to speed up their research. But not everything goes smoothly, when you are trying something new in this environment. So I thought I would write a quick article about getting help when you need it.

There’s three ways to get help that come to mind:

  1. Ask your peers and work within your research group. It’s likely that others have encountered similar errors or have already developed workarounds. You may have a syntax error that another person might catch (even though you’ve read it a 1000 times!).
  2. Come to the regularly scheduled Friday HPC Walk-in Clinic — every Friday (except holidays), 10:30 am – 12:00 pm in COB1 322 (Willow Room). At the Walk-in Clinic, you can get one-on-one help from HPC experts from our staff, faculty and even your peers. It’s the quickest way for you to get over the hurdles you may encounter when you’re starting out with the MERCED cluster. It’s also the place to learn advanced techniques from people who’ve been working in the field for years.
  3. If all else fails, send a request via ServiceNow (you must provide your login credentials to see this page), selecting “General IT Request” as the category. When sending a Service Request, please be sure to help expedite your request by including all the relevant information, such as what code you’re using, any scripts you are using and above all, any error messages you’ve encountered. If we can’t reproduce the error, it will be hard for us to help. We can either debug over email, or we may request to meet with you one-on-one to resolve the issue.

Please don’t succumb to the temptation to give up or deem it ‘too hard’ before you ask for help. While we can’t always solve every problem, our shared knowledge can usually find a way to achieve an outcome that’s better than nothing. If it’s broken, say something. If you figure out a neat trick, share it. If you can contribute to the HPC Wiki, do so! The MERCED cluster is just a machine, but the community we develop around HPC is very powerful.

If you are interested in scheduling a training or orientation session for your group, we encourage you to contact Jeffrey Weekley, the Director of Cyber-infrastructure & Research Computing, at jdweekley@ucmerced.edu.

See also Training resources and General Linux resources.