Open OnDemand goes live on Bunya

14 Mar 2024

Remote web access and an easier graphical user interface (GUI) is now available for University of Queensland supercomputer Bunya. 

After more than six months of user testing, Open OnDemand (OOD) has become operational for all Bunya users. It is called onBunya and provides researchers with an easily accessible interface to the powerful hardware Bunya has to offer.

The first and current iteration of onBunya makes it easy to run GUI software on the HPC.

RCC Director Jake Carroll said onBunya is a critical part of RCC's strategy to drive usability and accessibility in high-performance and advanced computing for all scientific researchers. 

“onBunya democratises some of our most powerful GPU and CPU and storage technologies, bringing it all under one easy-to-use roof,” said Jake. 

“We recognise RCC's growing importance to all scientific research domains across UQ, as a rapidly growing number of researchers need extreme scale, power and flexibility coupled with a low barrier to entry."

RCC Research Computing Systems Engineer Sarah Walters explained that onBunya provides two major benefits. “Firstly, it's a gentler introduction to the HPC environment for people who are not very comfortable with the command line,” said Sarah. 

“Secondly, some workflows require the ability to see visual output, and onBunya provides a platform to do that.”

RCC Operations Engineer Dr Edan Scriven said that onBunya provides two important environments for researchers. “Firstly, a graphical desktop interface — like another of our services, the Characterisation Virtual Laboratory (CVL) — where they can run GUI apps on HPC hardware. 

“Secondly, a platform for running GUI applications on Bunya but where the GUI is a web interface and thus a whole desktop is not necessary (a very notable and popular example of this is Jupyter),” said Edan. 

As onBunya is running on the same platform as any other HPC job, it is important for users to log out once their session has ended to make room for others. 

The RCC team is looking to add more web-based applications to onBunya over time, as opposed to apps that run on desktops. Please contact the RCC Service Desk with any web-based app requests.

Open OnDemand is open-source software with a large international community behind it. “It has a longevity and support that smaller services can't necessarily guarantee long-term. We also benefit from development that other HPC services contribute to OOD,” said Sarah. 

RCC would like to thank the UQ researchers who were involved in early discussions about onBunya and in user testing, especially those in the imaging and characterisation research domain who played a key role in the service’s evolution. 

Jake said the development of onBunya involved “true community engagement and value co-creation.”

Dr Farrah Blades, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), was a strong advocate and collaborator of RCC’s OOD project. She helped to express the needs of biologists to RCC and helped to refine some of the software. Read her article about why she felt OOD was a valuable resource to advocate for and what it means for the biologist community.

For more information, please read the Bunya user guide if you are not familiar with the supercomputer, and please read the onBunya user guide