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Environment and Software

A joyful and efficient usage of ZIH systems bases on a profound understanding of the working environment, which comprises your personal user environment and the software environment.

User Environment

All ZIH systems use global home directories to provide homogeneous user environments across all systems. The default login shell is bash. Personal additions and modifications can be put into so called dotfiles in your home directory, e.g., ~/.bashrc or ~/.bash_profile.

Software Environment

There are different options to work with software on ZIH systems: modules, Jupyter Notebook and containers. Brief descriptions and related links on these options are provided below.


Usage of software on ZIH systems, e.g., frameworks, compilers, loader and libraries, is almost always managed by a modules system. Thus, it is crucial to be familiar with the modules concept and its commands. A module is a user interface that provides utilities for the dynamic modification of a user's environment without manual modifications.

Modules are used to set up the environment when working on ZIH systems via batch system (e.g., srun or sbatch), and the JupyterHub.

Jupyter Notebook

The Jupyter Notebook is an open-source web application that allows creating documents containing live code, equations, visualizations, and narrative text. There is a JupyterHub service on ZIH systems, where you can simply run your Jupyter notebook on compute nodes using modules, preloaded or custom virtual environments. Moreover, you can run a manually created remote Jupyter server for more specific cases.


Some tasks require using containers. It can be done on ZIH Systems by Singularity.