Quick Start Guide

This page contains the information to get you up and running as soon as possible on ARC systems. 

arcus-b is our largest and newest compute cluster and is the one we recommend to all new users. All of the compute nodes have 16 cores and a range of memory sizes, from 64GB to 256GB; there are also some nodes with GPU capability (Nvidia Tesla K40). Please contact us if you believe your requirements are not satisfied by arcus-b and you need to use one of our other clusters (see Services for more details).

Operating system

arcus-b runs the CentOS 6 Linux operating system; we do not have any clusters running Windows so your software must work on Linux if you want to use ARC systems. If you are unfamiliar with using Linux, please consider:

  • Finding introduction to Linux resources online (through Google/Bing/Yahoo etc).
  • Working through our brief Introduction to Linux course.
  • Atttending our Introduction to ARC training course (this does not teach you how to use Linux but the examples will help you gain a greater understanding).

Connecting to ARC

Access to arcus-b (and other ARC systems) is over Secure SHell (SSH). SSH can be used for copying data to/from the ARC file system (using scp or sftp), as well as connecting to arcus-b and performing operations. The host name for connecting to arcus-b is arcus-b.arc.ox.ac.uk.

arcus-b is only accessible from within the University of Oxford network. If you are not on the University network, please read our page on Connecting to ARC from outside the University network.

Changing your password

You can change your password using the arctool application on myaccount.arc.ox.ac.uk. Please see our Looking after your user account page for more information.

Disk space

Users have a $HOME area with a 15GB quota; this is where you log in to. Users also have a $DATA area which shares a 5TB quota with your project colleagues. As a rule we recommend that you use your $DATA area for your work. For more details on where you can store files, please see our Storage page.


There are many software packages already installed; these are managed through the environment modules system. You will find advice on how to run some of the more popular applications under the How to Guides section of our support pages. You can also build your own software in your home or data directories using one of the compilers provided (which are also available through the environment modules system).

Running jobs

To do work on arcus-b, you will need to submit a job to the job scheduler; the login nodes are for preparing the work that you need to run and should not be used for performing computational work. arcus-b uses the slurm job scheduler and you will find information on preparing your job submission script on our slurm pages. When requesting resources in your job submission script, it is important to know that the smallest unit you can request is a single node (or a single GPU) so please contact us if you need help with getting more out of your requested resources. If you have prior experience with the torque/PBS, please read our Arcus Phase B page.

Running jobs consume credits on ARC. Please read our Accounting System and our Requesting Credits pages for an explanation as to how credits are calculated and how to request more.


ARC run a number of training courses that can help you get more from the ARC facility, and teach you parallel programming (for example). For a full list of courses please see our Training page.