Metashape on Atlas cluster (SCINet HPC)

The Agisoft is preinstalled on Atlas SCINet HPC infrastructure as a Metashape distribution in version 1.7.3 and can be loaded into your computational environment with module load command.


To activate the module, you must first load the gcc/10.2.0 package, which is the required dependency for Metashape.

module load gcc/10.2.0                          # required (always)
module load mesa/20.1.6                         # required (only when using graphical interface)
module load metashape/1.7.3                     # required (always)

Platform plugin

The Qt is a GUI toolkit which provides modules for cross-platform development and creating graphical user interfaces. Therefore, depending on the platform you are working on, you should choose the right plugin. There are two platform plugins available of which xcb is the default setting.

  • xcb , provides the basic functionality needed by Qt GUI to run against X11 (Xterminal graphical interface)

    use xcb platform (default), when using Agisoft via the Open OnDemand service

  • offscreen , prevents the startup of the graphical interface when using a Linux terminal system

    use offscreen platform, when using Agisoft via the SSH terminal connection

    metashape -r -platform offscreen

Access Atlas via Open OnDemand service

Open OnDemand (OOD) is web-based platform which provides user-friendly graphical interface directly in a web browser tab for access to the Atlas HPC infrastructure, including both the file system, GUI applications, and standalone software.

1. Log in to the OOD service

To connect to Atlas via OnDemand interface, visit within your web browser (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Edge are preferred).

Atlas OOD service

Follow the instructions provided by :

In order to log in, users must use their SciNet credentials. The 6-digit Google Authenticator code must be entered in the same field as the password, with no spaces or other characters in-between the password and Google Authenticator code.

Your SciNet credentials includes:

  • username, usually in the form name.surname
  • password, the same password as used for ssh connection to Atlas
  • Google Authenticator code, if you don’t use it yet, find out more at SCINet/GA

2. Set up remote Atlas Desktop

To get a graphical interface to the file system and applications on an Atlas cluster, you first need to activate remote Atlas Desktop. For this, select Interactive Apps from the top menu and then Atlas Desktop from the dropdown options.

Atlas Desktop

Specify the the interactive job request

Now, in your browser tab, a form should appear where you should configure the settings for the interactive job you want to complete on the Atlas cluster. When you have set the options, click the long blue ‘Launch’ button.

Param, Value Form
Account , your project_name visible on Atlas in /project/

Partition_Name , ‘atlas’ or ‘gpu’ (if available)

QOS , ‘ood’

Number of hours , 2 (up to 8 hours)

Number of nodes , 1

Number of tasks , 2 (tasks = cores here, with a max of 2)

Resource Reservation , leave empty

Memory Required (In GB) , our example uses ~10GB

Check boxes if want to receive emails
Atlas OOD form

Launch Atlas Desktop

In the next step you will see your request queued and once the resources have been allocated to your job (should get an email if selected as an option), you will finally be able to Launch Atlas Desktop using blue button in the bottom left corner of the form. With the options ‘Compression’ and ‘Image Quality’ you can decide how good the graphic quality you want to get in the remote desktop view.

At any time you can remove your interactive session from the queue by pressing the red Delete button, available in the top right corner of the form.

Atlas Desktop

3. Open the terminal emulator

The Atlas Desktop should automatically open in a new tab in the same browser window in which you requested Open OnDemand access. You can browse the file system in graphical mode. Your home directory is visible on the desktop. At the bottom of the screen you will find quick shortcuts to applications, including the terminal. In the picture, its icon is indicated by a red arrow. Clicking on the icon will open the coding console window.

Atlas OOD form

4. Load dependencies

When a terminal window appears on your screen, type the following commands to load all the required dependencies. Note that in order to keep the graphical interface functional, you need to load an additional mesa package.

module load gcc/10.2.0
module load mesa/20.1.6
module load metashape

If you want to check the validity of the above modules for a Metashape module, you can use the command below, which will return a list of requirements.

module spider metashape

5. Run Metashape Python scripts

In the Metashape analysis, you can run python scripts in two ways:

  • directly in a terminal window using the metashape command with -r flag followed by the name of the python script

    metashape -r
  • by launching the interactive GUI for Agisoft Metashape using the metashape command in the terminal, and then running a python script in the Console tab of the GUI window (fourth tab from the left on the bottom menu bar in the GUI of the Agisoft Metashape Professional)


Atlas OOD form

If you want to learn more about Agisoft Metashape analysis using python programming go to the Metashape Python Scripting article.
You can also go to the Photogrammetry Tutorial, which introduces you to photogrammetric analysis with a practical example of processing drone imagery in Agisoft Metashape. The automated workflow was developed and made available through the kindness of Hugh Graham, Andrew Cunliffe, Pia Benaud, and Glenn Slade.

Access Atlas via SSH terminal connection

SSH (Secure Shell) is a protocol that enables two computational machines to communicate via network. This is especially useful when you want to remotely request computations or access the data on a cluster from your local computer. The SSH connection by default does not provide a graphical interface, so file system browsing and calculations are done using commands written in the terminal window.

1. Open terminal window

Depending on the operating system on your local computing machine (Windows, macOS, Linux) the way to run a terminal is slightly different but each of these systems should have at least a basic terminal pre-installed. To learn what is the difference between Terminal, Console, Shell and Kernel, check here.


In Microsoft Windows, a command-line shell is usually called a Command Prompt or more recently a PowerShell.
Follow these steps to display the terminal window:

  1. Go to Start Menu (Windows icon available on the left corner of your desktop) and type ‘cmd’ or ‘powershell’.
    The search results should display a dark square icon.
  2. Click on the icon to open the terminal window.


In macOS you can start a terminal session by clicking on the black square icon present in the Dock bar. If the shortcut is not there by default, you can search for ‘Terminal’ or ‘iTerm’ in the Finder.


In Linux you can start a terminal session by clicking on the black square icon ‘Terminal’ present in the Menu bar.

Windows macOS Linux
Atlas Desktop Atlas Desktop Atlas Desktop

2. Connect to Atlas using SSH

Once you have a terminal window open, log in to the Atlas cluster using the ssh command and your SCINet credentials.


Your SciNet credentials includes:

  • username, usually in the form name.surname; make sure username is lower case
  • Google Authenticator (GA) code, if you don’t use it yet, find out more at SCINet/GA
  • password, the password to Atlas is set separately than a password for Ceres cluster

First time user’s login

  • Enter ssh in the terminal window and press enter or return on your keyboard.
  • When prompted for verification code, enter the 6 digits generated by the GA application and press enter or return on your keyboard.
    Note: the code will not be shown on the screen as you enter them.
  • When prompted for your password, enter your password and press enter or return on your keyboard.
    Note: the code will not be shown on the screen as you enter them.

    • For first time user’s login to Atlas use your temporary password received in the SCINet welcome email. A message will appear telling you that your password has expired.
    • When prompted for your ‘current password’, enter your temporary password once again.
    • Then you will be prompted twice to eneter your ‘new password’.
      When creating a new password, make sure it contains at least 12 characters of at least 3 different classes (e.g. upper/lower case, numbers and special characters: # @ $ %, etc.).

Exit the SSH connection

Once you have completed your activities on the Atlas cluster, you should use a secure way to disconnect your local computer from the HPC infrastructure. To terminate the ssh connection with Atlas, type exit in the terminal and press enter on your keyboard. Then, you can close the terminal window on your computer.

3. Navigate to your workdir

Once you have successfully logged in, by default you are in your /home directory on Atlas. You can confirm this by typing the pwd command.
Note: any shell command require pressing enter or return to be executed.


Home directory is not intended to be used as workspace. Instead, the correct location is /project, where you should use ls to find the directory for your group’s project. Usually the project name matches the ‘account’ field used to access the Atlas OOD service, and formally refers to a slurm account, as defined at :

To run jobs on compute nodes of either cluster, the jobs need to be associated with a slurm account. For users that have access to one or more project directories, their slurm accounts have same names as the project directories. The slurm account for users without project directories is called scinet.

To display a list of available slurm accounts (projects), execute in terminal:

ls /project/

If you don’t find an account for your group on the list, you can request one or you can use one of the general access projects, such as scinet, shared or 90daydata. Navigate to /project/<account_name> (here we use scinet as an example) and create with mkdir a new working directory for your computing task.

cd /project/scinet
mkdir your_workidr_name
cd your_workidr_name

You can check your current location in the file system with pwd and display its contents with ls.

4. Set up SLURM job

On an Atlas cluster, computation on a login node is prohibited. Therefore, all calculations must be submitted to the compute nodes using the SLURM task management system (learn more from the tutorial). In general, you can access compute nodes by:

  • submitting a job to a queue using the sbatch command
  • starting an interactive session with the salloc command

For projects using Metashape analytics, running an interactive session is not recommended due to the high-impact processes that result in a violation of the resource usage policy. As a consequence, the user will receive a penalty status that will reduce their original computing power limits (e.g., status penalty1 limits to 80% of CPU and memory usage). So, if you need to test your protocol with an interactive preview of the computation progress, use Atlas OOD service.

Atlas Desktop

Once your computation protocol is steady or if you want to use the scripts available in the Photogrammetry Tutorial, follow the steps below to prepare the job for submission into the queue with sbatch command.

1. Create SLURM submission script

At the command line, you can easily create a new empty file with the touch command.


2. Copy-paste the basic content of the SLURM script

First, open the submission script file in text editor of your choice (usually nano or vim) by typing in the command-line the name of the editor followed by the name of the file.


In the text editor paste the text passage copied from the code block provided below. Use arrows keys on your keyboard to navigate and change values of variables according to your preference.

    • job-name, name of your job visible in the queue with squeue -u command
    • account, your slurm account, for details see section 3. Navigate to your workdir
    • mail-user, provide email of your choice
    • workdir, provide the full path to the directory with the python script
    • script_name, provide the filename of python script used in this job

Then, press control and x to exit, then press y for yes to save changes.


# job standard output will go to the file slurm-%j.out (where %j is the job ID)
#SBATCH --job-name="metashape"
#SBATCH --partition=gpu                   # GPU node(s)
#SBATCH --nodes=1                         # number of nodes
#SBATCH --ntasks=48                       # 24 processor core(s) per node X 2 threads per core
#SBATCH --time=01:00:00                   # walltime limit (HH:MM:SS)
#SBATCH --account=scinet
#SBATCH   # email address
#SBATCH --mail-type=BEGIN                 # email notice of job started
#SBATCH --mail-type=END                   # email notice of job finished
#SBATCH --mail-type=FAIL                  # email notice of job failure

module load gcc                           # load gcc dependency
module load metashape                     # load metashape, then run script with x11 turned off

workdir=/project/scinet/your_workdir      # path to your workdir (can check with 'pwd' in terminal)  # the filename of the python script you want to run

metashape -r $your_workdir/$script_name -platform offscreen

2. Submit your job to the queue

Make sure all required files are in the current directory. You can display its contents with ls.
The required files include:

  • SLURM script: e.g.,
  • Python script: e.g.,, available for download from here
  • Input files (example dataset is available for download from here):
    • config file: e.g., input_file.csv, column-type text file with key-value pairs of initial parameters used in the Python scripts
    • input folder: e.g., input_data, the directory that contains photos in DNG format

Finally, to sumbit your job use sbatch command followed by your SLURM script name, and press enter. If successfully submitted into a batch, the job number will be displayed on your screen.


Atlas-login-1[31]$ sbatch
Submitted batch job 726220

If you have used the email notification option, you will receive emails 1) when the job is queued, 2) when the job has completed running, and eventually 3) when the job has failed due to an error (e.g., exceeding of reserved resources such as walltime or memory).

3. Trace the output file

It is useful to trace the contents of the output file (slurm-job_id.out, e.g., slurm-726219.out for this example) that collects the results from the standard output & error. This can help you detect the case of job failure, but also to analyze the performance and efficiency of the computation in the case of a successful job.
Note: If you don’t remember the job_id for your job, then display the contents of your project directory and filter out the results that have the ‘out’ extension.

ls | grep "out"


To preview the content of this file use less command, followed by the filename and press enter. less is a read-only viewer, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally making any changes.

less slurm-726219.out

Note: In the viewer, use arrow keys and/or *‘page’, ‘button’ keys on your keyboard, to smoothly navigate through the file.*

In the file view, check analysis for % of cameras aligned and not aligned. That the mean reprojections values are within the threshold. Use q letter on the keyboard to exit viewer.

Once you have completed your activities on the Atlas cluster, you can disconnect your local computer from the HPC infrastructure using exit command followed by pressing enter on your keyboard.