SoftDrive on the HPC Cloud

SoftDrive is a service of the Dutch National e-infrastructure to facilitate software distribution over many machines. It was developed for use on the Grid infrastructure where managing your application environment is more challenging than on the HPC Cloud. SoftDrive uses CernVM-FS (cvmfs).

When to use SoftDrive?

You should probably consider using SoftDrive on the HPC Cloud if you want to make your software available on multiple platforms such as grids, classical clusters, and public or private clouds. Softdrive allows you to install and maintain only a single software tree while using it from various locations.


The instructions here are tested in the standard Ubuntu 14.04 Server appliance from the AppMarket. They are probably also valid for other Ubuntu versions and Debian-derived distributions. The setup consists of the following steps:

Install dependencies

The following command installs six packages (and their dependencies) that are needed for cvmfs:

 # apt-get install attr autofs gawk gdb uuid uuid-dev

Create directories

You need to create the directories that will be used for the cvmfs mount point and cache folder:

# mkdir /cvmfs /var/lib/cvmfs

Download and install cvmfs packages

Download the latest cvmfs and cvsmf-config-none .deb packages from the CernVM website. At the time of writing:

# wget
# wget

Install the packages using dpkg:

# dpkg --install cvmfs-config-none_1.0-1_all.deb cvmfs_2.2.0_amd64.deb

Configure FUSE

Add a line with allow_other to /etc/fuse.conf.

Add the cvmfs user to the group fuse:

# addgroup cvmfs fuse

Configure cvmfs

Create the file /etc/cvmfs/default.local with the following contents:


Create the file /etc/cvmfs/config.d/ with the following contents:


Finally, create the directory /etc/cvmfs/keys and add the file /etc/cvmfs/keys/ with the following contents:

-----END PUBLIC KEY-----

Configure autofs

Add a line with /cvmfs /etc/auto.cvmfs to /etc/auto.master.

Restart autofs to use the new settings:

# service autofs restart

Autofs will automatically mount the SoftDrive diretory the first time you access it. For example by doing ls /cvmfs/

Using SoftDrive

Software installed on the SoftDrive service is now available on your VM in the /cvmfs/ folder.

To add software to the SoftDrive directory you need to have a SURFsara account with membership of the cvmfs group. Contact the SURFsara Helpdesk for this. More information can be found on the Grid documentation of SoftDrive.