15 December 2011

28. Compiling/Building nwchem with mpich on debian 64 bit (15/12/2011) -- observations of squeeze, wheezy, sid and experimental

** NOTE: the nwchem build in the debian repos (6.0-1) does not support mpich. It will not run in parallel. It seems like 6.0-2 will, but it's not in the repos yet, and looking at the package status page I get a bit worried about the likelihood of seeing a finished build for amd64 **

** The solution to building on debian testing and above (and presumably ubuntu >10.10) is here: http://verahill.blogspot.com/2011/12/building-nwchem-on-debian-testing-64.html **

** NOTE: according to this post mpd isn't needed in newer (>=1.3) versions. It is needed -- and provided -- by mpich2 1.2**

So, I've had problems building nwchem on debian testing for about a year now. Actually, building nwchem is pretty straightforward, but building it with mpich2 support doesn't seem to work.

I also noted that mpd doesn't refer to an mpich daemon anymore, leading me to suspect that maybe the version of mpich2 (now at 1.4; was at 1.2 when I built on ubuntu early in the year) could be part of the problem.

Long story short: it builds with mpich2 support on debian stable (squeeze), but not debian testing (wheezy).

Here's what I did: I installed debian stable 64 bit in virtualbox from the business-card iso (standard tools + ssh. No desktop environment). I made sure the system (squeeze) was up to date, downloaded nwchem-6.0 and extracted it in /home/myhome/nwchem/nwchem-6.0  and create a build file, myconfig.sh, with the following content:
export TCGRSH=/usr/local/bin/ssh
export NWCHEM_TOP=/home/myhome/nwchem/nwchem-6.0
export USE_MPI=y
export USE_MPIF=y
export MPI_LOC=/usr
export MPI_INCLUDE=$MPI_LOC/include/mpich2
export LIBMPI="-lfmpich -lmpich"
cd $NWCHEM_TOP/src
make nwchem_config
make FC=gfortran

Only thing remaining before building is:
sudo apt-get install mpich2 gfortran

mpich2: version 1.2

sh myconfig.sh then starts the build process which takes about 10-20 minutes in a virtual machine. Everything good. Works as should -- I only have one core in the virtual machine, so can't do much testing. It builds without a hitch though. In addition mpd, mpdtrace etc are all present.

 Time to take a snapshot. 1.7 Gb.
I next edited /etc/apt/sources.list and replaced all instances of squeeze with wheezy (including commenting out the last two lines (wheezey-updates / squeeze-updates), did sudo apt-get update and sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

mpich2: version 1.4.1.
mpd and mpdtrace are now gone. Only mpi* around.

Tried sh myconfig.sh again (added a make clean before make nwchem_config). It builds for a long time - 10-20 minutes -- ultimately the build fails with
/usr/lib/libmpich.so: undefined reference to `MPL_trid'
/usr/lib/libmpich.so: undefined reference to `MPL_trinit'
collect2: ld returned 1 exit status
make: *** [all] Error 1

The undefined references are: MPL_trid, MPL_trvalid, MPL_env2int, MPL_trrealloc, MPL_trspace, MPL_trDebugLevel, MPL_TrSetMaxMem, MPL_trlevel, MPL_trmalloc, MPL_putenv, MPL_env2bool, MPL_env2range, MPL_trcalloc, MPL_trfree, MPL_en2str, MPL_trstrdup, MPL_trdump and MPL_trinit

So no luck with Wheezy, which is the system I run on all my computers. I've actually tried quite a few approaches under Wheezy and have managed to complete the odd build, but without getting proper functionality i.e. using mpiexec -n 6 six instances are created instead of one instance spread across six cores so that the system is solved six times instead of just one.

Time to take another snapshot followed by an upgrade.
The wheezy snapshot is 2.2 Gb -- wonder where the 0.5 Gb come from?

Replacing all instances of wheezy with sid using vim (:%s/wheezy/sid/g). Fails to fetch http://security.debian.org/dists/sid/updates/main/binary-amd64/Packages during sudo apt-get update. Oh well. Remove that line from sources.list. Now update works.
Then sudo apt-get dist-upgrade. 140 Mb of archives to get.

As a general thought -- maybe it'd be worth keeping a copy of sid in a virtual machine just to see what's around the corner?

Upgrade done, sudo shutdown -r now
mpich2: version 1.4.1, same as wheezy. No mpd or mpdtrace.

Try building and...starts at 14:17, fails at 14:45. Same errors as for Wheezy.

Last chance -- snapshot (1.9 Gb...), add a ref to experimental and...no updates. They are the same. Not worth trying thus.

So there you go -- nwchem builds ok on Squeeze using mpich2 ver 1.2, but not on any of the more up-to-date distros. I also wonder about the lack of mpd/mpdtrace -- in Squeeze mpd is the mpich daemon, while in Wheezy and above it's the Music Player Daemon. Something is odd here.

Coming next: can you build nwchem on Wheezy if you pull mpich2 ver 1.2 from the archives? Of course you can. The answer and how-to is here: http://verahill.blogspot.com/2011/12/building-nwchem-on-debian-testing-64.html


  1. With NWChem 6.1.1 and Ubuntu 12.04.1 the following works for me:

    sudo apt-get install mpich2 gcc gfortran

    tar xfvz Nwchem-6.1.1-src.2012-06-27.tar.gz
    cd nwchem-6.1.1-src/

    export NWCHEM_TOP=`pwd`
    export NWCHEM_MODULES="all"
    export USE_MPI=y
    export LIBMPI="-lmpich -lopa -lmpl -lrt -lpthread"
    export MPI_LIB="/usr/lib"
    export MPI_INCLUDE="/usr/include/mpich2"
    export FC=gfortran
    export CC=gcc

    cd $NWCHEM_TOP/src
    make nwchem_config
    make &> make.log &

    1. Cheers Mark.

      You can find more recent posts on nwchem (and openmpi) e.g. here:

      You may want to add math libs to your build, and end your script with
      cd ../contrib

      to make it automatically use your full memory.