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1.1.0 Jul 6, 2023
1.0.0 Jul 8, 2022

#237 in Command line utilities

MIT license

809 lines

Pegasus: A Multi-Node SSH Command Runner

Run a list of commands on a set of SSH nodes. With a bit of optional parametrization.




  • Passwordless SSH is all you need.
  • Simple config for simple use cases, flexible config for advanced ones.
  • Two modes:
    • Broadcast mode runs each command on every node.
    • Queue mode runs each command once on the next free node.
  • Modify the file-based queue (queue.yaml) while Pegasus is running.
  • Parametrize hosts and commands.

Getting Started with Examples

To use Pegasus,

  1. Install Pegasus, either from GitHub Release or cargo install pegasus-ssh.
  2. Setup passwordless SSH for your nodes.
  3. Populate hosts.yaml and queue.yaml, and run Pegasus.

Pegasus will remove one entry at a time from the top of queue.yaml and move it to consumed.yaml as it begins to execute it.

Queue Mode: Getting a Bag of Jobs Done

Run four Python commands using two nodes.

# hosts.yaml
- node-1
- node-2
# queue.yaml
- . /opt/miniconda3/etc/profile.d/conda.sh; python train.py --bs 8
- . /opt/miniconda3/etc/profile.d/conda.sh; python train.py --bs 16
- . /opt/miniconda3/etc/profile.d/conda.sh; python train.py --bs 32
- . /opt/miniconda3/etc/profile.d/conda.sh; python train.py --bs 64
$ pegasus q  # stands for Queue

Broadcast Mode: Terraforming Nodes

Run identical commands for multiple nodes.

# queue.yaml
- mkdir workspace
- cd workspace && git clone https://github.com/jaywonchung/dotfiles.git
- . workspace/dotfiles/install.sh
$ pegasus b  # stands for Broadcast

Parallelizing Execution with Node Parameters

Split nodes into sub-nodes that run commands in parallel. Below, four SSH connections are kept, and four commands run in parallel.

# hosts.yaml
- hostname:
    - node-1
    - node-2
    - gpu0
    - gpu1

When parametrizing nodes, just make sure you specify the hostname key.

You can use these parameters in your commands. By the way, the templating engine is Handlebars.

# queue.yaml
- docker exec {{ container }} python train.py --bs 8
- docker exec {{ container }} python train.py --bs 16
- docker exec {{ container }} python train.py --bs 32
- docker exec {{ container }} python train.py --bs 64

Four sub-nodes and four jobs. So all jobs will start executing at the same time.

Parametrizing Commands for Conciseness

If you can parametrize nodes, why not commands?

# queue.yaml
- command:
    - docker exec {{ container }} python train.py --bs {{ bs }}
  bs: [8, 16, 32, 64]

This results in the exact same jobs with the example above. When parametrizing commands, just make sure you specify the command key.


How many commands will execute in Queue mode?

# hosts.yaml
- hostname:
    - node-1
    - node-2
    - 1
- hostname:
    - node-3
    - 2
# queue.yaml
- echo hi from {{ hostname }}
- command:
    - for i in $(seq {{ low }} {{ high }}); do echo $i; sleep {{ laziness }}; done
    - echo bye from {{ hostname }}
    - 1
    - 2
    - 3
    - 4

Note that although echo bye from {{ hostname }} doesn't really use the low or high parameters, it will run 2 * 2 = 4 times regardless.

The answer is 1 + 2 * 2 * 2.

Lock Mode: Modifying the Queue

queue.yaml is actually the queue.

Pegasus removes the first entry in queue.yaml whenver there's a free host available. If you delete entries before Pegasus pulls it, they will not execute. If you add entreis to queue.yaml, they will execute.

Q. Why do I need this?

Think about when the number of remaining commands is less than the number of free nodes. Without a way to submit more jobs to Pegasus, those free nodes will stay idle until all the commands finish and you start a fresh new instance of Pegasus.

By providing a way to add to the queue while commands are still running, users may achieve higher node utilization. Being able to delete from the queue is just a byproduct; adding to the queue is the key feature.

Q. But that's a race condition on queue.yaml.

Lock mode will lock queue.yaml and launch a command line editor for you.

$ pegasus l --editor nvim  # l stands for Lock

Editor priority is --editor > $EDITOR > vim. When you save and exit, the queue lock is released and Pegasus is allowed access to queue.yaml.

Q. What if Pegasus terminates before I add to queue.yaml?

Enable daemon mode, and Pegasus will not terminate even if queue.yaml is empty. It will stand waiting for you to populate queue.yaml again, and execute them.

$ pegasus q --daemon

Advanced templating with Handlebars

Handlebars is a templating engine, and Pegasus uses Handlebars to fill in parameters into hostnames and commands.

Look at this example to see how this can be useful:

# queue.yaml
- command:
  - python main.py --model-path {{ model }} --output-path {{ replace model "/" "--" }}.json
- model:
  - facebook/opt-13b
  - facebook/opt-30b
  - facebook/opt-66b

The commands above expand to:

# queue.yaml
- python main.py --model-path facebook/opt-13b --output-path facebook--opt-13b.json
- python main.py --model-path facebook/opt-30b --output-path facebook--opt-30b.json
- python main.py --model-path facebook/opt-66b --output-path facebook--opt-66b.json

Here, facebook/opt-13b is the name of the model in one chunk (and you need it to have the / so that Hugging Face understands it), but if you just tell your script to output results in facebook/opt-13b.json, it'll create a directory called facebook and save opt-13b.json inside it. That's not good. Instead, we just used the replace helper from the String transformation section of handlebars_misc_helpers to pretty much run model.replace("/", "--").


Pegasus uses sh -c to run commands

The commands you put in queue.yaml are wrapped individually inside sh -c and executed via SSH. In your hosts, sh may be symlinked to bash, dash, or something else, and certain syntax may or may not be allowed (e.g., double brackets).


This is the queue file. Entries in queue.yaml are consumed from the top, one by one. Also, entries are consumed only when a new host is available to execute new commands. Consumed entries are immediately appended to consumed.yaml in "canonical form", where every entry has a command key. Thus, you might do something like tail -n 2 consumed.yaml > queue.yaml to re-execute your previous single-line command.

As mentioned earlier, always use the Lock Mode when you need to modify queue.yaml.

Broadcast Mode

In broadcast mode, hosts are kept in sync with each other. That is, the next command is fetched from queue.yaml and executed on all hosts when all the hosts are done executing the previous command.

Consider the following situation:

              fast-host   slow-host
- command1     success     success
- command2     success      fail!
- command3     success
- command4     running

In this case, we would want to prepend a undo command for command2 (e.g., rm -rf repo || true) and restart from that, but fast-host is already far ahead, making things complicated. Thus, especially when you're terraforming nodes with Pegasus, keeping hosts in sync should be beneficial.

There is also a -e or --error-aborts flag in Broadcast Mode, which aborts Pegasus automatically when a host fails on a command.

Cancelling and killing

It is very difficult to find a generic way to cancel commands that started running via SSH (See #11). Therefore, the caveat of Pegasus at the moment is that it works very well when things go well, but it's difficult to cancel and kill when things go not quite as planned. You need to walk into every node and manually kill commands. That said, you can still use Broadcast mode to automate that.


~353K SLoC