The Lrose-Blaze Virtual Toolbox

What is it?

LROSE Blaze allows you to run LROSE applications without having to compile and install lrose binaries and libraries.

The ‘Virtual Toolbox’ is a Ubuntu 14.04 image running inside a Docker container, with LROSE Blaze installed in /usr/local/lrose.

It has one user named lrose so if you don’t want to run commands as root, you can specify -u lrose when you docker run or docker exec

Installing and running

Getting the lrose-blaze image

  • From (the default repository for the docker command)

    docker pull nsflrose/lrose-blaze

    This should pull the latest tag.

  • If you want to test a different image. For example ifyou have access to a tar file of the image

    docker import lroze-blaze.tgz

Verify it is there with docker images

$ docker images
REPOSITORY                   TAG                 IMAGE ID
nsflrose/lrose-blaze         04132018            0a2ce9c9ae0f
ubuntu_apache2               latest              4b5eefbe9c6c
ncareol/soloii               latest              baa1ee4c3541

Chances are that instead of a name and tag, you will see none. Since the lrose wrapper assumes an image name of lrose-blaze you want to tag the image. Use the docker tag command to do that. (Replace 0a2ce9c9ae0f with the image ID docker images shows you)

docker tag lrose-blaze:04112018 0a2ce9c9ae0f

Using the lrose wrapper

The lrose wrapper is a bash script that tries to make running and managing docker containers a bit easier. Instead of having to provide a lot of docker arguments (image name, container name, display variable, volume mounts…) an lrose command invocation is reduced to something like this:

lrose <few_options> -- <command> <options>

You can run lrose -h to see what options the wrapper supports.

For example, to run HawkEye in archive mode.

lrose -- HawkEye -archive_url /tmp/KHGX -start_time "2017 08 00 00 00" -time_span 7200

The lrose wrapper reads in ~/.lroseargs which allows you to specify additional options to the docker run command. It supports volume, environment, and raw arguments. Add any combination, one option per line.

  • Comments start with #
  • /from:to is passed as -v /from:/to
  • var=value is passed as -e var=value
  • –anything is pased unchanged –anything

For the example above, you’d add an entry to map your data directory to /tmp/KHGX in the container.

You can also add entries for other folders you might need in the container. For example:

# Location of HawkEye input radar files
# Output directory for lrose commands. Make sure I have write access

The lrose wrapper will convert all of these to --volume options when running a container.

By default, your $HOME is mapped to $HOME (either /home/user on Linux, or /Users/user on a mac)

A few gotchas with volume mounting

  • Docker will try to mount volumes exactly as requested. The following will fail because you are trying to replace /tmp, not mount /somedir under /tmp: -v /somedir:/tmp. If you want to mount a directory somewhere, you have to specify an absolute path. For example /somedir:/tmp/somedir.
  • /tmp, /, and probably other crucial directories can’t be overwritten. So this won’t work: -v /:/ (trying to replace / inside the container)

A few gotchas with the lrose wrapper

  • The lrose wrapper is meant do run commands in batch bode. It doesn’t handle the I/O required for interactive mode. So if you were to do something like this: ./lrose -- /bin/bash, the container would be started and run /bin/bash, but you would never get a shell prompt, and any command you enter would not be passed on. You would have to stop and remove the container before being able to run the lrose wrapper again.

Dealing with graphic accelerators

This is only needed for X11 graphic programs such as HawkEye, if you care about hardware acceleration. If the performance is good enough you can skip this section.

You might get this error message when running HawkEye: libGL error: failed to open drm device: No such file or directory

Follow this guide if you want to use graphic acceleration

If your machine is using Intel graphics, adding the following to your ~/.lroseargs would do the trick.


Starting an lrose-blaze container

If you decide to manage your containers yourself instead of using the lrose wrapper, you have a few scenarios to choose from:

  1. One time command run

    docker run --rm -it ... lrose-blaze \
               /usr/local/lrose/bin/RadxCheck ...
  2. Keep the container running and execute multiple commands

First, start the contanier in detached mode (the -d option). Give the container a name (the -n option) so that it is easier to reference than the container id you get from docker ps

docker run -d ... lrose-blaze -n my_container

Then you can exec commands in this container.

docker exec -it my_container ... \
            /usr/local/lrose/bin/RadxCheck ...
  1. Get a interactive shell in the container and run multiple commands from inside the container

    docker run -it ... /bin/bash

Mapping volumes (directories, folders)

You want to give commands in the container access to your data files. You do that by mapping volumes when starting your container with the run command.

The general format for the volume option is

-v machine_folder:container_folder

You can have multiple -v options if you want access to multiple folders.

So for example if your data resides in :math:`HOME/mydata, and you want to run run lrose commands that will write the output files to `HOME/myoutput, you could use the following options

-v $HOME/mydata:/data -v $HOME/myoutput:output

Note that you need to use absolute paths. So in this example, there will be /mydata and /myoutput directories accessible from inside your container.

If the options you give the command running inside the container direct it to find data from /data and to write output to /output, you should see the output in $HOME/mydata from outside the container once the command is done.

Also note that volume mapping must be done at the time you run a container. You can’t add volume mapping when you exec a command on a running container. (TODO check if this is true)

Running X11 programs (such as HawkEye)

Mac OS and Linux require sligtly different invocations to be able to display on your host machine.

Mac OS

Find the ip address of your machine, for example if your machine is called my_machine use this command: host my_machine

Let’s say your address is you can then invoke the docker run command with the following option: -e DISPLAY=

To run HawkEye, you can start the container this way: (you will of course have to add a couple of -v mappings for the input and output folders)

docker run --name lrose_container --user lrose \
           -e DISPLAY=  -v /tmp/.X11-unix:/tmp/.X11-unix:rw -it \
           -w /home/lrose lrose-blaze /usr/local/lrose/bin/HawkEye

You just have to use the `–env=“DISPLAY” option to the docker run command. You might have to set QT_X11_MITSHM to 1. MIT-SHM is an extension that allows faster transaction by using shared memory. This is blocked by docker isolation, so if the flag is not set you will get permission errors.

To run HawkEye, you can start the container this way: (you will of course have to add a couple of -v mappings for the input and output folders)

docker run --name lrose_container --user lrose \
           --env="DISPLAY" --env QT_X11_NO_MITSHM=1 \
           -v /tmp/.X11-unix:/tmp/.X11-unix:rw \
           -w /home/lrose lrose-blaze /usr/local/lrose/bin/HawkEye

Some useful commands to manage containers and images

List images available on your machine

docker images

This will list all images available to run, including their name and unique id.

Stopping an lrose-blaze container

  • If you were in an interactive shell, just exit That should get you out and stop the container
  • If you want to stop a running container from outside of it

docker stop ...

Where … is either the container name, or its unique id.

List running containers

docker ps

This will list all running containers. You can use this command to get a container unique id.

List non-running containers

docker ps -a

This will show when a container exited.

Unless you provided the -rm option to the *run* command, a container that exited is still available on your machine. You could restart it with the docker restart command.

If you make any change inside the container, for example install more packages, add users, …, these changes will persist if you restart the container. But once you remove it, all is lost.

Permanently saving changes made to a container

You can preserve changes you have made by comitting a container to a new image. This can be very useful to customize your environment.

Note It is much safer to commit a non-running container. So stop the container first docker stop ... first, before using docker commit ...

This is outside the scope of this document, but you could for example install additional packages (ubuntu is debian based, so use the apt-get install command to do so). You could add users, and customize their startup files (.bashrc, .chsrc, …) to add aliases for commands…

Once the container is comitted, you can then start a new containers from that new image.

Removing old containers

docker rm ...

Where … is either a container name, or its unique id.

Removing an image

docker rmi ...

Here again, … is either the image name, or its unique id.