Account Consolidation Guide

Account consolidation will take place during the July 17th downtime. Jobs submitted by non-preferred accounts that do not run prior to the downtime will be deleted, as the jobs will fail after the downtime. Please be aware of this, and be prepared to resubmit your held jobs from your consolidated account with the correct charge code.
Please contact OSC Help if you need further information. 

Single Account / Multiple Projects

If you work with several research groups, you have a separate account for each group. This means multiple home directories, multiple passwords, etc. Over the years there have been requests for a single login system. We're now putting that in place.

How will this affect you?

If you have only one account, you'll see no changes. But if you work with multiple groups in the future, you'll need to be aware of how this works.

  • All users with multiple accounts have been granted a preferred username that they will use to log into our systems. These were communicated to impacted clients on July 11.
  • It will be very important to use the correct project code for batch job charging.
  • Managing the sharing of files between your projects (groups) will be a little more complicated.
  • In most cases, you will only need to fill out software license agreements once.

The single username 

We requested those with multiple accounts to choose a preferred username. If one was not selected by the user, we selected one for them. 

The preferred username will be your only active account; you will not be able to log in or submit jobs with the other accounts. 

Checking the groups of a username

To check all groups of a username (USERID), use the command:


The first one from the output is your primary group, which is the project code (PROJECTID) this username (USERID) was created under.

To check all project codes your user account is under, use the command

id -Gn USERID | awk -F '[ ]' '{for (i=1;i<=NF;i++){if ($i ~/^P/) {print $i}}}'

Changing the primary group for a login session

You can change the primary group of your username (USERID) to any UNIX group (GROUP) that username (USERID) belongs to during the login session using the command:

newgrp GROUP

This change is only valid during this login session. If you log out and log back in, your primary group is changed back to the default one.

Check previous user accounts

There is no available tool to check all of your previous active accounts. We sent an email to each impacted user providing the information on your preferred username and previous accounts. Please refer to that email (sent on July 11, subject "Multiple OSC Accounts - Your Single Username").

Batch job

How to specify the charging project

If you work with an annual allocation project, you're already familiar with the '#PBS -A' option for charging against a specific project.  

It will be very important that you make sure a batch job is charged against the correct research project code, including annual allocations. While the system can ensure you don't inadvertently charge an unrelated project, we can't make sure that you're charging the correct project.

At times, PIs would ask us to check that group members were correctly charging an annual allocation. We could do that by comparing the primary group with the charged code. With single username multiple groups (project codes), we will not be able to do this kind of check.

Batch limits policy

The job limit per user remains the same. That is to say, though your jobs are charged against different project codes, the total number of jobs and cores your user account can use on each system is still restricted by the previous user-based limit. Therefore, consolidating multiple user accounts into one preferred user account may affect the work of some users.

Please check our batch limit policy on each system for more details.

Data Management

Managing multiple home directories

Data from your non-preferred accounts will remain in those home directories; the ownership of the files will be updated to your preferred username, the newly consolidated account. You can access your other home directories using the command cd /absolute/path/to/file

You will need to consolidate all files to your preferred username as soon as possible because we plan to purge the data in future. Please contact OSC Help if you need the information on your other home directories to access the files.  

Previous files associated with your other usernames

  • Files associated with your non-preferred accounts will have their ownership changed to your preferred username. 
  • These files won't count against your home directory file quota. 
  • There will be no change to files and quotas on the project and scratch file systems.

Change group of a file

Log in with preferred username (P_ USERID) and create a new file of which the owner and group is your preferred username (P_ USERID) and primary project code (P_PROJECTID). Then change the group of the newly created file (FILE) using the command:


Managing file sharing in a batch job

In the Linux file system, every file has an owner and a group. By default, the group (project code) assigned to a file is the primary group of the user who creates it. This means that even if you change the charged account for a batch job, any files created will still be associated with your primary group.

To change the group for new files you will need to include:

-W group_list=[group-id]

at the beginning of your batch job. If you are a member of research groups PQR1234 (primary) and PQR5678 then batch jobs run for PQR5678 will typically have:

#PBS -A PQR5678
#PBS -W group_list=PQR5678

It is important to remember that groups are used in two different ways: for resource use charging and file permissions. In the simplest case, if you are a member of only one research group/project, you won't need either option above. If you are in multiple research groups and/or have annual allocations, you may need something like:

#PBS -A PAA1111
#PBS -W group_list=PQR5678

OnDemand users

If you use the OnDemand Files app to upload files to the OSC filesystem, the group ownership of uploaded files will be your primary group.

Software licenses

  • We will merge all your current agreements if you have multiple accounts.  
  • In many cases, you will only need to fill out software license agreements once.
  • Some vendors may require you to sign an updated agreement.  
  • Some vendors may also require the PI of each of your research groups/project codes to sign an agreement.