To add an announcement message that appears at the top of the dashboard you can create a file at /etc/ood/config/announcement.(md|yml) or /etc/ood/config/announcements.d/any_file_name.(md|yml).

On each request the dashboard will check for the existence of this file. If it exists, the contents will be converted using markdown converter to HTML and displayed inside a bootstrap alert.

For example, if I create an file with the contents:

**NOTICE:** There will be a two day downtime on February 21-22, 2017. OSC
OnDemand will be unavailable during this period. For details, please visit

the user would see this message at the top of the dashboard:


Fig. 1 Example of the Dashboard announcement.

If the announcement file has the extension yml and is a yaml file it is first rendered using ERB and then the resulting file is parsed as YAML. The valid keys are:

Table 2 Config Files
type warning, info, success, or danger this is the Bootstrap alert style
msg string containing markdown formatted message if this is a blank string (only whitespace), the alert will not display

Because the announcement is rendered via ERB you can do some interesting things, like stop showing the announcement past a specified date:

type: warning
msg: |
  <% if <, 9, 24, 12, 0, 0) %>
  A **Ruby Partial Downtime** for 4 hours on Monday, September 24 from 8:00am to 12:00pm
  will prevent SSH login to Ruby nodes and and Ruby VDI sessions.
  <% end %>


Warnings about the announcement file being missing may be present in users’ nginx logs. Despite the warning the Dashboard will still function normally without those files being present.

Message of the Day (MOTD)

You can configure the Dashboard to display the /etc/motd file on the front page - the same file that is displayed when ssh-ing to a login node.

To display a MOTD file on the Dashboard ensure that the environment variables $MOTD_PATH and $MOTD_FORMAT are set, where

MOTD_PATH="/etc/motd" # this supports both file and RSS feed URIs
MOTD_FORMAT="txt" # markdown, txt, rss

Fig. 2 Message of the Day appears in the body of the index page.

We recommend setting this in /etc/ood/config/apps/dashboard/env.


You can customize the logo, favicon, title, and navbar colors of OnDemand.


We recommend setting these environment variables in /etc/ood/config/nginx_stage.yml as YAML mappings (key value pairs) in the mapping (hash/dictionary) pun_custom_env. Alternatively you can set these in the env files of the dashboard and the apps. Currently only the dashboard uses the colors in the navbar.

Table 3 Branding
Feature Environment Variable Details
Title OOD_DASHBOARD_TITLE The title appears in the navbar and is controlled by the environment variable $OOD_DASHBOARD_TITLE. The default value is “Open OnDemand”.
Logo OOD_DASHBOARD_LOGO The default value for OOD_DASHBOARD_LOGO is /public/logo.png and this should be the URL to the logo. By default if you place a logo.png at /var/www/ood/public/logo.png it will be accessible via the URL
Favicon OOD_PUBLIC_URL The favicon is expected to exist at the path $OOD_PUBLIC_URL/favicon.ico. For a default OOD installation the favicon will be located at /var/www/ood/public/favicon.ico.
Brand background color OOD_BRAND_BG_COLOR Controls the background color of the navbar in the dashboard
Brand foreground color OOD_BRAND_LINK_ACTIVE_BG_COLOR Controls the background color the active link in the navbar in the dashboard
Replace header title with logo OOD_DASHBOARD_HEADER_IMG_LOGO Value should be url to logo i.e. /public/logo.png. the background color the active link in the navbar in the dashboard
Use white text on black background for navbar. OOD_NAVBAR_TYPE By default we use inverse for this value, which specifies to use Bootstrap 3’s inverted navbar where text is white and background is black (or dark grey). You can set this to default to use black text on light grey background if it fits your branding better.

Fig. 3 Nav bar if I set OOD_BRAND_BG_COLOR to #0000ff and OOD_BRAND_LINK_ACTIVE_BG_COLOR to #ff0000 and OOD_DASHBOARD_TITLE to OSC OnDemand


If setting in nginx_stage.yml, careful to set the value using quotes i.e. OOD_BRAND_BG_COLOR: '#0000ff'. If you omit the quotes, YAML will see # as a comment and the value of the OOD_BRAND_BG_COLOR will be nil

Add URLs to Help menu

These URLs can be specified, which will appear in the Help menu and on other locations of the Dashboard. We recommend setting this in /etc/ood/config/apps/dashboard/env.

Table 4 Dashboard URLs
Name Environment variable Example value
Developer Documentation OOD_DASHBOARD_DEV_DOCS_URL (link appears in Develop dropdown if developer mode enabled for user)

Add shortcuts to Files menu

The Files menu by default has a single link to open the Files app in the user’s Home Directory. More links can be added to this menu, for Scratch space and Project space directories.

Adding more links currently requires adding a custom initializer to the Dashboard app. Ruby code is placed in the initializer to add one or more Ruby Pathname objects to the OodFilesApp.candidate_favorite_paths array, a global attribute that is used in the Dashboard app.

Start by creating the file /etc/ood/config/apps/dashboard/initializers/ood.rb as such:

# /etc/ood/config/apps/dashboard/initializers/ood.rb

OodFilesApp.candidate_favorite_paths.tap do |paths|
  # add project space directories
  projects =^P./)
  paths.concat { |p|"/fs/project/#{p}")  }

  # add scratch space directories
  paths <<"/fs/scratch/#{}")
  paths.concat { |p|"/fs/scratch/#{p}")  }
  • The variable paths is an array of Pathname objects that define a list of what will appear in the Dashboard menu for Files
  • At OSC, the pattern for project paths follows /fs/project/project_name. So above we:
    1. get an array of all user’s groups by name
    2. filter that array for groups that start with P (i.e., PZS0002, PAW0003, …)
    3. using map we turn this array into an array of Pathname objects to all the possible project directories the user could have.
    4. extend the paths array with this list of paths
  • For possible scratch space directories, we look for either /fs/scratch/project_name or /fs/scratch/user_name

On each request, the Dashboard will check for the existence of the directories in OodFilesApp.candidate_favorite_paths array and whichever directories exist and the user has access to will appear as links in the Files menu under the Home Directory link.


Fig. 4 Shortcuts to scratch and project space directories in Files menu in OSC OnDemand.

  • You must restart the Dashboard app to see a configuration change take effect. This can be forced from the Dashboard itself by selecting HelpRestart Web Server from the top right menu.

If you access the Dashboard, and it crashes, then you may have made a mistake in ood.rb file, whose code is run during the initialization of the Rails app.

Whitelist directories

By setting a colon delimited WHITELIST_PATH environment variable, the Job Composer, File Editor, and Files app respect the whitelist in the following manner:

  1. Users will be prevented from navigating to, uploading or downloading, viewing, editing files that is not an eventual child of the whitelisted paths
  2. Users will be prevented from copying a template directory from an arbitrary path in the Job Composer if the arbitary path that is not an eventual child of the whitelisted paths
  3. Users should not be able to get around this using symlinks

We recommend setting this environment variable in /etc/ood/config/nginx_stage.yml as a YAML mapping (key value pairs) in the mapping (hash/dictionary) pun_custom_env i.e. below would whitelist home directories, project space, and scratch space at OSC:

  WHITELIST_PATH: "/users:/fs/project:/fs/scratch"


This is not yet used in production at OSC, so we consider this feature “experimental” for now.


This whitelist is not enforced across every action a user can take in an app (including the developer views in the Dashboard). Also, it is enforced via the apps themselves, which is not as robust as using cgroups on the PUN.

Set default ssh host

In /etc/ood/config/apps/shell/env set the env var DEFAULT_SSHHOST to change the default ssh host. Otherwise it will default to “localhost” i.e. add the line DEFAULT_SSHHOST="localhost".

This will control what host the shell app ssh’s to when the URL accessed is /pun/sys/shell/ssh/default which is the URL other apps will use (unless there is context to specify the cluster to ssh to).

Custom Job Composer Templates

Below explains how job templates work for the Job Composer and how you can add your own. Here is an example of the templates we use at OSC for the various clusters we have

Job Templates Overview

“Job Composer” attempts to model a simple but common workflow. When creating a new batch job to run a simulation a user may:

  1. copy the directory of a job they already ran or an example job
  2. edit the files
  3. submit a new job

“Job Composer” implements these steps by providing the user job template directories and the ability to make copies of them: (1) Copy a directory, (2) Edit the files, and (3) Submit a new job.

  1. Copy a directory of a job already ran or an example job
    1. User can create a new job from a “default” template. A custom default template can be defined at /etc/ood/config/apps/myjobs/templates/default or under the app deployment directory at /var/www/ood/apps/sys/myjobs/templates/default. If no default template is specified, the default is /var/www/ood/apps/sys/myjobs/example_templates/torque
    2. user can select a directory to copy from a list of “System” templates the admin copied to /etc/ood/config/apps/myjobs/templates or under the app deployment directory at /var/www/ood/apps/sys/myjobs/templates during installation
    3. user can select a directory to copy from a list of “User” templates that the user has copied to $HOME/ondemand/data/sys/myjobs/templates
    4. user can select a job directory to copy that they already created through “Job Composer” from $HOME/ondemand/data/sys/myjobs/projects/default
  2. Edit the files
    1. user can open the copied job directory in the File Explorer and edit files using the File Editor
  3. Submit a new job
    1. user can use the Job Options form specify which host to submit to, what file is the job script
    2. user can use the web interface to submit the job to the batch system
    3. after the job is completed, the user can open the directory in the file explorer to view results

Job Template Details

A template consists of a folder and a manifest.yml file.

The folder contains files and scripts related to the job.

The manifest contains additional metadata about a job, such as a name, the default host, the submit script file name, and any notes about the template.

name: A Template Name
host: ruby
notes: Notes about the template, such as content and function.

In the event that a job is created from a template that is missing from the manifest.yml, “Job Composer” will assign the following default values:

  • name The name of the template folder.
  • host The cluster id of the first cluster with a valid resource_mgr listed in the OOD cluster config
  • script The first .sh file appearing in the template folder.
  • notes The path to the location where a template manifest should be located.

Custom Error Page for Missing Home Directory on Launch

Some sites have the home directory auto-create on first ssh login, for example via This introduces a problem if users first access the system through OnDemand, which expects the existence of a user’s home directory.

In OnDemand <= 1.3 if the user’s home directory was missing a non-helpful single string error would display. Now a friendly error page displays. This error page can be customized by adding a custom one to /etc/ood/config/pun/html/missing_home_directory.html.

See this Discourse discussion for details.

Control which apps appear in the Dashboard Navbar

Apps contain a manifest.yml file that specify things like the title, icon, category, and possibly subcategory. The Dashboard searchs the search paths for all the possible apps and uses the manifests of the apps it finds to build the navbar (navigation menu) at the top of the page. Apps are placed in the top level menus based on the category, and then in dropdown menu sections based on subcategory.

In OnDemand 1.3 and earlier, a Ruby array (NavConfig.categories) stored a whitelist of categories that could appear in the navbar. This whitelist acts both as a sort order for the top level menus of apps and a whitelist of which apps will appear in the menu. The only way to modify this whitelist is to do so in a Dashboard initializer. You would add a file /etc/ood/config/apps/dashboard/initializers/ood.rb and add this line:

NavConfig.categories << "Reports"

Then an app that specifies “Reports” as the category in the manifest would appear in the “Reports” menu.

In OnDemand 1.4 we changed the behavior by adding a new boolean variable NavConfig.categories_whitelist which defaults to false. If false, whitelist mode is disabled, and the NavConfig.categories only exists to act to enforce a sort order and all apps found with a valid category will be available to launch.

Below are different configuration options and the resulting navbar if you had installed:

  • OnDemand with a cluster configured that accepts job submissions and shell access
  • at least one interactive app
  • at least one custom app that specifies “Reports” as the category
Table 5 Navbar Configuration
Configuration Resulting Navbar Reason
Default configuration “Files”, “Jobs”, “Clusters”, “Interactive Apps”, “Reports” whitelist mode is false, so whitelist now only enforces sort order
NavConfig.categories_whitelist=true in /etc/ood/config/apps/dashboard/initializers/ood.rb “Files”, “Jobs”, “Clusters”, “Interactive Apps” whitelist mode is enabled and since “Reports” is not in the whitelist it is omitted
NavConfig.categories=[] in /etc/ood/config/apps/dashboard/initializers/ood.rb “Clusters”, “Files”, “Interactive Apps”, “Jobs”, “Reports” the app categories appear in alphabetical order since whitelist mode is disabled
NavConfig.categories=[] and NavConfig.categories_whitelist=true in /etc/ood/config/apps/dashboard/initializers/ood.rb no app menus appear! whitelist mode is enabled, so only apps in NavConfig.categories would appear, and since that is an empty list, no apps appear in the navbar

Disable Safari Warning on Dashboard

We currently display an alert message at the top of the Dashboard mentioning that we don’t currently support the Safari browser. This is because of an issue in Safari where it fails to connect to websockets if the Apache proxy uses Basic Auth for user authentication (on by default for new OOD installations).

If you ever change the authentication mechanism to a cookie-based mechanism (e.g., Shibboleth or OpenID Connect), then it is recommended you disable this alert message in the dashboard.

You can do this by modifying the /etc/ood/config/apps/dashboard/env file as such:


Disk Quota Warnings on Dashboard

You can display warnings to users on the Dashboard if their disk quota is nearing its limit. This requires an auto-updated (it is recommended to update this file every 5 minutes with a cronjob) JSON file that lists all user quotas. The JSON schema for version 1 is given as:

  "version": 1,
  "timestamp": 1525361263,
  "quotas": [

Where version defines the version of the JSON schema used, timestamp defines when this file was generated, and quotas is a list of quota objects (see below).

You can configure the Dashboard to use this JSON file (or files) by setting the environment variable OOD_QUOTA_PATH as a colon-delimited list of all JSON file paths in the /etc/ood/config/apps/dashboard/env file.

The default threshold for displaying the warning is at 95% (0.95), but this can be changed with the environment variable OOD_QUOTA_THRESHOLD.

An example is given as:

# /etc/ood/config/apps/dashboard/env


Individual User Quota

If the quota is defined as a user quota, then it applies to only disk resources used by the user alone. This is the default type of quota object and is given in the following format:


A block must be equal to 1 KB for proper conversions.

Individual Fileset Quota

If the quota is defined as a fileset quota, then it applies to all disk resources used underneath a given volume. This requires the object to be repeated for each user that uses disk resources under this given volume. The format is given as:

  "type": "fileset",
  "user": "user1",
  "path": "/path/to/volume2",
  "block_usage": 500,
  "total_block_usage": 1000,
  "block_limit": 2000,
  "file_usage": 1,
  "total_file_usage": 5,
  "file_limit": 10

Where block_usage and file_usage are the disk resource usages attributed to the specified user only.


For each user with resources under this fileset, the above object will be repeated with just user, block_usage, and file_usage changing.