Jeff and I were talking about trac 2035 and the handling of mpirun
command-line options. While most mpirun options have long,
multi-character names prefixed with a double dash, OMPI had originally
also wanted to support combinations of short names (e.g., "mpirun -hvq",
even if we don't document such combinations) as well as legacy
single-dash names (e.g., "-host"). To improve diagnosibility of error
messages and simplify the source code and user documentations, some
simplifications seemed in order. Since the command-line parsing is
shared not only by mpirun but by all OMPI command-line interfaces,
however, Jeff suggested an RFC. So, here goes.
RFC: Drop mpirun Short-Name Combinations
RFC: Drop mpirun Short-Name Combinations
WHAT: No longer support the combination of multiple mpirun
short-name (single-character) options into a single argument. E.g., do not
allow users to combine mpirun -h -q -v into mpirun -hqv.
Also, no longer describe separate single-dash and double-dash names such
as -server-wait-time and --server-wait-time. Simply
give one name per option and indicate that it could be prefixed with either
a single or a double dash.
WHY: To improve the diagnosibility of error messages and simplify
the description and support of mpirun options.
WHERE: Basically, in opal/util/cmd_line.c.
WHEN: Upon acceptance.
TIMEOUT: May 7, 2010.
There are three kinds of mpirun option names:
|kind of name||prefix||length||example|
|short name|| -||single-character|| -v|
|single-dash name|| -||multi-character|| -np|
We had wanted to support long and short names.
Short names were supposed to be combinable.
E.g., instead of ls -l -t -r, just write ls -ltr.
To support backwards compatibility with options that had become well-known
from other MPI implementations, we also wanted to support certain
short names, such as -np or -host. That is, even though the option starts
with a single-dash, we would first check to see if it were a special recognized
"single-dash" option name. Only if that check failed would we expand the
argument further to parse it as a combination of short names.
Obfuscates Error Messages
Unfortunately, the resulting, more complicated grammar leads to misleading
error messages. E.g., consider this example from
% mpirun -tag-output -np 4 -nperslot 1 -H saem9,saem10 hostname
mpirun was unable to launch the specified application as it could not find an executable:
while attempting to start process rank 0.
The point of the ticket was mostly that a misspelled option is handled as
an unfound executable, but it also points out that we end up reporting on
an option (-p) that from the user's perspective isn't even on the
command line in the first place. What has happened is that an option
(-nperslot) was not recognized, the first character (n)
was recognized, the option was parsed as a combination of short names,
and one of those short names (-p) was not recognized.
There are different ways of cleaning all of this up, but a simple solution
is just not to support short-name combinations.
The ability to combine short names into a single "-" option is fringe
functionality for mpirun anyhow.
We don't document this ability in the first place.
Further, we don't have that many short names -- 10, out of a total of 82 options --
and many combinations don't make much sense. The ability to combine options makes
most sense for utilities that use short option names, and then if those options don't
take arguments. E.g., ls -ltr in place of ls -l -t -r. The
mpirun options just aren't like that.
Simplify Single-/Double-Dash Usage
We were going to support single-dash (multi-character) names only sparingly and
only for backwards compatibility with well-established options from other MPIs.
In reality, we routinely add a single-dash name for each new option we introduce.
We end up having both single-dash and double-dash names, making both source code
and user documentation less readable.
However, ultimately the source code doesn't even check these distinctions
when parsing the mpirun command line.
For example, we go to the effort in our source code and user documentation to
distinguish between -server-wait-time and --server-wait-time,
and between -rf and --rankfile. When options are parsed, however,
we disregard any such distinctions. E.g., --rf and -rankfile
The command-line parser is not only for mpirun, however, but for
all OMPI command-line interfaces. Hence, this RFC.