Updated 2021-05-17

Run POV-Ray on the Cluster


  • This guide will cover how to load and run povray/3.7
  • Povray has one dependent program, boost that must be loaded
  • POV-Ray on the cluster is used as a batch program, meaning you have a .pov or .ini input file that you execute through a PBS script. POV-Ray will compute the raytracing and return a .png image.


  • To load povray:
    • module load boost/1.51.0
    • module load povray/3.7
  • To run povray:
    • povray <.ini or .pov filename>

Walkthrough: Run POV-Ray on the Cluster

  • This walkthrough will produce a simple image of a cube embedded with a circle.
  • The example code is from the POV-Ray wiki
  • Input file: example.pov
  • PBS Script: povRay.pbs
  • To follow along, manually copy these files into the same directory in your account on the cluster, or transfer them to your account.

Part 1: The PBS Script

#PBS -N povrayTest
#PBS -A [Account]
#PBS -l nodes=1:ppn=2
#PBS -l pmem=2gb
#PBS -l walltime=1:00
#PBS -q inferno
#PBS -j oe
#PBS -o pov.out

module load boost/1.51.0
module load povray/3.7
povray example.pov
  • The #PBS directives are standard, requesting just 1 minute of walltime and 1 node with 2 cores. More on #PBS directives can be found in the PBS guide
  • $PBS_O_WORKDIR is simply a variable that represents the directory you submit the PBS script from.


Make sure the .pov file you want to run is in the same directory you put the PBS script.

  • Output Files, such as the resulting image, will also show up in the same directory as the PBS script
  • module load lines load the dependent programs as well as POV-Ray
  • povray example.pov executes POV-Ray

Part 2: Submit Job and Check Status

  • Make sure you're in the directory that contains the PBS script and the .pov file
  • Submit as normal, with qsub <pbs script name>. In this case qsub povRay.pbs
  • Check job status with qstat -u username3 -n, replacing "username3" with your gtusername
  • You can delete the job with qdel 22182721, replacing the number with the jobid returned after running qsub

Part 3: Collecting Results

  • In the directory where you submitted the PBS script, you should see a couple of newly generated files, including example.png and pov.out
  • Open example.png using any image viewer. On the cluster, type nautilus or gthumb. Either one works, and will open a gui with your files. Navigate to the folder where you submitted the PBS script, and click on the image example.png to open.
  • example.png should look like this:


  • After the result files are produced, you can move the image file as well as any other files off the cluster. Refer to the file transfer guide for help.
  • Congratulations! You successfully ran a POV-Ray program on the cluster.