4.14. Advice for packagers

4.14.1. Do not use Open MPI’s internal dependent libraries

The Open MPI community strongly suggests that binary Open MPI packages should not include Hwloc, Libevent, PMIx, or PRRTE. Although several of these libraries are required by Open MPI (and are therefore bundled in the Open MPI source code distribution for end-user convenience), binary Open MPI packages should limit themselves solely to Open MPI artifacts. Specifically: ensure to configure and build Open MPI against external installations of these required packages.

Packagers may therefore wish to configure Open MPI with something like the following:

./configure --with-libevent=external --with-hwloc=external \
    --with-pmix=external --with-prrte=external ...

The external keywords will force Open MPI’s configure to ignore all the bundled libraries and only look for external versions of these support libraries. This also has the benefit of causing configure to fail if it cannot find the required support libraries outside of the Open MPI source tree — a good sanity check to ensure that your package is correctly relying on the independently-built and installed versions.

See this section for more information about the required support library --with-FOO command line options.

4.14.2. Components (“plugins”): DSO or no?

Open MPI contains a large number of components (sometimes called “plugins”) to effect different types of functionality in MPI. For example, some components effect Open MPI’s networking functionality: they may link against specialized libraries to provide highly-optimized network access.

Open MPI head of development has two configure-time defaults regarding the treatment of components that may be of interest to packagers:

  1. Open MPI’s libraries default to building as shared libraries (vs. static libraries). For example, on Linux, Open MPI will default to building libmpi.so (vs. libmpi.a).


    See the descriptions of --disable-shared and --enable-static in this section for more details about how to change this default.

    Also be sure to see this warning about building static apps.

  2. Open MPI will default to including its components in its libraries (as opposed to being compiled as dynamic shared objects, or DSOs). For example, libmpi.so on Linux systems will contain the UCX PML component, instead of the UCX PML being compiled into mca_pml_ucx.so and dynamically opened at run time via dlopen(3).


    See the descriptions of --enable-mca-dso and --enable-mca-static in this section for more details about how to change this defaults.

A side effect of these two defaults is that all the components included in the Open MPI libraries will bring their dependencies with them. For example (on Linux), if the XYZ PML component in the MPI layer requires libXYZ.so, then these defaults mean that libmpi.so will depend on libXYZ.so. This dependency will likely be telegraphed into the Open MPI binary package that includes libmpi.so.

Conversely, if the XYZ PML component was built as a DSO, then — assuming no other parts of Open MPI require libXYZ.solibmpi.so would not be dependent on libXYZ.so. Instead, the mca_pml_xyz.so DSO would have the dependency upon libXYZ.so.

Packagers can use these facts to potentially create multiple binary Open MPI packages, each with different dependencies by, for example, using --enable-mca-dso to selectively build some components as DSOs and leave the others included in their respective Open MPI libraries.

# Build all the "accelerator" components as DSOs (all other
# components will default to being built in their respective
# libraries)
shell$ ./configure --enable-mca-dso=accelerator ...

This allows packaging $libdir as part of the “main” Open MPI binary package, but then packaging $libdir/openmpi/mca_accelerator_*.so as sub-packages. These sub-packages may inherit dependencies on the CUDA and/or ROCM packages, for example. User can always install the “main” Open MPI binary package, and can install the additional “accelerator” Open MPI binary sub-package if they actually have accelerator hardware installed (which will cause the installation of additional dependencies).