Using Ray on a Large Cluster

Deploying Ray on a cluster requires a bit of manual work. The instructions here illustrate how to use parallel ssh commands to simplify the process of running commands and scripts on many machines simultaneously.

Booting up a cluster on EC2

  • Create an EC2 instance running Ray following instructions for installation on Ubuntu.

    • Add any packages that you may need for running your application.
    • Install the pssh package: sudo apt-get install pssh.
  • Create an AMI with Ray installed and with whatever code and libraries you want on the cluster.

  • Use the EC2 console to launch additional instances using the AMI you created.

  • Configure the instance security groups so that they machines can all communicate with one another.

Deploying Ray on a Cluster

This section assumes that you have a cluster of machines running and that these nodes have network connectivity to one another. It also assumes that Ray is installed on each machine.

Additional assumptions:

  • All of the following commands are run from a machine designated as the head node.
  • The head node will run Redis and the global scheduler.
  • The head node has ssh access to all other nodes.
  • All nodes are accessible via ssh keys
  • Ray is checked out on each node at the location $HOME/ray.

Note: The commands below will probably need to be customized for your specific setup.

Connect to the head node

In order to initiate ssh commands from the cluster head node we suggest enabling ssh agent forwarding. This will allow the session that you initiate with the head node to connect to other nodes in the cluster to run scripts on them. You can enable ssh forwarding by running the following command before connecting to the head node (replacing <ssh-key> with the path to the private key that you would use when logging in to the nodes in the cluster).

ssh-add <ssh-key>

Now log in to the head node with the following command, where <head-node-public-ip> is the public IP address of the head node (just choose one of the nodes to be the head node).

ssh -A ubuntu@<head-node-public-ip>

Build a list of node IP addresses

On the head node, populate a file workers.txt with one IP address on each line. Do not include the head node IP address in this file. These IP addresses should typically be private network IP addresses, but any IP addresses which the head node can use to ssh to worker nodes will work here. This should look something like the following.

Confirm that you can ssh to all nodes

for host in $(cat workers.txt); do
  ssh $host uptime

You may need to verify the host keys during this process. If so, run this step again to verify that it worked. If you see a permission denied error, you most likely forgot to run ssh-add <ssh-key> before connecting to the head node.

Starting Ray

Start Ray on the head node

On the head node, run the following:

./ray/scripts/ --head --redis-port=6379

Start Ray on the worker nodes

Create a file that contains something like the following:

# Make sure the SSH session has the correct version of Python on its path.
# You will probably have to change the line below.
export PATH=/home/ubuntu/anaconda3/bin/:$PATH
ray/scripts/ --redis-address=<head-node-ip>:6379

This script, when run on the worker nodes, will start up Ray. You will need to replace <head-node-ip> with the IP address that worker nodes will use to connect to the head node (most likely a private IP address). In this example we also export the path to the Python installation since our remote commands will not be executing in a login shell.

Warning: You will probably need to manually export the correct path to Python (you will need to change the first line of to find the version of Python that Ray was built against). This is necessary because the PATH environment variable used by parallel-ssh can differ from the PATH environment variable that gets set when you ssh to the machine.

Warning: If the parallel-ssh command below appears to hang or otherwise fails, head-node-ip may need to be a private IP address instead of a public IP address (e.g., if you are using EC2). It’s also possible that you forgot to run ssh-add <ssh-key> or that you forgot the -A flag when connecting to the head node.

Now use parallel-ssh to start up Ray on each worker node.

parallel-ssh -h workers.txt -P -I <

Note that on some distributions the parallel-ssh command may be called pssh.


Now you have started all of the Ray processes on each node. These include:

  • Some worker processes on each machine.
  • An object store on each machine.
  • A local scheduler on each machine.
  • Multiple Redis servers (on the head node).
  • One global scheduler (on the head node).

To confirm that the Ray cluster setup is working, start up Python on one of the nodes in the cluster and enter the following commands to connect to the Ray cluster.

import ray

Here <redis-address> should have the form <head-node-ip>:6379.

Now you can define remote functions and execute tasks. For example, to verify that the correct number of nodes have joined the cluster, you can run the following.

import time

def f():

# Get a list of the IP addresses of the nodes that have joined the cluster.
set(ray.get([f.remote() for _ in range(1000)]))

Stopping Ray

Stop Ray on worker nodes

parallel-ssh -h workers.txt -P ray/scripts/

This command will execute the script on each of the worker nodes.

Stop Ray on the head node


Upgrading Ray

Ray remains under active development so you may at times want to upgrade the cluster to take advantage of improvements and fixes.

Create an upgrade script

On the head node, create a file called that contains the commands necessary to upgrade Ray. It should look something like the following:

# Make sure the SSH session has the correct version of Python on its path.
# You will probably have to change the line below.
export PATH=/home/ubuntu/anaconda3/bin/:$PATH
# Do pushd/popd to make sure we end up in the same directory.
pushd .
# Upgrade Ray.
cd ray
git remote set-url origin
git checkout master
git pull
cd python
python install --user

This script executes a series of git commands to update the Ray source code, then builds and installs Ray.

Stop Ray on the cluster

Follow the instructions for Stopping Ray.

Run the upgrade script on the cluster

First run the upgrade script on the head node. This will upgrade the head node and help confirm that the upgrade script is working properly.


Next run the upgrade script on the worker nodes.

parallel-ssh -h workers.txt -P -t 0 -I <

Note here that we use the -t 0 option to set the timeout to infinite. You may also want to use the -p flag, which controls the degree of parallelism used by parallel ssh.

It is probably a good idea to ssh to one of the other nodes and verify that the upgrade script ran as expected.

Sync Application Files to other nodes

If you are running an application that reads input files or uses python libraries then you may find it useful to copy a directory on the head node to the worker nodes.

You can do this using the parallel-rsync command:

parallel-rsync -h workers.txt -r <workload-dir> /home/ubuntu/<workload-dir>

where <workload-dir> is the directory you want to synchronize. Note that the destination argument for this command must represent an absolute path on the worker node.


Problems with parallel-ssh

If any of the above commands fail, verify that the head node has SSH access to the other nodes by running

for host in $(cat workers.txt); do
  ssh $host uptime

If you get a permission denied error, then make sure you have SSH’ed to the head node with agent forwarding enabled. This is done as follows.

ssh-add <ssh-key>
ssh -A ubuntu@<head-node-public-ip>