Administration & Capacity Planning

Advanced installation configuration

RTG software can be shared by a group of users by installing on a centrally available file directory or shared drive. Assignment of execution privileges can be determined by the administrator, independent of the software license file. For commercial users, the software license prepared by Real Time Genomics (rtg-license.txt) need only be included in the same directory as the executable (RTG.jar) and the run-time scripts (rtg or rtg.bat).

During installation on Unix systems, a configuration file named rtg.cfg is created in the installation directory. By editing this configuration file, one may alter further configuration variables appropriate to the specific deployment requirements of the organization. On Windows systems, these variables are set in the rtg.bat file in the installation directory. These configuration variables include:

Variable Description
RTG_MEM Specify the maximum memory for Java run-time execution. Use a G suffix for gigabytes, e.g.: RTG_MEM=48G. The default memory allocation is 90% of system memory.
RTG_JAVA Specify the path to Java (default assumes current path).
RTG_JAR Indicate the path to the RTG.jar executable (default assumes current path).
RTG_JAVA_OPTS Provide any additional Java JVM options.
RTG_DEFAULT_THREADS By default any RTG module with a --threads parameter will automatically use the number of cores as the number of threads. This setting makes the specified number the default for the --threads parameter instead.
RTG_PROXY Specify the http proxy server for TalkBack exception management (default is no http proxy).
RTG_TALKBACK Send log files for crash-severity exception conditions (default is true, set to false to disable).
RTG_USAGE If set to true, enable simple usage logging.
RTG_USAGE_DIR Destination directory when performing single-user file-based usage logging.
RTG_USAGE_HOST Server URL when performing server-based logging.
RTG_USAGE_OPTIONAL May contain a comma-separated list of the names of optional fields to include in usage logging (when enabled). Any of username, hostname and commandline may be set here.
RTG_REFERENCES_DIR Specifies an alternate directory containing metagenomic pipeline reference datasets.
RTG_MODELS_DIR Specifies an alternate directory containing AVR models.

Run-time performance optimization

CPU — Multi-core operation finishes jobs faster by processing multiple application threads in parallel. By default RTG uses all available cores of a multi-processor server node. With a command line parameter setting, RTG operation can be limited to a specified number of cores if desired.

Memory — Adding more memory can improve performance where very high read coverage is desired. RTG creates and uses indexes to speed up genomic data processing. The more RAM you have, the more reads you can process in memory in a run. We use 48 GB as a rule of thumb for processing human data. However, a smaller number of reads can be processed in as little as 2 GB.

Disk Capacity — Disk requirements are highly dependent on the size of the underlying data sets, the amount of information needed to hold quality scores, and the number of runs needed to investigate the impact of varying levels of sensitivity. Though all data is handled and stored in compressed form by default, a realistic minimum disk size for handling human data is 1 TB. As a rule of thumb, for every 2 GB of input read data expect to add 1 GB of index data and 1 GB of output files per run. Additionally, leave another 2 GB free for temporary storage during processing.

Alternate configurations

Demonstration system — For training, testing, demonstrating, processing and otherwise working with smaller genomes, RTG works just fine on a newer laptop system with an Intel processor. For example, product testing in support of this documentation was executed on a MacBook PC (Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2.1 GHz clock speed, 1 processor, 2 cores, 3 MB L2 Cache, 4 GB RAM, 290 GB 5400 RPM Serial-ATA disk)

Clustered system — The comparison of genomic variation on a large scale demands extensive processing capability. Assuming standard CPU hardware as described above, scale up to meet your institutional or major product needs by adding more rack-mounted boards and blades into rack servers in your data center. To estimate the number of cores required, first estimate the number of jobs to be run, noting size and sensitivity requirements. Then apply the appropriate benchmark figures for different size jobs run with varying sensitivity, dividing the number of reads to be processed by the reads/second/core.

Exception management - TalkBack and log file

Many RTG commands generate a log file with each run that is saved to the results output directory. The contents of the file contain lists of job parameters, system configuration, and run-time information.

In the case of internal exceptions, additional information is recorded in the log file specific to the problem encountered. Fatal exceptions are trapped and notification is sent to Real Time Genomics with a copy of the log file. This mechanism is called TalkBack and uses an embedded URL to which RTG sends the report.

The following sample log displays the software version information, parameter list, and run-time progress.

2009-09-05 21:38:10 RTG version = v2.0b build 20013 (2009-10-03)
2009-09-05 21:38:10 = Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment
2009-09-05 21:38:10 java.runtime.version = 1.6.0_07-b06-153
2009-09-05 21:38:10 os.arch = x86_64
2009-09-05 21:38:10 os.freememory = 1792544768
2009-09-05 21:38:10 = Mac OS X
2009-09-05 21:38:10 os.totalmemory = 4294967296
2009-09-05 21:38:10 os.version = 10.5.8
2009-09-05 21:38:10 Command line arguments: [-a, 1, -b, 0, -w, 16, -f, topn, -n, 5, -P, -o, pflow, -i, pfreads, -t, pftemplate]
2009-09-05 21:38:10 NgsParams threshold=20 threads=2
2009-09-05 21:39:59  Index[0] memory performance

TalkBack may be disabled by adding RTG_TALK_BACK=false to the rtg.cfg configuration file (Unix) or the rtg.bat file (Window) as described in Advanced installation configuration.

Usage logging

RTG has the ability to record simple command usage information for submission to Real Time Genomics. The first time RTG is run (typically during installation), the user will be asked whether to enable usage logging. This information may be required for customers with a pay-per-use license. Other customers may choose to send this information to give Real Time Genomics feedback on which commands and features are commonly used or to locally log RTG command use for their own analysis.

A usage record contains the following fields:

  • Time and date
  • License serial number
  • Unique ID for the run
  • Version of RTG software
  • RTG command name, without parameters (e.g. map)
  • Status (Started / Failed / Succeeded)
  • A command-specific field (e.g. number of reads)

For example:

2013-02-11 11:38:38007   4f6c2eca-0bfc-4267-be70-b7baa85ebf66    RTG Core v2.7 build d74f45d (2013-02-04)   format  Start   N/A

No confidential information is included in these records. It is possible to add extra fields, such as the user name running the command, host name of the machine running the command, and full command-line parameters, however as these fields may contain confidential information, they must be explicitly enabled as described in Advanced installation configuration.

When RTG is first installed, you will be asked whether to enable user logging. Usage logging can also be manually enabled by editing the rtg.cfg file (or rtg.bat file on Windows) and setting RTG_USAGE=true. If the RTG_USAGE_DIR and RTG_USAGE_HOST settings are empty, the default behavior is to directly submit usage records to an RTG hosted server via HTTPS. This feature requires the machine running RTG to have access to the Internet.

For cases where the machines running RTG do not have access to the Internet, there are two alternatives for collecting usage information.

Single-user, single machine

Usage information can be recorded directly to a text file. To enable this option, edit the rtg.cfg file (or rtg.bat file on Windows), and set the RTG_USAGE_DIR to the name of a directory where the user has write permissions. For example:


Within this directory, the RTG usage information will be written to a text file named after the date of the current month, in the form YYYY-MM.txt. A new file will be created each month. This text file can be manually sent to Real Time Genomics when requested.

Multi-user or multiple machines

In this case, a local server can be started to collect usage information from compute nodes and recorded to local files for later manual submission. To configure this method of collecting usage information, edit the rtg.cfg file (or rtg.bat file on Windows), and set the RTG_USAGE_DIR to the name of a directory where the local server will store usage logs, and RTG_USAGE_HOST to a URL consisting of the name of the local machine that will run the server and the network port on which the server will listen. For example if the server will be run on a machine named, listening on port 9090, writing usage information into the directory /opt/rtg-usage/, set:


On the machine gridhost, run the command:

$ rtg usageserver

Which will start the local usage server listening. Now when RTG commands are run on other nodes or as other users, they will submit usage records to this sever for collation.

Within the usage directory, the RTG usage information will be written to a text file named after the date of the current month, in the form YYYY-MM.txt. A new file will be created each month. This text file can be manually sent to Real Time Genomics when requested.

Advanced usage configuration

If you wish to augment usage information with any of the optional fields, edit the rtg.cfg file (or rtg.bat file on Windows) and set the RTG_USAGE_OPTIONAL to a comma separated list containing any of the following:

  • username - adds the username of the user running the RTG command.
  • hostname - adds the machine name running the RTG command.
  • commandline - adds the command line, including parameters, of the RTG command (this field will be truncated if the length exceeds 1000 characters).

For example:


Command-line color highlighting

Some RTG commands make use of ANSI colors to visually enhance terminal output, and the decision as to whether to colorize the output is automatically determined, although some commands also contain additional flags to control colorization.

The default behavior of output colorization can be configured by defining a Java system property named rtg.default-markup with an appropriate value and supplying it via RTG_JAVA_OPTS. For example, to disable output colorization, use:


The possible values for rtg.default-markup are:

  • auto - automatically enable ANSI markup when running on non-Windows OS and when I/O is detected to be a console.
  • none - disable ANSI markup.
  • ansi - enable ANSI markup. This may be useful if you are using Windows OS and have installed an ANSI-capable terminal such as ANSICON, ConEmu or Console 2.