Interactive Data Language (IDL) is a programming language used for data analysis and is popular in several scientific fields. This page explains how to use the IDL module on Oscar run IDL programs.

Setting Up IDL

First load the IDL module that you want to use with module load idl/version_number:

You can use the command module load idl to simply load the default version. This is demonstrated in the following command followed by system dialogue.

$ module load idl
module: loading 'idl/8.5.1'
module: idl: License owned by Jonathan Pober. Set up the environment for IDL by running: "shopt -s expand_aliases; source $IDL/envi53/bin/envi_setup.bash".

As indicated by the system dialogue, you will need to enter the following command to set up the environment for IDL:

$ shopt -s expand_aliases; source $IDL/envi53/bin/envi_setup.bash

IDL Command Line

Once you've set up IDL in the way outlined above, you can open the IDL command line by simply using the command idl:

$ idl
IDL Version 8.5.1 (linux x86_64 m64). (c) 2015, Exelis Visual Information Solutions, Inc., a subsidiary of Harris Corporation.
Installation number: 5501393-2.
Licensed for use by: Brown University


Note: To exit this environment, simply use the command exit

As is stated in the IDL Documentation, IDL in command-line mode "uses a text-only interface and sends output to your terminal screen or shell window." Thus, this is a mode in which you can enter commands and see their results in real time, but it is not where one should write full IDL programs.

IDL Programs

To write an IDL program, you can use any of the text editors on Oscar (such as vim, emacs, and nano) or you can create the program in a file on your own computer and then copy that file to Oscar when you are finished. Here is an example (hello world) IDL program


PRINT, ("Hello World!")


This file and the batch file below can be found at /gpfs/runtime/software_examples/idl/8.5.1 if you wish to copy them and test the process yourself.

Once you have the .pro file on Oscar, you can then run this file using a batch script. Here is a bare bones version of a batch script (called will run the script (note that the .pro is omitted in the script).


module load idl
shopt -s expand_aliases; source $IDL/envi53/bin/envi_setup.bash

idl -e idl_hello_world

We can then run the batch file by using the sbatch command:

$ sbatch

Last updated