STAT 39000: Project 13 — Fall 2021

Motivation: Containers are a modern solution to packaging and shipping some sort of code in a reproducible and portable way. When dealing with R and Python code in industry, it is highly likely that you will eventually have a need to work with Docker, or some other container-based solution. It is best to learn the basics so the basic concepts aren’t completely foreign to you.

Context: This is the second project in a 2 project series where we learn about containers.

Scope: unix, Docker, Python, R, Singularity

Learning Objectives
  • Understand the various components involved with containers: Dockerfile/build file, container image, container registry, etc.

  • Understand how to push and pull images to and from a container registry.

  • Understand the basic Dockerfile instructions.

  • Understand how to build a container image.

  • Understand how to run a container image.

  • Use singularity to run a container image.

  • State the primary differences between Docker and Singularity.

Make sure to read about, and use the template found here, and the important information about projects submissions here.


Question 1

Containers solve a real problem. In this project, we are going to demonstrate a real-world example of code that doesn’t prove to be portable, and we will fix it using containers.

Check out the code (questions and solutions) in the Fall 2020 STAT 29000 Project 3, and try to run the solution for question (4) in your Jupyter Notebook. You’ll quickly notice that the code no longer works, as-is. In this case it is (partly) due to incorrect paths for the Firefox executable as well as the Geckodriver executable. These changes occurred because we switched systems from Scholar to Brown.

What if we could create a container to run this function on any system with a OCI compliant engine and/or runtime? Let’s try!

Items to submit
  • Code used to solve this problem.

  • Output from running the code.

Question 2

Okay, below is a modified version of the code from the previous question. All we have done is turned it into a script that would be run as follows:

python zip 47906

Okay, here it is:
import sys
import re
import os
import time
import argparse

from selenium import webdriver
from selenium.webdriver.common.keys import Keys
from selenium.webdriver.firefox.options import Options
from selenium.common.exceptions import NoSuchElementException
from import By
from selenium.webdriver.firefox.service import Service

def avg_house_cost(zip: str) -> float:
    firefox_options = Options()
    firefox_options.add_argument("--headless") # Headless mode means no GUI
    firefox_options.binary_location = '/class/datamine/apps/firefox/firefox'

    service = Service('/class/datamine/apps/geckodriver', log_path=os.path.devnull)

    driver = webdriver.Firefox(options=firefox_options, service=service)
    url = ''

    search_input = driver.find_element(By.ID, "banner-search")

    allbed_button = driver.find_element(By.XPATH, "//button[@data-testid='srp-xxl-bedrooms-filter-button']/ancestor::li")

    bed_button = driver.find_element(By.XPATH, "//button[contains(text(), '3+')]")

    price_elements = driver.find_elements(By.XPATH, "(//ul[@data-testid='search-result-list-container'])[1]//div[@data-testid='property-price']")
    prices = [int(re.sub("[^0-9]", "", e.text)) for e in price_elements]


    return sum(prices)/len(prices)

def main():
    parser = argparse.ArgumentParser()

    subparsers = parser.add_subparsers(help="possible commands", dest="command")

    zip_parser = subparsers.add_parser("zip", help="search by zipcode")
    zip_parser.add_argument("zip_code", help="the zip code to search for")

    if len(sys.argv) == 1:

    args = parser.parse_args()

    if args.command == "zip":

if __name__ == '__main__':

First thing is first, we need to launch and connect to our VM so we can create our Dockerfile and build our container image.

If you have not already done so, please login and launch a Jupyter Lab session. Create a new notebook to put your solutions, and open up a terminal window beside your notebook.

In your terminal, navigate to /depot/datamine/apps/qemu/scripts/. You should find 4 scripts. They perform the following operations, respectively.

  1. Copies our VM image from /depot/datamine/apps/qemu/images/ to /scratch/brown/$USER/, so you each get to work on your own (virtual) machine.

  2. Creates a SLURM job and provides you a shell to that job. The job will last 4 hours, provide you with 4 cores, and will have ~6GB of RAM.

  3. Runs the virtual machine in the background, in your SLURM job.

  4. SSH’s into the virtual machine.

Run the scripts in your Terminal, in order, from 1-4.

cd /depot/datamine/apps/qemu/scripts/

You may need to press enter to free up the command line.


You will eventually be asked for a password. Enter thedatamine.

Remember, to add an image or screenshot to a markdown cell, you can use the following syntax:

Items to submit
  • Code used to solve this problem.

  • Output from running the code.

Question 3

Create a new folder in your $HOME directory (inside your VM) called project13. Inside the folder, place the code into a file called Give the file execute permissions:

chmod +x

Great! Next, create a Dockerfile in the project13 folder. The following is some starter content for your Dockerfile.

FROM python:3.9.9-slim-bullseye (1)

RUN apt update && apt install -y wget bzip2 firefox-esr (2)


RUN wget --output-document=geckodriver.tar.gz && \
    tar -xvf geckodriver.tar.gz && \
    rm geckodriver.tar.gz && \
    chmod +x geckodriver (4)

RUN python -m pip install selenium (5)



1 The first line should look familiar. This is just our base image that has Python3 fully locked and loaded and ready for us to use.
2 The second line installed 3 critical packages in our container. The first is wget, which we use to download compatible versions of Geckodriver. The second is bzip2, which we use to unzip the Geckodriver archives. The third is firefox, which is installed to /usr/bin/firefox.
3 Here, I want you to change the work directory to /vendor, so our Geckodriver binary lives directly in /vendor/geckodriver.
4 The next line downloads the Geckodriver program, and extracts it.
5 This line installed the selenium Python package which is needed for our script.
6 Here, I want you to change the work directory to /workspace — this way our script will be copied in the /workspace directory.
7 Copy the code into the /workspace directory.

You may want to modify the script! There are two locations in the script: /class/datamine/apps/firefox/firefox as well as /class/datamine/apps/geckodriver. These should be the location of the firefox executable and the geckodriver executable. Inside our container, however, these locations will be different! You will need to change the /class/datamine/apps/firefox/firefox to the location of the firefox executable, /usr/bin/firefox. You will need to change the /class/datamine/apps/geckodriver to the location of the geckodriver executable, /vendor/geckodriver.

8 Here, I want you to use the ENTRYPOINT command to place the commands that you always want to run.

It will be 3 of the 4 of the following (in quotes in the right format):

python zip 47906
9 Here, I want you to use the CMD command to place a default zip code to search for. The CMD command will get overwritten by commands you enter in the terminal.

For example:

CMD ["47906"]

The combination of (8) and (9) allow for the following functionality.

docker run ABC123XYZ
319876.0 # default price for 47906 (our default zip passed in (9))

Or, if you want to search for a zip code that is not the default zip code (47906 in my example).

docker run ABC123XYZ 63026
498393.15 # price for 63026

Very cool!

Okay, lets build your image.

docker build -t pricer:latest .

Upon success, you should be able to run the following to get the image id.

docker inspect pricer:latest --format '{{ .ID }}'

Then to test your image, run the following:

docker run skjdbgf02u4ntb2j4tn

Here, replace skjdbgf02u4ntb2j4tn with your image id.

Then, to test a different, non-default zip code, run the following:

docker run skjdbgf02u4ntb2j4tn 63026

Make sure 63026 is a zip code that is different from your default zip code.

Awesome job! Okay, now, take some screenshots of all your hard work, and add them to your Jupyter Notebook in a markdown cell. Please also include your Dockerfile contents.

Items to submit
  • Code used to solve this problem.

  • Output from running the code.

Question 4

You do not need to complete the previous questions to complete this one.

So all the talk about portability, yet we’ve been working on the same VM. Well, let’s use Singularity on Brown to run our code!

Singularity is a tool similar to Docker, but different in many ways. The important thing to realize here is that since we have a OCI compliant image publicly available, we can use Singularity to run our code. Otherwise, it is safe to just think of this as a different "docker" that works on Brown (for now).

First step is to exit your VM if you have not already. Just run exit.

Then, while in Brown, pull our image. We’ve uploaded a correct version of the image for anyone to use. To pull the image using Singularity, run the following command.

cd $HOME
singularity pull docker://kevinamstutz/pricer:latest

This may take a couple minutes to run. Once complete, you will see a SIF file in your $HOME directory called pricer_latest.sif. Think of this file as your container, but rather than accessing it using an engine (for example with docker images), you have a file.

Then, to run the image, run the following command.

cd $HOME
singularity run --cleanenv --pwd '/workspace/' pricer_latest.sif

You may notice the extra argument --cleanenv. This is to prevent environment variables on Brown from leaking into our container. In a lot of ways it doesn’t make much sense why this wouldn’t be a default.

In addition, the WORKDIR command is not respected by Singularity. This feature makes sense due to some core differences in design, however, it does make it marginally more difficult to use images built using Docker, and as a result makes it less reliable to simply pull and image and run it. This is what the --pwd '/workspace/' argument is for. With that being said, if you don’t already know the location from which the container expects to run, this can lead to more work.

Then, to give it a non-default zip code, run the following command.

singularity run --cleanenv --pwd '/workspace/' pricer_latest.sif 33004
Items to submit
  • Code used to solve this problem.

  • Output from running the code.

Please make sure to double check that your submission is complete, and contains all of your code and output before submitting. If you are on a spotty internet connection, it is recommended to download your submission after submitting it to make sure what you think you submitted, was what you actually submitted.