Last updated: 2021-12-22
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This tutorial was adopted from here. The output shown is based on running the commands inside a container using the continuumio/miniconda Docker image. To follow this tutorial, make sure you have Docker installed and use
docker pull to download the latest container.
docker pull continuumio/miniconda3
The objective of the workshop is to demonstrate how Conda can be used to simplify the installation of bioinformatic tools and to create reproducible (and separate) environments.
From the Conda documentation:
Conda is an open source package management system and environment management system that runs on Windows, macOS and Linux. Conda quickly installs, runs and updates packages and their dependencies. Conda easily creates, saves, loads and switches between environments on your local computer. It was created for Python programs, but it can package and distribute software for any language.
If you have run into dependency problems before when trying to install bioinformatic tools, Conda helps deal with this. Furthermore, Conda makes it easier to install and work with incompatible tools.
Anaconda is a distribution of Conda. It is a data science platform that comes with a lot of packages (too many in my opinion).
Miniconda is a minimal installer for Conda. It is a small, bootstrap version of Anaconda that includes only Conda, Python, the packages they depend on, and a small number of other useful packages, including pip, zlib and a few others. I prefer using Miniconda and only installing tools that I need.
Bioconda is a distribution of bioinformatics software realised as a channel for the versatile Conda package manager. Conda channels are simply the locations where packages are stored. Most widely used bioinformatic tools are available on the Bioconda channel, which hosts over 6,000 bioinformatics packages.
For this workshop we are using Conda inside a Docker container. Once you have pulled the latest image, run the following command.
# run new container docker run -it --rm continuumio/miniconda bash
Your command prompt should look something like after running the command above:
Like any good tool, if you type
conda without any parameters you will get the usage and all the subcommands.
conda usage: conda [-h] [-V] command ... conda is a tool for managing and deploying applications, environments and packages. Options: positional arguments: command clean Remove unused packages and caches. config Modify configuration values in .condarc. This is modeled after the git config command. Writes to the user .condarc file (/root/.condarc) by default. create Create a new conda environment from a list of specified packages. help Displays a list of available conda commands and their help strings. info Display information about current conda install. init Initialize conda for shell interaction. [Experimental] install Installs a list of packages into a specified conda environment. list List linked packages in a conda environment. package Low-level conda package utility. (EXPERIMENTAL) remove Remove a list of packages from a specified conda environment. uninstall Alias for conda remove. run Run an executable in a conda environment. [Experimental] search Search for packages and display associated information. The input is a MatchSpec, a query language for conda packages. See examples below. update Updates conda packages to the latest compatible version. upgrade Alias for conda update. optional arguments: -h, --help Show this help message and exit. -V, --version Show the conda version number and exit. conda commands available from other packages: env
We can find out what version of Conda we are using.
conda --version conda 4.7.10
To see the full documentation for any command, type the command followed by
--help. For example, to learn about the
conda update command:
conda update --help
We will now make sure that Conda is up to date by using
conda update. Conda will compare versions and let you know what is available to install. It will also tell you about other packages that will be automatically updated or changed with the update.
# when prompted enter "y" conda update conda conda --version conda 4.7.12
You can also update all Conda packages to the latest compatible version.
# don't need to run this conda update --all
Conda will download and cache temporary files; remember to use
conda clean periodically to clean up temp files.
conda clean -a
bcftools is just a single command using the Bioconda channel.
conda install -c bioconda bcftools cd /tmp wget https://github.com/davetang/learning_vcf_file/raw/master/aln_consensus.bcf # get all SNPs, ignore the metadata, and view the first two lines bcftools view -v snps aln_consensus.bcf | grep -v "^#" | head -2 1000000 336 . A G 221.999 . DP=112;VDB=0.756462;SGB=-0.693147;MQ0F=0;AF1=1;AC1=2;DP4=0,0,102,0;MQ=60;FQ=-281.989 GT:PL 1/1:255,255,0 1000000 378 . T C 221.999 . DP=101;VDB=0.704379;SGB=-0.693147;MQ0F=0;AF1=1;AC1=2;DP4=0,0,99,0;MQ=60;FQ=-281.989 GT:PL 1/1:255,255,0
Here’s how you would install
bcftools without Conda.
Using Conda, you can create an isolated environment for your project. An environment is a set of packages that can be used in one or multiple projects. The default environment with Miniconda is the
base environment. I don’t recommend installing all your packages/tools under the same environment.
There are two ways of creating a Conda environment.
An example of an environment file (
environment.yml) I used for a specific project.
name: new_project channels: - bioconda - anaconda - conda-forge - defaults dependencies: - fastqc - multiqc - cutadapt - bwa - samtools - macs2 - bedtools - deeptools - minimap2 - star - parallel - idr
Now, let’s use this
environment.yml environment file to install an older version of
bwa in an isolated environment called
name: bwa_old channels: - bioconda dependencies: - bwa=0.7.15
Create the environment.
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/davetang/reproducible_bioinformatics/master/environment.yml conda env create --file environment.yml # check list of environments conda env list # conda environments: # base * /opt/conda bwa_old /opt/conda/envs/bwa_old
Activate the environment. The
(bwa_old) in the beginning of the line indicates that we are curently using the
bwa_old Conda environment.
conda activate bwa_old # your prompt should change to # (bwa_old) root@d470a3e9da91:/tmp# bwa Program: bwa (alignment via Burrows-Wheeler transformation) Version: 0.7.15-r1140 Contact: Heng Li <email@example.com>
Deactivate the environment.
conda deactivate # your prompt will change back to # (base) root@d470a3e9da91:/tmp#
We can create Conda environments by specifying the name, channel, and list of packages within the terminal. In the example below, we are creating the
test_env environment that uses python 2.7 and a list of libraries:
conda create -c conda-forge -n test_env python=2.7 numpy matplotlib pandas
Conda will solve any dependencies between the packages like before and create a new environment with those packages. I prefer creating environments using an environment file rather than on the command line.
Before deleting an environment make sure you are not currently using the environment or you will get an error.
conda env remove -n bwa_old
The commands below will list all the packages in the
base environments. The list will include versions of each package, the specific build, and the channel that the package was downloaded from.
conda list is useful to ensure that you have installed the packages that you desire.
conda list -n bwa_old # packages in environment at /opt/conda/envs/bwa_old: # # Name Version Build Channel _libgcc_mutex 0.1 main bwa 0.7.15 1 bioconda libgcc 7.2.0 h69d50b8_2 libgcc-ng 9.1.0 hdf63c60_0 libstdcxx-ng 9.1.0 hdf63c60_0 zlib 1.2.11 h7b6447c_3 conda list -n base # packages in environment at /opt/conda: # # Name Version Build Channel _libgcc_mutex 0.1 main asn1crypto 1.2.0 py27_0 ca-certificates 2019.11.27 0 certifi 2019.11.28 py27_0 cffi 1.13.2 py27h2e261b9_0 chardet 3.0.4 py27_1003 conda 4.7.12 py27_0 conda-package-handling 1.6.0 py27h7b6447c_0 cryptography 2.8 py27h1ba5d50_0 enum34 1.1.6 py27_1 futures 3.3.0 py27_0 idna 2.8 py27_0 ipaddress 1.0.23 py_0 libedit 3.1.20181209 hc058e9b_0 libffi 3.2.1 hd88cf55_4 libgcc-ng 9.1.0 hdf63c60_0 libstdcxx-ng 9.1.0 hdf63c60_0 ncurses 6.1 he6710b0_1 openssl 1.1.1d h7b6447c_3 pip 19.3.1 py27_0 pycosat 0.6.3 py27h14c3975_0 pycparser 2.19 py27_0 pyopenssl 19.1.0 py27_0 pysocks 1.7.1 py27_0 python 2.7.16 h9bab390_0 readline 7.0 h7b6447c_5 requests 2.22.0 py27_0 ruamel_yaml 0.15.46 py27h14c3975_0 setuptools 42.0.2 py27_0 six 1.13.0 py27_0 sqlite 3.30.1 h7b6447c_0 tk 8.6.8 hbc83047_0 tqdm 4.40.0 py_0 urllib3 1.24.2 py27_0 wheel 0.33.6 py27_0 yaml 0.1.7 had09818_2 zlib 1.2.11 h7b6447c_3
Conda packages are files containing a bundle of resources: usually libraries and executables, but not always. In principle, Conda packages can include data, images, notebooks, or other assets.
It is important to be careful when downloading packages and use only trusted sources. Conda forge is a reliable source for many popular python packages. Anaconda Cloud is a package management service that makes it easy to find, access, store and share public and private notebooks, environments, and Conda and PyPI packages. Bioconda is a trusted channel for the conda package manager specialising in bioinformatics software.
If you have a few trusted channels that you prefer to use, you can pre-configure these so that each time you are creating an environment, you won’t need to explicitly declare the channel. It is important to add them in the following order so that the priority is set correctly, with conda-forge with the highest priority. See managing channels for more information.
conda config --add channels defaults conda config --add channels bioconda conda config --add channels conda-forge
To see your channels use
conda config --show channels channels: - conda-forge - bioconda - defaults
If you want to reorder your channels, simply add them again.
After adding channels, you can search for packages.
conda search bwa Loading channels: done # Name Version Build Channel bwa 0.5.9 0 bioconda bwa 0.5.9 1 bioconda bwa 0.5.9 ha92aebf_2 bioconda bwa 0.6.2 0 bioconda bwa 0.6.2 1 bioconda bwa 0.6.2 ha92aebf_2 bioconda bwa 0.7.3a 0 bioconda bwa 0.7.3a 1 bioconda bwa 0.7.3a h84994c4_3 bioconda bwa 0.7.3a h84994c4_4 bioconda bwa 0.7.3a ha92aebf_2 bioconda bwa 0.7.4 h84994c4_1 bioconda bwa 0.7.4 ha92aebf_0 bioconda bwa 0.7.4 hed695b0_2 bioconda bwa 0.7.4 hed695b0_3 bioconda bwa 0.7.8 0 bioconda bwa 0.7.8 1 bioconda bwa 0.7.8 h84994c4_3 bioconda bwa 0.7.8 ha92aebf_2 bioconda bwa 0.7.8 hed695b0_4 bioconda bwa 0.7.8 hed695b0_5 bioconda bwa 0.7.12 0 bioconda bwa 0.7.12 1 bioconda bwa 0.7.13 0 bioconda bwa 0.7.13 1 bioconda bwa 0.7.15 0 bioconda bwa 0.7.15 1 bioconda bwa 0.7.16 pl5.22.0_0 bioconda bwa 0.7.17 h84994c4_4 bioconda bwa 0.7.17 h84994c4_5 bioconda bwa 0.7.17 ha92aebf_3 bioconda bwa 0.7.17 hed695b0_6 bioconda bwa 0.7.17 pl5.22.0_0 bioconda bwa 0.7.17 pl5.22.0_1 bioconda bwa 0.7.17 pl5.22.0_2 bioconda
conda remove to remove packages.
conda remove bcftools
CommandNotFoundError: Your shell has not been properly configured to use 'conda activate'.
You can either use
source instead of
source activate my_env
source conda.sh (change accordingly if you used Anaconda or installed it somewhere else). See here for more information.
source ~/miniconda3/etc/profile.d/conda.sh conda activate my_env
Use Mamba, which is a reimplementation of the conda package manager and is much faster. Install
conda install mamba -n base -c conda-forge
In addition, you can separate tools into different environments instead of installing everything into the
conda create -c bioconda -n hts bwa samtools bcftools
Sometimes dependencies are not available because additional channels have not been included. For example, make sure conda-forge has been added by running the following command to list all added channels.
conda config --show channels
R version 4.1.0 (2021-05-18) Platform: x86_64-pc-linux-gnu (64-bit) Running under: Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS Matrix products: default BLAS/LAPACK: /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/openblas-pthread/libopenblasp-r0.3.8.so locale:  LC_CTYPE=en_US.UTF-8 LC_NUMERIC=C  LC_TIME=en_US.UTF-8 LC_COLLATE=en_US.UTF-8  LC_MONETARY=en_US.UTF-8 LC_MESSAGES=C  LC_PAPER=en_US.UTF-8 LC_NAME=C  LC_ADDRESS=C LC_TELEPHONE=C  LC_MEASUREMENT=en_US.UTF-8 LC_IDENTIFICATION=C attached base packages:  stats graphics grDevices utils datasets methods base other attached packages:  workflowr_1.6.2 loaded via a namespace (and not attached):  Rcpp_1.0.7 whisker_0.4 knitr_1.33 magrittr_2.0.1  R6_2.5.0 rlang_0.4.11 fansi_0.5.0 stringr_1.4.0  tools_4.1.0 xfun_0.24 utf8_1.2.1 git2r_0.28.0  htmltools_0.5.1.1 ellipsis_0.3.2 rprojroot_2.0.2 yaml_2.2.1  digest_0.6.27 tibble_3.1.2 lifecycle_1.0.0 crayon_1.4.1  later_1.2.0 vctrs_0.3.8 promises_220.127.116.11 fs_1.5.0  glue_1.4.2 evaluate_0.14 rmarkdown_2.9 stringi_1.7.2  compiler_4.1.0 pillar_1.6.1 httpuv_1.6.1 pkgconfig_2.0.3