Accessing files

The container’s filesystem

A container has its own filesystem baked into the image. The container’s software is installed in it’s filesystem. Software executing inside the container will see different files than on the host. This starts at the root of the filesystem:

$ ls /
bin   dev  home  lib64       mnt  opt   root  sbin  sys  usr
boot  etc  lib   lost+found  nfs  proc  run   srv   tmp  var
$ singularity exec software.sif ls /
bin          etc               lib    mkdir  opt       run          srv  var
boot         fresnel-examples  lib32  mnt    proc      sbin         sys
dev          home              lib64  nfs    projects  scratch      tmp
environment  hoomd-examples    media  oasis  root      singularity  usr


With Singularity, the container’s filesystem is read-only.

Bind mounting

Specific directories may be bind mounted from the host into the container so it can access the contents directly. On most systems, Singularity is configured to bind mount your home directory by default:

$ echo "print('hello world')" >
$ singularity exec software.sif ls  software.sif
$ singularity exec software.sif python3
hello world

Only specific directories are bind mounted. The above example was in testuser’s home directory. Even though there are many users on this host system, singularity only sees /glotzerlab-software (from the container image) and testuser (bind mounted) in /home:

$ singularity exec software.sif ls /home
glotzerlab-software  testuser

You can bind mount additional directories with the --bind command line option.


Bind the scratch filesystems when launching singularity processes on HPC systems. For example:

singularity exec --nv --bind /scratch

See also

If this doesn’t fit your workflow, see the Singularity documentation to learn how to specify your own bind mounts (if allowed by your system administrator).