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Python version:

Python 3.8, 3.9, 3.10


See http://github.com/cokelaer/damona.


Please fill a report on github


This is currently only available for Linux distribution with zsh/fish/bash shells (contributions are welcome to port the tool on other platforms/shells)

Quick Start

Assuming Singularity (Apptainer) is installed on your system, install Damona using pip for Python:

pip install damona

You need to configure Damona before using it. In a bash shell, type:


Add these lines in your .bashrc:

if [ ! -f  "~/.config/damona/damona.sh" ] ; then
    source ~/.config/damona/damona.sh

open a new shell and then use damona:

damona create TEST
damona activate TEST
damona install fastqc

This should install fastqc in the newly created Damona environment (TEST). Type:


it should open a window with the fastqc interface.


Damona is a singularity environment manager.

Damona started as a small collections of singularity recipes to help installing third-party tools for Sequana NGS pipelines.

Damona is now used in production to create reproducible environments where singularity images and their associated binaries are installed altogether.

In a nutshell, Damona combines the logic of Conda environments with the reproducibility of singularity containers. We believe that it could be useful for other projects and therefore decided to release it as an independent tool.

  • As of 11st Jna 2024, Damona contains 82 software, 128 releases 456 binaries.


If you are in a hurry, just type:

pip install damona --upgrade

You must install Singularity to make use of Damona.

If you are familiar with conda, I believe you can do:

conda install singularity

Type damona in a shell. This will initiate the tool with a config file in your HOME/.config/damona directory for bash shell and fish shell users.

Bash users should add this code in their ~/.bashrc file:

source ~/.config/damona/damona.sh

Fish shell users should add the following code in their ~/.config/fish/config.fish file:

source ~/.config/damona/damona.fish

Zsh users should add the following code in their ~/.config/fish/config.fish file:

source ~/.config/damona/damona.zsh

Open a new shell and you are ready to go. Please see the Installation in details section for more information.

Quick Start

Damona needs environments to work with. First, let us create one, which is called TEST:

damona create TEST

Second, we need to activate it. Subsequent insallation will happen in this environment:

damona activate TEST

From there, we can install some binaries/images:

damona install fastqc:0.11.9

That's it. Time to test. Type fastqc.

To rename this TEST example:

damona rename TEST --new-name prod

or delete it:

damona delete prod

See more examples hereafter or in the user guide on https://damona.readthedocs.io


As stated on their website, Conda is an open source package management system and environment management system. Conda provides pre-compiled releases of software; they can be installed in different local environments that do not interfer with your system. This has great advantages for developers. For example, you can install a pre-compiled libraries in a minute instead of trying to compile it yourself including all dependencies. Different communities have emerged using this framework. One of them is Bioconda, which is dedicated to bioinformatics.

Another great tool that emerged in the last years is Singularity. Singularity containers can be used to package entire scientific workflows, software and libraries, and even data. It is a simple file that can be shared between environments and guarantee exectution and reproducibility.

Originally, Conda provided pre-compiled version of a software. Nowadays, it also provides a docker and a singularity image of the tool. On the other side, Singularity can include an entire conda environment. As you can see everything is there to build reproducible tools and environment.

Now, what about a software in development that depends on third-party packages ? You would create a conda environment and starts installing the required packages. Quickly, you will install another package that will break your environment due to unresolved conlicts; this is not common but it happens. In the worst case scenario, the environment is broken. In facilities where users depends on you, it can be quite stresful and time-consuming to maintain several such environments. This is why we have moved little by little to a very light conda environment where known-to-cause-problem packages have been shipped into singularity containers. This means we have to create aliases to those singularities. The singularities can be simple executable containers or full environment containers with many executables inside. In both cases, one need to manage those containers for different users, pipelines, versions etc. This started to be cumbersome to have containers in different places and update script that generate the aliases to those executables.

That's where damona started: we wanted to combine the conda-like environment framework to manage our singularity containers more easily.

Although Damona was started with the Sequana projet, Damona may be useful for others developers who wish to have a quick and easy solution for their users when they need to install third-party libraries.

Before showing real-case examples, let us install the software itself and understand the details.

Installation in details

The is the egg and chicken paradox. To get reproducible container with singularity, at some point you need to install singularity itself. That the first of the two software that you will need to install. Instructions are on singularity web site. This is not obvious to be honest. You need the GO language to be installed as well. I personally installed from source and it worked like a charm.

Second, you need Damona. This is a pure Python sotfware with only a few dependencies. Install it with the pip software provided with your Python installation (Python 3.X):

pip install damona --upgrade

Type damona to create the Damona tree structure. Images and binaries will be saved in your home directory within the ~/.config/damona directory. There, special files should be available: damona.sh, damona.fish and damona.cfg. Check that those files are present.

Finally, you need to tell your system where to find damona. For bashrc users, please add this line to you bashrc file:

source ~/.config/damona/damona.sh

open a new shell and type damona and you should be ready to go.

For fishshell users, please add this line in ~/.config/fish/config.fish*:

source ~/.config/damona/damona.fish


The Damona standalone is called damona. It has a documentation that should suffice for most users.

The main documentation is obtained using:

damona --help

where you will see the list of Damona commands (may be different with time) (may be:

activate    Activate a damona environment.
clean       Remove orphan images and binaries from all environments.
create      Create a new environment
deactivate  Deactivate the current Damona environment.
delete      Remove an environment
env         List all environemnts with some stats.
export      Create a bundle of a given environment.
info        Print information about a given environment.
install     Download and install an image and its binaries.
list        List all packages that can be installed
remove      Remove binaries or image from an environment.
rename      Rename an existing environment
search      Search for a container or binary.
stats       Get information about Damona images and binaries

To get help for the install command, type:

damona install --help

1. list available environments

By default you have an environment called base. Unlike the base environment found in conda, it is not essential and may be altered. However, it cannot be removed or created. You can check the list of environments using:

damona env

2. create environments

All environments are stored in ~/.config/damona/envs/. You can create a new one as follows:

damona create TEST

There, you have a bin directory where binaries are going to be installed.

You can check that it has been created:

damona env

Note the last line telling you that:

Your current env is 'TEST'.

3. activate and deactivate environments

In order to install new binaries or software package, you must activate an environment. You may activate several but the last one is the active one. Let us activate the TEST environment:

damona activate TEST

Check that it is active using:

damona env

and look at the last line. It should look like:

Your current env is 'TEST'.

What is going on when you activate an environment called TEST ? Simple: we append the directory ~/.config/damona/envs/TEST/bin to your PATH where binaries are searched for. This directory is removed when you use the deactivate command.

damona deactivate TEST
damona env

should remove the TEST environment from your PATH. You may activate several and deactivate them. In such case, the environments behave as a Last In First Out principle:

damona activate base
damona activate TEST
damona deactivate

Removes the last activated environments. While this set of commands is more specific:

damona activate base
damona activate TEST
damona deactivate base

and keep the TEST environment only in your PATH.

4. install a software

Let us now consider that the TEST environment is active.

Damona provides software that may have several releases. Each software/release comes with binaries that will be installed together with the underlying singularity image.:

damona install fastqc:0.11.9

Here, the singularity image corresponding to the release 0.11.9 of the fastqc software is downloaded. Then, binaries registered in this release are installed (here the fastqc binary only).

All images are stored in ~/.config/damona/images and are shared between environments.

5. Get info about installed images and binaries

You can get the binaries installed in an environment (and the images used by them) using the info command:

damona info TEST

6. Search the registry

You can search for a binary using:

damona search PATTERN

External registry can be set-up. For instance, a damona registry is accessible as follows (for demonstration):

damona search fastqc --url damona

Where damona is an alias defined in the .config/damona/damona.cfg that is set to https://biomics.pasteur.fr/drylab/damona/registry.txt

You may retrieve images from a website where a registry exists (see the developer guide to create a registry yourself).

7. combine two different environments

In damona, you can have sereral environments in parallel and later activate the one you wish to use. Let us create a new one:

damone create test1

and check that you now have one more environment:

damona env

We want to create an alias to the previously downloaded image of fastqc tool but in the test1 environment. First we activate the newly create environment:

damona activate test1

then, we install the container:

damona install fastqc:0.11.9

This will not download the image again. It will just create a binary in the ~/.config/damona/envs/test1/bin directory.

you can combine this new environment with the base one:

damona activate base

If you are interested to know more, please see the User Guide and Developer guide here below.


From version 0.10 onwards, we will not mention the new software and their versions but only changes made to the code itself.




  • ADDED delly 1.2.6

  • UPDATED micromamba 1.5.8


  • ADDED datasets


  • ADDED pypolca, sratoolkit


  • CORE development: rename zenodo-upload subcommand into upload

  • UPDATE rtools to v1.3.0 to include limma package


  • ADD pbsim.

  • UPDATE hifiasm


  • add precommit, update to use pyproject


  • Fix the get_stats_software wrt new zenodo API


  • ADD zsh support

  • UPDATE flye 2.9.1

  • ADD nanopolish

  • UPDATE remove nanopolish from sequana_tools binaries


  • ADD hmmer 3.2.2

  • ADD trinotate 4.0.1

  • ADD transdecode 5.7.0

  • ADD trinity 2.15.1

  • UPDATE bioconvert 1.1.0

  • update bowtie2 2.5.1


  • refactorise the command 'env' by splitting into dedicated subcommands create, delete, rename. add progress bar when downloading container

  • NEW micromamba image to work as a localimage

  • NEW sequana_minimal package to hold common tools (bwa, samtools, kraken, etc)

  • NEW ivarm pangolin, nextclade, subread, mafft packages

  • UPDATE fastp to 0.23.3, gffread to 0.12.7 (3 times lighter).

  • UPDATE sequana_tools to use micromamba (30% lighter)


  • fix damona stats command to return unique binaries

  • more recipes and version (e.g. fastqc 0.12.1, graphviz update, etc)


  • create registry specifically for the sandbox (for testing)

  • add damona community in the uploads

  • add pbbam, bioconvert, busco, canu, ccs

  • add polypolish, samtools 1.16.1, sequana 0.14.6, flye 2.9, canu 2.1.1 circlator 1.5.5, hifiasm


  • add idr, samtools, homer, bamtools, bedtools, sequana_denovo

  • add seqkit recipe and container

  • add shustring


  • Include ability to interact with biocontainers by allowing retrieval of all biocontainers docker images using this syntax: 'damona install biocontainers/xx:1.2.3' Note that although 9000 containers are available, in practice, only about 1000 dockers are on dockerhub, which is already nice :-)


  • Fix regression to install a software with its version


  • Implement the fish shell

  • add command "damona list"

  • rename recipes/ directory into software/ and created a new library/ directory for images used as library, that are not installed.



  • add ability to upload images on zenodo. No need for external repositories.

  • ability to add/delete a software from different images

  • implement --help for the activate/deactivate (non trivial)

  • add --rename option in 'damona env'

  • 'base' environment is now at the same level as other environments

  • better bash script; no need for DAMONA_EXE variable anymore.


  • Fixing config/shell


  • add missing shell package


  • add DAMONA_SINGULARITY_OPTIONS env variable in the binary

  • Fix the way binaries are found in the releases.

  • new recipes: rtools

  • new releases: sequana_tools_0.10.0

  • Fix shell script to handle DAMONA_EXE variable


  • Major refactoring.

    • Simplification of the registries (dropping notion of exe/set class

    • Main script should now be fully functional with functional activation/deactivation.

    • New command to build images from local recipes or dockerhub entries.

    • Install command can now install local container.

    • DAMONA_PATH can be set to install damona images/binaries anywhere, not just in local home.

    • check md5 of images to not download/copy again


  • Implement damona activate/deactivate


  • Fix typo in the creation of aliases for 'set' containers


  • implemented aliases for the --from-url option stored in a damona.cfg file


  • implemented the 'env' and 'activate' command

  • ability to setup an external registry on any https and retrieve registry from there to download external images


  • add gffread, rnadiff recipes


  • A stable version with documentation and >95% coverage read-yto-use


  • add new recipes (rnadiff)


  • Download latest if no version provided

  • include build command to build image locally


fixed manifest


first working version of damona to pull image locally with binaries


small update to fix RTD, travis, coveralls


first release to test feasibility of the project

User guide and reference

Indices and tables