See also

You will need to understand how to use the terminal.


This section is a short introduction in case you are missing a few software packages, want to try out a cutting edge development version of a software or have no system administrator or software package manager to build and install software for you.

From Source

Section author: Axel Huebl

Don’t be afraid, young physicist, self-compiling C/C++ projects is easy, fun and profitable!

Building a project from source essentially requires three steps:

  1. configure the project and find its dependencies

  2. compile the project

  3. install the project

All of the above steps can be performed without administrative rights (“root” or “superuser”) as long as the install is not targeted at a system directory (such as /usr) but inside a user-writable directory (such as $HOME or a project directory).


In order to compile projects from source, we assume you have individual directories created to store source code, build temporary files and install the projects to:

# source code
mkdir $HOME/src
# temporary build directory
mkdir $HOME/build
# install target for dependencies
mkdir $HOME/lib

Note that on some supercomputing systems, you might need to install the final software outside of your home to make dependencies available during run-time (when the simulation runs). Use a different path for the last directory then.

What is Compiling?


This section is not yet the installation of PIConGPU from source. It just introduces in general how one compiles projects.

If you like to skip this introduction, jump straight to the dependency install section.

Compling can differ in two principle ways: building inside the source directory (“in-source”) and in a temporary directory (“out-of-source”). Modern projects prefer the latter and use a build system such as [CMake].

An example could look like this

# go to an empty, temporary build directory
cd $HOME/build
rm -rf ../build/*

# configurate, build and install into $HOME/lib/project
cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=$HOME/lib/project $HOME/src/project_to_compile
make install

Often, you want to pass further options to CMake with -DOPTION=VALUE or modify them interactively with ccmake . after running the initial cmake command. The second step which compiles the project can in many cases be parallelized by make -j. In the final install step, you might need to prefix it with sudo in case CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX is pointing to a system directory.

Some older projects often build in-source and use a build system called autotools. The syntax is still very similar:

# go to the source directory of the project
cd $HOME/src/project_to_compile

# configurate, build and install into $HOME/lib/project
configure --prefix=$HOME/lib/project
make install

One can usually pass further options with --with-something=VALUE or --enable-thing to configure. See configure --help when installing an autotools project.

That is all on the theory of building projects from source!

Now Start

You now know all the basics to install from source. Continue with the following section to build our dependencies.



Kitware Inc. CMake: Cross-platform build management tool,