ParaView:Build And Install

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This page describes how to build and install ParaView. It covers both the release and the development versions, both Unix-type systems (Linux, HP-UX, Solaris, Mac), as well as Windows.


  • The ParaView build process requires CMake version 2.8.2 or higher and a working compiler. On Unix-like operating systems, it also requires Make, while on Windows it requires Visual Studio (8 or later).
  • Building ParaView's user interface requires TrollTech's Qt, version 4.6.* (4.6.2 recommended) Qt is dual licensed. To compile ParaView, either the open or commercial version may be used. If you intend to make changes the ParaView's GUI and distribute the results, you must obtain a commercial license. The open source version of Qt can be found here [1]. Commercial licenses can be purchased directly from TrollTech [2]. For more information on what can be done with the open source version, read this [3].
  • In order to run ParaView in parallel, MPI [4], [5] is also required.
  • In order to use scripting, Python is required [6].

Download And Install CMake

CMake is a tool that makes cross-platform building simple. On several systems it will probably be already installed. If it is not, please use the following instructions to install it. If CMake does not exist on the system, and there are no pre-compiled binaries, use the instructions below on how to build it. Use the most recent source or binary version of CMake from the CMake web site.

Using Binaries

There are several precompiled binaries available at the CMake download page.

On Unix-like operating systems

Let's say on Linux, download the appropriate version and follow these instructions:

cd $HOME
mkdir software
cd software
tar xvfz ../cmake-2.8.2-Linux-i386.tar.gz
  • Now you have the directory $HOME/software/cmake-2.8.2-Linux-i386/bin, and inside there are executables cmake and ccmake.
  • You can also install CMake in the /usr/local or /opt by untaring and copying sub-directories. The rest of the instructions will assume the executables are in your $PATH.

On Windows

On Windows, if you are not administrator

Build Your Own CMake

On Unix-like operating systems

Download the source code:

cd $HOME
tar xvfz cmake-2.8.2.tar.gz
cd cmake-2.8.2
./configure --prefix=$HOME/software
make install
  • Again, you can install it in /usr/local or /opt by changing the prefix.

On Windows

To build CMake on windows, a previous version of CMake is required. This can be downloaded from the Cmake download page: [7].

Download And Install Qt

ParaView uses Trolltech's Qt as its GUI library. Qt is required whenever the ParaView client is built. See this page for Qt licensing information: [8].

  • As stated above, the open source version of Qt can be found at [9].
    • For source code, use the latest stable version of qt-everywhere-opensource-src-VERSION.[tar.gz or zip or dmg]. If this gives you trouble, version 4.6.2 is known to work.
    • For binaries, use the latest stable version of qt-PLATFORM-opensource-VERSION.[tar.gz or zip or dmg]. If this gives you trouble, version 4.6.2 is known to work.
  • Commercial licenses can be purchased directly from TrollTech [10].

Download And Install ffmpeg (.avi) movie libraries

When the ability to write .avi files is desired, and writing these files is not supported by the OS, ParaView can attach to an ffmpeg library. This is generally true for Linux. Ffmpeg library source code is found here: [11]

Download And Install MESA 3D libraries

ParaView uses the OpenGL graphics drivers and card from a user's workstation. When you want to run ParaView's servers on a platform that does not include hardware OpenGL support, you must use MESA to emulate this hardware in software. Mesa is open source, and it can be downloaded from here: [12].

There is a known problem with MESA version 7.8.2 and ParaView. This has been reported to the MESA team. Version 7.7.1 has been tested and seems to work correctly as well as 7.9.

Build as follows:

  • make realclean
  • make TARGET (for instance, make linux-x86-64)

Note - some platforms will complain during ParaView compiles about needing fPIC. In the configs directory, copy your platform file to another custom file, edit it, and add -fPIC to the compile lines. For instance, cp linux-x86-64 linux-x86-64-fPIC.

For more elaborate discussion on building with Mesa/OSMesa support, refer to ParaView And Mesa_3D.

Download ParaView Source Code

If you are trying to build a ParaView release, download it from the release page. For the development version, please follow the instructions below for checking it out from git.

Download The Release

Don't forget that you can always just download the binaries from the ParaView download page. This page contains binaries for several platforms and the source code for the releases.

Note: debian build

List of packages to build ParaView on Debian:

libphonon-dev libphonon4 libqt4-assistant qt4-dev-tools libqt4-core libqt4-gui qt4-qmake libxt-dev g++ gcc cmake-curses-gui libqt4-opengl-dev mesa-common-dev

With MPI (using openmpi, you can use any other flavour):

openmpi-common openmpi-bin libopenmpi-dev

With Python:


Checkout Development Version from git

Note that you may need to download and install a git client, here: [13]

On Unix-like operating systems

mkdir $HOME/projects
cd $HOME/projects

'''To download the source code''' 
 git clone git:// ParaView
 cd ParaView
 git checkout -b trunk origin/master
 git submodule init
 git submodule update

'''To update the code'''
 git fetch origin
 git rebase origin/master
 git submodule update

On Windows

We recommend [msysgit|]. Msysgit provides an msys shell that has the appropriate environment set up for using git and it's tools.

Configure ParaView With CMake

  • Always use a separate build directory. Do not build in the source directory.

On Unix-like systems

  • Use ccmake (Curses CMake GUI) from the CMake installed location. CCMake is a Curses based GUI for CMake. To run it go to the build directory and specify as an argument the src directory.
mkdir $HOME/projects/ParaView-bin
cd $HOME/projects/ParaView-bin

ccmake $HOME/projects/ParaView3

Brpv ccmake.png

About CCMake (Curses CMake GUI)

  • Iterative process.
    • Select values, run configure (c key).
    • Set the settings, run configure, set the settings, run configure, etc.
  • Repeat until all values are set and the generate option is available (g key).
  • Some variables (advanced variables) are not visible right away.
  • To see advanced varables, toggle to advanced mode (t key).
  • To set a variable, move the cursor to the variable and press enter.
    • If it is a boolean (ON/OFF) it will flip the value.
    • If it is string or file, it will allow editing of the string.
    • For file and directories, the <tab> key can be used to complete.
  • To search for a variable press '/' key; to repeat the search, press the 'n' key.

On Windows

  • Use CMakeSetup from the CMake install location.
  • Make sure to select the appropriate source and the build directory.
  • Also, make sure to pick the appropriate generator (on Visual Studio 6, pick the Visual Studio 6 generator). Some CMake versions will ask you to select the generator the first time you press Configure instead of having a drop-down menu in the main dialog.

Brpv cmakesetup.png

About CMakeSetup (Windows CMake GUI)

  • Iterative process.
    • Select values, press the Configure button.
    • Set the settings, run configure, set the settings, run configure, etc.
  • Repeat until all values are set and the OK button becomes available.
  • Some variables (advanced variables) are not visible right away.
  • To see advanced varables, toggle to advanced mode ("Show Advanced Values" toggle).
  • To set the value of a variable, click on that value.
    • If it is boolean (ON/OFF), a drop-down menu will appear for changing the value.
    • If it is file or directory, an ellipsis button will appear ("...") on the far right of the entry. Clicking this button will bring up the file or directory selection dialog.
    • If it is a string, it will become an editable string.

ParaView Settings

Variable Description
BUILD_SHARED_LIBS If ON, use shared libraries. This way executables are smaller, but you have to make sure the shared libraries are on every system on the cluster.
PARAVIEW_USE_MPI Turn this to ON to enable MPI. Other MPI options will not be available until you turn this on.
MPI_LIBRARY Path to the MPI library (such as /usr/lib/ Should be found by default, but you may have to set it. (see the note below)
MPI_EXTRA_LIBRARY Path to extra MPI library (such as /usr/lib/ If the MPI distribution is MPICH, this may not be found; in this case, it is ok for this variable to be set to MPI_EXTRA_LIBRARY-NOTFOUND.
MPI_INCLUDE_PATH Path to MPI includes (such as /usr/include/mpi). Again, this should be found by default.
PARAVIEW_ENABLE_PYTHON Makes Python client scripting and the Python programmable filter available.
PARAVIEW_BUILD_QT_GUI Flag to enable/disable the building of the ParaView Qt-based client. This option is useful when building ParaView on server nodes or when we are only interested in the Python client, as it avoids building of the Qt client thus does not require Qt. ON by default.
QT_QMAKE_EXECUTABLE Path to Qt's qmake executable (such as /usr/local/Trolltech/Qt-4.2.2/bin/qmake). CMake uses this to locate the rest of the required Qt executables, headers and libraries.
VTK_USE_CARBON For Mac, this is the default. Neither X11 nor COCOA frameworks are supported.
VTK_OPENGL_HAS_OSMESA Turn this to ON to enable MESA (i.e., software rendering). All mesa directory and file settings below depend on this flag.
OSMESA_INCLUDE_DIR Set this to the include directory for MESA.
OPENGL_INCLUDE_DIR Set this to the include directory for MESA.
OPENGL_gl_LIBRARY Set this to the libGL.a or file.
OPENGL_glu_LIBRARY Set this to the libGLU.a or file.
OSMESA_LIBRARY Set this to the libOSMesa.a or file.

Note for MPI settings: If your MPI variables aren't set automatically (usually the case if the compiler wrapper [mpicxx] is not in the path or in some standard directory), toggle advanced options and set MPI_COMPILER variable to the full path of your mpi compiler (usually mpicxx), and configure. This should set all the required MPI variables. If not, then you might need to enter them manually.
If you get an error such as "mpi.h: no such file or directory" then set the CMAKE_C_FLAGS= -lmpi and the CMAKE_CXX_FLAGS= -lmpi++ . This is in addition to the MPI variables.

Finish Configuring ParaView

Using CCMake

  • Once all configuration options are set, you should be able to just run <generate> (g key).

Using CMakeSetup

  • Once all configuration options are set, you should be able to just run <generate>, by clicking the "OK" button.

Build ParaView

You can now build ParaView using the appropriate build system.

Using Make

CMake will now generate Make files. These make files have all dependencies and all rules to build ParaView on this system. You should not however try to move the build directory to another location on this system or to another system.

Once you have makefiles you should be able to just type:

  • If you are on multi-processor system (let's say four processor), you can type:
 make -j 4
  • To create online documentation, type the following. (Note that ParaVeiw build does not create this documentation by default).
 make HTMLDocumentation

Brpv make.png

Using Visual Studio

CMake will now create Visual Studio project files. Before you open Visual Studio, be sure that the Qt .dlls are in your path. You should now be able to open the ParaView project (or workspace) file. Make sure to select the appropriate build type (Debug, Release, ...). To build ParaView, simply build the ALL_BUILD target. The ParaView build does not create the online documentation by default. Select the HTMLDocumentation target, right click, and select Build.

Brpv visualstudio71.png

Install ParaView

ParaView can be run directly from the build directory. That said, for production environments, it should be installed in some system location. For that purpose simply follow the instructions for "Distributing ParaView" and the unpack the generated archive at the appropriate install location.

Distributing ParaView

It is possible to create distribution binaries for ParaView using CPack, which is included in CMake. The packaged binary can be in any of the variable supported generator formats eg. DEB (debian packages), RPM (RPM Packages), NSIS (Null Soft Installer) etc. Please refer to [[14]] for a complete list.

CMake Variables

When building ParaView so that it can be distributed, in most typical cases, ensure that the values for the following CMake variables are set correctly.

Variable Value Description
BUILD_SHARED_LIBS ON Enables shared libraries (unless you are sure you want to do static builds).
CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE Release Unless you want to end up with debug install, set this to Release.
PARAVIEW_USE_MPI OFF Unless you are taking extra steps to ensure that the clients have the required MPI libraries, set this to OFF, since ParaView does not include rules to package MPI.
PARAVIEW_ENABLE_PYTHON OFF Unless you are taking extra steps to ensure that clients have the required Python libraries/modules.
PARAVIEW_GENERATE_PROXY_DOCUMENTATION ON To ensure that the html documentation for the sources/filters/readers/writes is generated and packed into the application, turn the following flag ON.
PARAVIEW_INSTALL_DEVELOPMENT OFF/ON To package development files so that people can build plugins/custom-apps using the installation.
PARAVIEW_BUILD_QT_GUI ON/OFF To enable building the Qt client.
PARAVIEW_INSTALL_THIRD_PARTY_LIBRARIES ON To enable bundling of third party libraries when using cpack. An example is Qt.

PARAVIEW_EXTRA_INSTALL_RULES_FILE: Adding custom install rules

You can add additional install rules by writing a custom CMake file with install rules and then set PARAVIEW_EXTRA_INSTALL_RULES_FILE CMake variable to point to that file. ParaView process all install rules that have the COMPONENT set to either "Runtime" (for executables), or "RuntimeLibraries" (for shared libraries), or "BrandedRuntime" (for custom-application specific libraries/executables) only (and "Development" when PARAVIEW_INSTALL_DEVELOPMENT is TRUE). So you want to add your install rules with appropriate COMPONENT values in this custom CMake file.

e.g. you want to include mpilibs in the installation, in that case the custom install rules file could look something as follows:

<source lang="python">

          COMPONENT RuntimeLibraries)


Generate Package

Following the configuration, simply run 'make' to compile and build.

On Unix-like operating systems

To generate a tar ball, in the binary directory, simply run:

cpack -G TGZ --config

If PARAVIEW_BUILD_QT_GUI was OFF, then to generate a package consisting of the server executables alone, use the following command:

cpack -G TGZ --config

On Windows

To generate a null-soft installer (requires [15]), in the binary directory, simply run:

cpack -G NSIS -C Release --config 

If PARAVIEW_BUILD_QT_GUI was OFF, then to generate a package consisting of the server executables alone, use the following command:

cpack -G NSIS -C Release --config 

On Mac

To generate an app bundle that can be distributed, use:

cpack -G DragNDrop --config 

If PARAVIEW_BUILD_QT_GUI was OFF, then to generate a tarball consisting of the server executables alone, use the following command:

cpack -G TGZ --config 
  • If packaging with PARAVIEW_INSTALL_DEVELOPMENT ON then the CPack config file will be called CPackParaView-DevelopmentConfig.cmake.

Miscellaneous Comments

  • Don't untar the packaged tar ball over the build directory itself. You can always remove the build directory and untar the tar ball in its place.
  • Don't use make install, as it may install more files than required.
  • CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX is not applicable when using CPack and will have no effect.
  • Build trees of ParaView on non-Windows systems, always have RPATH information embedded in the binaries. When a make install is performed or CPACK is used, all RPATH information is stripped from the binaries in the install tree. By default ParaView builds forwarding executables (launchers) that are installed in the bin directory. These binaries properly set up the environment to launch the equivalent executable in the lib/paraview-x.y directory.
  • If you are compiling a MESA version of the ParaView server, start the server with the --use-offscreen-memory flag.


Compiling on the Mac

To compile on the Mac, follow the instructions for Unix. The recommended configuration settings are: BUILD_SHARED_LIBS=ON.

Environment Variables

If you build with shared libraries, you may have to add the Qt directory to you PATH environment variables to run ParaView. With Windows, one way to do so is to open up the environment variables dialog by clicking through Start|Control Panel|System|Advanced|Environment Variables. From that dialog, add a new user variable called PATH with a value of C:\Qt\4.6.3\bin. For other operating systems, add Qt/4.6.3/lib to your LD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable.

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