Building from SVN


Obtain the sources via Subversion[edit]

BRL-CAD has recently switched from CVS to the Subversion system. In the new system some of the earlier complexities inherent to CVS are gone, no -dP option is required and developers will not need their passwords or usernames until it is time to commit a change.

For Linux/Mac/BSD:

svn checkout brlcad

Note: If you do not yet have an SVN client installed, go to for information on obtaining an appropriate SVN client for your platform. Most modern Linux/BSD/UNIX distributions will also have SVN available in their package repositories.

For Windows:

Install a Subversion client for Windows, such as TortoiseSVN:

To get a checkout after installing TortoiseSVN, right-click in a folder where you want to download the sources, select SVN Checkout and specify for the repository URL.

Configure the build system with CMake[edit]

BRL-CAD also requires the build tool CMake. Again, most Linux/BSD/UNIX distributions will provide a package for CMake - for platforms that do not, CMake is available from

For Linux/Mac/BSD, create a build directory and run cmake:

cd brlcad
mkdir build
cd build
cmake .. (for a default build)
cmake .. -DBRLCAD_BUNDLED_LIBS=ON -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release (for a release build)

For Windows, you can use the CMake GUI where you specify build and source directories:

Running CMake GUI on Windows

When building for multiuser file servers it is often useful to make the install_dir reflect the version and/or architecture of the compile. An example would be "-DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/usr/brlcad/rel-7.20.2" to install into a /usr/brlcad/rel-7.20.2 directory. (When CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE is set to Release, the installation directory automatically is assigned the appropriate directory and the user doesn't have to do so manually.) This way a single system can have multiple versions of BRL-CAD installed or multiple binary formats for various architectures if installing on a network file system. Symbolic links are then usually added to point to the "current" or "main" version that is preferable to provide so that users only need to add /usr/brlcad/bin to their path. Examples include:

By version
/usr/brlcad/rel-7.8.0 (release 7.8.0)
/usr/brlcad/rel-7.6.0 (release 7.6.0)
By architecture
/usr/brlcad/ia32 (linux on Pentium)
/usr/brlcad/ia64 (linux on Itanium)
/usr/brlcad/x86_64 (linux on Opteron)
By version and architecture
/usr/brlcad/rel-7.8.0/mips32 (IRIX on MIPS in 32-bit mode, release 7.8.0)
/usr/brlcad/rel-7.8.0/mips64 (IRIX on MIPS in 64-bit mode, release 7.8.0)
/usr/brlcad/rel-7.8.2/mips32 (IRIX on MIPS in 32-bit mode, release 7.8.2)

IMPORTANT!!! - Because BRL-CAD has such a long development history, it predates some library naming conventions in modern operating systems. This means an attempt to configure for an install in the "/usr" path on Linux (for example) will stand a good chance of damaging important system libraries - e.g. BRL-CAD libraries put in "/usr/lib" may overwrite system libraries with the same names. Using "/usr/brlcad" or "/opt/brlcad" means all installed files will be safely contained in the brlcad directory.

Compile and test your build[edit]

On Linux/Mac/BSD, run this in your build directory:


At this point, you should have a fully installed and working system. You can test things by doing:

make test
make benchmark

Both the test and benchmark should report successfully if everything is working correctly. Report any failures to the BRL-CAD bug tracker.

On Windows, open the BRLCAD solution and Compile.


If you have doxygen installed somewhere CMake can find it, then you can build a browsable XHTML documentation of the source code. This is useful if you want to use BRL-CAD's libraries directly, or if you just want a better overview of how things are structured.

To build the XHTML files on a UNIX system, run (from your build directory)

make dox

and then open doc/doxygen_output/html/index.xhtml with your web browser of choice


On Linux/Mac/BSD, run this in your build directory:

make install

If you created a prefix as described above for multiple versions or multiple architectures, you should now create your symbolic links for user convenience and consistency. Example where /usr/brlcad/rel-7.8.0/mips32 was used as the install_dir prefix:

% ln -s rel-7.8.0/mips32 /usr/brlcad/stable
% ln -s stable/bin /usr/brlcad/bin
% ln -s stable/include /usr/brlcad/include
% ln -s stable/lib /usr/brlcad/lib
% ln -s stable/man /usr/brlcad/man
% ln -s stable/share /usr/brlcad/share
% ls -l /usr/brlcad
total 48
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel   10 12 Apr 09:00 bin -> stable/bin
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel   14 12 Apr 09:00 include -> stable/include
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel   10 12 Apr 09:00 lib -> stable/lib
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel   10 12 Apr 09:00 man -> stable/man
drwxr-xr-x   7 root  wheel  238 11 Apr 18:00 rel-7.8.0
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel   12 12 Apr 09:00 share -> stable/share
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  wheel    9 12 Apr 09:00 stable -> rel-7.8.0/mips32

Future versions of BRL-CAD may provide this symbolic link operation for you as a CMake configuration option.

On Windows:

You can run directly from the build directory. Browse to the "bin" directory from the GUI or from cmd.exe and run applications (e.g., mged).

Setup environment (optional)[edit]

At this point, everything should be ready for use. If the default prefix of /usr/brlcad was used or if the corresponding symbolic links were created, users should only need to add /usr/brlcad/bin to their PATH in order to find binaries for the package (optionally setting their MANPATH as well):

For bash:

export PATH=/usr/brlcad/bin:$PATH
export MANPATH=/usr/brlcad/man:$MANPATH

For csh/tcsh:

set path=( /usr/brlcad/bin $path )
setenv MANPATH /usr/brlcd/man:$MANPATH

If users do not want to modify their PATH, they can get by providing the full path to the binaries (e.g. /usr/brlcad/bin/mged). To find BRL-CAD manual pages without setting your MANPATH, use the provided "brlman" binary instead of "man".

Test installation[edit]

If everything went well, there should now be more than 400 command-line applications at your disposal for processing images and geometry. A quick test of functionality (and performance) is to run the BRL-CAD benchmark again, which is installed as the benchmark tool:


Additionally, you can run the MGED solid modeler: