Building from SVN

Obtain the sources

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 non-developers:

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 distributions will also have SVN available in their package repositories.

Generate the configure script

cd brlcad

If reports that the build system is NOT ready and it's not clear why, rerun in verbose mode:

./ --verbose

An example generating the configure script on Mac OS X

You need to do " sudo port install libtool" to get GNU version of libtool.

imac:brlcad username$ sudo ln -s /usr/local/bin/glibtoolize /usr/bin/libtoolize
imac:brlcad username$ ./
Preparing the BRL-CAD build system...please wait

Found GNU Autoconf version 2.61
Found GNU Automake version 1.10
Found GNU Libtool version 1.5.26

Automatically preparing build ... done

The BRL-CAD build system is now prepared.  To build here, run:
imac:brlcad username$

Configure the build system

./configure --help
./configure --prefix=install_dir --enable-optimized

When building for multiuser file servers it is often useful to make the install_dir reflect the version and/or architecture of the compile. This way a single server can provide multiple versions of BRL-CAD or multiple binary formats for various architectures. 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


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.


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 configure option. Keep an eye out in the configure --help output.

Setup environment (optional)

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

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: