BRL-CAD source files contain an INSTALL file with general instructions. This page contains simplified tips for building quickly.
Obtain Dev Tools
If you downloaded the virtual machine disk image, YOU DON'T NEED TO INSTALL ANYTHING ELSE. Skip this step.
BRL-CAD uses the CMake build system and will compile with most compilers, so first up is to download and install it. If needed, compiling from their source distribution is actually very easy.
If you're on some other Debian/Ubuntu system, you can install pretty much everything you might want with aptitude:
aptitude install build-essential make cmake aptitude install sed byacc flex xsltproc aptitude install libncursesw5-dev libfontconfig-dev aptitude install xserver-xorg-dev aptitude install libx11-dev libxi-dev libxt-dev libxau-dev libxext-dev libxmu-dev libxmu-headers
If you're on a Mac or Windows, you just need to install CMake and developer tools.
If you downloaded the virtual machine disk image, WE ALREADY DID THIS FOR YOU. Run svn up brlcad.svn and you'll find the latest source code in that brlcad.svn directory.
Release sources may be obtained from Sourceforge or directory from Subversion:
svn checkout https://brlcad.svn.sourceforge.net/svnroot/brlcad/brlcad/trunk brlcad cd brlcad
Next, we set up a build directory and configure our compilation. BRL-CAD adhere's to a high conformance standard and considers most warnings as errors, so we turn off that strict behavior just so the build doesn't halt on trivialities.
We could add -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release to get an optimized build or -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug to get one better suited for development work.
mkdir .build cd .build cmake .. -DBRLCAD_ENABLE_STRICT=OFF -DBRLCAD_BUNDLED_LIBS=ON
Compilation will usually take anywhere from a couple minutes to an hour depending on your hardware. If you had a quad-core CPU, you might run '"make -j4" to request compiling in parallel.
make make test
We run make test to see if all went well. If the build fails, it can be helpful to run make again capturing output to a log file. E.g., make > build.log 2>&1
Depending on the version of sources you start with, BRL-CAD should install into /usr/brlcad/SUBDIR where SUBDIR is rel-VERSION or dev-VERSION.
sudo make install ls -la /usr/brlcad /usr/brlcad/*/bin/mged
You don't have to install, though, and can just run binaries that are in the brlcad/.build/bin directory.
That's it! If you have a Release compile, you can submit your benchmark results to benchmark at brlcad dot org. Be sure to check out the extensive Documentation and Main_Page for tutorials and Contributor Quickies for ways to get involved!