Getting the source code

    You have two ways of getting the most recent source code:

    Using darcs

    This is the recommended way of installing Basilisk.

    This is useful if you want to modify the code (because everything is version-controlled) and also if you want to maintain your version up-to-date.

    On a Debian-like system (i.e. Debian, Ubuntu etc…) installing darcs is as easy as

    sudo apt install darcs flex bison make gawk

    To get the latest Basilisk source code do

    darcs get

    If later you want to update the source code, you just need to do

    cd basilisk
    darcs pull

    and recompile using

    make -k clean
    make -k

    Note that the Basilisk View installation may also need separate recompilation.

    Using a tarball

    If for some reason you can’t use darcs, you can use this instead. You will get exactly the same version as with darcs, but the code will not be version-controlled.

    tar xzf basilisk.tar.gz

    If you don’t have wget, just follow the link, save the file or extract the archive where you want to install it.


    For compilation, the only requirement is a C99-compliant compiler and the make utility (a version of make compatible with GNU make is recommended but not essential).

    If you are using gcc on a UNIX-like system, this should work:

    cd basilisk/src
    export BASILISK=$PWD
    export PATH=$PATH:$PWD
    ln -s config.gcc config
    make -k

    Note that on 32-bits systems you need to use config.gcc.32bits instead.

    If you are using another system/compiler, find a config file which looks close to yours, then try

    cd basilisk/src
    ls config.*
    cp config.[your pick] config

    You can also edit this file to customise things for your system (please also consider sharing your new config file).

    Note also that there is a specific installation guide contributed by Mac OSX users.

    To avoid having to re-type the two export commands above everytime you login, you should also add them to your $HOME/.bashrc file. You can either edit $HOME/.bashrc manually or do

    cd basilisk/src
    echo "export BASILISK=$PWD" >> ~/.bashrc
    echo "export PATH=\$PATH:$BASILISK" >> ~/.bashrc

    Useful additional packages

    • gnuplot (> 4.2)
    • imagemagick
    • ffmpeg
    • graphviz
    • valgrind
    • gifsicle
    • pstoedit

    and also gprof2dot. On a Debian-like system (i.e. Debian, Ubuntu, Mint etc…) you just need to do

    sudo apt install gnuplot imagemagick ffmpeg graphviz valgrind gifsicle pstoedit


    By default Basilisk will be configured for interactive visualisation with Basilisk View. Online visualisation with view.h will not work however (it will just produce black images). Online visualisation requires an implementation of OpenGL which allows writing into framebuffers, which can be difficult to setup on some systems.

    To setup online visualisation, three steps are required:

    1. Follow the instructions in gl/INSTALL to choose an OpenGL implementation and compile the libraries.
    2. Edit the config file to setup the corresponding libraries.
    3. Make again.

    Using Basilisk from within python

    You will need SWIG which can easily be installed with

    sudo apt install swig libpython-dev

    You also need to setup the MDFLAGS and PYTHONINCLUDE variables in your config file.

    Installation of optional libraries

    The standard makefile/installation does not build all the libraries provided by Basilisk because they may depend on other programs/libraries which are not generally necessary. The modules which require additional installation are

    This depends on a Fortran compiler, just do

    sudo apt install gfortran
    cd $BASILISK/ppr

    Getting started

    The best place to start is the tutorial.

    Useful links

    • Statically-linked ffmpeg executables: this can be useful to get ffmpeg on systems with deficient packaging. Note however that this is definitely not the best way to install ffmpeg.