Install from source without a virtual environmentΒΆ

The following are the basic steps to compile and install NEST from source code. See the CMake Options or the High Performance Computing instructions to further adjust settings for your system.

  • If not already installed on your system, the following packages are recommended.


The list below does not include the requirements for building documentation or running NEST server. The complete list of packages for an entire development environment can be found in the environment.yml file. For more information see the Documentation workflows and NEST Server docs.

sudo apt install -y \
cmake \
gsl-bin \
libgsl-dev \
libboost-dev \
cython3 \
libreadline-dev \
python3-all-dev \
python3-numpy \
python3-scipy \
python3-matplotlib \
python3-nose \
python3-junitparser \
ipython3 \
python3-future \
openmpi-bin \
libopenmpi-dev \
python3-mpi4py \
libmusic-dev \
music-bin \
python3-pip \
python3-pytest \
python3-pytest-timeout \
  • Create an install directory

mkdir nest-install

We will refer to the full path of this directory by <nest_install_dir>.

  • Create a build directory:

mkdir nest-build
  • Change to the build directory:

cd nest-build
  • Configure NEST. You may need additional cmake options (see CMake Options for NEST). Installing NEST with Python outside a virtual Python environment requires the cmake option -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=<nest_install_dir>.

cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX:PATH=<nest_install_dir>  </path/to/NEST/src/>


<nest_install_dir> should be an absolute path


Python bindings are enabled by default. Add the configuration option -Dwith-python=OFF to disable them.

  • Compile and install NEST:

make install
make installcheck

For your convenience, a shell script setting all required environment variables is provided in <nest_install_dir>/bin/ Setting the environment variables in your active shell session requires sourcing the script:

source <nest_install_dir>/bin/