Compile and Install Ubuntu

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The following instructions describe the compilation and installation of GRASS 6.x (or even 7) and its required dependencies completely from the source on Ubuntu based systems. Some things change fast and therefore it is expected that the instructions might fail. Please inform the grass-user list in case something just does not work (like for example non-available dependecies/packages from the repositories) or update the wiki respectively.

Very Important notes

  • Pre-compiled packages and backports are available from UbuntuGIS via their ppa.launchpad repositories. This is by far the simplest and fastest solution.
  • To build an updated version of GRASS or support libraries unmodified, in most cases it will be easier to use an automated build tool such as pbuilder, debuild or cowbuilder. See the debian/ directory in the source code for details.
  • GRASS version 6.5 exists for development purposes for testing features to-be backported to version 6.4. As such it may include unstable code and is not intended for end-users.


  • Installation of a compiled code can be done by using the tool checkinstall (i.e., sudo checkinstall instead of sudo make install) which makes removal of packages easier.
  • In multi-core processors compilation performance can be boosted with -j switches (e.g. make -j2 or make -j4) which specify the number of jobs (commands) to run simultaneously.


  • update the system from the repositories
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
  • install SQLite, SVN and dependencies for compiling PROJ, GEOS, GDAL/OGR, GRASS, GDAL-GRASS-PLUGIN:
sudo apt-get install \
 build-essential \
 make flex bison gcc libgcc1 g++ cmake ccache \
 swig swig1.3 \
 python python-dev python-qt4 python-qt4-dev \
 sip4 python-sip4 python-sip4-dev python-opengl \
 python-wxversion python-wxtools python-wxgtk2.8 \
 libgsl0-dev \
 wx2.8-headers wx-common libwxgtk2.8-dev libwxgtk2.8-dbg \
 libwxbase2.8-dev  libwxbase2.8-dbg \
 libncurses5-dev \
 zlib1g-dev gettext \
 libjpeg62-dev libtiff4-dev libpngwriter-dev \
 tcl8.4-dev tk8.4-dev \
 libcairo libcairo-dev \
 sqlite3 libsqlite3-dev \
 libpq-dev \
 libreadline5 libreadline5-dev libfreetype6-dev \
 txt2tags \
 fftw3 fftw3-dev \
 libqt4-core libqt4-dbg libqt4-dev libqt4-gui libqt4-sql libqt4-qt3support \
 lsb-qt4 qt4-designer qt4-dev-tools qt4-doc qt4-qtconfig \
 libapt-pkg-perl resolvconf \
 libjasper-dev \
 ruby \
  • For Ubuntu Lucid Lynx (10.04) or later, install:
sudo apt-get install libhdf4g-dev libhdf4-0-alt
  • For earlier Ubuntu versions, install:
sudo apt-get install libhdf4g-dev libhdf4g-run
  • create a directory as a simple user where all source code is going to be stored (in this example a directory called src under /usr/local is used)
sudo mkdir /usr/local/src
  • grant rwx (read-write-execute) permissions for our userid/ groupid on the directory (replace words userid and groupid with real userid):
sudo chown userid:groupid /usr/local/src
sudo chmod ug+rwx /usr/local/src


Use either the packaged version (possibly without support for datumgrid), or compile from source:

Packaged version

sudo apt-get install libproj-dev
  • In the call to ./configure for GRASS, replace /usr/local/share/proj/ by /usr/share/proj/

Compiled from source

  • within the directory /usr/local/src (create it if it does not exist) checkout proj from its Subversion repository:
svn co
mv proj-datumgrid-1.5.tar.gz /usr/local/src/proj/nad
  • decompress it
  • if required, clean previous configuration & compilation
make distclean
  • simple configure, compile and install
./configure && make && sudo make install


bunzip2 geos-3.2.2.tar.bz2
tar xvf  geos-3.2.2.tar
  • if required, clean previous configuration & compilation
make distclean
  • simple configure, compile and install
./configure  &&  make  &&  sudo make install
  • Ensure that /usr/local/lib is added to /etc/ and run /sbin/ldconfig afterwards
sudo ldconfig


  • GDAL must be compiled without GRASS support
  • download current stable version
svn checkout gdal
  • enter in directory gdal_stable
cd /usr/local/src/gdal_stable
  • optionally, update the source code
svn up
  • if required, clean previous configurations/compilations
make distclean
  • configure
CFLAGS="-g -Wall" LDFLAGS="-s" ./configure \
--with-png=internal \
--with-libtiff=internal \
--with-geotiff=internal \
--with-jpeg=internal \
--with-gif=internal \
--with-ecw=yes \
--with-expat=yes \
--with-expat-inc=/usr/include/ \
--with-expat-lib=/usr/lib \
--with-sqlite3=yes \
--with-geos=yes \
--with-python \
--with-libz=internal \
--with-netcdf \
--with-sqlite \
--with-threads=yes \
--without-grass  \
--without-ogdi \
--with-pg=/usr/bin/pg_config \
  • compile & install & ldconfig
make && sudo make install && sudo ldconfig


Before attempting to compile GRASS read section (C) titled (C) COMPILATION NOTES for 64bit platforms within the INSTALL file (which is located in the main directory of GRASS source code).

Suport for ffmpeg

  • add extra dependencies to get ffmpeg support when compiling grass' source code under Ubuntu 64bit
sudo apt-get install \
ffmpeg ffmpeg2theora \
libffmpegthumbnailer-dev \
libavcodec-dev \
libxmu-dev \
libavformat-dev libswscale-dev

Getting GRASS' source code

  • get current state of the 6.4.x release branch version (stable)
 svn checkout grass64_release

To download under development versions use:

  • for GRASS 6.5 (reminder: * GRASS version 6.5 exists for development purposes and is not intended for end-users)
svn checkout grass6_devel
  • for GRASS 7
svn checkout grass_trunk
  • for subsequent updates execute:
svn up

Configure, Compile and Install

  • if required, clean previous configuration & compilation
make distclean
  • example configuration (which can/should be adjusted according to specific needs):
CFLAGS="-g" ./configure \
--enable-debug \
--enable-64bit \
--with-libs=/usr/lib64 \
--with-cxx \
--with-readline \
--with-freetype=yes \
--with-freetype-includes="/usr/include/freetype2/" \
--enable-largefile=yes \
--with-proj-share=/usr/local/share/proj/ \
--with-geos=/usr/local/bin/geos-config \
--with-cairo \
--with-tcltk-includes="/usr/include/tcl8.4/" \
--with-wxwidgets \
--with-postgres=no \
--with-sqlite=yes \
--with-python=yes \
--with-opengl-libs=/usr/include/GL \
--with-ffmpeg=yes \
--with-ffmpeg-includes="/usr/include/libavcodec /usr/include/libavformat /usr/include/libswscale"
  • compile & install
make -j2 && sudo make install && sudo ldconfig

Post compilation/installation control

  • in case of errors in future compilation attempts, remember to remove program binaries and files created with the "configuration" from previous compilations with
make distclean
  • another common mistake is compiling a module against some GRASS version and then try to run it through another GRASS version. The solution is to recompile the affected module or, in case there are multiple GRASS installations, set up properly LD_LIBRARY_PATH paths.

Removal of GRASS

To get rid of a GRASS binaries installation, delete

  • /usr/local/grass-6.4.0svn (folder, binaries location)
  • /usr/local/bin/grass64 (file)
  • /usr/local/bin/gem64 (file)
  • /home/username/.grassrc6 (file)

If needed, remove also the source code:

  • /usr/local/src/grass_64svn (folder, source code location)