Compiling on macOS using Homebrew

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Revision as of 12:55, 16 August 2016 by Mankoff (talk | contribs) (Install instructions that fix gdal2 netcdf issue. Also works w/ non-standard Python install.)

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What is homebrew and why use it

To quote from their website:

Homebrew is the missing package manager for OS X:

  • easy to install
  • does not need administrator privileges
  • installs packages to their own directory and then symlinks their files into /usr/local

For further information to install it and how to use it, see the Homebrew website and the Wiki.

The formulas to install programs are called recipes and they make it possible to install several version of the same program (as well as HEAD of different Version Control Systems) at the same time which can then be symlinked. This makes it perfect for the purpose of in=stalling HEAD of GRASS GIS for testing purposes.

How to install GRASS GIS 7.1 SVN Head

I assume that homebrew is installed and working.

Different recipes are organized in so called taps which need to be added to homebrew by using brew tap command. The GRASS GIS 7.1 recipes are in the following github repo:

In addition, GRASS GIS has dependencies which can be found in the homebrew/science tap.

To add these two to homebrew, one has to use the commands

     brew tap rkrug/head-only  
     brew tap homebrew/science
     brew update

If you want to use the option --with-liblas make sure that liblas is build using the correct installed version of gdal by running

     brew install liblas
     brew install --build-from-source liblas

The first comand installs from bottles (binary) when available, and the second command reinstalls liblas by building it from source, therby using installed dependencies.

Otherwise you might get the following error when using the option --with-liblas:

     checking whether to use libLAS... yes
     checking for liblas-config... /usr/local/opt/liblas/bin/liblas-config
     configure: error: *** Unable to locate libLAS library.

Thanks to Glynn Clements for identifying this error (see the mail on gmane).

Finally, GRASS 7.1 SVN can be installed by

     brew install --HEAD grass-71

This should be it.

If this does not work, please leave comments at the issues page of the tap or at the grass-dev mailing list.

GRASS GIS 7.0.x for El Capitan without disabling SIP

The new homebrew recipe for GRASS 7.0 does install on El Capitan with SIP enabled! This is thanks to Larry Shaffer. See

The recipe is part of the Homebrew-osgeo4mac tap, see

for info on how to use them.

Install Instructions on OS X with Brew and Anaconda Python

Installations can get complicated or fail if the primary Python is not the system Python, and/or is Python 3. The following commands helped install GRASS 7.0.4 on OS X 10.11.6 even when Anacaconda Python3 is the default Python.

Display the current path, and remove any folders or directories that provide access to the non-system python2.7:

   echo $PATH
   #  ~/local/anaconda/bin:/Users/MyName/bin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/bin/sbin

Reset path


Set GRASS python

   export GRASS_PYTHON=/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/Current/bin/pythonw

Add osgeo to brew as described above:

   brew tap osgeo/osgeo4mac
   brew install numpy
   brew install wxpython
   brew install netcdf
   brew install gdal --with-complete
   brew install grass-70 --with-netcdf --with-gdal-1


  1. PATH adjustments are only needed during installation. After installation, the PATH can return to its default value and GRASS works fine.
  2. If brew install grass-70 is run without explicitly installing gdal as above, gdal-2 is installed. This led to problems importing NetCDF data. Installing gdal with --with-complete and then explicitly telling grass-70 to use that version fixed this issue.
  3. There may be other brew dependencies that were installed previously and therefore not listed here.

From here

  • There is an osgeo4mac which contains recipes for GRASS GIS 6.4 and 7.0 and other GIS tools - highly re=commendable tap!
  • by running
     brew test -v grass-71

you can run GRASS GIS tests but they are not implemented as they should be - work in progress.