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POV-Ray - The Persistence of Vision Raytracer

This document is a WIP

This document is still a work in progress. While the POV-Ray project itself has existed for more than 20 years, this is the first time we have done a release on github, so please bear with us - it's a little bare at the moment.

Last edit: 2016-10-09

Build Status

We're constantly monitoring the code quality of (almost) all branches and pull requests, to make sure the code builds ok on our major target platforms. The current status of our master branch is reported as follows:

  • Build status (AppVeyor: Windows Server 2012 with Visual Studio 2015)
  • Build Status (Semaphore: Ubuntu 14.04 LTE 64-bit with gcc 4.8)
  • Build Status (Travis CI: Ubuntu 12.04 LTE 64-bit with gcc 4.6 and with clang 4.2; OS X 10.11 with gcc 4.2 and with clang 4.2)


The source for POV-Ray v3.7 is licensed under the AGPL3. The documentation is under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 license, and support files such as SDL includes, macros, sample scenes and so forth are under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (see each file header for the specific one).


Discussion regarding POV-Ray is traditionally done via our forums at These are also available via NNTP at news:// for those preferring that.

Please note that the POV-Ray developers do not monitor all forums regularly. The ones we tend to check most frequently are povray.general, and povray.unix.

Bug Reports

It's generally a good idea to mention a bug in the forums prior to lodging a formal report; this can save you some time if it's a non-bug or a solution is known. You should also first check the known issues to see if it has been reported already.

If you're sure something is a bug then please do lodge a bug report on the GitHub issues tracker.

Official Binaries

At this point in time, the only platform for which the project distributes pre-built 'official' (i.e. supported) binaries is Microsoft Windows. These may be obtained via We do intend to provide Mac OS X binaries shortly, but these will be console-mode only (based on the unix build).

Building POV-Ray

At this point in time we generally recommend building from the latest version of the 3.7-stable branch. Alternatively, you may want to opt for a recent tagged version to test-drive features that have been added since the last stable release.

Please do not build directly from the master branch (or any other non-stable branch for that matter), as versions from that branch may report ambiguous version numbers, making it difficult to obtain version-specific support or report bugs in a useful manner.

POV-Ray should compile on any POSIX-compliant system with the required tools (please see unix/ for build instructions), on Microsoft Windows systems that have Visual Studio 2010 or later installed (targeting XP or later, both 32 and 64-bit - be sure to see README.HTML in the windows source dir, otherwise your build will not work), and also on Mac systems (console mode only, using an appropriately-modified version of the unix build - not currently provided by us).

If you are using an operating system with a package or ports system such as Ubuntu or FreeBSD, you may like to check whether or not POV-Ray 3.7 is available via that route.

IDE versions

Currently the only version of POV-Ray with an IDE as such is the Windows build. We do want to change that, though. With the release of POV-Ray 3.7 we have added a clear split between the backend (renderer) and frontend (UI or console), along with a C++ layer which abstracts this into a fairly easily-understood set of classes (VFE, aka 'Virtual Front End').

We will offer support to those wishing to use this interface layer to integrate POV-Ray into an open-source cross-platform IDE. We would also be interested in hearing suggestions as to what we could base such an IDE on, should we go ahead to integrate it ourselves.

Putting it another way: we consider getting a cross-platform IDE a high priority.

3D Modeller

POV-Ray does not currently have its own 3d modelling application (at least, not one in a usable state). We do own the rights to the Moray modeller, which was formerly commercial, but it needs a little work to get it working with v3.7. It is also Windows only (due to its use of MFC). Nevertheless we will be adding the source to the repository at a future date.

Authors of open-source modellers with a compatible licence wishing to directly integrate POV-Ray are welcome to contact us for support in doing so.


When built and installed via the means provided in the source tree, all versions of POV-Ray come with documentation. For the Unix build, this is in the form of a manpage giving basic usage, and full HTML-based documentation. For the Windows version, there is a HtmlHelp (.CHM) file provided.

The official location for the online documentation is, however please be aware that at the time of writing this still has the version 3.6 docs. This will be updated shortly.

Contacting Us

We prefer that you contact us via the forums mentioned at the head of this document. If the matter is one that requires direct email contact (and this generally will NOT include tech support requests, though exceptions are made for package maintainers) you may use the address listed at the bottom of