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# $Id$
Installing Bioperl on Windows
* 1 Introduction
* 2 Requirements
* 3 Installation using the Perl Package Manager
* 3.1 GUI Installation
* 3.2 Comand-line Installation
* 4 Installation using CPAN or manual installation
* 5 Bioperl
* 6 Perl on Windows
* 7 Bioperl on Windows
* 8 Beyond the Core
* 8.1 Setting environment variables
* 8.2 Installing bioperl-db
* 9 Bioperl in Cygwin
* 10 bioperl-db in Cygwin
* 11 Cygwin tips
* 12 MySQL and DBD::mysql
* 13 Expat
* 14 Directory for temporary files
* 15 BLAST
* 16 Compiling C code
This installation guide was written by Barry Moore, Nathan Haigh
and other Bioperl authors based on the original work of Paul Boutros. The
guide was updated for the BioPerl wiki by Chris Fields and Nathan
Please report problems and/or fixes to the BioPerl mailing list.
An up-to-date version of this document can be found on the BioPerl wiki:
Only ActivePerl >= is supported by the Bioperl team. Earlier
versions may work, but we do not support them.
One of the reason for this requirement is that ActivePerl >= now
use Perl Package Manager 4 (PPM4). PPM4 is now superior to earlier
versions and also includes a Graphical User Interface (GUI). In short,
it's easier for us to produce and maintain a package for installation via
PPM and also easier for you to do the install! Proceed with earlier
versions at your own risk.
To install ActivePerl:
1) Download the ActivePerl MSI from ActiveState
2) Run the ActivePerl Installer (accepting all defaults is fine).
Installation using the Perl Package Manager
GUI Installation
1) Start the Perl Package Manager GUI from the Start menu.
2) Go to Edit >> Preferences and click the Repositories tab. Add a
new repository for each of the following:
Repositories to add
| Name | Location |
|BioPerl-Release Candidates|[37] |
|BioPerl-Regular Releases |[38] |
|Kobes |[39]|
|Bribes |[40] |
3) Select View >> All Packages.
4) In the search box type bioperl.
5) Right click the latest version of Bioperl available and choose
5a) From bioperl 1.5.2 onward, all 'optional' pre-requisites will
be marked for installation. If you see that some of them complain
about needing a command-line installation (eg. XML::SAX::ExpatXS),
and you want those particular pre-requisites, stop now (skip step
6) and see the 'Command-line Installation' section.
6) Click the green arrow (Run marked actions) to complete the
Comand-line Installation
Use the ActiveState ppm-shell:
1) Open a cmd window by going to Start >> Run and typing
'cmd' and pressing return.
2) Do
C:> ppm-shell
3) Make sure you have the module PPM-Repositories. Try
installing it:
ppm> install PPM-Repositories
4) For BioPerl 1.6.1, we require at least the following
repositories. You may have some present already.
ppm> repo add
ppm> repo add uwinnipeg
ppm> repo add trouchelle
Because you have installed PPM-Repositories, PPM will know
your Perl version, and select the correct repo from the
table above.
5) Install BioPerl (not "bioperl").
ppm> install BioPerl
If you are running ActiveState Perl 5.10, you may have a
glitch involving SOAP::Lite. Use the following workaround:
1) Get the index numbers for your active repositories:
ppm> repo
| id | pkgs | name |
| 1 | 11431 | ActiveState Package Repository |
| 2 | 14 | |
| 3 | 291 | uwinnipeg |
| 4 | 11755 | trouchelle |
2) Execute the following commands. (The session here is
based on the above table. Substitute the correct index
numbers for your situation.)
rem -turn off ActiveState, trouchelle repos
ppm> repo off 1
ppm> repo off 4
rem -to get SOAP-Lite-0.69 from uwinnipeg...
ppm> install SOAP-Lite
rem -turn ActiveState, trouchelle back on...
ppm> repo on 1
ppm> repo on 4
rem -now try...
ppm> install BioPerl
Installation using CPAN or manual installation
Installation using PPM is preferred since it is easier, but if you run
into problems, or a ppm isn't available for the version/package of bioperl
you want, or you want to choose which optional dependencies to install,
you can install manually by downloading the appropriate package or by
using CPAN. In fact both methods ultimately need nmake to be
installed, CPAN to be upgraded to >= v1.81, Module::Build to be installed
(>= v0.2805) and Test::Harness to be upgraded to >= v2.62:
1) Download nmake
2) Double-click to run it, which extracts 3 files. Move both
NMAKE.EXE and the NMAKE.ERR files to a place in your PATH; if set
up properly, you can move these to your Perl bin directory,
normally C:\Perl\bin.
1) Open a cmd window by going to Start >> Run and typing 'cmd'
into the box and pressing return.
2) Type 'cpan' to enter the CPAN shell.
3) At the cpan> prompt, type 'install CPAN' to upgrade to the
latest version.
4) Quit (by typing 'q') and reload cpan. You may be asked some
configuration questions; accepting defaults is fine.
5) At the cpan> prompt, type 'o conf prefer_installer MB' to tell
CPAN to prefer to use Build.PL scripts for installation. Type 'o
conf commit' to save that choice.
6) At the cpan> prompt, type 'install Module::Build'.
7) At the cpan> prompt, type 'install Test::Harness'.
You can now follow the unix instructions for installing using CPAN, or
install manually:
8) Download the .zip version of the package you want.
9) Extract the archive in the normal way.
10) In a cmd window 'cd' to the directory you extracted to. Eg. if
you extracted to directory 'Temp', 'cd Temp\bioperl-1.5.2_100'
11) Type 'perl Build.PL' and answer the questions appropriately.
12) Type 'perl Build test'. All the tests should pass, but if they
don't, let us know. Your usage of Bioperl may not be affected
by the failure, so you can choose to continue anyway.
13) Type 'perl Build install' to install Bioperl.
Bioperl is a large collection of Perl modules (extensions to the
Perl language) that aid in the task of writing Perl code to deal
with sequence data in a myriad of ways. Bioperl provides objects for
various types of sequence data and their associated features and
annotations. It provides interfaces for analysis of these sequences with a
wide variety of external programs (BLAST, FASTA, clustalw and
EMBOSS to name just a few). It provides interfaces to various types of
databases both remote (GenBank, EMBL etc) and local (MySQL,
Flat_databases flat files, GFF etc.) for storage and retrieval of
sequences. And finally with its associated documentation and
mailing lists, Bioperl represents a community of bioinformatics
professionals working in Perl who are committed to supporting both
development of Bioperl and the new users who are drawn to the project.
While most bioinformatics and computational biology applications are
developed in UNIX/Linux environments, more and more programs are
being ported to other operating systems like Windows, and many users
(often biologists with little background in programming) are looking for
ways to automate bioinformatics analyses in the Windows environment.
Perl and Bioperl can be installed natively on Windows NT/2000/XP.
Most of the functionality of Bioperl is available with this type of
install. Much of the heavy lifting in bioinformatics is done by programs
originally developed in lower level languages like C and Pascal
(e.g. BLAST, clustalw, Staden etc). Bioperl simply acts as
a wrapper for running and parsing output from these external programs.
Some of those programs (BLAST for example) are ported to Windows.
These can be installed and work quite happily with Bioperl in the native
Windows environment. Some external programs such as Staden and the
EMBOSS suite of programs can only be installed on Windows by using
Cygwin and its gcc C compiler (see Bioperl in Cygwin, below).
Recent attempts to port EMBOSS to Windows, however, have been mostly
If you have a fairly simple project in mind, want to start using Bioperl
quickly, only have access to a computer running Windows, and/or don't mind
bumping up against some limitations then Bioperl on Windows may be a
good place for you to start. For example, downloading a bunch of sequences
from GenBank and sorting out the ones that have a particular
annotation or feature works great. Running a bunch of your sequences
against remote or local BLAST, parsing the output and storing it
in a MySQL database would be fine also.
Be aware that most Bioperl developers are working in some type of a
UNIX environment (Linux, OS X, Cygwin). If you have
problems with Bioperl that are specific to the Windows environment, you
may be blazing new ground and your pleas for help on the Bioperl mailing
list may get few responses (you can but try!) - simply because no one
knows the answer to your Windows specific problem. If this is or becomes a
problem for you then you are better off working in some type of UNIX-like
environment. One solution to this problem that will keep you working on a
Windows machine it to install Cygwin, a UNIX emulation environment for
Windows. A number of Bioperl users are using this approach successfully
and it is discussed in more detail below.
Perl on Windows
There are a couple of ways of installing Perl on a Windows machine. The
most common and easiest is to get the most recent build from
ActiveState, a software company that provides free builds of Perl for
Windows users. The current (October 2006) build is ActivePerl
Bioperl also works on Perl 5.6.x, but due to installation problems etc,
only ActivePerl or later is supported for WinXP installation.
To install ActivePerl on Windows:
1) Download the ActivePerl MSI from
2) Run the ActivePerl Installer (accepting all defaults is fine).
You can also build Perl yourself (which requires a C compiler) or download
one of the other binary distributions. The Perl source for building it
yourself is available from CPAN, as are a few other binary
distributions that are alternatives to ActiveState. This approach is not
recommended unless you have specific reasons for doing so and know what
you're doing. If that's the case you probably don't need to be reading
this guide.
Cygwin is a UNIX emulation environment for Windows and comes with
its own copy of Perl.
Information on Cygwin and Bioperl is found below.
Bioperl on Windows
Perl is a programming language that has been extended a lot by the
addition of external modules.
These modules work with the core language to extend the functionality of
Bioperl is one such extension to Perl. These modular extensions to
Perl sometimes depend on the functionality of other Perl modules and this
creates a dependency. You can't install module X unless you have already
installed module Y. Some Perl modules are so fundamentally useful that the
Perl developers have included them in the core distribution of Perl - if
you've installed Perl then these modules are already installed. Other
modules are freely available from CPAN, but you'll have to install them
yourself if you want to use them. Bioperl has such dependencies.
Bioperl is actually a large collection of Perl modules (over 1000
currently) and these modules are split into seven packages. These seven
packages are:
| Bioperl Group | Functions |
|bioperl (the core) |Most of the main functionality of Bioperl |
|bioperl-run |Wrappers to a lot of external programs |
|bioperl-ext |Interaction with some alignment functions and the|
| |Staden package |
|bioperl-db |Using Bioperl with BioSQL and local relational |
| |databases |
|bioperl-microarray |Microarray specific functions |
|bioperl-pedigree |manipulating genotype, marker, and individual |
| |data for linkage studies |
|bioperl-gui |Some preliminary work on a graphical user |
| |interface to some Bioperl functions |
The Bioperl core is what most new users will want to start with. Bioperl
(the core) and the Perl modules that it depends on can be easily installed
with the perl package Manager PPM. PPM is an ActivePerl utility for
installing Perl modules on systems using ActivePerl. PPM will look online
(you have to be connected to the internet of course) for files (these
files end with .ppd) that tell it how to install the modules you want and
what other modules your new modules depends on. It will then download and
install your modules and all dependent modules for you.
These .ppd files are stored online in PPM repositories. ActiveState
maintains the largest PPM repository and when you installed ActivePerl PPM
was installed with directions for using the ActiveState repositories.
Unfortunately the ActiveState repositories are far from complete and other
ActivePerl users maintain their own PPM repositories to fill in the gaps.
Installing will require you to direct PPM to look in three new
repositories as detailed in Installation Guide.
Once PPM knows where to look for Bioperl and it's dependencies you simply
tell PPM to search for packages with a particular name, select those of
interest and then tell PPM to install the selected packages.
Beyond the Core
You may find that you want some of the features of other Bioperl groups
like bioperl-run or bioperl-db. Currently, plans include setting up PPM
packages for installing these parts of Bioperl; check this by doing a
Bioperl search in PPM. If these are not available, though, you can use
the following instructions for installing the other distributions.
For this you will need a Windows version of the program make
called nmake:
You will also want to have a willingness to experiment. You'll have to
read the installation documents for each component that you want to
install, and use nmake where the instructions call for make, like so:
perl Makefile.PL
nmake test
nmake install
'nmake test' will likely produce lots of warnings, many of these can be
safely ignored (these stem from the excessively paranoid '-w' flag in
ActivePerl). You will have to determine from the installation documents
what dependencies are required, and you will have to get them, read their
documentation and install them first. It is recommended that you look
through the PPM repositories for any modules before resorting to using
nmake as there isn't any guarantee modules built using nmake will work.
The details of this are beyond the scope of this guide. Read the
documentation. Search Google. Try your best, and if you get stuck consult
with others on the BioPerl mailing list.
Setting environment variables
Some modules and tools such as Bio::Tools::Run::StandAloneBlast and
clustal_w, require that environment variables are set; a few examples
are listed in the INSTALL document. Different versions of Windows utilize
different methods for setting these variables. NOTE: The instructions that
comes with the BLAST executables for setting up BLAST on Windows are
out-of-date. Go to the following web address for instructions on setting
up standalone BLAST for Windows:
* For Windows XP, go here. This does not require a reboot but all
active shells will not reflect any changes made to the environment.
* For older versions (Windows 95 to ME), generally editing the
C:\autoexec.bat file to add a variable works. This requires a reboot.
Here's an example:
set BLASTDB=C:\blast\data
For either case, you can check the variable this way:
C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator>echo %BLASTDB%
Some versions of Windows may have problems differentiating forward and
back slashes used for directories. In general, always use backslashes (\).
If something isn't working properly try reversing the slashes to see if it
For setting up Cygwin environment variables quirks, see an example
Installing bioperl-db
bioperl-db now works for Windows w/o installing CygWin. This has
primarily been tested on WinXP using MySQL5, but it is expected that other
bioperl-db supported databases (PostgreSQL, Oracle) should work.
You will need Bioperl rel. 1.5.2, a relational database (I use MySQL5 here
as an example), and the Perl modules DBI and DBD::mysql, which
can be installed from PPM as desribed above (make sure the additional
repositories for Kobes and Bribes are added, they will have the latest
releases). Do NOT try using nmake with these modules as they will not
build correctly under Windows! The PPM builds, by Randy Kobes, have been
modified and tested specifically for Windows and ActivePerl.
NOTE: we plan on having a PPM for bioperl-db available along with the
regular bioperl 1.5.2 release PPM. We will post instructions at that
time on using PPM to install bioperl-db.
To begin, follow instructions detailed in the Installation Guide for
adding the three new repositories (Bioperl, Kobes and Bribes). Then
install the following packages:
1) DBI
2) DBD-mysql
The next step involves creating a database. The following steps are for
>mysqladmin -u root -p create bioseqdb
Enter password: **********
The database needs to be loaded with the BioSQL schema, which can be
downloaded as a tarball here.
>mysql -u root -p bioseqdb < biosqldb-mysql.sql
Enter password: **********
Download bioperl-db from CVS. Use the following to install the
perl Makefile.PL
Now, for testing out bioperl-db, make a copy of the file
DBHarness.conf.example in the bioperl-db test subdirectory (bioperl-db\t).
Rename it to DBHarness.biosql.conf, and modify it for your database setup
(particularly the user, password, database name, and driver). Save the
file, change back to the main bioperl-db directory, and run 'nmake test'.
You may see lots of the following lines,
Subroutine Bio::Annotation::Reference::(eq redefined at C:/Perl/lib/ line 25,
<GEN0> line 1.
Subroutine new redefined at C:\Perl\src\bioperl\bioperl-live/Bio\Annotation\ line 80,
<GEN0> line 1.
which can be safely ignored (again, these come from ActivePerl's paranoid
'-w' flag). All tests should pass. NOTE : tests should be run with
a clean database with the BiOSQL schema loaded, but w/o taxonomy loaded
(see below).
To install, run:
nmake install
It is recommended that you load the taxonomy database using the script included in biosql-schema\scripts. You will need to
download the latest taxonomy files. This can be accomplished using the
-download flag in, but it will not 'untar' the file
correctly unless you have GNU tar present in your PATH (which most Windows
users will not have), thus causing the following error:
> -download -driver mysql -dbname bioseqdb -dbuser root -dbpass **********
The system cannot find the path specified.
Loading NCBI taxon database in taxdata:
... retrieving all taxon nodes in the database
... reading in taxon nodes from nodes.dmp
Couldn't open data file taxdata/nodes.dmp: No such file or directory rollback ineffective with
AutoCommit enabled at C:\Perl\src\bioperl\biosql-schema\scripts\ line 818.
Rollback ineffective while AutoCommit is on at
C:\Perl\src\bioperl\biosql-schema\scripts\ line 818.
rollback failed: Rollback ineffective while AutoCommit is on
Use a file decompression utility like 7-Zip to 'untar' the files in
the folder (if using 7-Zip, this can be accomplished by right-clicking on
the file and using the option 'Extract here'). Rerun the script without
the -download flag to load the taxonomic information. Be patient, as this
can take quite a while:
> -driver mysql -dbname bioseqdb -dbuser root -dbpass **********
Loading NCBI taxon database in taxdata:
... retrieving all taxon nodes in the database
... reading in taxon nodes from nodes.dmp
... insert / update / delete taxon nodes
... (committing nodes)
... rebuilding nested set left/right values
... reading in taxon names from names.dmp
... deleting old taxon names
... inserting new taxon names
... cleaning up
Now, load the database with your sequences using the script, in bioperl-db's bioperl-db\script directory:
C:\Perl\src\bioperl\bioperl-db\scripts\biosql> -drive mysql
-dbname bioseqdb -dbuser root -dbpass **********
Loading NP_249092.gpt ...
You may see occasional errors depending on the sequence format, which is a
non-platform-related issue. Many of these are due to not having an updated
taxonomic database and may be rectified by updating the taxonomic
information as detailed in's POD.
Thanks to Baohua Wang, who found the initial Windows-specific problem in
Bio::Root::Root that led to this fix, to Sendu Bala for fixing
Bug #1938, and to Hilmar Lapp for his input.
Bioperl in Cygwin
Cygwin is a Unix emulator and shell environment available free at Bioperl v. 1.* supposedly runs well within Cygwin,
though the latest release has not been tested with Cygwin yet. Some
users claim that installation of Bioperl is easier within Cygwin than
within Windows, but these may be users with UNIX backgrounds. A note on
Cygwin: it doesn't write to your Registry, it doesn't alter your system or
your existing files in any way, it doesn't create partitions, it simply
creates a cygwin/ directory and writes all of its files to that directory.
To uninstall Cygwin just delete that directory.
One advantage of using Bioperl in Cygwin is that all the external modules
are available through CPAN - the same cannot be said of ActiveState's PPM
To get Bioperl running first install the basic Cygwin package as well as
the Cygwin perl, make, binutils, and gcc packages. Clicking the View
button in the upper right of the installer window enables you to see
details on the various packages. Then start up Cygwin and follow the
Bioperl installation instructions for UNIX in Bioperl's INSTALL file
bioperl-db in Cygwin
This package is installed using the instructions contained in the package,
without modification. Since postgres is a package within Cygwin this is
probably the easiest of the 3 platforms supported in bioperl-db to
install (postgres, Mysql, Oracle).
Cygwin tips
If you can, install Cygwin on a drive or partition that's
NTFS-formatted, not FAT32-formatted. When you install Cygwin on
a FAT32 partition you will not be able to set permissions and ownership
correctly. In most situations this probably won't make any difference but
there may be occasions where this is a problem.
If you're trying to use some application or resource outside of Cygwin
directory and you're having a problem remember that Cygwin's path syntax
may not be the correct one. Cygwin understands /home/jacky or
/cygdrive/e/cygwin/home/jacky (when referring to the E: drive) but the
external resource may want E:/cygwin/home/jacky. So your *rc files may end
up with paths written in these different syntaxes, depending.
MySQL and DBD::mysql
You may want to install a relational database in order to use BioPerl
db, BioSQL or OBDA. The easiest way to install Mysql is to use
the Windows binaries available at Note that
Windows does not have sockets, so you need to force the Mysql connections
to use TCP/IP instead. Do this by using the -h, or host, option from the
command-line. Example:
>mysql -h -u <user> -p<password> <database>
Alternatively you could install postgres instead of MySQL, postgres is
already a package in Cygwin.
One known issue is that DBD::mysql can be tricky to install in Cygwin
and this module is required for the bioperl-db, Biosql, and
bioperl-pipeline external packages. Fortunately there's some good
instructions online:
* Instructions included with DBD::mysql:
* Additional instructions if you run into any problems; this
information is more up-to-date, covers post-2.9 DBD::mysql quirks in
Note that expat comes with Cygwin (it's used by the modules
XML::Parser and XML::SAX::ExpatXS, which are used by certain
Bioperl modules).
Directory for temporary files
Set the environmental variable TMPDIR, programs like BLAST and
clustalw need a place to create temporary files. e.g.:
setenv TMPDIR e:/cygwin/tmp # csh, tcsh
export TMPDIR=e:/cygwin/tmp # sh, bash
This is not the syntax that Cygwin understands, which would be something
like /cygdrive/e/cygwin/tmp or /tmp, this is the syntax that a Windows
application expects.
If this variable is not set correctly you'll see errors like this when you
run Bio::Tools::Run::StandAloneBlast:
------------- EXCEPTION: Bio::Root::Exception -------------
MSG: Could not open /tmp/gXkwEbrL0a: No such file or directory
STACK: Error::throw
If you want use BLAST we recommend that the Windows binary be obtained
from NCBI ( - the
file will be named something like blast-2.2.13-ia32-win32.exe). Then
follow the Windows instructions in README.bls. You will also need to set
the BLASTDIR environment variable to reflect the directory which holds the
blast executable and data folder. You may also want to set other variables
to reflect the location of your databases and substitution matrices if
they differ from the location of your blast executables; see
Installing Bioperl for Unix for more details.
Compiling C code
Although we've recommended using the BLAST and MySQL binaries
you should be able to compile just about everything else from source code
using Cygwin's gcc. You'll notice when you're installing Cygwin that many
different libraries are also available (gd, jpeg, etc.).
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