Daniel Arndt edited this page Jul 22, 2018 · 36 revisions

This wiki page contains information about how to use deal.II on the

Using deal.II with the Windows Subsystem for Linux

Warning: please be aware that the following is experimental and you will likely encounter bugs in compilers and deal.II itself. Only continue if you are willing to experiment.

Windows 10 has gained a compatibility layer for running Linux binaries natively on Windows. You can find more information on the Wikipedia page.

In the following section a detailed HowTo is given to install the subsystem and a Linux distribution on top of it. Our choice at hand is Debian GNU/Linux because it already contains the latest deal.II release in binary form. (Note: The same is true for the Ubuntu distribution.)

(Required) Installing the subsystem and Debian GNU/Linux

Have a look at the excellent documentation about the Linux subsystem on the Windows help pages

  1. (As described in detail on the Windows help pages, we first have to install the subsystem. For this, locate the Windows PowerShell in your Start menu (Start -> Windows PowerShell), right click on Windows PowerShell -> More -> Run as administrator

  2. Install the subsystem by using the following command

    Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux

    and restart

  3. Open the Microsoft Store and search for "Debian", and install "Get Debian GNU/Linux". When finished start the application. You will be prompted to enter a username and password.

  4. Switch to the "root" account by running

    user@computer% sudo -s

    Enter the password that you used in step 3.

  5. Edit the package manager configuration by using nano (or an editor of your choice):

    root@computer# nano /etc/apt/sources.list

    You should see three lines. If they contain the release name stretch, remove all three lines and replace them with a single line:

    deb buster main contrib non-free
  6. Now update/upgrade the system by running

    root@computer# apt update
    root@computer# apt dist-upgrade
    Do you want to continue? [Y/n] <Enter>
    root@computer# apt autoremove
    Do you want to continue? [Y/n] <Enter>

(Required) Installing the deal.II library and tools

We continue the installation process by installing the deal.II library with development headers and documentation. The packages in Debian (or Ubuntu) are called libdeal.ii-dev and libdeal.ii-doc:

  1. As root user (see above) run:

    root@computer# apt install libdeal.ii-dev libdeal.ii-doc
    [... long list ...]
    0 upgraded, 443 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
    Need to get 441 MB of archives.
    After this operation, 2,016 MB of additional disk space will be used.
    Do you want to continue? [Y/n] <Enter>

    At this point, let us install a number of useful, additional tools:

    root@computer# apt install build-essential cmake ninja-build gdb clang clang-format
    Do you want to continue? [Y/n] <Enter>

    If you plan to use graphical tools, a number of useful programs are:

    root@computer# apt install xterm gnuplot
    Do you want to continue? [Y/n] <Enter>

    You can also install gnuplot and ParaView natively on Windows to view the files created by deal.II.

    If you plan to use MSVC, you will also need to install ssh, rsync, zip and unzip:

    root@computer# apt install ssh zip unzip rsync
    Do you want to continue? [Y/n] <Enter>

    You will also need to install git:

    root@computer# apt-get install git-core
    Do you want to contiue? [Y/n] <Enter>

    If you would like to use the CMake version managed by Microsoft, run the following:

    git clone
    cd cmake
    mkdir out
    cd out
    cmake ../
    sudo make install

    Now, exit the root account:

    root@computer# exit
  2. Do a quick "smoke test" whether everything installed fine by compiling and running the first example step:

    user@computer$ cd
    user@computer$ cp -r /usr/share/doc/libdeal.ii-doc/examples/step-55 .
    user@computer$ cd step-55
    user@computer$ cmake .
    user@computer$ make release
    user@computer$ make run
    [100%] Built target run

(Recommended) Installing an X server

In order to run graphical applications from within the Linux Subsystem a so-called X server has to be installed. This step is in particular necessary, if you plan to install Eclipse, or KDevelop via the Linux subsystem.

  1. Download and install xming.

  2. Start xming. A styliced X should appear in the task bar.

  3. Open a Linux terminal and try to run xterm:

    user@computer$ export DISPLAY=:0
    user@computer$ xterm

    This should spawn a new window with a shell. Simply close the shell again.

  4. In order to avoid to have to export DISPLAY=:0 every single time, it is convenient to append

    export DISPLAY=:0

    to the end of the .bashrc file.

You should now be able to proceed and run all graphical and command lines tools that are mentioned in the documentation and video lectures about deal.II.

(Optional) Installing Microsoft Visual Studio Community Edition

This step is optional and only needed if you intent to use MSVC for code development. (Great alternatives are Eclipse, or KDevelop.)

  1. Go to the Microsoft website and download Microsoft Visual Studio Community Edition. Visual Studio versions below 15.8.0 will have problems with IntelliSense. You might need to install the Preview edition of Visual Studio to get version 15.8.0.

  2. Launch the web installer. Make sure to select "Linux development with C++"

  3. Restart.

  4. To fix occasional IntelliSense bugs, install the Visual Studio tool IntelliSense Extender.

Create MSVC project

Next, let us create a small example project with MSVC. First, you have to decide where the MSVC project shall be located. For this example we will use the directory workspace in the (Windows) documents directory of the current user located on driver C. The corresponding path to access this directory from Linux is /mnt/c/Users/<user>/Documents/workspace. (Substitute <user> with your Windows username in the following console listings!)

  1. Copy an example step to the Windows user directory. For this, start the Linux terminal again and cd to the user directory and copy and example step:

    user@computer$ mkdir -p /mnt/c/Users/<user>/Documents/workspace
    user@computer$ cd /mnt/c/Users/<user>/Documents/workspace
    user@computer$ cp -r /usr/share/doc/libdeal.ii-doc/examples/step-6 .
    user@computer$ cd step-6
    user@computer$ cmake .
  2. (Only once) Download a script for generating Visual C++ Linux project files:

    user@computer$ cd /mnt/c/Users/<user>/Documents/workspace
    user@computer$ git clone
  3. Generate the Visual C++ Linux project file:

    user@computer$ cd /mnt/c/Users/<user>/Documents/workspace/step-6
    user@computer$ ../vclinux/bash/ . step-6.vcxproj
  4. Start the sshd server:

    root@computer$ sudo service ssh start

    Make sure to keep the terminal open and the sshd server running while working in Visual Studio

  5. Open Visual Studio and navigate to Tools -> Options -> Cross Platform -> Connection Manager

    • The Host name should be 'localhost'
    • The Port should be 22
    • The User Name and Password are the ones you used to set up Debian
    • Hit okay and wait for Visual Studio to run through setting up the connection
  6. Configure the project in Visual Studio

    • Open the project file c:\Users\<user>\Documents\workspace\step-6.vcxproj in Visual Studio.
    • In the Solution Explorer right-click on the project and select Properties
    • Go to the Debugging page and set Program to /mnt/c/Users/<user>/Documents/workspace/step-6/step-6 and set Working Directory to /mnt/c/Users/<user>/Documents/workspace/step-6/
    • Go to the Remote Build page and set Build Command Line to cd /mnt/c/Users/<user>/Documents/workspace/step-6/; cmake .; make.
  7. Run the executable via Debug -> Start Debugging (or press F5) and celebrate!

Using deal.II on native Windows

Warning: please be aware that the following is experimental and you will likely encounter bugs in compilers and deal.II itself. Only continue if you are willing to experiment.

Visual Studio

Since deal.II 8.4.0 we have experimental support for the newer Visual Studio C++ compilers (2017 or newer), but this is still work in progress. You can check the current development status here

Installation instructions:

  1. Download and install Visual Studio 2017: and make sure you select the C++ compiler

  2. Install cmake from (pick the windows installer)

  3. Extract deal.II to a folder, for example c:\dealii (or clone the git development version)

  4. Configure using cmake by opening the 64bit command line shortcut and run:

    set PreferredToolArchitecture=x64
    cd c:\dealii
    mkdir build
    cd c:\dealii\build
    cmake -G "Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64" ..

    Note: Setting the tool architecture to 64 bit works around problems of the compiler or linker running out of memory and leads to much quicker compile times. Note: Use generator "Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64" for Visual Studio 2017.

  5. Compile and install the library by opening deal.II.sln in c:\dealii\build, pick the install target and compile. Note: you need to either compile in the same terminal as above (using cmake --build .) or open devenv.exe from the same terminal, to use the 64 bit tool architecture.

  6. in cmd go to one of the examples in c:\dealii\examples\step-xy:

    cmake -D DEAL_II_DIR=c:\dealii\build -G "Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64" .
  7. Open the newly created solution (step-xy.sln) in that directory and compile/run/debug.

Running build tests on Windows:

Install git and mingw (for perl etc). Then create a .bat file:

git pull origin master
rmdir /Q /S buildtest17
mkdir buildtest17
cd buildtest17
ctest -C Debug -DMAKEOPTS="/m:1" -DCTEST_CMAKE_GENERATOR="Visual Studio 15 2017" -S ../tests/run_buildtest.cmake -V
cd ..

Cygwin / MingGW

Cygwin and forks such as MinGW and MinGW-64 are unsupported due to multiple unresolved miscompilation issues.

Other Windows compilers

We haven't had much success with any other compiler on Windows (Intel, Borland, ...).

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