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Table of contents:
* Installation from sources
- For the impatient provides a quick overview of configuration and
compilation instructions.
- Lists those options to the configure shell script which are
unique to gnuplot.
- Compiling by config/makefile.* for specific platforms.
* More details about ./configure --with-PACKAGE[=OPTION]
* Platform compiler problems
* Environment variables
- The environment variables used by running gnuplot.
* How to test gnuplot
* Installing WPS object for gnuplot on OS/2
- How to install WPS icon for drag&drop.
* Compiling Gnuplot with the wxWidgets terminal
- Notes about the requirements of the `wxt` terminal.
If you are installing a binary package, you may still want to check out
some sections of this document, particularly the one discussing
environment variables.
Installation from sources
For the impatient
Configuration options are in the Makefile and in src/term.h, which
selects the set of terminal drivers to be compiled in.
The recommended way to configure both of these is the GNU-style
"./configure" script described below and described further in INSTALL.gnu.
This script is provided as part of the distributed source package, but if you
are using sources downloaded directly from a CVS repository you may need to
regenerate it using the preliminary script "./prepare".
A complete overview of configure options is below in the Basic
Installation section. On platforms that do not support GNU
autoconf/configure look for a suitable makefile in the "config" directory.
Check "config/README" to see which of them to use for which platform.
File location defaults
PREFIX /usr/local
gnuplot PREFIX/bin
gnuplot_x11 PREFIX/libexec/gnuplot/$VERSION
gnuplot_qt PREFIX/libexec/gnuplot/$VERSION
gnuplot.1 PREFIX/man/man1
gnuplot.gih PREFIX/share/gnuplot/$VERSION
terminal support files PREFIX/share/gnuplot/$VERSION/js
The only files where the runtime location is defined at compile time are
gnuplot.gih and show.c. This is important if gnuplot is not installed
by running 'make install'.
The default path for the help library, gnuplot.gih, can be controlled in
several different ways:
o use configure's --with-gihdir option to specify the full path to the
directory where gnuplot.gih is to be installed, e.g.
./configure --with-gihdir=/opt/docs
o use configure's --datadir= option to specify a version and package
independent data dir prefix, e.g.
./configure --datadir='/opt/docs'
gnuplot will look for the online help file, gnuplot.gih, in
o with configure's --prefix= option, eg.
./configure --prefix=/gnuplot
gnuplot will look for the online help file, gnuplot.gih, in
Attention: This option affects the location of *all* installed files!
o at make time, eg.
make HELPFILE='/gnuplot/docs/gnuplot.gih'
gnuplot will look for the online help file /gnuplot/docs/gnuplot.gih.
o at execution time by specifying the helpfile with the environment
variable GNUHELP (see "Environment Variables" below).
The default location of the main executable can be controlled in
different ways:
o with configure's --prefix= option, eg.
./configure --prefix=/gnuplot
gnuplot will be installed as /gnuplot/bin/gnuplot.
Attention: This affects the location of *all* installed files!
o with configure's --bindir= option, eg.
./configure --bindir='/gnuplot/bin'
gnuplot will be installed as /gnuplot/bin/gnuplot.
o at make time, eg.
make bindir='/gnuplot/bin'
gnuplot will be installed as /gnuplot/bin/gnuplot.
The default location of the additional executable, like gnuplot_x11,
can be controlled in different ways:
o with configure's --prefix= option, eg.
./configure --prefix=/gnuplot
gnuplot_x11 will be installed as /gnuplot/libexec/gnuplot/4.0/gnuplot_x11.
Attention: This affects the location of *all* installed files!
o with configure's --libexecdir= option, eg.
./configure --libexecdir='/gnuplot/lib'
gnuplot_x11 will be installed as /gnuplot/lib/gnuplot/4.0/gnuplot_x11
o at make time, eg.
make X11_DRIVER_DIR='/gnuplot/lib/4.0'
gnuplot_x11 will be installed as /gnuplot/lib/4.0/gnuplot_x11
If you don't install the program at the place chosen by ./configure,
e.g. by overriding the "prefix" at "make install" time, files written
by the `save' command cannot be used as scripts on Un*x platforms, so
this should be avoided. There is no way to specify the location of
the executables during runtime. Other platforms are not affected by
The gnuplot demo files are not installed by default, mainly because
there is no universally agreed place where such files should go.
If desired, they should be copied manually to a location of choice.
Unix, configure
On Unix, use
$ ./configure
$ make
[ Optionally run demos--see "How to test gnuplot" below. ]
$ make install
If gcc is installed, it is used by default. A different compiler can be
used by passing its name to configure:
$ ./configure CC=c89
Any environment settings for CFLAGS are included into the Makefile,
so please make sure that these are really needed.
There are several options available for configure that you may want
to change. A complete list of options is available through
$ ./configure --help
Some options relevant to gnuplot are listed below:
--prefix=PREFIX Install architecture-independent files in PREFIX
--exec-prefix=EPREFIX Install architecture-specific file in EPREFIX
--bindir=DIR user executables in DIR [EPREFIX/bin]
The gnuplot binary is installed this directory
--libexecdir=DIR program executables in DIR [EPREFIX/libexec]
gnuplot_x11 goes into $libexecdir/gnuplot/<version>.
--datadir=DIR Read-only architecture-independent data in DIR
[PREFIX/share]. The gnuplot help file is installed
in this directory.
--libdir=DIR object code libraries in DIR [EPREFIX/lib]
--includedir=DIR C header files in DIR [PREFIX/include]
--mandir=DIR Man documentation in DIR [PREFIX/man]
--disable-history-file do not use history file
--disable-mouse disable mouse for interactive terminals
--disable-x11-mbfonts disable multi-byte font support for x11
--disable-x11-external disable drawing to windows belonging to external apps
--disable-raise-console spacebar in plot window does not raise console
--disable-macros disable command line macros
--disable-wxwidgets wxWidgets terminal (default enabled)
--enable-backwards-compatibility enable deprecated syntax
--with-bitmap-terminals enable support for HP deskjet era dot matrix printers
and *.pbm files
Override the automatic choice of terminal input modes.
See below for more detail.
Options marked with (*) are enabled by default, ie. these features or
packages are used if configure detects them even if the corresponding
option is not specified. Please note that the `--with-PACKAGE'
options can have additional arguments:
o `--with-PACKAGE' is equivalent to `--with-PACKAGE=yes'
o `--with-PACKAGE=no' disables checking for PACKAGE. It has the same
effect as `--without-PACKAGE'.
o `--with-PACKAGE=DIR' checks for PACKAGE in DIR
./configure fails to find lua support because Ubuntu packages it as
"lua5.1" rather than "lua". You can fix this by adding a symlink
prior to running ./configure
ln -s /usr/lib/pkgconfig/lua5.1.pc /usr/lib/pkgconfig/lua.pc
Readline issues:
As I understand the situation, Apple ships OSX with a "fake" libreadline
shared library. The file /usr/lib/libreadline.dylib is really a symlink to a
compatibility layer over the BSD libedit library. But the compatibility isn't
complete, and in particular it is missing some routines used for readline
support by gnuplot. The ./configure script should be able to cope with this.
But you will still be left without some of the functionality of the "real"
libreadline. For one thing, libedit doesn't handle UTF-8 input.
You have several options:
1) Delete the fake libreadline libraries from OSX and install
the real gnu libreadline as a system library.
2) Install the real gnu libreadline into your personal account and
tell gnuplot to use it:
./configure --with-readline=/my/private/readline/installdir
This may require some playing around with additional -L and -I
definitions in CFLAGS, and is probably harder than replacing the
system copy of the library.
3) Use gnuplot's built-in readline routines. These now support UTF-8
input and tab-completion of file names.
./configure --with-readline=builtin
wxt terminal:
Cairo & pango need to be installed first on Mac,
I recommend using MacPorts building universal (i386 libraries):
sudo port install cairo +no_x11 +quartz +universal
sudo port install pango +no_x11 +quartz +universal
Next gnuplot may be compiled with shipped with Mac OS X 10.6 SL wxWidgets using:
./configure CPPFLAGS='-arch i386' LDFLAGS='-arch i386'
NOTE: 10.6 SL by default generates x86_64 code, but wxWidgets stable is using
Carbon API on Mac which is 32-bit only, that makes compiling gnuplot,
cairo and pango to i386 necessary.
John Hasstedt <> has written configure.vms,
a command file that creates the necessary make and option files to build
gnuplot. See the file for instructions on using it. If you have problems
with it, the old build files are still included; instructions for using
them follow.
On VMS, you can use MMS, MMK, or another make utility, or you can
use BUILDVMS.COM. The supplied files work with Alpha/VMS V6.2 and
DECC V5.7; you may get warnings or more serious errors depending on
the versions of the C compiler, the C run-time libraries, and VMS on
your system.
To compile using MMK:
To compile using MMS on VAX:
To compile using MMS on Alpha:
Alternatively, you can use MAKE_VMS.COM. This command file will run
MMK or MMS to build gnuplot. If you don't have either one installed, it
will use the command file. The first parameter on the command line is
the compiler you want to use (default DECC).
It may sometimes be useful to add `/IGNORE=WARNING' to the `MMS' call.
To compile using GNUC or VAXC:
add /MACRO=GNUC or /MACRO=VAXC to the above command
To compile with another make utility:
check the documentation of your utility to specify the description
file and any necessary macros (__ALPHA__, GNUC, or VAXC)
Or if you don't have a suitable make:
To tell gnuplot where to find the help library:
$ define gnuplot$help disk:[directory]gnuplot.hlb
Alternatively, put the help in the main system help library.
In order to build the help file you require the "Microsoft HTML Help 1.4
SDK", which is freely downloadable here:
General install instructions:
Build the program using one of the ways shown below this note.
Some of the Makefiles include an "install" target (e.g. config/mingw/Makefile).
Alternatively, put wgnuplot.exe, wgnuplot.chm and wgnuplot.mnu all in a single
directory somewhere. You may want to add that directory to your PATH.
There's no installer for gnuplot, so if you want a desktop link,
program manager group or an association of *.plt or *.gpl files to
wgnuplot, you'll have to do all that yourself.
We currently support and test building with the following compilers and
MinGW/MSYS: config/mingw/Makefile
Microsoft Visual C++: config/msvc/Makefile
OpenWatcom: config/watcom/Makefile
Cygwin: config/cygwin/Makefile
Further building instructions are given in correspondig Makefiles.
Note that Makefiles contain a configuration section which you have to
adopt to your actual setup!
[NOTE: gnuplot can no longer be built for 16-bit Windows versions.]
Using DJGPP (32-bit DOS port of GNU CC)
Basically the same as Unix+configure. Andris Pavenis <>
has contributed a shell script which makes the whole process even easier:
just run, and then make.
Only if you don't have a complete Unix toolset installed with your
DJGPP, it is recommended to use makefile.dj2 instead:
copy makefile.dj2 makefile
[NOTE: the 16-bit DOS versions of gnuplot no longer work. gnuplot has
outgrown this platform.]
To compile under OS/2 (2.x and above) you need the development suite EMX 0.9
(including gcc). You should also have GNU Make and IBM's IPFC (Information
Presentation Facility Compiler, available from the Developer's Toolkit;
nowadays it's accessible through an IBM website for free!).
At the beginning of makefile.os2 you will find a configuration section where
you have to adjust all settings which control the build process. Most important
is probably to select the terminal devices which should be supported. You can
create a version offering PM graphics as well as X11 support (to use with
XFree86). Support for these two terminals is provided by additional
Be sure to enable only those devices for which you have the necessary software
already installed. Also ensure that the libraries and the sources are all
compiled (not) using the '-Zmt' flags.
make -f makefile.os2
should create a default build while
make -f makefile.os2 help
will show you all pre-defined targets.
See other sections of the manuals for more information about installing/using
gnuplot on OS/2.
Ultrix, SunOS, other systems with a SysV-like sprintf() function
The mousing code requires a patch in order to compile properly on these.
You can download this patch from the contributed scripts section of the
gnuplot project pages on SourceForge:
Or you can avoid the problem via ./configure --disable-mouse
More details about ./configure --with-PACKAGE[=OPTION]
Every `--with-PACKAGE' option sets a `with_package' variable in configure.
Depending on how `--with-PACKAGE' was invoked, there are only three different
possible values for the `with_package' variable:
Option $with_package
(not specified) yes or no; default set in configure
--with-package yes
--with-package=yes yes
--with-package=no no
--with-package=DIR DIR
--without-package no
In gnuplot, the following --with-PACKAGE options are available. The
--with-PACKAGE=DIR form is always required if a package is installed in a
non-default location that is not searched by the preprocessor or linker.
Use whatever readline support is detected automatically, either an
external library or gnuplot's built-in version. This is the default.
Use gnuplot's own builtin readline routines even if a GNU or BSD readline
library is detected.
(same as --with-readline=no) Do not use any readline processing.
Use the GNU readline library instead of gnuplot's builtin readline.
Use the GNU readline library instead of gnuplot's builtin readline.
This form is required if GNU readline is not installed in a default
Dto. for Thomas Boutell's gd library. configure determines whether
the found library supports gif, png, jpeg, and freetype. This option
is on by default, i.e. configure will check if the library exists,
and use it if found, if you don't specify any option regarding this
Dto. for the pdf library. This option is on by default.
Platform compiler problems
This section addresses trouble shooting and testing issues. Userland questions
are answered in the FAQ.
Platform and compiler notes
Generally, if you think that configure has made a mistake in detecting
platform features, you should consider that a bug either in GNU autoconf
or in gnuplot's use of it, which you should report. As a workaround
you can override such faulty tests in a site-wide collection
of preset configure test results, or manually override them after running
configure was for some reason unable to detect the memset() function, but
you are sure it is ok to use on your platform. To fix that, you'll have
to edit the generated config.h and change the line
/* #undef HAVE_MEMSET */
#define HAVE_MEMSET 1
Note that changing such defines from outside config.h, eg. via
'make DEFS=-DHAVE_MEMSET' is wrong, because config.h will usually
override such changes. Also note that this change will be lost
whenever you re-run configure.
- gcc -ansi
If you wish to compile with gcc -ansi (CC='gcc -ansi -pedantic'
./configure), additional platform specific defines may be necessary
to include non-ANSI function prototypes. E.g. on Solaris,
-D__EXTENSIONS__ is needed. Otherwise, non-declared functions not
returning int will be assumed to return int, with possibly
dangerous consequences. Especially scpecfun.c is vulnerable here.
- HP-UX 9.x
It is recommended to use gcc, although the native compiler cc may
work with warnings.
- HP-UX 10.x and above
GCC has known problems on this platform if configured to use HP's
assembler. The telltale symptom are tic labels all ending up at
position 0.0. So either make sure you use a GCC configured to use
GNU as, or use HP's ANSI cc (the unbundled one).
- Alpha CPUs
The Alpha family of CPUs exhibits somewhat unusual behaviour in the
case of floating point exceptions. In default mode, it doesn't comply
to IEEE floating point standards very well, leading to crashes of the
whole program because of a floating point exception in certain cases.
In order to avoid these, you may want to turn on IEEE compatibility
mode in your compiler flags. For DEC cc, the relevant option is
`-ieee', for GCC, it's `-mieee'. The configure script tries to
automatically detect this situation and apply the flag, but you may want
to double-check it.
- SunOS / Solaris
There are known issues with regard to compiler support for Booleans.
You may have to tweak gnuplot's definition of TBOOLEAN.
Environment variables
See 'help environment'.
If the environment variable GNUTERM is found, it is used as the
terminal type. Otherwise, in some cases the variable TERM will be
used, or the hardware may be detected automatically. If all else
fails, a compile-time default will be used.
The PC version looks for the environment variable GNUPLOT to contain
the name of the directory from which to load the initialization file
GNUPLOT.INI and also to be used as the home directory in ~
substitution. See the help on 'start_up' for more information.
HOME is examined as a directory where a .gnuplot startup file might be
found. See help on "start-up". The Atari/MTOS version uses
If defined, the environment variable GNUHELP is used for the name of
the .gih help file, otherwise HELPFILE (defined in makefile or
command.c) is used.
The VMS version looks for the logical name GNUPLOT$HELP to locate the
help library.
The usual system-wide environment variable is used to locate a command
line shell to be used for executing commands and starting sub-shells.
On the DOS family of platforms (including all versions of Windows and
OS/2) the variable looked at is COMSPEC. Other platforms will consult
If gnuplot is configured for the X11 window system, it looks for the
X11 driver program in GNUPLOT_DRIVER_DIR. The default position used
for the driver is fixed by the build process, so you should only have
to set this if you moved gnuplot_x11 away from its original location.
GDFONTPATH is the directory where png terminal searches TrueType and
Adobe Type 1 fonts. You should set it to directory where files like
arial.ttf and Symbol.pfa exist.
GNUPLOT_DEFAULT_GDFONT is the default font to be used by the png and
jpeg terminal types. This must either be a full path to the font file
or the face name of a font found in the GDFONTPATH search path.
GNUPLOT_FONTPATH is used by the postscript driver as search path for
postscript (Adobe Type 1 and Type 2) fonts. It is also used by the
svg driver to look for svg or Adobe cef fonts.
GNUPLOT_PS_DIR is used by the postscript driver to use external prologue
files. Depending on the build process, gnuplot contains either a builtin
copy of those files or simply a default hardcoded path. Use this variable
to test the postscript terminal with custom prologue files.
GNUPLOT_LIB may be used to define additional search directories for
data and command files. The variable may contain a single directory
name, or a list of directories separated by a platform-specific path
separator, eg. ':' on Unix, or ';' on DOS/Windows/OS/2/Amiga
platforms. The contents of GNUPLOT_LIB are appended to the `loadpath`
variable, but not saved with the `save` and `save set` commands.
GNUFITLOG holds the name of a file that saves fit results. The default
is fit.log. If the name ends with a "/" or "\", it is treated as a
directory name, and "fit.log" will be created as a file in that
The CGI drivers need the CGIPATH environment variable to set the path
to the CGI agents, and the CGIDISP and/or CGIPRNT environment variables
to the CGI agents, and the CGIDISP and/or CGIPRNT environment variables
to set the output devices.
If creating dynamically linked executables, it may be necessary to add
flags to the LIBS variable in Makefile to make sure gnuplot finds all
required libraries at runtime. Systems like SunOS and Solaris use -R
to specify the runtime library search path, whereas OSF/Dec Unix, Irix
and Linux use -rpath. If this is not possible, the LD_LIBRARY_PATH
environment variable should be set. Generally it's recommended to
install shared libraries only in places that are already searched by
the linker without such options. LD_LIBRARY_PATH is the second-best
How to test gnuplot
No comprehensive test suite for gnuplot's features has been written to date.
However, the supplied demo files provide a good method of testing commonly
used features. All command line examples below assume Unix Bourne shell
Individual demo files can be run interactively by eg.
$ cd gnuplot/demo
$ gnuplot simple.dem
$ GNUPLOT_DRIVER_DIR=../src ../src/gnuplot simple.dem
and gnuplot prompts the user to "Hit return to continue" to cycle through
all the plots (the GNUPLOT_DRIVER_DIR= part is only required if you are
using the X11 or BeOS plotting device and the gnuplot_x11/gnuplot_be binary
has not been installed yet, or if you want to test the external binaries you
just compiled at the same time).
To run the demos in a specified file without interaction, one can use
$ gnuplot simple.dem </dev/null
$ GNUPLOT_DRIVER_DIR=../src ../src/gnuplot simple.dem </dev/null
To run all demos non-interactively, use
$ gnuplot all.dem </dev/null
$ GNUPLOT_DRIVER_DIR=../src ../src/gnuplot all.dem </dev/null
For convenience, the special make target 'check' will run the above
if you run it from the demo directory of the source tree:
$ make check
To use a different plotting device than the default, use eg.
$ GNUTERM=dumb GNUPLOT_DRIVER_DIR=../src ../src/gnuplot all.dem </dev/null
gnuplot> set term dumb
gnuplot> load 'all.dem'
To test the capabilities of the terminal you are using, there is the
'test' command:
gnuplot> test
`test` creates a display of line and point styles and other useful things
appropriate for the terminal you are using.
Installing WPS object for gnuplot on OS/2
GNUPLOT can be run from the command line of an OS/2 session, or can be set up
as a program object in the WPS.
GNUPLOT starts up as a command line session which accepts the usual GNUPLOT
input. The Presentation Manager (PM) window for graphics display is only opened
when the first 'plot' or 'splot' command is entered.
If GNUPLOT is set up as a program object, it can be configured for 'drag and
drop' in the usual way, by specifying '%*' as the program parameter.
The PM window has facilities for printing the plot, for changing the fonts
used in the plot, and so on. These of course are handled through the usual
PM interface. In addition, you can 'drop' a font onto the window to change
the font.
The usual GNUPLOT commands can also be used to produce output on supported
Settings and the positions and sizes of the windows can be saved in the file
gnushell.ini. This file is saved in the program's working directory; several
different directories can be set up (as program objects) with different
options, if you wish.
PM terminal is fully mouse-capable. Type 'm' to switch the mouse on/off (see
'help mouse' for more details), or 'h' for the full list of current hotkeys
(see also 'help bind').
Compiling Gnuplot with the wxWidgets terminal
The `wxt` terminal provides an interactive windowed output. The code is
cross-platform and can be compiled as soon as the following requirements are
First, this terminal is based on the wxWidgets library. This library can be
found on It comes in different flavours corresponding
to the underlying API : Microsoft Windows ("wxMSW"), GTK+ ("wxGTK"), X11
("wxX11"), MacOS ("wxMAC"), etc.
Then, the terminal needs the Cairo library (no specific backend is required)
which can be found on, and the Pango library,
which can be found on and need to be compiled with its
Cairo backend.
On Unix, use the usual `./configure; make; make install' build process to
compile this terminal. On Windows, please use the MinGW/MSYS makefile, namely
config/makefile.mgw. MinGW and MSYS can be found on