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Sage: Open Source Mathematical Software

"Creating a Viable Open Source Alternative to Magma, Maple, Mathematica, and MATLAB"

Copyright (C) 2005-2018 The Sage Development Team


The Sage Library is GPLv2+, and included packages have compatible OSS licenses. Over 400 people have contributed code to Sage. In many cases, documentation for modules and functions list the authors.

Getting Started

If you downloaded a binary, you just need open a terminal in the directory where you extracted the binary archive and type:


If you downloaded the sources, please read below on how to build Sage and work around common issues.

If you have questions or encounter problems, please do not hesitate to email the sage-support mailing list or ask on ask.sagemath.org.

Contributing to Sage

If you'd like to contribute to Sage, be sure to read the Developer's Guide.

Supported Platforms

Sage fully supports several Linux distributions, recent versions of Mac OS X, Windows (using virtualization), as well as a number of Solaris and OpenSolaris releases.

Ports are in progress to some other, less common platforms. The list of supported platforms and their current statuses are given in our wiki.

If you are interested in helping port Sage to a new platform, please let us know at the sage-devel mailing list.

Quick Instructions to Build from Source

The following steps briefly outline the process of building Sage from source. More detailed instructions, including how to build faster on multicore machines, are contained later in this README and in the Installation Guide.

  1. Make sure your system has an SSL library and its development files installed

    Like Python, on which it is based, Sage uses the OpenSSL library for added performance if made available by the operating system. It has been shown that Sage can be successfully built against other SSL libraries, with some of its features disabled.

  2. Make sure you have the dependencies and 5 GB of free disk space

    • All Linux versions: gcc, make, m4, perl, ranlib, and tar (a matching set of gcc, gfortran and g++ will avoid the compilation of Sage-specific compilers).

    • Fedora or RedHat systems: the perl-ExtUtils-MakeMaker package. (install these using your package manager)

    • OS X:

      • Make sure you have installed the most recent version of Xcode which you can install for free from the App Store.
      • You also need to install the "command line tools". When using OS X Mavericks, after installing Xcode, run xcode-select --install from a terminal window: Then click "Install" in the pop-up window. When using OS X Mountain Lion or earlier, you need to install the command line tools from Xcode: run Xcode; then from the File menu, choose "Preferences", then the "Downloads" tab, and then "Install" the Command Line Tools.
    • Other platforms: See detailed instructions below.

  3. Extract the tarball

    tar zxvf sage-*.tar.gz
  4. cd into the Sage directory and type make

    cd sage-*/

    That's it! Everything is automatic and non-interactive. The build should work fine on all fully supported platforms. If it does not, we want to know!

Environment Variables

There are a lot of environment variables which control the install process of Sage described in more detail in the Installation Guide.


Sage has significant components written in the following languages: C/C++, Python, Cython, Lisp, and Fortran. Lisp (ECL), Python, and Cython are built as part of Sage and a GNU Fortran (gfortran) binary is included (OS X only), so you do not need them in order to build Sage.

Docker Images

You can also have a look at our Docker images to run Sage. To use these images install Docker and follow the instructions on our Docker Hub page.

More Detailed Instructions to Build from Source

  1. Make sure you have about 5 GB of free disk space.

  2. Install build dependencies

    • Linux: See quick instructions above.

    • OS X: Make sure you have Xcode version >= 2.4, i.e. gcc -v should output build >= 5363. If you don't, go to https://developer.apple.com/ sign up, and download the free Xcode package. Only OS X >= 10.4 is supported.

    • Solaris and OpenSolaris: Building Sage on these platforms is more tricky than on Linux or OS X. For details on how to build Sage on these platforms, see our wiki.

    • Windows: Download and install VirtualBox, and then download the Sage virtual appliance.

    • NOTE: On some operating systems, it might be necessary to install gas/as, gld/ld, gnm/nm. On most platforms, these are automatically installed when you install the programs listed above.

  3. Extract the Sage source tarball and cd into a directory with no spaces in it. If you have a machine with 4 processors, say, type export MAKE="make -j4" the following to configure the build script to perform a parallel compilation of Sage using 4 jobs. (With 4 processors, you might also consider -j5 or -j6 -- building with more jobs than CPU cores can speed things up.) You might in addition pass a -l load flag to "make": this sets a load limit, so for example if you execute export MAKE="make -j4 -l5.5" then "make" won't start more than one job at a time if the system load average is above 5.5, see the make documentation.

    If you want to run the test suite for each individual spkg as it is installed, type export SAGE_CHECK="yes" before starting the Sage build. This will run each test suite and will raise an error if any failures occur. Python's test suite has been disabled by default, because it causes failures on most systems. To enable the Python testsuite, set the environment variable SAGE_CHECK_PACKAGES to python.

    To start the build, type make.

  4. Wait about 20 minutes to 14 days, depending on your computer (it took about 2 weeks to build Sage on the T-Mobile G1 Android cell phone).

  5. Type ./sage to try it out.

  6. Optional: Type make ptest to test all examples in the documentation (over 200,000 lines of input!) -- this takes from 10 minutes to several hours. Don't get too disturbed if there are 2 to 3 failures, but always feel free to email the section of logs/ptest.log that contains errors to the sage-support mailing list. If there are numerous failures, there was a serious problem with your build.

  7. The HTML version of the documentation is built during the compilation process of Sage and resides in the directory local/share/doc/sage/html/.

    • Optional: If you want to build the PDF version (requires LaTeX) of the documentation, run make doc-pdf.
  8. Optional: It is recommended that you install the optional GAP database by typing ./sage -i database_gap.

    This will download the package and install it. While you're at it, you might install other optional packages of interest to you: type ./sage --optional to get a list.

  9. Optional: It is recommended that you have both LaTeX and the ImageMagick tools (e.g. the "convert" command) installed since some plotting functionality benefits from it.

  10. Optional: Read this if you are intending to run a Sage notebook server for multiple users. For security (i.e., to run notebook(secure=True)) you want to access the server using the HTTPS protocol. First, install OpenSSL and the OpenSSL development headers on your system if they are not already installed. Then install pyOpenSSL by building Sage and then typing ./sage -i pyopenssl. Note that this command requires internet access. Alternatively, make ssl builds Sage and installs pyOpenSSL.


If you have problems building Sage, check the Sage Installation Guide, and also note the following. Each separate component of Sage is contained in an spkg; these are stored in build/pkgs/. As each one is built, a build log is stored in logs/pkgs/, so you can browse these to find error messages. If an spkg fails to build, the whole build process will stop soon after, so check the most recent log files first, or run

   grep -li "^Error" logs/pkgs/*

from the top-level Sage directory to find log files with error messages in them. Send (a small part of) the relevant log file to the sage-devel mailing list, making sure to include at least some of the error messages; probably someone there will have some helpful suggestions.

Supported Compilers

Sage includes a GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) package. In order to build Sage, you need a C compiler which can build GCC and its prerequisites. gcc version 4.0.1 or later should probably work. On Solaris or OpenSolaris, building with the Sun compiler should also work.

The GCC package in Sage is not always installed. It is determined automatically whether it needs to be installed. You can override this by setting the environment variable SAGE_INSTALL_GCC=yes (to force installation of GCC) or SAGE_INSTALL_GCC=no (to disable installation of GCC). If you don't want to install GCC, you need to have recent versions of gcc, g++ and gfortran; moreover, the versions must be equal.

There are some known problems with old assemblers, in particular when building the ECM package. You should ensure that your assembler understands all instructions for your processor. On Linux, this means you need a recent version of binutils; on OS X you need a recent version of Xcode.

Directory Layout

Simplified directory layout (only essential files/directories):

SAGE_ROOT                 Root directory (sage-x.y.z in Sage tarball)
├── build
│   ├── deps              Dependency information of packages
│   └── pkgs              Every package is a subdirectory here
│       ├── atlas
│       …
│       └── zn_poly
├── COPYING.txt           Copyright information
├── local                 Compiled packages are installed here
│   ├── bin               Executables
│   ├── include           C/C++ headers
│   ├── lib               Shared libraries
│   ├── share             Databases, architecture-independent data
│   └── var
│       ├── sage          List of installed packages
│       └── tmp           Temporary files when building Sage
├── logs
│   ├── dochtml.log       Log of the documentation build
│   ├── install.log       Full install log
│   └── pkgs              Build logs of individual packages
│       ├── atlas-3.10.1.p7.log
│       …
│       └── zn_poly-0.9.p11.log
├── Makefile              Running "make" uses this file
├── README.md             This file
├── sage                  Script to start Sage
├── src                   All of Sage source (not third-party packages)
│   ├── bin               Scripts that Sage uses internally
│   ├── doc               Sage documentation
│   └── sage              The Sage library source code
├── upstream              Source tarballs of packages
│   ├── atlas-3.10.1.tar.bz2
│   …
│   └── zn_poly-0.9.tar.bz2
└── VERSION.txt

For more details see our Developer's Guide.

Build System

This is a brief summary of the Sage software distribution's build system. There are two components to the full Sage system--the Sage Python library and its associated user interfaces, and the larger software distribution of Sage's main dependencies (for those dependencies not supplied by the user's system).

Sage's Python library is built and installed using a setup.py script as is standard for Python packages (Sage's setup.py is non-trivial, but not unusual).

Most of the rest of the build system is concerned with building all of Sage's dependencies in the correct order in relation to each other. The dependencies included by Sage are referred to as SPKGs (i.e. "Sage Packages") and are listed under build/pkgs.

The main entrypoint to Sage's build system is the top-level Makefile at the root of the source tree. Unlike most normal projects that use autoconf (Sage does as well, as described below), this Makefile is not generated. Instead, it contains a few high-level targets and targets related to bootstrapping the system. Nonetheless, we still run make <target> from the root of the source tree--targets not explicitly defined in the top-level Makefile are passed through to another Makefile under build/make/Makefile.

The latter build/make/Makefile is generated by an autoconf-generated configure script, using the template in build/make/Makefile.in. This includes rules for building the Sage library itself (make sagelib), and for building and installing each of Sage's dependencies (e.g. make python2).

Although it's possible to manually run Sage's configure script if one wants to provide some customizations (e.g. it is possible to select which BLAS implementation to use), the top-level Makefile will run configure for you, in order to build build/make/Makefile since it's a prerequisite for most of Sage's make targets.

The configure script itself, if it is not already built, can be generated by running the bootstrap script. The top-level Makefile also takes care of this automatically.

To summarize, running a command like make python2 at the top-level of the source tree goes something like this:

  1. make python2
  2. run ./bootstrap if configure does not exist
  3. run ./configure if build/make/Makefile doe not exist
  4. cd into build/make and run the install script--this is little more than a front-end to running make -f build/make/Makefile python2, which sets some necessary environment variables and logs some information
  5. build/make/Makefile contains the actual rule for building python2; this includes building all of python2's dependencies first (and their dependencies, recursively); the actual package installation is performed with the sage-spkg program


You should be able to move the sage-x.y.z/ directory anywhere you want. If you copy the sage script or make a symbolic link to it, you should modify the script to reflect this (as instructed at the top of the script). It is best if the path to Sage does not have any spaces in it.

For a system-wide installation, as root you can move the sage-x.y.z/ directory to a system-wide directory. Afterwards, you need to start up Sage as root at least once prior to using the system-wide Sage as a normal user. See the Installation Guide for further information.

If you find anything that doesn't work correctly after you moved the directory, please email the sage-support mailing list.


Your local Sage install is almost exactly the same as any "developer" install. You can make changes to documentation, source, etc., and very easily package the complete results up for redistribution just like we do.

  1. To make your own source tarball of Sage, type:

    sage --sdist

    The result is placed in the directory dist/.

  2. To make a binary distribution with your currently installed packages, visit sagemath/binary-pkg.

Changes to Included Software

All software included with Sage is copyrighted by the respective authors and released under an open source license that is GPL version 3 or later compatible. See COPYING.txt for more details.

Sources are in unmodified (as far as possible) tarballs in the upstream/ directory. The remaining description, version information, patches, and build scripts are in the accompanying build/pkgs/<packagename> directory. This directory is part of the Sage git repository.