System Requirements

These instructions assume that you intend to install OpenMDAO for normal use – that you will not be hacking on the OpenMDAO infrastructure or standard library, or developing any plugins that require compilation. If you do intend to perform some kind of OpenMDAO development, you should refer to the installation instructions in the Developer Guide, because the developer environment has some additional system requirements on certain platforms.

OpenMDAO requires Python 2.6 to be installed at the system level on all platforms. It is highly recommended that NumPy (version 1.3 or higher) be installed at the system level as well.

Platform-Specific Requirements


Our current OpenMDAO distribution for Linux is a source distribution, so to use it, you must have compilers (C and Fortran) on your system.

On Fedora, the names of the needed RPM packages are:

  • python-devel
  • numpy
  • gcc-gfortran

On Ubuntu, the .deb package names are:

  • python-dev
  • python-numpy
  • gfortran

On Windows, you’ll need Python 2.6; numpy can be found here.

On OS X, make sure to install Xcode. It’s included on the OS X install disk, and installing it will give you access to gcc. You can also download a newer version from Apple, but you’ll have to fill out a (free) registration to do it.

If you’re running Snow Leopard, you’ll need to install a version of Python 2.6 from because the built-in version has a distutils bug that will cause some of the OpenMDAO tests to fail. It’s not clear exactly what release the fix first appeared in, but version 2.6.5 definitely has the fix.

You’ll also need gfortran. You can get a version that goes with Xcode here.

If you’re running Leopard, you’ll also need Python 2.6 and numpy, and you can get gfortran here. Some other options for installing gfortran can be found on this page.


To avoid version conflicts with system level Python packages, OpenMDAO is best installed using a bootstrap script that installs OpenMDAO in a virtual Python environment. This script is called

Acquire and run the script

  1. Download the installation script:

    If you are using Internet Explorer, right click on the above link; then select “Save Target as.” Be sure to save the script to the folder where you want to install OpenMDAO. Other browsers may automatically download the file to a specific folder (e.g., a Downloads folder), and you will have to move it to the location where you want to install OpenMDAO. We highly recommend you pick a folder without any spaces in the path name! For instance, on a Windows machine, you could put all your OpenMDAO installations in C:\\OpenMDAO.

  2. Run the script.

    If you specify a directory name, the virtual environment will be installed there. If you don’t supply a directory name, it will default to a name based on the version, for example, openmdao-0.1.


    This script will check the version of Python you are running. You must be running a version greater than or equal to 2.6 but less than 3.0. After the script completes successfully you have installed OpenMDAO. There are just a couple more steps to follow before you can start using it.

Activate your virtual environment

Each time before you want to use openmdao you need to activate it. Activating your virtual environment adds your virtual environment’s bin directory to the front of your system path in the current shell so that when you type python, you’ll get a Python interpreter that’s customized for your virtual environment, giving you access to everything in OpenMDAO.

Navigate into the folder that was just created by your install script.

On Linux or OS X, you must be running Bash. If you are in Bash, omit this step; otherwise, type:


Next, type the following, making sure to include the “.” in the command:

. bin/activate

On Windows, type:


Run tests to verify valid install

OpenMDAO has a large test suite which allows you to check and make sure all of the functionality of OpenMDAO will work on your system. You can run these tests yourself to double check your installation. It takes only a couple of minutes to run them all.

Type the following to run all tests.


If you don’t get any errors or failed tests, everything worked. If you did have some problems, the forum is your next stop!

Now you are ready to start using OpenMDAO. When you are done using it, you can deactivate the environment by typing:



If you need an earlier version of OpenMDAO, its bootstrap script can be downloaded from:<openmdao_version>/ where <openmdao_version> is the version of OpenMDAO you want to install. You can browse through the older versions here.

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