Software Required to Build GridPACK

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Building on Specific Platforms

Scripts or instructions for installing the libraries listed below on specific platforms can be found by following the links below. We highly recommend that you find an example that resembles the platform you are intending to use. Use the scripts for that example as the basis for building GridPACK on your own system. Most scripts require only minor modifications to get them working. These usually involve changing file names so that they reflect your local directory structure.

Notes on some additional builds can also be found in the docs/notes directory under the top-level GridPACK source tree. These notes are for leadership class parallel facilities that are much more complicated than most clusters. However, they may have some useful ideas for handling problems if you run into difficulties.

Many clusters use modules to install software such as the compilers, MPI libraries, CMake, Git, etc. If you have such a system, you can install compilers, MPI and CMake using a set of commands such as

  module purge
  module load gcc
  module load openmpi
  module cmake

These automatically install the libraries and modify environment variables so that binaries and executables are in your path. Many systems may also have modules for Boost and PETSc, but we urge users to be more cautious about using these. These libraries are frequently not built with features that may be needed by individual applications. For example, system builds of Boost often lack MPI and PETSc is frequently missing the C++ interface. Users are probably better off using their own library builds. This also guarantees that all libraries are built with the same compiler and version of MPI. We suggest that you create a library under your home directory that can be used to store all the libraries used to build GridPACK and build and install all libraries (with the possible exception of MPI) in this directory.

Some basic knowledge of Linux is also necessary for downloading libraries and constructing build scripts. Information on using Linux is provided at the bottom of this page. Additional information is available on the web.


GridPACK uses the CMake cross-platform build system. A reasonably modern version should be used. Currently, we require version 2.8.8 or above. You can check which version of CMake is on your machine by typing

 cmake -version

CMake projects are designed to be built outside of the source code location. In the source directory of a GridPACK release (GRIDPACK/src) create a subdirectory to use as the location of the build. (In this documentation, GRIDPACK stands for the location of the top level GridPACK directory.) The GRIDPACK/src directory should contain a file called CMakeList.txt. Configure and build GridPACK in the subdirectory. The cmake command should be pointed at the GRIDPACK/src directory that contains the top-level CMakeList.txt file. If you are building in a directory under GRIDPACK/src such as GRIDPACK/src/build, then your cmake command will have the form

 cmake [ARGUMENTS] ..

The terminal .. point the cmake command to the directory immediately above the build directory. The .. appear in all example scripts listed in the builds on specific platforms. Make sure you include them in your configure script!

Example configure scripts and other information on building CMake can be found on the link below.

For most systems, it is possible to install CMake using modules or an installation capability such as yum.


A working MPI implementation is required for building GridPACK. We commonly use OpenMPI and MPICH. Recent versions include OpenMPI 1.8.3 and MPICH 3.2. Other implementations have, such as Intel MPI, also been used successfully. Most MPI installations have compiler wrappers, such as mpicc and mpicxx that combine the compiler with all the directives needed to link to the MPI libraries. These can be used directly in the GridPACK configuration.

Identify the compilers and mpiexec to the GridPACK configuration by including cmake options like:

   -D MPIEXEC:STRING='mpiexec' \

You can check to see if these wrappers are available on your system by typing

 which mpicc

If the wrapper is available, you should see a listing pointing to the location of the wrapper. If you don't, you will need to modify your environment to include it. Note that although mpicc and mpicxx are fairly common names for the compiler wrappers, there is no standard and other implementations of MPI may use something completely different. Check with your system consultant for more information. Depending on the version of MPI you are using, you may be able to find out more information by typing

 mpicxx -v

Other options may be needed by CMake to specify the MPI environment. See the documentation here. An example configuration script for building MPI can be found on the link below.

On most systems it is possible to install MPI using modules or an installation capability such as yum.

Global Arrays

GridPACK depends heavily on Global Arrays. The download page for recent releases can be found here. The GA libraries used with GridPACK must have the C++ interface enabled and the Fortran interface disabled. More information on building GA can be found in the descriptions for building GridPACK on individual platforms. The GridPACK configuration is not able to identify additional required libraries if the Fortran interface is enabled or independent BLAS/LAPACK libraries are used. The following configuration options should always be included when configuring GA on any platform

   --enable-cxx --without-blas --disable-f77

The --without-blas guarantees that GA does not try and build with the BLAS libraries (which are downloaded and built with PETSc).

To configure GridPACK to recognize GA, specify the directory where Global Arrays is installed and any extra libraries that are required:

   -D GA_DIR:PATH=/path/to/ga/install \

The GA_EXTRA_LIBS variable is used to include required libraries not identified in the configuration. The USE_PROGRESS_RANKS variable depends on the runtime used to build GA and should only be set to TRUE if GA was configured using the --with-mpi-pr option.

We have used three different configuration of GA to build and run GridPACK. If you are using GridPACK on a Linux cluster with an Infiniband interconnect, then you can use the OpenIB runtime by including the --with-openib option when configuring GA. This is the highest performing version of GA for clusters with Infiniband, although for large calculations you can run into problems with memory allocation. For any system with a working version of MPI, you can also use the MPI two-sided runtime or the progress ranks runtime with GA. Use the --with-mpi-ts or --with-mpi-pr options when configuring GA. The two-sided runtime is the simplest runtime and is suitable for workstations with a limited number of cores. This runtime provides reasonable performance on a small number of cores but slows down considerably at larger core counts(our experience is that you should limit this runtime to 8 or less processors). It is not recommended for large-scale parallel computation. The progress ranks runtime is much higher performing and approaches the performance of the OpenIB runtime. It is very reliable and runs on any platform that supports MPI. However, it has one peculiarity in that it reserves one MPI process on each SMP node to act as a communication manager. Thus, if you are running your calculation on 2 nodes with 5 processes on each node, the GridPACK application will only see 8 processes (4 on each node). To make sure that the GridPACK build is aware of this, the USE_PROGRESS_RANKS parameter should be set to TRUE when using the progress ranks build of GA.

Example scripts for configuring GA can be found in the links below.


The Boost C++ Library is used heavily throughout the GridPACK framework, and a relatively recent version is required. The GridPACK configuration requires version 1.49 or later. The Boost installation must include Boost::MPI which must have been built with the same MPI compiler used for GridPACK.

To configure GridPACK to recognize Boost, one need only specify where Boost is installed, like this

   -D BOOST_ROOT:STRING='/path/to/boost' \

Boost is tied quite closely to the latest features in C++ and problems can be encountered if the version of Boost that you are using was released much later than the compiler. Reverting to an earlier Boost version can sometimes eliminate problems if you are having difficulties building it. The same is true for Boost and CMake. If the CMake version was released earlier than the Boost version, CMake may have problems identifying the libraries in Boost that it needs for GridPACK. Again, going to an earlier version of Boost may fix these issues.

The Boost build can be tricky. Some clusters have Boost modules that can potentially be used instead of building Boost on your own, but many modules are not built with Boost::MPI. You will still need to specify the location of the Boost directory, which can be found by using the command

   module show boost

This should tell you the location of BOOST_ROOT, which you can then use in your GridPACK configuration script. If the GridPACK configuration does not report that MPI was found, then you will need to get your system administrator to rebuild Boost with the MPI libraries or build boost on your own. A successful Boost configuration in GridPACK should report the results

   -- Checking Boost ...
   -- Boost version: 1.61.0
   -- Found the following Boost libraries:  
   --   mpi
   --   serialization
   --   random
   --   filesystem
   --   system

If you need to build Boost yourself, refer to the documentation on building GridPACK on individual platforms for additional details on build Boost. If an attempt to configure and build Boost fails, it usually is a good idea to fix the build script and then remove the existing Boost directory and create a new one by untarring the Boost tarball. Attempts to resume a failed Boost build after fixing the build script are usually unsuccessful.

Example scripts for configuring and building Boost can be found on the links below.


GridPACK currently relies on the Portable, Extensible Toolkit for Scientific Computation (PETSc) for parallel linear algebra, and linear and nonlinear system solvers. The PETSc interface tends to change a bit as new releases come out, requiring adjustments in any applications that use it. We have currently used PETSc versions 3.4-3.8 with GridPACK.

PETSc is a complicated package with numerous options. PETSc needs to be built with MPI enabled and using the same MPI implementation used for GridPACK and the other libraries such as Boost and GA. It also needs to use C++ as the base language. Originally, GridPACK could only use PETSc if it was configured for complex support. The current GridPACK release can use either complex or real builds. However, most applications in GridPACK use complex matrices, so it is still preferable to configure PETSc to use complex variables. Refer to the PETSc installation documentation for additional information on how to configure PETSc.

Configuring and building PETSc is done in the top level PETSc directory. One of the configuration variables that needs to be set when configuring and building PETSc is PETSC_ARCH. In the example below, PETSC_ARCH was set to 'arch-Darwin-cxx-opt'. After the build is complete, there will be a directory beneath the top level directory with whatever name was assigned to PETSC_ARCH. This directory contains the include and lib directories for the PETSc libraries.

The GridPACK configuration must know where PETSc is installed. This is specified by two options as shown below.

   -D PETSC_DIR:STRING='/Users/d3g096/ProjectStuff/petsc-3.4.0' \
   -D PETSC_ARCH:STRING='arch-darwin-cxx-opt' \

Currently, the configuration will recognize and adjust the GridPACK build if the PETSc build includes ParMETIS, Superlu_DIST and/or MUMPS. Many of the example GridPACK applications expect a parallel direct linear solver to be built into PETSc. This is satisfied by including Superlu_DIST or MUMPS in the PETSc build.

Examples of complete scripts for configuring PETSc can be found on the links below.


GridPACK uses ParMETIS to (re)distribute a power grid network over several processors. It needs to be built with the same MPI configuration as Boost and PETSc. The GridPACK configuration script will find ParMETIS automatically if it has been included in the PETSc build. Otherwise, the GridPACK configuration just needs to know where ParMETIS was installed, which is specified by

   -D PARMETIS_DIR:STRING="/pic/projects/gridpack/software" \

GridPACK requires version ParMETIS version 4.0. Older versions will not work. On most systems, it is straightforward to download and build ParMETIS as part of the PETSc build. We highly recommend that you do this to access ParMETIS.

An example configuration script for ParMETIS can be found on the link below.


GridPACK uses Doxygen to help document code. It's use is optional. Doxygen documentation can optionally be prepared during the build process. This is enabled if Doxygen is found. Graphviz is necessary for full documentation features.

Linux Basics

Some basic knowledge of Linux is necessary in order to build GridPACK. Familiarity with a Linux editor such as VIM or EMACS is required. Extensive documentation is readily available for both these editors, both online and in books. In addition, you will need to download tarballs (.tar or .tar.gz files) of the Boost, PETSc and GA libraries, uncompress them, and then configure and build the libraries.

The most direct way to download tar files on a Linux machine is to use a web browser such as Firefox to download files to a local download directory. These can then be moved to another location such are your GridPACK software directory.

If, for some reason, you do not have a web browser on your machine, you can use the wget command. This has the form

   wget URL

where URL is the location of a tar file on the web. The difficult part of using this command is to identify the URL of the download file. You will still need to have a web browser working on some other platform that you can use to navigate to the download page. If you go to the download page for these libraries and mouse over one of the download links for a tar file (these have the extension .tar.gz), you will see the URL of the download in the lower left hand corner. This seems to work for several different web browsers. Using this URL in the wget command will download the tar file into your current directory. This is the simplest method for downloading tar files.

For Windows Explorer, if you mouse over the link and right-click, a menu pops up. Select the "Copy shortcut" option. If you are accessing the Linux machine via a Putty session on your Windows box, then you can use a right click after typing wget in the command prompt to paste the URL directly into your Linux window.

If you usually download files using a Windows machine, you can download a library tar file using Windows and then copy it to your Linux platform using the WinSCP utility. This will allow you to transfer your files from Windows to Linux in a straightforward way. You may also be able to download directly to a Linux platform by bringing up a browser such as Firefox from the Linux command prompt, going to the appropriate download site and downloading directly to your Linux directory.

Once you have a tarball downloaded to your software directory, the next step is to uncompress the file into its own directory. For example, if you have downloaded the Boost tarball for version 1.65.0, you would see the following file in your directory


The .tar extension means that all the files in the boost directory have been concatenated into a single file using the Linux tar command. The .gz extension means that the tarball has been further compressed using the gzip command. You can uncompress the file and untar it using the single command

   tar xvf boost_1_65_0.tar.gz

This will produce a directory


in the same directory that the tarball is located in. This directory will contain all the individual files and subdirectories in the Boost library. Other libraries have a similar structure.

Continuing with the Boost example, the next step is to cd into the Boost directory and create a script for building Boost. This would consist of creating a file at the top of the boost_1_65_0 directory with a name such as that contains the commands for configuring Boost. On a Redhat Linux cluster using the GNU compilers, you would use these lines

   echo "using mpi ;" > ~/user-config.jam
   sh ./ \
       --prefix="/my_home_directory/software/boost_1_65_0" \
       --without-icu \
       --with-toolset=gcc \
   ./b2 -a -d+2 link=static stage
   ./b2 -a -d+2 link=static install
   rm ~/user-config.jam

Note that the argument to --prefix is the path to the Boost directory that you are currently in. Once these lines have been copied into the file, the file needs to be made executable by changing its permissions with the command

   chmod +x

The script can then be run (in the boost_1_65_0 directory) by typing


This will configure and build Boost. It is not strictly necessary to put these commands in a script, they will also work by just typing them into the the Linux command line. However, for such a long set of commands, it is obviously more desirable to avoid a mistake by using the script.

A final note on Linux concerns which shell is being used in your window session. For most users this is either the C-shell or Bourne-shell. If you are using C-shell, then environment variables are set using a command of the form

   setenv FC gfortran

where FC is the environment variable and gfortran is the value. For the Bourne-shell, the command is different

   export FC=gfortran

This is the only distinction between the two shells that is needed when building GridPACK and its associated libraries. All other scripts can be used in either shell without modification.