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Installing Cantera

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This documentation is for an old version of Cantera. You can find docs for newer versions here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Installation & Compilation

How do I install Cantera on Windows?

Download the MSI installer for Cantera and the corresponding Python module from SourceForge. Choose between x86 and x64 based on the versions of Python and/or Matlab you want to work with. See Windows Installation for details.

How do I install Cantera on Linux?

For Ubuntu, packages for the current stable version of Cantera are available in a PPA. See Ubuntu Installation for details.

For other Linux distributions, download the source code (e.g. cantera-2.1.1.tar.gz) from SourceForge and follow the instructions in the Cantera Compilation Guide.

How do I install Cantera on Mac OS X?

Cantera can be installed using Homebrew. See Mac OS X Installation for details.

What do I do if compiling Cantera fails?

  • Examine the output of the scons build command, especially anything identified as a WARNING or ERROR. Check for discrepancies with your expected configuration (e.g. not finding SUNDIALS even though you have it installed).
  • Check the contents of cantera.conf to make sure they are correct.
  • If any of the configuration tests (Checking for...) fail unexpectedly, look at the contents of config.log to determine the reason.
  • If none of these help identify the cause of the failure, consider asking for help on the Cantera Users’ Group. If you decide to make a post, please include the following information:
    • The contents of cantera.conf and config.log
    • The output of the scons build and scons build dump commands (you can direct this output to a file by running scons build >buildlog.txt 2>&1)
    • The exact version of Cantera you are trying to compile, and how it was obtained (i.e. downloaded source tarball or the specific Git commit)
    • Your operating system, compiler versions, and the versions of any other relevant software.

How do I debug issues with the SCons build system?

Sometimes, it is helpful to see all of the internal variables defined by SCons, either automatically or by the Cantera build scripts. To do this, add dump to your SCons command line. For example:

$ scons build dump

will show the variables that would be set during the build step. Note that in this case, the build step will not be executed.

Alternatively, it is also possible to run SCons through the Python debugger, and set a breakpoint in the SConstruct file. For example:

$ scons --debug=pdb build
(Pdb) b /full/path/to/SConstruct:33
(Pdb) cont


Which Cantera interface should I use?

If you’re new to Cantera, the best interface to get started with is probably the “new” Python interface. It offers most of the features of the C++ core in a much more flexible environment. Since all of the calculations are still done in C++, there is very little performance penalty to using the high-level language interfaces.

Where can I find examples of how to use Cantera?

Cantera is distributed with many examples for the Python and Matlab interfaces, and a smaller number of examples for the C++ and Fortran interfaces. The Matlab, C++, and legacy Python examples should be installed in the samples subdirectory of the Cantera installation directory, or they can be found in the samples subdirectory of the Cantera source directory.

Examples for the new Python interface can be found in the examples subdirectory of the Cantera Python module installation directory, or in the interfaces/cython/cantera/examples subdirectory of the Cantera source directory.

How should I cite Cantera?

The recommended citation for Cantera is as follows:

David G. Goodwin, Harry K. Moffat, and Raymond L. Speth. Cantera: An object- oriented software toolkit for chemical kinetics, thermodynamics, and transport processes., 2016. Version 2.2.1.

The following BibTeX entry may also be used:

   author = "David G. Goodwin and Harry K. Moffat and Raymond L. Speth",
   title = "Cantera: An Object-oriented Software Toolkit for Chemical
            Kinetics, Thermodynamics, and Transport Processes",
   year = 2016,
   note = "Version 2.2.1",
   howpublished = "\url{}"

If you are using a different version of Cantera, update the version and year fields accordingly.

Support and Bug Reporting

What should I do if I think I’ve found a bug in Cantera?

  • Check to see if you’re using the most recent version of Cantera, and upgrade if not.
  • Check the Issue Tracker to see if the issue has already been reported.
  • Try to generate a minimal, complete, and verifiable example that demonstrates the observed bug.
  • Create a new issue on the tracker. Include as much information as possible about your system configuration (operating system, compiler versions, Python versions, installation method, etc.)

What information should I include in my bug report?

  • The version of Cantera are you using, and how you installed it
  • The operating system you are using
  • If you compiled Cantera, what compiler you used, and what compilation options you specified
  • The version of Python or Matlab are you using, if applicable
  • The necessary input to generate the reported behavior
  • The full text of any error message you receive

What should I do if I need help using Cantera?

You can join the Cantera Users’ Group on Google Groups and ask a question there. Please use the search feature before posting to see if your question has been answered before. This group is moderated, so it may take some time for your posts to appear if you are a new member.