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

Determine configuration options

  • Run scons help to see a list all configuration options for Cantera, or see Configuration Options.

  • Configuration options are specified as additional arguments to the scons command, e.g.:

    scons command option=value

    where scons is the program that manages the build steps, and command is most commonly one of

    • build
    • test
    • clean

    Other commands are possible, and are explained in Build Commands.

  • SCons saves configuration options specified on the command line in the file cantera.conf in the root directory of the source tree, so generally it is not necessary to respecify configuration options when rebuilding Cantera. To unset a previously set configuration option, either remove the corresponding line from cantera.conf or use the syntax:

    scons command option_name=
  • Sometimes, changes in your environment can cause SCons’s configuration tests (e.g., checking for libraries or compiler capabilities) to unexpectedly fail. To force SCons to re-run these tests rather than trusting the cached results, run scons with the option --config=force.

  • The following lists of options are not complete, they show only some commonly used options. The entire list of options can be found in Configuration Options.

Common Options

Python 2 Module Options

By default, SCons will attempt to build the Cython-based Python module for Python 2, if both Numpy and Cython are installed. The following options control how the Python 2 module is built:

Python 3 Module Options

If SCons detects a Python 3 interpreter installed in a default location (i.e., python3 is on the PATH environment variable) or python3_package is y, SCons will try to build the Python module for Python 3. The following SCons options control how the Python 3 module is built:

Note that even when building the Python 3 Cantera module, you should still use Python 2 with SCons, as SCons does not currently support Python 3.

Windows Only Options


The cantera.conf file uses the backslash character \ as an escape character. When modifying this file, backslashes in paths need to be escaped like this: boost_inc_dir = 'C:\\Program Files (x86)\\boost\\include' This does not apply to paths specified on the command line. Alternatively, you can use forward slashes (/) in paths.

  • In Windows there aren’t any proper default locations for many of the packages that Cantera depends on, so you will need to specify these paths explicitly.

  • Remember to put double quotes around any paths with spaces in them, e.g. "C:\Program Files".

  • By default, SCons attempts to use the same architecture as the copy of Python that is running SCons, and the most recent installed version of the Visual Studio compiler. If you aren’t building the Python module, you can override this with the configuration options target_arch and msvc_version.

  • To compile with MinGW, specify the toolchain option:

  • msvc_version

  • target_arch

  • toolchain

MATLAB Toolbox Options

Building the MATLAB toolbox requires an installed copy of MATLAB, and the path to the directory where MATLAB is installed must be specified using the following option:

Fortran Module Options

Building the Fortran module requires a compatible Fortran comiler. SCons will attempt to find a compatible compiler by default in the PATH environment variable. The following options control how the Fortran module is built:

Documentation Options

The following options control if the documentation is built:

Less Common Options

Build Commands

The following options are possible as commands to SCons, i.e., the first argument after scons:

scons command
  • scons help
    Print a description of user-specifiable options.
  • scons build
    Compile Cantera and the language interfaces using default options.
  • scons clean
    Delete files created while building Cantera.
  • [sudo] scons install
    Install Cantera.
  • [sudo] scons uninstall
    Uninstall Cantera.
  • scons test
    Run all tests which did not previously pass or for which the results may have changed.
  • scons test-reset
    Reset the passing status of all tests.
  • scons test-clean
    Delete files created while running the tests.
  • scons test-help
    List available tests.
  • scons test-NAME
    Run the test named “NAME”.
  • scons <command> dump
    Dump the state of the SCons environment to the screen instead of doing <command>, e.g. scons build dump. For debugging purposes.
  • scons samples
    Compile the C++ and Fortran samples.
  • scons msi
    Build a Windows installer (.msi) for Cantera.
  • scons sphinx
    Build the Sphinx documentation
  • scons doxygen
    Build the Doxygen documentation

Compile Cantera & Test

  • Run SCons with the list of desired configuration options:

    scons build ...
  • If Cantera compiles successfully, you should see a message that looks like:

    Compilation completed successfully.
    - To run the test suite, type 'scons test'.
    - To install, type '[sudo] scons install'.
  • If you do not see this message, check the output for errors to see what went wrong.

  • Cantera has a series of tests that can be run with the command:

    scons test
  • When the tests finish, you should see a summary indicating the number of tests that passed and failed.

  • If you have tests that fail, try looking at the following to determine the source of the error:

    • Messages printed to the console while running scons test
    • Output files generated by the tests

Building Documentation

  • To build the Cantera HTML documentation, run the commands:

    scons doxygen
    scons sphinx

    or append the options sphinx_docs=y and doxygen_docs=y to the build command, e.g.:

    scons build doxygen_docs=y sphinx_docs=y