Compile on Mac OS X

NOTE: These instructions are for compiling the development branch.

You can also compile with meson instead of cmake.


You will need to have C++ compiler installed on your computer. GCC 6 (or higher) and Apple Clang from XCode 11 (or higher) should work. If you don’t have a C++ compiler, you should install Xcode.

You will also need to have CMake (3.5.1 or higher) and Boost (1.74 or higher) installed

Installing pre-requisites with root/administrator priveleges (the usual case)

The typical way to install boost and cmake is to use the homebrew package manager. If homebrew is not already installed, you can install it with:

/bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL"

You can then use homebrew to install cmake and boost:

brew install cmake boost

Installing pre-requisites without root/administrator priveleges

First you will need to install cmake

Then you can compile boost:

curl -O -L
tar -xzvf boost_1_74_0.tar.gz
cd boost_1_74_0
./ --with-libraries=atomic,chrono,filesystem,system,regex,thread,date_time,program_options,math,serialization --prefix=../installed-boost-1.74.0
./b2 link=static install
echo -e "\n    BOOST root is at $(cd ../installed-boost-1.74.0; pwd)\n"

This creates a new directory called installed-boost-1.74.0 that contains the boost installation. This directory is called the BOOST “root”. You will need the path to the BOOST root for the next step.

To set up an IDE such as XCode, the following directory should be added to compiler include paths:


The following directory should be added to linker library paths:



Download RevBayes from our github repository. Clone the repository using git by running the following command in the terminal

git clone --branch development revbayes

To compile with the system Boost library:

cd revbayes/projects/cmake

You will likely see some compiler warnings (e.g. clang: warning: optimization flag '-finline-functions' is not supported). This is normal.

To compile revbayes using a locally compiled boost, do the following. Be sure to replace the paths in the build command with those you got from boost in the previous step.

./ -boost_root /path/to/installed-boost-1.74.0

For the MPI version:

./ -mpi true

This produces an executable called rb-mpi.

Note that compiling the MPI version requires that an MPI library is installed.