Installation Guide

Note: this text is mostly about installation from sources. If you fetched compiled binaries skip to section about binary distribution.

Quick installation

FriCAS now tries to support standard GNU build/installation conventions. So if you have sources and all prerequisites, then

./configure && make && sudo make install

should work. The above will install FriCAS files into /usr/local/lib/fricas/ and put the fricas command into /usr/local/bin/. You can give arguments to configure to change those locations.


Standard build tools

To build FriCAS you need standard build tools like C compiler and make.


To build FriCAS you need one of the following Lisp variants:

All Lisp implementations should give essentially the same functionality, however performance (speed) may differ quite a lot. ATM CMU CL port should be considered experimental, it received only little testing. Also CMU CL seem to have problems on some machines. By default FriCAS tries to use SBCL, since it is fast and reliable. On 64-bit AMD64 on average SBCL is the fastest one (9 times faster than CLISP), Clozure CL and GCL the second (about 3 times slower than SBCL), then ECL (about 7 times slower than SBCL) and CLISP is the slowest one. Note: very old versions of ECL were much (about 4 times) slower, versions from about 7-10 years ago gave best performance and newest ECL versions are progressively slower.

Some computation work much faster on 64-bit machines, especially when using SBCL.

jFriCAS (optional)

jFriCAS is an interface for running FriCAS in a Jupyter notebook. It should be installed after FriCAS has been installed.

Note: It currently only works with an SBCL image that has the Hunchentoot webserver included. See next section.

Hunchentoot (optional)

The jFriCAS interface needs a web server built into FRICASsys binary. This can be done by using Lisp (currently only SBCL) containing the Hunchentoot web server. You can provide your own Lisp with preloaded Hunchentoot. Or you can fetch the hsbcl-1.3.9.tar tarball from FriCAS distribution area. Then do

tar -xf hsbcl-1.3.9.tar
cd hsbcl
./build_hsbcl > build_hsbcl.log 2>&1

This assumes that the base Lisp to use is SBCL and creates executable binary hsbcl which contains Hunchentoot. If your SBCL is started in different way (say via full pathname), then edit build_hsbcl to match. After creating hsbcl one can then configure FriCAS like

../fricas-1.3.9/configure --with-lisp=/path/to/hsbcl --enable-gmp

FriCAS build in this way will contain Hunchentoot and can be used by jFriCAS.

X libraries (optional, but needed for graphics and HyperDoc)

On Debian (or Ubuntu) install the following packages.

sudo apt install libx11-dev libxt-dev libice-dev \
                 libsm-dev libxau-dev libxdmcp-dev libxpm-dev

GMP (optional)

You you use SBCL or Clozure CL the --enable-gmp configure option is available only if the development version of GMP is installed. Note: using GMP should work on all SBCL and Clozure CL platforms except for Clozure CL on Power PC.

sudo apt install libgmp-dev

LaTeX (optional)

If you run FriCAS in Emacs (efricas) you can enable

)set output tex on

to show rendered TeX output. For that to work, you need the following.

sudo apt install texlive auctex dvipng

In order to build the FriCAS Book, you also need the following LaTeX packages (available from CTAN).


SphinxDoc (optional)

The documentation is built via Sphinx.

sudo apt install python3 python3-pip
pip3 install -U Sphinx

Aldor (optional)

Aldor was originally invented to be the next generation compiler for Axiom (the system that FriCAS forked from). If you want to use Aldor to extend the FriCAS library, you must, of course, have Aldor installed, and add --enable-aldor to your configure options when you compile FriCAS.

The commands below download the Aldor git repository into $ALDORDIR and install it into $ALDORINSTALLDIR. Adapt the directories to whatever you like.

mkdir -p $ALDORDIR
git clone
mkdir $ALDORDIR/build
cd $ALDORDIR/build
$ALDORDIR/aldor/aldor/configure --prefix=$ALDORINSTALLDIR --disable-maintainer-mode
make -j8
make install

Then make the aldor executable available in your PATH by adding the following lines to your .bashrc.


Extra libraries needed by ECL

This only applies if you use Debian ECL.

sudo apt install libffi-dev

Detailed installation instructions

We assume that you have installed all necessary prerequisites.

  1. Change to a directory with enough (0.8 GB) free space.

  2. Fetch sources.

    git clone --depth 1

    Remove the --depth 1 option for access to the change history.

  3. Create build directory and change to it

    mkdir fr-build
    cd fr-build
  4. Configure. Assuming that you want fricas files to be installed in /tmp/usr.

    ../fricas/configure --with-lisp=/path/to/your/lisp --prefix=/tmp/usr

    where /path/to/your/lisp is name of your Lisp. For example, type

    ../fricas/configure --with-lisp="sbcl --dynamic-space-size 4096" --prefix=/tmp/usr --enable-gmp --enable-aldor

    to build with SBCL and 4 GiB dynamic space, use GMP, and enable the build of the Aldor library



    to include the Hunchentoot webserver if you later want to install jFriCAS.


    ../fricas/configure --help

    to see all possible options.

  5. Build and install

    make install

    Optionally, to gain confidence that your build works, you can run tests

    make check

Extra information

The preferred way to build FriCAS is to use an already installed Lisp. Also, it is preferable to use a separate build directory. Assuming that the source tree is in $HOME/fricas, you build in $HOME/fricas-build subdirectory and your Lisp is called sbcl the following should just work.

cd $HOME/fricas-build
$HOME/fricas/configure --with-lisp=sbcl && make && sudo make install

Currently --with-lisp option accepts all supported lisp variants, namely SBCL, CLISP, ECL, GCL and Clozure CL (openmcl). Note: the argument is just a command to invoke the respective Lisp variant. Build machinery will automatically detect which Lisp is in use and adjust as needed.

Note that jFriCAS has currently only been tested to work with SBCL.

HyperDoc and graphics

If you compile FriCAS from the FriCAS git repository, and configure does not detect the xvfb-run program, then graphic examples will not be built. This results in broken HyperDoc pages – all graphic examples will be missing (and trying to access them will crash hypertex).

To get working graphic examples login into X and replace make above by the following

make MAYBE_VIEWPORTS=viewports

Alternatively, after make finishes use

make viewports

Important: building graphic examples accesses the X server, so it will not work on text console. During build drawings will temporarily appear on the screen. Redirecting X via ssh should work fine, but may be slow.

It is possible to use the xvfb-run program, replacing make viewports above by

xvfb-run -a -s '-screen 0 1024x768x24' make viewports

Algebra optimization

When writing/compiling programs there is always tradeoff between speed and safety. Programs may include many checks to detect errors early (and allow recovery). Such programs are safe but checks take time so the program is slower. Or a program may just blindly goes forward hoping that everything goes well. Typically the second program will be faster, but in case of problems it may crash without any hint why and take user data with it.

Safety checks may be written by programmers, but another possibility is to have a compiler which automatically inserts various checks. FriCAS is compiled by a Lisp compiler and Lisp compilers may insert safety checks. How many checks are inserted may be controlled by the user. By default FriCAS tries to strike good balance between speed and safety. However, some FriCAS users want different tradeoff. The


option to configure allows changing this setting: S is a Lisp expression specifying speed/safety tradeoff used by Lisp compiler. For example

--enable-algebra-optimization="((speed 3) (safety 0))"

chooses fastest (but unsafe) variant, while

--enable-algebra-optimization="((speed 2) (safety 3))"

should be very safe (but possibly slow).

Note: this setting affects only algebra (that is mathematical code). The rest of FriCAS always uses default setting. Rationale for this is that mathematical code is unlikely to contain errors which can crash the whole system.

Using GMP with SBCL or Clozure CL

Currently on average FriCAS is fastest when compiled using SBCL. However, SBCL normally uses its own routines for computations with large numbers and those routines are slower than GMP. FriCAS now has special support to replace sbcl arithmetic routines by GMP. To use this support install GMP including header files (development package if you install via a package manager). Currently there are two available GMP versions, version 5 is much faster than version 4. Then configure FriCAS adding --enable-gmp option to the configure arguments.

FriCAS also has support for using GMP with Clozure CL. Currently Clozure CL with GMP works on 32/64 bit Intel/AMD processors and ARM (using Clozure CL with GMP is not supported on Power PC processors).

When you have GMP installed in a non-standard location (this usually means anything other than /usr or /usr/local) then you can specify the location with

configure --with-gmp=PATH

This means that the header files are in PATH/include and libgmp is in PATH/lib. If you have a different setup, then you can specify

--with-gmp-include=INCLUDEPATH --with-gmp-lib=LIBPATH

(specify the directories where the header files and libgmp are found, respectively).

These options also implicitly set --enable-gmp. However, if --enable-gmp=no is given, then --with-gmp=..., --with-gmp-include=... and --with-gmp-lib=... is ignored.

Post-compilation steps (optional)

Build extra documentation (book and website)

After a build of FriCAS, (suppose your build directory is under $BUILD), you can build the documentation provided at the FriCAS home page on your local installation.

To build the extra documentation you need a working convert program from ImageMagick. Note that several Linux distribution currently disable the ability to create .ps files via convert. If your distribution is doing this, then the build of extra documentation will fail.

In Ubuntu you can allow the creation of .ps files by editing /etc/ImageMagick-6/policy.xml as root and changing the respective line to

<policy domain="coder" rights="read|write" pattern="PS" />

The FriCAS home page can be built via

cd $BUILD/src/doc
make doc

This builds the full content of the FriCAS home page including the FriCAS Book (also known as the FriCAS User Guide) into the directory src/doc/html from which it can be committed to the gh-pages branch of the official FriCAS git repository.

Most links also work fine if you start

firefox src/doc/html/index.html

but some links point to the web. If you want the links referring only to the data on your computer, you call the compilation like this

cd $BUILD/src/doc
make localdoc

This will have broken references to the FriCAS Demos and Tutorials as they live in a separate repository. Do the following to get a local copy and thus have working references.

cd $BUILD/src/doc/html
git clone -b gh-pages

For more control on the generation of the FriCAS website content, you can set various variables (see src/doc/ in the FriCAS git repository. For example, if you like to push to your forked FriCAS repository and refer to branch foo instead of master then do as follows (replace hemmecke by your account name).

     BRANCH=foo \

If you want to change the version information provided by default through, you can add a variable assignment like this to the above command.

PACKAGE_VERSION=$(git log -1 --pretty=%H)
PACKAGE_VERSION="1.3.9+ `date +'%Y-%m-%d %H:%M'`"

Then, checkout the gh-pages branch and put the data from $BUILD/src/doc/html into your gh-pages branch.

git clone
cd fricas
git checkout gh-pages
git rm -rf .
rm '.gitignore'
echo '' > .nojekyll
cp -a $BUILD/src/doc/html/* .
rm -r _sources/api/
git add .
git commit -m "$PACKAGE_VERSION"
git push origin gh-pages

You must use git checkout --orphan gh-pages if you do not yet have a gh-pages branch.

Optional: If you add

text/x-spad       spad

to /etc/mime.types and in firefox associate text/x-spad with your editor, then clicking on a .spad file opens the .spad file in this editor.

Build FriCAS-Aldor interface (

You can not only extend the FriCAS library by .spad files (SPAD programs), but also by .as files (Aldor programs). For the latter to work FriCAS needs a library

Note that building the interface temporarily needs about 2 GB extra disk space. Since currently, building the Aldor interface accesses the build files of a previous FriCAS build, you need about 3 GB disk space.

If you configured FriCAS using --enable-aldor option, then make will also build and make install will install it together with FriCAS.

If the aldor binary is not reachable during build via your PATH, you can add --with-aldor-binary=/path/to/aldor to the configure command line.

Note: at runtime, the Aldor binary is taken as specified by the ALDOR_COMPILER environment variable or (if not set) must be available through the PATH.

After installation you should be able to compile and use the program below in a FriCAS session via

sieve 10

The program is

-- A prime number sieve to count primes <= n.
#include "fricas"

N ==> NonNegativeInteger;
import from Boolean, N, Integer;

sieve(n: N): N  == {
    isprime: PrimitiveArray Boolean := new(n+1, true);
    np: N := 0;
    two: N := 2;
    for p in two..n | isprime(p::Integer) repeat {
        np := np + 1;
        for i in two*p..n by p::Integer repeat {
            isprime(i::Integer) := false;

Install jFriCAS

There are a couple of things to install.

  1. Jupyter

  2. jFriCAS

The simplest way to install jFriCAS is via pip as follows

sudo apt install python3-pip
pip3 install jupyter
pip3 install jfricas

You can also install jFriCAS into a python virtual environment from jfricas at PyPI or from the git repository.

Below, we describe the installation from the git repository.

Except for the file $HOME/.jupyter/ that maybe necessary to create, the following description will put most of the things (in particular the git repositories) under the directory $FDIR. We assume that FriCAS will be installed into $FRICASINSTALL. jFriCAS and Jupyter will go into $JFRICASINSTALL You can change any of these paths.


jFriCAS installation

jFriCAS is the Jupyter notebook interface to FriCAS. Of course, jFriCAS needs Jupyter in a reasonably recent version (at least 4).

Install prerequisites if not yet available (needs root access, but it may already be installed on your system).

sudo apt install python3-pip python3-venv

Prepare directories and download jFriCAS.

git clone

Install prerequisites, Jupyter and jFriCAS.

WARNING: Do not install jfricas 1.0.0 from PyPI, as that will not work. If you have it installed, then uninstall it first.

python3 -m venv $JFRICASINSTALL
source $JFRICASINSTALL/bin/activate
pip3 install jupyter
cd $GITREPOS/jfricas
pip3 install .
jupyter kernelspec list

The output of the last command should show something similar to the following.

Available kernels:
  jfricas    /home/hemmecke/fricas/venv/jfricas/share/jupyter/kernels/jfricas
  python3    /home/hemmecke/fricas/venv/jfricas/share/jupyter/kernels/python3

Create the script jfricas.

cat > $FRICASINSTALL/bin/jfricas <<EOF
source $JFRICASINSTALL/bin/activate
jupyter notebook \$1
chmod +x $FRICASINSTALL/bin/jfricas

Start a new terminal or set the PATH on the command line or inside your .bashrc file and start jfricas from any directory (after you have installed FriCAS).


Note that inside jupyter the place from where you start jfricas is the place where your notebooks will be stored.

You can start a new FriCAS session by selecting FriCAS from the New drop down menu. If you want to enjoy nice looking output, then type the following inside a notebook cell.

)set output algebra off

You can go back to standard 2D ASCII output as follows.

)set output formatted off
)set output algebra on

(optional) Install JupyText

Ordinary Jupyter notebooks use a special format in order to store their content. They have the file extension .ipynb. It is an incredible feature to be able to load and store notebooks as ordinary FriCAS .input files. You can even synchronize between the .ipynb and .input formats.

There are two types of cells in Jupyter: Markdown documentation cells and execution cells. With the help of JupyText, Markdown cells will appear inside an .input file as FriCAS comments and execution cells appear without the "-- " comment prefix.

source $JFRICASINSTALL/bin/activate
pip3 install jupytext

Enable the spad language and set the respective parameters.

cd $HOME
J=$(find $JFRICASINSTALL -type d | grep '/site-packages/jupytext$')
emacs $J/

Edit the file $J/ and change appropriately.

# Jupyter magic commands that are also languages
_JUPYTER_LANGUAGES = ["spad", "R", ...]

# Supported file extensions (and languages)
# Please add more languages here (and add a few tests) - see
   ".py": {"language": "python", "comment": "#"},
    ".input": {"language": "spad", "comment": "--"},
    ".input-test": {"language": "spad", "comment": "--"},

Make Jupytext available

In Ubuntu 22.04 you need not run the commands from this section. It seemingly works without having to change something in the configuration file. There were even reports that jFriCAS stopped working if c.NotebookApp.contents_manager_class was set. However, for older versions of JupyText and/or Jupyter, the following had to be configured.

If $HOME/.jupyter/ does not yet exist, generate it. Note that this is outside the $FDIR directory.

jupyter notebook --generate-config

For the following see .

sed -i 's|^# *c.NotebookApp.use_redirect_file = .*|c.NotebookApp.use_redirect_file = False|' $HOME/.jupyter/

The following enables JupyText.

sed -i 's|^# *c.NotebookApp.contents_manager_class =.*|c.NotebookApp.contents_manager_class = "jupytext.TextFileContentsManager"|' $HOME/.jupyter/

Put the following input into the file $FDIR/foo.input.

-- # FriCAS demo notebook

)set output algebra off

-- Here we compute $\frac{d^2}{dx^2} sin(x^3)$.


-- We compute the indefinite integral $\int \sin x \cdot e^x dx$.

integrate(exp(x)*sin(x), x)

Then start via jfricas, load foo.input and enjoy.

cd $FDIR

If something does not work then look at the end of and experiment with different versions of how to start FriCAS.

FRICASKERNEL=$(find $JFRICASINSTALL -type f | grep 'fricaskernel\.py$')

You can also download or clone the demo notebooks from and compare them with what you see at FriCAS Demos and Tutorials.

Install frimacs

frimacs is an Emacs mode for FriCAS with special features to edit .input and .spad files as well as executing a FriCAS session inside an Emacs buffer.

Install as follows.

git clone

If your GITREPOS=/home/hemmecke/fricas, then add the line

(load-file "/home/hemmecke/fricas/frimacs/frimacs.el")

to your .emacs or .emacs.d/init.el file.

To start a FriCAS session use

M-x run-fricas

Creation of distribution tarballs

The source distribution can be created as follows. Fetch and build sources, taking care to build Hyperdoc pages and graphic examples. Make sure that text of help pages is available in some directory (they are not part of source tree, some are generated, but the rest is copied to tarball). Assuming that you build FriCAS in fr-build and $SRC point to FriCAS source tree do

cd fr-build
$SRC/src/scripts/ --copy_lisp --copy_phts \
mv dist ../fricas-X.Y.Z
cd ..
tar -cjf fricas-X.Y.Z.tar.bz2 fricas-X.Y.Z

Note: FriCAS source distributions are created from a branch which differs from trunk, namely release branch has version number, trunk instead gives date of last update to If you wish you can create distribution tarballs from trunk.

The binary distribution can be created as follows. First fetch and unpack source tarball in work directory. Then in work directory

mkdir fr-build
../fricas-X.Y.Z/configure --enable--gmp --with-lisp=/path/to/hsbcl
make -j 7 > makelog 2>&1
make DESTDIR=/full/path/to/auxiliary/dir install
cd /full/path/to/auxiliary/dir
tar -cjf fricas-x.y.z.amd64.tar.bz2 usr

Installation from binary distribution

You can download the latest release as a .tar.bz2 from and install as follows (of course, you can set FDIR to anything you like).

mkdir -p $FDIR
cd $FDIR
tar xjf fricas-x.y.z.amd64.tar.bz2

If before running tar you change to the root directory and do this command as root, then you will get ready to run FriCAS in the /usr/local subtree of the filesystem. This puts FriCAS files in the same places as running install after build from source using default settings.

Alternatively, you can put FriCAS files anywhere in your file system, which is useful if you want to install FriCAS without administrator rights.

For this to work you need to adapt the fricas and efricas scripts to point to the right paths. This is explained in

After installation you can start FriCAS with full path name like one of the following commands.


Of course, you must have Emacs installed for the efricas script to work correctly.

You might have to install

sudo apt install xfonts-75dpi xfonts-100dpi

and restart the X server (log out and log in again) in case the font in HyperDoc does not look pretty.

That is, however, not necessary, if you do not intend to use HyperDoc a lot and rather look at the FriCAS homepage in order to find relevant information.

Optionally, set the PATH in $HOME/.bashrc:

Edit the file $HOME/.bashrc (or whatever your shell initialization resource is) and put in something like the following in order to make all fricas scripts available.

export PATH=$FDIR/usr/local/bin:$PATH

Known problems

  • currently when using case insensitive filesystem (typically on macOS and Windows), the git version can only be built in a separate directory (in-tree build will fail). This does not affect release tarball.

  • In general, any error when generating documentation will cause build to hang.

  • 32-bit sbcl from 1.5.9 to 2.1.3 may miscompile floating point comparisons. Due to this most plots will fail. The problem is fixed in newer versions of sbcl. Alternatively, use older version of sbcl. 64-bit sbcl works OK.

  • by default sbcl 1.0.54 and newer limits memory use to 1GB, which is too small for heavy use. To work around this one can pass --dynamic-space-size argument during sbcl build to increase default limit. We recommend limit slightly smaller than amount of available RAM (in this way FriCAS will be able to use almost all RAM, but limit should prevent thrashing).

  • Some Linux versions, notably SuSE, by default seem to have very small limit on virtual memory. This causes build failure when using sbcl or Clozure CL. Also if limit on virtual memory is too small sbcl-based or Clozure CL-based FriCAS binary will silently fail at startup. The simplest workaround is to increase limit, in the shell typing

    ulimit -v unlimited

    Alternatively for sbcl one can use --dynamic-space-size argument to decrease use of virtual memory.

  • CLISP built with threads support may fail to compile FriCAS.

  • On new Linux kernel build using Clisp may take very long time. This is caused by frequent calls to fsync performed without need by Clisp.

  • on some systems (notably MAC OSX) when using sbcl default limit of open files may be too low. To workaround increase limit (experiments suggest that 512 open files is enough). This should not be needed in FriCAS 1.1.7.

  • sbcl from 1.3.1 to 1.3.4 runs out of memory when compiling FriCAS. This is fixed in newer versions of sbcl.

  • using sbcl from 1.0.47 to 1.0.49 compilation is very slow (few hours on fast machine). This is fixed in newer versions of sbcl.

  • sbcl-1.0.29 has a bug in the directory function which causes build failure. This problem is fixed in

  • has broken complex tanh function – you will get wrong results when applying tanh to Complex DoubleFloat.

  • in sbcl 1.0.35 and up Control-C handling did not work. This should be fixed in current FriCAS.

  • gcl-2.6.14 by default tries to use large fraction of available memory. However with default settings, it can only load code into first 2Gb of memory. If more than 2Gb of memory are available this is likely to lead to error when loading compiled code after longer computation. Due to this, FriCAS build is likely to fail. One possible workaround is to limit amount of memory available to gcl. This can be done by setting environment variable GCL_MEM_MULTIPLE. Set it to floating point value which multiplied by total memory gives about 2Gb. For example, on 32Gb machine set GCL_MEM_MULTIPLE to 0.07.

  • Boehm garbage collector included in old ECL (version 6.8) is incompatible with Fedora strong address space randomization (setting randomize_va_space to 2). Using newer version of Boehm garbage collector (7.0 or 7.1) or newer ECL should solve this problem.

  • Striping FriCAS binaries is likely to break them. In particular Clisp based FriCAS may crash with message

    module 'syscalls' requires package OS.

    while sbcl will show only loader prompt.

  • On Mac OSX Tiger some users reported problems with pseudoterminals, build stopped with the message

    fork_Axiom: Failed to reopen server: No such file or directory

    This problem is believed to be fixed in FriCAS-1.0.5 (and later).

  • ECL 9.6.2 (and probably also 9.6.1 and 9.6.0) has a bug with handling string constants which causes build based on this version to fail. This bugs is fixed in newer versions. ECL 9.7.1 generates wrong C code, so that build fails. This is fixed in newer versions.

  • Unicode-enabled ECL before 9.8.4 is unable to build FriCAS.

  • ECL up to version 0.9l may segfault at exit. This is usually harmless, but may cause build to hang (for example when generating ug13.pht).

  • Clozure CL 1.10 apparently miscompiles some operations on U32Matrix. Version 1.11 works OK.

  • Clozure CL 1.7 and 1.6 apparently miscompiles FriCAS. Versions 1.8 and newer and 1.5 and earlier work OK.

  • Clozure CL earlier than release 1.2 (former Openmcl) has a bug in Lisp printer. This bug causes incorrect printing of FriCAS types. Also, Clozure CL earlier than release 1.2 has bug in complex cosine function. Those bugs are fixed in release 1.2. If you want to use earlier version you can work around the bugs applying the contib/omcl.diff patch and recompiling the compiler (see the patch or Clozure CL documentation for instructions).

  • Older versions of Clisp may fail to build FriCAS complaining about opening already opened file – this is error is spurious, the file in question in fact is closed, but for some reason Clisp got confused.