NorMIT-nav  22.09
An IGT application
Build instructions

Recommended build procedure

Make sure you:

Choose a root folder for the project, e.g. ~/dev/cx. It will be populated as described in Superbuild Folder Structure.

Then run the following commands in your user's home folder:

mkdir dev
mkdir dev/cx
cd dev/cx
git clone CX/CX
cd CX/CX
(git checkout develop)
./install/ --full --all --build_type Release --user_doc

Run -h for a list of the components in CustusX to build, and an explanation of the input arguments. The --full argument is a combination of the following arguments:

  • --checkout: download the source code repositories of the selected components.
  • --configure: configure and run CMake to generate build files.
  • --make: build the selected components.

The --all argument selects all components for building. After having run the script successfully, you might want to drop this argument and instead list the components you want to run commands on, primarily CustusX.


The following software must be installed prior to building CustusX.

Several other libraries (see External libraries) are part of the Superbuild, and thus does not need to be installed separately.

For convenience, setup scripts for some platforms are available in the repository. They will help setup a machine from scratch, but might not be fully updated or give you more than you expected. Look for your platform in install/platforms.

Mac and Linux

On Linux, one can most likely use the package manager to install the required software below. On Mac, it is adviced to use regular installers for:

  • Xcode. Mac only. Use the App store to download. You need to start Xcode after downloading it to finish the installation.
  • CMake. On Mac, add cmake to the PATH in your .profile file and restart the machine:
    export PATH=/Applications/$PATH
  • Qt open source. We use Qt Creator as our IDE. On Mac you might need to add a path to the Qt CMake files to your .profile file (or .bashrc or .bash_profile) and restart the machine. Edit the path below so that it is correct on your machine:
    export CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH=/Users/"Your username"/"Qt installation path"/"Qt version number"/clang_64/lib/cmake

The following software can be installed on Mac as well through a package manager like MacPorts or HomeBrew:

  • Boost
  • Cppunit. For the tests.
  • Glew
  • Doxygen. To build the user/developer documentation.
  • Ninja. Increases build speed. The build script will detect that ninja is installed automatically.

Python and Git: Make sure that you have Python and Git installed and that you can run them from the command line. To run the tests you need some additional python packages. You can use pip to install them:

sudo easy_install pip
sudo pip install lxml
sudo pip install pycrypto

Cuda: On Linux you might need to install Cuda to get OpenCL working. It is recommended to download and use the regular installer from the web site.


The Windows build environment can be a bit harder to setup. After you have generated .ssh keys and cloned the CustusX repo, you can look for the Windows setup scripts in the CX/install/platforms folder. There is a readme file to follow. Basically, the most of the instructions are found there. You must manually install Visual studio and then update the paths in the main script. The script will download and install many applications, including the ones described above. It will also create a folder in your build tree with a build environment to run the build script in, CustusX_environment. You will use this command to run the build script:

CX/install/run_python.bat win64 PATH_to_CustusX_environment " --full --all --build_type Release --user_doc"

After you have run the build script, you can use the set_run_environment.bat script in the build folder to start Qt Creator. You also use this script to start the executable:

CX/b_Release/set_run_environment.bat PATH_to_QtCreator
set_run_environment.bat CustusX.exe

If you want to use Qt Creator for debugging, it is important to use the script in the Debug build folder to start it.

Practical information

To start writing code, open the file


in Qt Creator. Make sure that the build folder(s) for your selected configuration(s) (Debug/Release) matches the build folder(s) in your build tree.

On Mac/Linux, you have to add the path to ninja (most likely /opt/local/bin) to the PATH variable in the Build environment in the prooject settings in Qt Creator.

You might need to rerun the build script, and CMake to get everything working.

Running the tests

The test suite of CustusX can be run through the executable Catch, which is built as part of the superbuild. Run it with the -h argument to see the options. To run a specific test:

./CX/build_Release/bin/Catch "test name"

Note that the test name must be in quotes. Tests are tagged. To run all the unit tests:

./CX/build_Release/bin/Catch [unit]~[hide]~[unstable]~[not_linux]

This will run all unit tests, but not tests tagged as hidden, unstable or not for Linux. Run with the -t argument to list all the tags including the not-tags for other platforms, and -l to list all the tests.

The integration tests are generally more complex and should be run in separate processes. We use a script for that:

./CX/install/ --run_catch --wrap_in_ctest [integration]~[unstable]~[hide]~[not_linux]

Several tests uses data in the CustusX-Data component which is downloaded as part of the superbuild as the data folder in the CX/CX folder. Some tests might depend on external applications, like Vlc, being installed. Other tests might depend on graphics drivers or other hardware. The complexity of the test suite means that you might have failing tests, but it should generally not be a big concern if you are on one of the listed Supported Platforms.

Some notes about running the tests on an installed (i.e. not built) version of CustusX:

  • At the time, some relative paths from the build machine excists in the Catch executable This means that you need to put the data repo in the corresponding location.
  • The script only works if you have installed CustusX in the same folder relative to the script, as if it was a built version. Also, the script doesn't work on a debug installation.

Superbuild Folder Structure

The default CustusX folder structure differs from the standard CMake source+build structure. All libraries, CustusX included, are placed within a root folder, with source and build folders grouped according to library.

The CustusX Superbuild defines and sets up this structure. It is fully possible to use a different structure, in that case you must configure cmake yourself.

root CX CX
some_lib some_lib