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Building, installing and running software

This course is part of the Scientific Computing series.

It is common for a student or researcher to find a piece of software or to have one thrust upon them by a supervisor which they must then build, install and use. It is a myth that any of this requires system privilege. This course demonstrates the building, installation and use of typical software ranging from trivially easy examples (the "configure, make, install" scheme) through to fairly complex Makefiles belonging to real world applications. Common errors and what they mean will be covered and explanations will be given on how to avoid them.

By the end of the course the student should be able to manage their own software without needing to pester their system administrator.

Course description

  • Location of software
  • Unpacking software
  • Importance of keeping records
  • The configure script
  • Running make with a configured Makefile
  • Installing software
  • Software dependencies
  • The pkg-config command
  • Working without the configure script
  • Compilation, linking and execution
  • Using make without a Makefile
  • make's built-in rules
  • make macros
  • Setting macros to the Makefile
  • Multi-file builds
  • Adding rules to the Makefile
  • Traditional targets
  • Using external libraries
  • Building libraries and using them
  • A real world Makefile
  • Recursive make
  • Multiple attempts
  • Understanding make error messages
  • Building significant Makefiles from scratch

Notes

The course notes for the “Building, installing and running software” course are available as PDF or the source ODF format.

Day one Notes (PDF) Source (ODP)
Day two Notes (PDF) Source (ODP)
Day three Notes (PDF) Source (ODP)
  • The course features a dummy lab book, available as either ODT or as PDF.
  • An archive of the files for the home directory. (Warning: 18MB!): TGZ.