DIRAC on Windows - developers section

After completing the explanation of DIRAC installation and first steps on the Microsoft (MS) Windows (shortly Windows) platform for users (see DIRAC on Windows) we continue this manual for the developers.


DIRAC is beeing developed and works mainly on machines with Linux/Unix/Mac operating systems. Since many desktop computers are sold with preinstalled Windows operating system, it is worth, we believe, to adapt the DIRAC software for the Windows environment. Also, the Windows operating system has great potential for the high-performance computing. This is the motivation for investing efforts in the code’s adaptation for the Windows platform.

Thanks to the modern, platform-universal CMake buildup system and related Windows supported software you can fully set up the DIRAC software under the Windows operating system.

We have tested the DIRAC downloading from its git-repositories, configuration, compilation and tests running, all in the framework of the Windows 7/8 operating systems.


In addition to the necessities listed in the section for users, DIRAC developpers have to install :

  1. The Git version control system (http://git-scm.com). When ask you can choose options “Use Git from Git Bash only” or “Use Git from the Windows Command Prompt” (recommended). If you choose the first option then you have to manually add to %PATH% ”...\Git\cmd” (depends on your installation). It is not possible to sucessfully run CMake with optional Unix tools in %PATH% (see explanation below).
  2. The Sphinx documentation generator and related packages, see below.


The CMake suite can not be used when an another shell command (sh.exe) from other package is found in the Windows %PATH% enviromental variable. Please avoid adding both ”...\Git\bin” and ”...\MinGW\msys\1.0\bin” (associated with the installation of 32-bit MinGW) in your %PATH% as these are causing conflict with CMake programs!

Documentation tools

To be able to generate the html documentation, the user has to download the Sphinx (http://sphinx.pocoo.org/) package for Windows. Sphinx can be installed with the help of Python setuptools suite (http://pypi.python.org/pypi/setuptools) as

easy_install -U sphinx

Alternatively, better python installer is pip (https://pip.pypa.io/en/latest/index.html), and use it as

pip install sphinx

We assume that the 32-bit version of Python is installed also on 64-bit machines as not all necessary packages are at disposal in 64-bit versions. Check that the %Path% Windows environmental variable points to both Python and its extensions, and has the the form of ”...C:\Python27;C:\Python27\Scripts;...”.

You also need the additional package matplotlib (http://matplotlib.sourceforge.net/). You can get it easily using setuptools or pip as

easy_install -U matplotlib
pip install matplotlib

(You might need also the python-dateutil and pyparsing packages, which you obtain with the mentioned easy_install or pip scripts.)

To get the documentation compiled one requires likewise the numpy (http://numpy.scipy.org) package, which provides own (self-)installation file.

Git & PuTTy

To enable server connectivity please install full PuTTy package for handling your SSH key pair. The best way is through the PuTTy self installer, see http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/download.html.

Prepare your own pair of SSH keys - private and public. You can generate them with the PuTTyGen generator which writes private key in wanted ppk-format.

Since the Git program runs under Windows, ensure that during Git installation the %PATH% system variable in not modified ! Due to this issue you have to type the full path for running “git.exe” in the DOS-window. We propose to install the Git package directly on the “C:” disk drive so that you have to type the shortest path for launching it, “C:\Git\bin\git.exe”.

For dowloading/uploading from/to the DIRAC repository you have to have the PuTTy “Pageant” authentication agent active with loaded private key, while the public key has to be placed in the DIRAC git repository user space. Pageant can be activated during the Windows startup, for example, launched at the start of user’s login on Windows machine:

"C:\Program Files\PuTTY\pageant.exe"  C:\Users\<user_name>\.ssh\id_rsa_Windows7.ppk

The “pageant” agent, running in the background, also enables passwordless terminal conections (or PuTTy sessions) onto server which are provided with users’s public key.

For communication with the DIRAC repository activate the PuTTy’s “plink.exe” executable through the “GIT_SSH” system environmental variable. Its typical value is

GIT_SSH=C:\Program Files (x86)\PuTTY\plink.exe

assuming that the PuTTy package is placed in the default installation space:

C:\Program Files (x86).

Also, before using “C:\Git\bin\git.exe” refresh your private key in your computer’s cache, use

plink -agent git@repo.ctcc.no
plink -agent git@bitbucket.org

For comfortable commits with the git version control system you should set up the editor. For the popular Notepad++ editor setting for git follow :

C:\Git\bin\git.exe config --global core.editor "'C:/Program Files/Notepad++/notepad++.exe' -multiInst -notabbar -nosession -noPlugin"

To update your local DIRAC source (must have the ssh connection enabled, see above), you must use full path of git command in the DOS window:

C:\Users\<username>\Documents\Work\Dirac_git\trunk>C:\Git\bin\git.exe pull

Do not configure DIRAC in the Linux-like “git-bash” window, which is part of common Git installation. Executing cmake configuration commands in this windows causes unhomogenous treatment of path-strings: mixing of Linux and Windows path-delimiters.

Some caveats

Windows operating system does not accept certain reserved words for file and folder names, like aux, con ... (google after forbidden file and folder names on Windows).

Likewise Windows does not like “*”-characters in file names and due to this is not able to download such files from the repository. For that reason several traditional basis set files have been renamed accordingly, see the following table:

Windows new name Previous file name
3-21++G-star 3-21++G*
3-21G-star 3-21G*
6-311+G-star 6-311+G*
6-311G-star 6-311G*
6-311++G-star-star 6-311++G**
6-311G-star-star 6-311G**
6-31++G-star 6-31++G*
6-31+G-star 6-31+G*
6-31G-star 6-31G*
6-31++G-star-star 6-31++G**
6-31G-star-star 6-31G**

The solution is that the basis set reader automatically translates “*” basis set names to the “star” filenames.


Regarding the Microsoft Windows platform, DIRAC is able to run under the CygWin intermediating environment, which has almost all necessary Linux substitutes. However, this is considered as the ‘non-Windows’ installation, because the CygWin layer ensures full Linux workplace on the top of the ground Windows operating system.


Run specific tests:

C:\Users\<username>\Documents\Work\Dirac_git\trunk\build>ctest -VV -R fscc
C:\Users\<username>\Documents\Work\Dirac_git\trunk\build>ctest -V -D ExperimentalTest -R fscc; ctest -D ExperimentalSubmit

Perform the complete CDash buildup in one step:

C:\Users\<username>\Documents\Work\Dirac_git\trunk\build>mingw32-make Experimental
or ::
C:Users<username>DocumentsWorkDirac_gittrunkbuild>ctest -D Experimental

You can perform the CDash buildup in separate steps:

C:\Users\<username>\Documents\Work\Dirac_git\trunk\build>mingw32-make ExperimentalUpdate
C:\Users\<username>\Documents\Work\Dirac_git\trunk\build>mingw32-make ExperimentalConfigure
C:\Users\<username>\Documents\Work\Dirac_git\trunk\build>mingw32-make ExperimentalBuild
C:\Users\<username>\Documents\Work\Dirac_git\trunk\build>mingw32-make ExperimentalTest
C:\Users\<username>\Documents\Work\Dirac_git\trunk\build>mingw32-make ExperimentalSubmit

Automatic test runs

This is not easy task. Though regular launching of the buildup script can easily set up in the Windows “Task Scheduler”, in praxis we were not able to achieve the full operability of such an automatic task. For instance, to perform “git pull” you must have your private key loaded in the pageant (see above), what is complicated when user is logged-out.

We will investigate this issue further and update this manual accordingly.

Further development plans

So far we have tested DIRAC in sequential buildups (only) with the MinGW/MinGW64 (free of charge) suite of compilers. To profit from multithreading under Windows, enthusiastic developers (where are you?) should investigate Open MPI parallelization, www.open-mpi.org. Also, one should try some commercial compilers, like Intel, PGI...

Concerning mathematical libraries, we have to resort to DIRAC own BLAS & LAPACK libraries. The ATLAS library preparation for Windows is only in the experimental phase (http://math-atlas.sourceforge.net/errata.html#win64). There is the Intel-MKL library at hand, but costs some money ;). For sure we should investigate the Windows version of the ACML library.

Another topic is the flavor of various CMake generators. On Linux systems we are using the default choice, “Unix Makefiles”. On the MS Windows operating system we are employing the “MinGW Makefiles” generator - part of the GNU MinGW suite. However, there are many more generators worth to try, like NMake, MSYS Makefile, Visual Studio, Codeblocks...