Compiling NEURON under UNIX/Linux

Install dependencies

Compiling and running NEURON requires several tools; how they are installed depends on the Linux distribution.

For Ubuntu 18.04 

sudo apt install libx11-dev git bison flex automake libtool libxext-dev libncurses-dev python3-dev xfonts-100dpi cython3 libopenmpi-dev python3-scipy make zlib1g-dev

For CentOS 7

sudo yum -y install epel-release
sudo yum -y install python34-devel.x86_64
sudo yum -y install libX11-devel
sudo yum -y group install "Development Tools"
sudo yum -y install xorg-x11-fonts-100dpi 
sudo yum -y install python34-Cython
sudo yum -y install python34-pip
# have to upgrade pip because the version provided by python34-pip
# does not check the installed Python version and will attempt to
# install modules that require newer versions of Python
sudo pip3 install --upgrade pip
sudo pip3 install scipy
sudo yum -y install ncurses-devel
sudo yum -y install openmpi openmpi-devel
sudo yum -y install libXext libXext-devel
export PATH=$PATH:/usr/lib64/openmpi/bin
sudo PATH=$PATH:/usr/lib64/openmpi/bin pip3 install mpi4py


Download code if you haven't already

Development version:

git clone
git clone

If you're going this route, you must use autotools to build configure scripts:

cd nrn
cd ../iv
cd ..

Standard release

Download NEURON:
Download InterViews:

Note that InterViews is NEURON's graphical library; you will not be able to use NEURON's GUI without it, and compiling without it requires modifications to the instructions below.

Uncompress (use tar -zxvf nrn-7.6.tar.gz etc) both NEURON and InterViews; rename the folders to nrn and iv, respectively.

Setup InterViews (NEURON graphics)

This must be done before NEURON can be compiled.

cd iv
make -j
sudo make install -j
cd ..


cd nrn
./configure --with-iv --with-paranrn --with-nrnpython=python3
make -j
sudo make install -j
cd src/nrnpython
sudo python3 install

(python3 may be replaced with python2 in the above, if desired.)

Add NEURON to your PATH

Add the following line to ~/.bashrc:

export PATH=$PATH:/usr/local/nrn/x86_64/bin


In a new terminal window, or after otherwise updating your paths, you should be able to get a NEURON prompt and GUI controls via:


and then from inside Python:

from neuron import h, gui

5. Update your PATH environment variable. For Linux, add the following line to the .bashrc file

source $HOME/neuron/nrnenv

and create an nrnenv file in $HOME/neuron with the contents

export IV=$HOME/neuron/iv
export N=$HOME/neuron/nrn
# for this concrete example, we assume hostcpu is i686
export CPU=i686
export PATH="$IV/$CPU/bin:$N/$CPU/bin:$PATH"

Other options

Installation without the GUI

  • Don't bother to download, configure, make, or install InterViews.
  • The "configure" command for NEURON becomes ./configure --with-nrnpython --with-paranrn --without-iv

More explanations and complications

You may not ever need to know any of these things--but just in case  .  .  .

1. Where things are installed

The --prefix option in the configure statement controls where the installation will be placed. If you don't specify a prefix, a default installation directory is used. For InterViews this is /usr/local/iv, and for NEURON it is /usr/local/nrn

2. Where the NEURON installation looks for InterViews

This is controlled by the --with-iv option when you execute ./configure . . . in the nrn-n.n directory. If you don't specify a --with-iv, it looks first in prefix/.../iv and then in /usr/local/iv.

3. Putting things in other locations

Other configure options are also available. You can also build in a different directory than the sources, e.g. because you have different cpu's sharing the same sources, or because you desire several versions with different configure options (profiling, non-shared, code coverage, with and without Python).