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CCP4 served as you like it

A general overview of CCP4 portability

Alun Ashton, CCP4 Daresbury


Silicon Graphics machines' running the IRIX operating system are still the most popular platform for crystallographers world wide. The current version of IRIX is 6.5 and for a change this version should run on all SGI machines. Having said that, rumor has it most machines require a new hard drive since 6.5 is very big. Many users have expressed concerns about needing IRIX 6.5 to ensure Y2K compliance. A visit to the SGI web pages on seems to imply that all the major IRIX versions from 5.3 onwards can be made Y2K compliant by a series of free patches (see or contact your SGI representative).

As far as CCP4 is concerned the main software suite (version 3.5.1), the X-windows programs and the GUI will all compile and work well with IRIX (I may regret saying that!). However, if you do not compile the suite with the default options i.e. running configure with the irix system option, there may be problems. Compiling the suite as 64 bit (on IRIX 6.+, configure irix64) can sometimes be more problematic especially with the X-windows programs. Users of IRIX 5.3 should also refer to the CCP4 problems page as the compilers also have a problem with naming conventions recently adopted by some CCP4 libraries.

If you're buying a new SGI be sure to check you will also get the compilers - they will be needed to install/compile CCP4. There are reports of successes in compiling CCP4 with the GNU Freeware compilers but you would save time and effort by getting the SGI compilers.



LINUX is now maturing from a trendy operating system to becoming an operating system of choice. At the highest level the battles between LINUX distributions are continuing. RedHat has long dominated the market after displacing the slackware distributions in the mid 90's. But now the LINUX trend setters/puritans are turning to other distributions - the fear being of another 'Microsoft' dominating the market.

As far as CCP4 is concerned it doesn't matter. The main problem we have as users is the reliability of the compilers. The gcc, g77, egcs GNU compilers are now the accepted way to compile CCP4 software on LINUX but as this is a freeware project, releases are often prone to undesirable features that will cause problems in compiling a large suite such as CCP4.

The CCP4 LINUX page is updated to reflect the changes needed when new version of compilers come out (apologies that this is not done more regularly). Currently the main change that is not in version 3.5.1 of CCP4 is the use of the g2c.h header file instead of the f2c.h file. This is a problem if you install the freeware version of RedHat 6.0.

Some long-standing problems with LINUX are

  1. temporary files are not deleted automatically
  2. the Xfree86 server must be in 16bit mode for some of the CCP4 X-windows programs, and mosflm to work (you will know what I mean if you’ve tried it!)
  3. with the current version of the GUI, tcl/tk must be recompiled otherwise an undesirable feature of the GUI will appear in that it will never know if a job has finished!


CCP4 on OSF1

I have little experience with the Alpha operating systems and compilers, but I do know some high level users and developers do use it and have very few problems. Recently a problem was reported with optimization on one of the programs and this is now documented in the problems page.

One 'small' outstanding problem is with loggraph. Loggraph, a replacement for xloggraph, is used by the GUI and needs the graphical extensions in a package known as BLT. To the best of my knowledge BLT does not work correctly on OSF1 and so neither does loggraph.


CCP4 on SunOs

Martyn Winn here at Daresbury has a SUN on his desk and he can happily compile and use all the CCP4 programs and the GUI. But Martyn is very 'careful with his money' so he hasn't got any of SUNs distributed compilers. He chose to use the GNU compilers instead. I don't have any current information on the SUN compilers but from Martyn's experiences we do know its possible to get the suite to work!



The compiler on HP-UX machines is possibly the most unforgiving compiler on a UNIX operating system. But as there are users who use HP machines as servers and others as workstations, so the suite is tested on HP-UX. To date I know the suite will compile and run under HP-UX but there are some problems with the x-windows programs.



VMS is still a popular operating system with some well established UK and worldwide research groups. Because of this we at CCP4 get a lot of 'feedback' and fixes that ensure the suite continues to compile and work on VMS.


CCP4 on other UNIX OS

There are/have been many other hardware manufacturers who have their own particular variation of UNIX and whenever possible CCP4 has worked with users of these systems to get a working suite. For a current list of supported platforms see the configure script.


CCP4 on Windows NTTM

The increasing power and popularity of the Microsoft operating systems has inevitably meant that crystallographers see the potential for exploiting their desktop machines. For a detailed progress report and discussion on the approach taken to get CCP4 working on NT please see the web pages in the developers area.

As a summary of these pages I can tell you that progress on the port is currently going to schedule. The boundaries between the stages have become a little less defined as testing the CCP4 libraries has lead to several programs being compiled. Some other good news is that the tcl/tk and BLT versions for NT have been tested and with some alterations both the GUI and loggraph work well. If the work can be continued at its current pace we are looking at a release date for CCP4nt sometime in the New Year.



You want more? Well without you there can be no more! So whenever you find new information or even if you have more upto date information than I have put here please let us know at We look forward to hearing from you.

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