Troubleshooting gkyl install

As you build or run Gkeyll you may encounter some difficulties. This is natural when pushing the code in new directions, or using it in new machines. In such cases you may find it helpful to consider some of the following suggestions and lessons from past experiences.

General useful comments

  • The ./waf build install command fails on some systems due to a combination of the size of certain kernels, and the default parallel compilation. Suggestion: try building with waf build install -j 1. If this causes compilation to take too long, you can use waf -h to see the default number of threads used, and then try something smaller than that but larger than 1.
  • When installing on a cluster modules that you usually load for other projects, or modules the cluster loads by default, may interfere with the modules that you intend to use. To avoid this problem it is sometimes useful to use module purge in order to unload all modules, and then load just the modules you intend to use with Gkeyll. Managing different modules for different projects may require you to be careful and organized (e.g. using load/unload scripts or environments).

Installing on Mac OS Big Sur (version 11.x)

Apple’s Big Sur operating system (version 11.x) may encounter some issues when installing gkyl. There are two issues we have witnessed. One is potential clang errors because the latest Macs may have clang 12 (see the clang error section below). Once you’ve made sure you have clang/Xcode/CommandlineTools 11 (note that installing Xcode may not be strictly necessary), the second potential error may first manifest as not being able to install LuaJIT, so when running the machines/ script you may see (although it may just appear on the screen for a second before it gets lost in thousands of messages)


Even if you didn’t notice this message because it disappeared too quickly, you may get the following error when running the machines/ script


A temporary hack to this problem may be as simple as going into and editing the line that declares the environment variable MACOSX_DEPLOYMENT_TARGET to an earlier version. So for example, edit that line so it reads


and run the and scripts again.

clang error when installing on a Mac

There seems to be a bug in clang version 12. When the build fails on a Mac machine, for example due to a message like

clang: error: unable to execute command: Illegal instruction: 4
clang: error: clang frontend command failed due to signal (use -v to see invocation)
Apple clang version 12.0.0 (clang-1200.0.32.27)
Target: x86_64-apple-darwin19.6.0
Thread model: posix
InstalledDir: /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools/usr/bin
clang: note: diagnostic msg: PLEASE submit a bug report to and include the crash backtrace, preprocessed source, and associated run script.
clang: note: diagnostic msg:

Preprocessed source(s) and associated run script(s) are located at:
clang: note: diagnostic msg: /var/folders/ww/5dw2lrj16w99gnxkrw4hj9300000gq/T/FemMatrices-486393.cpp
clang: note: diagnostic msg: /var/folders/ww/5dw2lrj16w99gnxkrw4hj9300000gq/T/
clang: note: diagnostic msg: Crash backtrace is located in
clang: note: diagnostic msg: /Users/userName/Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports/clang_<YYYY-MM-DD-HHMMSS>_<hostname>.crash
clang: note: diagnostic msg: (choose the .crash file that corresponds to your crash)
clang: note: diagnostic msg:


Waf: Leaving directory `/Users/userName/Documents/gkeyll/code/gkyl/build'
Build failed
 -> task in 'updater' failed with exit status 254 (run with -v to display more information)

it is good to double-check the clang version and potentially downgrade it to the version 11. One way to do this is to install older versions of “Command Line Tools” and/or Xcode. You may obtain these from this site, by searching for “Command Line Tools” and downloading “Command Line Tools for Xcode 11.5” (requires an Apple developer account, but there may be instructions elsewhere on the internet on how to obtain this without such an account). You may also find a download for Xcode 11 in the same site. If installing older Command Line Tools and you do not wish to keep the newer version, you can uninstalling by deleting the file /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools.

Installing clang 11 on Big Sur

You may find that when you try to execute the .dmg downloaded from the Apple developer’s site that it does not let you install Command Line Tools, perhaps due to an error like your version of Mac OS is “too new”. In this case we have found the following to be helpful:

  1. Remove the old CLT folder, if there is one: sudo -rf /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools.
  2. Download Xcode 11: go to Apple developer site download the last stable Xcode 11 .dmg (e.g. Xcode 11.5) and install it. Make sure Xcode in the Applications folder has the correct version.
  3. Install CLT through the terminal indicating which Xcode to use with sudo xcode-select -s /Applications/ --install.

After these steps you can check that clang --version is 11, and you can proceed with the regular gkyl installation instructions.

Configuring gkyl with configure.[SYSTEM].sh script not finding dependency

  • When running the configure.[SYSTEM].sh, the waf build system is looking for the installations of gkyl’s dependencies in the gkylsoft folder, wherever that may be (usually ~/gkylsoft or $HOME/gkylsoft). If waf cannot find a dependency, the user will get the following error message
bash$ ./machines/
./waf CC=clang CXX=clang++ MPICC=/Users/junoravin/gkylsoft/openmpi/bin/mpicc MPICXX=/Users/junoravin/gkylsoft/openmpi/bin/mpicxx --out=build --prefix=/Users/junoravin/gkylsoft/gkyl --cxxflags=-O3,-std=c++17 --luajit-inc-dir=/Users/junoravin/gkylsoft/luajit/include/luajit-2.1 --luajit-lib-dir=/Users/junoravin/gkylsoft/luajit/lib --luajit-share-dir=/Users/junoravin/gkylsoft/luajit/share/luajit-2.1.0-beta3 --enable-mpi --mpi-inc-dir=/Users/junoravin/gkylsoft/openmpi/include --mpi-lib-dir=/Users/junoravin/gkylsoft/openmpi/lib --mpi-link-libs=mpi --enable-adios --adios-inc-dir=/Users/junoravin/gkylsoft/adios/include --adios-lib-dir=/Users/junoravin/gkylsoft/adios/lib configure
Setting top to                           : /Users/junoravin/gkyl
Setting out to                           : /Users/junoravin/gkyl/build
Checking for 'clang' (C compiler)        : clang
Checking for 'clang++' (C++ compiler)    : clang++
Setting dependency path:                 : /Users/junoravin/gkylsoft
Setting prefix:                          : /Users/junoravin/gkylsoft/gkyl
Checking for LUAJIT                      : The configuration failed

This error indicates that waf cannot find LuaJIT. Possible reasons for this:

  • LuaJIT (or another dependency) did not successfully install. Check in the gkylsoft directory to see if all the required dependencies are present. After a successful build, inside in the gkylsoft direction one should see
bash$ ls -lh
total 0
lrwxr-xr-x  1 junoravin  staff    38B Sep 16 00:51 adios -> /Users/junoravin/gkylsoft/adios-1.13.1
drwxr-xr-x  7 junoravin  staff   224B Sep 17 14:30 adios-1.13.1
drwxr-xr-x  4 junoravin  staff   128B Sep 17 14:30 eigen-3.3.7
lrwxr-xr-x  1 junoravin  staff    37B Sep 16 00:51 eigen3 -> /Users/junoravin/gkylsoft/eigen-3.3.7
drwxr-xr-x  4 junoravin  staff   128B Sep 16 01:26 gkyl
lrwxr-xr-x  1 junoravin  staff    54B Sep 16 01:03 luajit -> /Users/junoravin/gkylsoft/luajit-2.1.0-beta3-openresty
drwxr-xr-x  7 junoravin  staff   224B Sep 17 14:29 luajit-2.1.0-beta3-openresty
lrwxr-xr-x  1 junoravin  staff    39B Sep 16 00:50 openmpi -> /Users/junoravin/gkylsoft/openmpi-3.1.2
drwxr-xr-x  8 junoravin  staff   256B Sep 17 14:29 openmpi-3.1.2
  • If a dependency is NOT present, including the symbolic link, return to the gkyl/machines directory. Open the previously run mkdeps.[SYSTEM].sh script and modify the script to only try building the missing dependency. To do so, see for example the script
# if we are in machines directory, go up a directory
if [ `dirname "$0"` == "." ]
    cd ..
export GKYLSOFT='~/gkylsoft'
cd install-deps
# first build OpenMPI
./ CC=clang CXX=clang++ --build-openmpi=no
# now build rest of packages
./ CC=clang CXX=clang++ MPICC=$GKYLSOFT/openmpi-3.1.2/bin/mpicc MPICXX=$GKYLSOFT/openmpi-3.1.2/bin/mpicxx --build-luajit=yes --build-adios=no --build-eigen=no

where we have specified to the system NOT to build openmpi, adios, and eigen by simply setting the --build-XX=no flag.

Build failure: perl: warning: Setting locale failed.

  • When building gkyl on a cluster that the user has remotely logged into (for example, with ssh), the user may get the following warning upon logging in:
perl: warning: Setting locale failed.
perl: warning: Please check that your locale settings:
LANGUAGE = (unset),
LC_ALL = (unset),
LANG = "C.UTF-8"
are supported and installed on your system.
perl: warning: Falling back to the standard locale ("C").

This warning can prevent successful builds by leading to errors in parsing input strings.

  • To fix this issue, on your local machine (in other words, the host machine) modify your .bashrc (or other source such as .zshrc) to include the following lines:
export LANGUAGE=en_US.UTF-8
export LANG=en_US.UTF-8
export LC_ALL=en_US.UTF-8

then source this script and try logging into the cluster again. The perl warning should go away, and issues related to parsing input strings as part of the configure and build process should be solved.