Compiling GDL (gnudatalanguage)

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GDL (GNU Data Language) is a free open-source program that runs most IDL code. Specifically, GDL is said to be completely IDL 7.1 compatible, and has many features from IDL 8. GDL is easily installed by:

or you can compile GDL from source.


  1. Prereqs
    apt install libbz2-dev libplplot-dev libfontconfig1-dev libncurses5-dev libreadline-dev libgsl0-dev libwxgtk3.0-dev libmagick++-dev libnetcdf-dev libhdf4-alt-dev libgraphicsmagick++1-dev libhdf5-serial-dev libfftw3-dev python-dev libeigen3-dev pslib-dev libqhull-dev
  2. Download GDL source and extract

    tar xf gdl-*.tgz
    cd gdl-*
  3. Compile GDL Gnu Data Language program
    mkdir release
    cd release
    make -j -l 3   # without -l 3 it will crash on build
  4. Check the install:
    make check

    I got several errors, but the next step worked anyway.

  5. install (do not use sudo)
    make install
  • As usual, do not build on an ExFAT drive, as the build will fail since symbolic links are not allowed on ExFAT
  • If cmake reports libeigen being too old, read below to the optional LibEigen3 section, or use -DEIGEN3=OFF
  • If you have Anaconda Python installed, add PATH=/bin:/usr/bin to the front of the cmake .. command.


  • Errors on runtime search path conflicts: temporarily comment out those paths in ~/.bashrc (typically from Anaconda Python, libreadline, libhistory, libz,
  • cmake error about libeigen being too old: get a newer libeigen by downloading libeigen and extract to ~/libeigen. Then, recompile GDL with
    make check
    make install

OR you can compile as in the section below

Basic GDL Compilation

If you’re having problems with LZMA errors, you can try disabling HDF5 by adding option cmake -DHDF5=OFF ..

LibEigen (optional)

When compiling GDL, you may need a libeigen3 newer than your operating system supports – feel free to download a newer version of libeigen3 and compile:

apt install gfortran libsuperlu3-dev libmetis-dev libscotch-dev libmpfr-dev libadolc-dev qt4-qmake

cd /tmp

tar xf 3.*.tar.bz2

cd eigen* && mkdir release && cd release

cmake ..

make install

GDL missing libraries fix

ln -s /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ /usr/local/lib/

ln -s /usr/lib/ /usr/local/lib/

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