Quick Start

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Before you install ASCEND, you might want to read the ASCEND overview to learn what ASCEND is all about.

Current version 0.9.8: Download (Windows, Linux, Mac)
Please read the following installation notes!

This page contains information on how to get started with installing and running ASCEND on various platforms. Where they are available, we will suggest using binary distributions of ASCEND. If you have any problems with these instructions please let us know!

Once you're up and running, check the for tutorials to help you get started.


For Windows, new users should use the .exe installer package provided on our download page.

You will need to have administrator rights when you install this program. The installer will check your system and, if you are missing certain prerequisite libraries, will download and install what is missing. You should therefore remain connected to the internet while running the installer. To read about these dependencies, see Prerequisites for Windows. Please note that this installer performs badly behind certain types of HTTP proxy/firewalls; in that case, you should download and install the prerequisites manually.

Please note that there is currently bug 431 which causes an error when the installer attempts to download Tcl/Tk. This is because the version we link to has been removed from the Tcl/Tk website. If you don't want the Tcl/Tk GUI then this error doesn't matter. If you do want the Tcl/Tk GUI you can manually download the missing file (see here) and install it first, then re-install ASCEND.

The installer will add ASCEND to your Start menu; a number of sample models will be available by default in C:\Program Files\ASCEND\models. ASCEND models (.a4c) will open in the ASCEND PyGTK GUI if double-clicked.

The documentation contains some tutorials to help you get started.


We usually provide binary packages for the latest Ubuntu release. Currently (for 0.9.7) that is Ubuntu 9.10. We propose to support Ubuntu 10.04 (and newer) with our next release. The 'ascend' package is the main program for end-users; the 'ascend-dev' package contains header files etc for people wanting to build software (such as solvers) that link against ASCEND. 'libipopt' is the IPOPT solver, which is currently packaged separately. 'libipopt-dev' is only necessary if you are trying to build ASCEND from source. On Ubuntu, you will need to first download and install the libipopt0 package.

From time to time we provide Fedora packages for ASCEND, but we haven't yet done this for the current release. It is recommended that you try building from source if your are using that or any other Linux distro. We welcome any feedbacks or bug reports.

Optional components worth installing are IPython and Matplotlib, both of which are easily available from the standard package repositories for all distros we know about.

Mac OS X

We're working hard on an installer currently (wow is it 2012 already?) for Mac OS X, but we didn't get it finished in time for this release. It's still possible to run ASCEND on Mac though: download the source-code tarball (ascend-0.9.7.tar.bz2) and then see the instructions`on Porting to Mac. As part of the process you will need to download and build your own local copy of GTK-OSX, so be prepared for it to take a little fiddling about.

Other Platforms, or building from source

See Building ASCEND for more up-to-date instructions

If you are not on Windows, Fedora 7 or Ubuntu Feisty, you will need to build ASCEND from sources. Alternatively, you might want to build from sources if you don't have admin rights for the machine you are on. These instructions work on Windows (via MinGW/MSYS) and various Linux distros, and should probably work OK on recent Solaris systems:

A quick outline of the process is:

  • download the source code tarball
  • check that you have the prerequisites for Linux installed. It should be possible to standard packages most, if not all, of these.
  • tar jxvf ascend-VERSION.tar.bz2 (to unpack the tarball; substitute the version number, eg '0.9.7')
  • cd ascend-VERSION (substitute the version number)
  • scons INSTALL_PREFIX=~ install (this will install into ~/bin, ~/include, etc)
  • export PATH=$PATH:~/bin
  • ascend testlog10.a4c

When building, watch carefully the first 20 or so lines of output from the scons command, as they will tell you if any important dependencies were missing, or if parts of the software cannot be built for whatever reason. If you want to set more compilation options, view a list of them by typing scons -Qh.

  • We develop on Ubuntu 10.04 most of the time; building there should work very well.
  • Building from source is known to generally work well on other Linux versions, Mac OS X and Windows (XP, Vista, 7). We test these fairly often as well. See Building ASCEND for platform-specific suggestions and help.
  • See building an RPM Package for ASCEND if you are on Fedora, OpenSUSE or other RPM-based distros.
  • You can use the dtar tool to build DEB packages on Ubuntu and probably other Deb-based distros.
  • The old ASCEND IV Tcl/Tk-only source release from back in 2000 is also available on our SourceForge page. This is a relatively stable release, although we have added much new functionality since then.

Solaris and Other Unices

  • The old Tcl/Tk-only was tested on a wide range of platforms. See [1] for the download link.
  • Current code in the repository compiles but does not link; we have a problem that doesn't look too serious, but we haven't worked out the solution just yet. Please let us know if you're interesting in taking a look at it.