FreeSurfer CMake

Initial Setup

The freesurfer cmake scripts require cmake 3.5 or greater. Unfortunately, /usr/bin/cmake is quite old, so you'll have to use /usr/pubsw/bin/cmake. If it's not in your path already, add the following to your .cshrc:

setenv PATH /usr/pubsw/bin:$PATH

Installing cmake 3.10

If you don't have /usr/pubsw/bin, you can follow

This tells you to...

sudo -i
cd /tmp
mkdir cmake
cd cmake
tar -xzf cmake-$version.$build.tar.gz
cd cmake-$version.$build/
make -j4
make install

Complete Cmake Build with makefile wrapper

You can try using this makefile to run a cmake command, build and install freesurfer on CentOS and Ubuntu linux flavors as well as MacOS. It has preset options for the cmake command for the different OS's, with targets to checkout/update the freesurfer source tree and run build/install targets. Type "make" or "make help" after downloading the file and renaming it from to makefile. (Alternately just use "make -f"). This makefile will try to download a prebuilt set of third party packages so as not to reference /usr/pubsw from the Martinos Center in-house network, i.e., "build on an airplane" where everything is built from your local disks. The last update to was on 03/03/2021 building the freesurfer dev branch on: MacOS 10.15, CentOS 7; Ubuntu 18. Note that the Mac build uses the native clang compilers again (instead of gcc from homebrew).

The subdirectories ./freesurfer (checked out tree from git), ./packages (location of downloaded 3rd party packages), and ./install (install location for freesurfer after build) will all be created in the subdirectory where is. For the Mac, if you do not have Homebrew installed under the standard path /usr/local, it will try to create a minimal install for you under ./homebrew. See for more details.

The makefile also contains some notes on what packages to install for the different OS's in order to build freesurfer, though what you may need to install will vary depending upon how your machine has already been setup.

Configuring a Simple Cmake Build

CMake replaces the setup_configure and configure build steps in the automake build. A build can be configured in the working directory by running cmake </path/to/repo>. So, assuming you have a freesurfer repository stored in ~/dev/freesurfer (and you're developing on the Martinos filesystem), you could set up a simple in-source build with:

note: if this is your first time transitioning from an automake configuration, you might need to run make clean before building with cmake. Some of the previously generated freeview moc files might interfere with the configuration.

cd ~/dev/freesurfer
cmake .

Aside from this initial cmake step, which really only needs to be run once, and fact that make check is now make test, the rest of the build process is exactly the same. Previously, if a new freesurfer binary was added to the autotools config, you'd have to run ./configure again. With cmake, there is no need to run the initialization command more than once (unless to modify build options), since make now automatically checks for modifications to the build scripts.

Alternatively, ccmake can be used instead of cmake to configure/edit cached variables in a terminal GUI. Out-of-source builds are also possible.

note: the make output is more condensed now, but make VERBOSE=1 will output everything.

Configuration Options

CMake variables are set on the command line with the -D flag. For example, the standard way to configure a build with an install prefix is

cmake . -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX="/path/to/install/destination"

You can define any variable on the command line this way, even if the variable is never used in the CMakeLists.txt scripts. Boolean variables added with the option() function can be turned on/off on the command line as well. See, for instance, BUILD_GUIS in the Making the non-GUI section below.

Note: Do not use "~/" in these specifications, because it may not get correctly expanded causing arcane errors.

Making the third party packages

To make the rest of Freesurfer, you may have to make and install the third party packages. 'vtk' and 'kwwidgets' might not be buildable on systems that don't build the GUI.

cd /path/to/your/repository/packages
find . -type l -exec git annex get {} \;
./ --no-vtk --no-kwwidgets  /path/to/install/freesurfer/packages

Making the non-GUI

Once this is done...

cmake . \
    -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX="/path/to/install/destination" \
    -DFS_PACKAGES_DIR="/path/to/installed/freesurfer/packages" \
    -DGFORTRAN_LIBRARIES="/usr/lib/gcc/x86_64-linux-gnu/5/" \

Doing Debug and Release builds, and others

cmake supports building into a directory other than the source directory. It is not clear yet which of our scripts will support the result.

To do it, first (for convenience) define with BUILD_TYPE you want

        export BUILD_TYPE=Debug


     export BUILD_TYPE=Release

or other cmake BUILD_TYPE.

Make a clean directory tree

        rm -rf $BUILD_TYPE
        mkdir $BUILD_TYPE

Within that tree, do a cmake and a make

        cd $BUILD_TYPE
            <other options> \

Adding a new binary to the Cmake Build

All freesurfer binaries should contain a CMakeLists.txt file (replacing in their corresponding subdirectory, and the name of the subdirectory should be added to the large list at the end of the top-level CMakeLists.txt. As an example, the CMakeLists.txt for a standard freesurfer executable (called my_program) that only links to the utils library would look something like this:



add_executable(my_program my_program.c)
target_link_libraries(my_program utils)

install(TARGETS my_program DESTINATION bin)

A more complex CMakeLists.txt might be required for binaries that depend on other libraries. For example, here's the configuration file for mris_mesh_subdivide, which requires VTK.


Q. I've messed up my build and I'm getting weird cmake messages... how do I 'reset' cmake?

A. rm -Rf CMakeFiles CMakeCache.txt

CMake (last edited 2021-03-03 01:25:26 by buildqa)