1. Installing and Starting VisIt

Pre-built binaries for VisIt are provided on the following platforms:

  • Redhat, TOSS, Ubuntu (fully supported)
  • Centos, Debian, Fedora (partially supported)
  • macOS
  • Microsoft Windows

For an explanation of what fully and partially supported mean, see our section on supported platforms.

New versions are usually released every 2-3 months. Users can find releases at the VisIt releases page. See our section on managing GitHub notifications to get notified of new releases.

Download a binary release compatible with the machine on which you want to run VisIt. If you are installing VisIt on Linux, you will also need to download and use the visit-install script.

Installing VisIt on platforms other than those listed here requires building VisIt from sources.

1.1. Installing on macOS

VisIt releases include an app-bundle for macOS packaged in a DMG image. Download and open the DMG file and copy the VisIt app-bundle to your applications directory or any other path.


If you have a previous version of VisIt already installed, you may be prompted by macOS to decide if you want to Keep both versions or Replace the old version with the new version. If you choose Keep both, macOS will automatically adjust the name of the new version to something like VisIt 2. The space will cause problems and it will have to be removed by changing the name to something without spaces like VisIt2 or VisIt-2 or VisIt-x.y.z where x.y.z is the version number of the installation. If you do not have the necessary privileges to change the name, a system administrator’s help may be needed.

To run VisIt double click on the VisIt app-bundle. Alternatively, VisIt can be run on macOS from the Terminal using a command of the form:



Running from the Terminal may work around issues accessing some folders on local storage or code signing and notarization.

The visit-install script can also be used to install tarball packaged macOS binaries. For this case follow the Linux installation instructions.

1.2. Installing on Linux

Installing VisIt on Linux (and optionally on macOS) is done using the visit-install script. Make sure that the visit-install script is executable by entering the following command at the command line prompt:

chmod +x visit-install

The visit-install script has the following usage:

./visit-install version platform directory

The version argument is the version of VisIt being installed. The platform argument depends on the type platform VisIt is being installed for. The platform argument can be one of the following: linux, linux-x86_64, darwin. The directory argument specifies the directory to install VisIt into. If the specified directory does not exist then VisIt will create it.

For example, to install an x86_64 version of VisIt 3.2.2, use:

./visit-install 3.2.2 linux-x86_64 /usr/local/visit

This command will install the 3.2.2 version of VisIt into the /usr/local/visit directory. Note that when you enter the above command, the file visit3_2_2.linux-x86_64.tar.gz must be present in the current working directory.

The visit-install script will prompt you to choose a network configuration. A network configuration is a set of VisIt preferences that provide information to enable VisIt to identify and connect to remote computers and run VisIt in client/server mode. VisIt includes network configuration files for several computing centers with VisIt users.

After running visit-install, you can launch VisIt using bin/visit. For example, if you installed to /usr/local/visit, you can run using:


We also recommend adding visit to your shell’s path. For bash users this can usually be accomplished by modifying the PATH environment variable in ~/.bash_profile, and for c-shell users accomplished by modifying the path environment variable in ~/.cshrc.

The exact procedure for this varies with each shell and may be customized at each computing center, so please refer to your shell and computing center documentation.

1.3. Installing on Windows

VisIt release binaries for Windows are packaged in an executable installer. To install on Windows run the installer and follow its prompts.

The VisIt installation program adds a VisIt program group to the Windows Start menu and it adds a VisIt shortcut to the desktop. You can double-click on the desktop shortcut or use the Start menu’s VisIt program group to launch VisIt. In addition to creating shortcuts, the VisIt installation program creates file associations for .silo, .visit, and .session/.vses files so double-clicking on files with those extensions opens them with VisIt.

You can also run the installer from a command prompt, and pass it certain parameters to override defaults including running in silent mode. Available options are as follows:

-ALLUSERS             Install for all users.
                      Must be in admin-mode.
                      Default : install for current user

-SITE <site-name>     Specifies host profiles to be installed (eg llnl).
                      Default: None

-PB <parallel bank>   Specifies parallel bank (FOR LLNL host-profiles).
                      Default: wbronze

-DB <database reader> Specifies a default database reader for VisIt.
                      (eg Silo, FLASH, etc).
                      Default: None

-DEV                  Install plugin development tools.
                      Default: no plugin dev tools

-LIBSIM               Install libsim tools.
                      Default: no libsim tools

-AssociatePython      Associate python files with VisIt.
                      Default: don't set up association

-AssociateCurves      Associate curve files with VisIt.
                      Default: don't set up association

/S                    Make install silent.

/D <installationdir>  Change install directory to <installationdir>.
                      Default is %PROGRAM FILES% for ALL USERS and
                      %HOMEPATH% for single user.
                      MUST BE THE LAST PARAMETER!

1.4. Installing ffmpeg

ffmpeg is a high quality MPEG 4 encoder. The VisIt movie wizard uses ffmpeg if it is found in the user’s search path. ffmpeg’s licensing is incompatible with VisIt’s so we do not ship and install ffmpeg with VisIt. You can install ffmpeg as part of a VisIt installation so that it is available for all user’s.

To install ffmpeg as part of a VisIt installation you would do the following steps.

  1. Get the ffmpeg executable for each platform of interest.
  2. Copy the ffmpeg executable for each platform to the architecture specific bin directory.
  3. Set the group and file permissions appropriately for each executable.
  4. Create a soft link from ffmepg to frontendlauncher in the bin directory.

Here we go through an example where we install ffmpeg into VisIt 3.3.3, which has two architectures (linux-intel and linux-x86_64) installed. The ffmpeg executables are named ffmpeg.intel and ffmpeg.x86_64. We will set the group to visit and the file permissions to 775.

cp ffmpeg.intel visit/3.3.3/linux-intel/bin/ffmpeg
chgrp visit visit/3.3.3/linux-intel/bin/ffmpeg
chmod 775 visit/3.3.3/linux-intel/bin/ffmpeg
cp ffmpeg.x86_64 visit/3.3.3/linux-x86_64/bin/ffmpeg
chgrp visit visit/3.3.3/linux-x86_64/bin/ffmpeg
chmod 775 visit/3.3.3/linux-x86_64/bin/ffmpeg
ln -s frontendlaucher visit/bin/ffmpeg

1.5. Startup Options

VisIt has many startup options that affect its behavior (see the Startup Options for complete documentation).