Installation and advice

Installation with pip

To install fluidfft, you need a recent Python (>= 3.6) and a C++11 compiler (for example GCC 4.9 or clang). We explain how to install Python and other fluidfft dependencies here: Get a good scientific Python environment

To install Fluidfft, just run:

pip install fluidfft

However, fluidfft build is sensible to some options, contained in a configuration file (~/.fluidfft-site.cfg or site.cfg in the root directory) and in environment variables (see below).

Configuration files and FFT libraries

The configuration file contains in particular the list of FFT libraries that will be used by fluidfft. Here is a list of FFT libraries, with instructions on how to install them:

The default configuration file can be downloaded with (On some systems, wget is not installed by default. You may be able to use curl instead.):

wget -O ~/.fluidfft-site.cfg

Edit one of the configuration files (~/.fluidfft-site.cfg or site.cfg) as needed.


By default (without ~/.fluidfft-site.cfg), no FFT classes are compiled so that fluidfft will only be able to uses its pure-Python FFT classes (using in particular pyfftw)!

Environment variables

The fluidfft build is also sensible to environment variables.


    FluidFFT builds its binaries in parallel. It speedups the build process a lot on most computers. However, it can be a very bad idea on computers with not enough memory. If you encounter problems, you can force the number of processes used during the build using the environment variable FLUIDDYN_NUM_PROCS_BUILD.

  • FLUIDDYN_DEBUG disables parallel build.


    DISABLE_PYTHRAN disables compilation with Pythran at build time.


    “pythran” by default, it can be set to “python”, “numba” or “cython”.

  • FLUIDFFT_DISABLE_MPI can be set to disable all MPI libs.

Warning about re-installing fluidfft with new build options

If fluidfft has already been installed and you want to recompile with new configuration values in ~/.fluidfft-site.cfg, you need to really recompile fluidfft and not just reinstall an already produced wheel. To do this, use:

pip install fluidfft --no-binary fluidfft -v

-v toggles the verbose mode of pip so that we see the compilation log and can check that everything goes well.

Remark on Numpy installed with conda

In anaconda (or miniconda), Numpy installed with conda install numpy can be built and linked with MKL (an Intel library). This can be a real plus for performance since MKL replaces fftw functions by (usually) faster ones but it has a drawback for fft using the library fftw3_mpi (an implementation of parallel fft using 1D decomposition by fftw). MKL implements some fftw functions but not all the functions defined in fftw3_mpi. Since the libraries are loaded dynamically, if numpy is imported before the fftw_mpi libraries, this can lead to very bad issues (segmentation fault, only if numpy is imported before the class!). For security, we prefer to automatically disable the building of the fft classes using fftw3_mpi when it is detected that numpy uses the MKL library where some fftw symbols are defined.

To install with anaconda numpy linked with openblas:

conda config --add channels conda-forge
conda install "blas[build=*openblas]" numpy

About using Pythran to compile fluidfft functions

We choose to use the Python compiler Pythran for some functions of the operators. Our microbenchmarks show that the performances are as good as what we are able to get with Fortran or C++!


To reach good performance, we advice to try to put in the file ~/.pythranrc the lines (it seems to work well on Linux, see the Pythran documentation):

complex_hook = True


The compilation of C++ files produced by Pythran can be long and can consume a lot of memory. If you encounter any problems, you can try to use clang (for example with conda install clangdev) and to enable its use in the file ~/.pythranrc with:


About mpi4py

If you enable MPI libraries (from the configuration file), pip will try to install mpi4py and MPI development files are needed. For example, on Debian based OS, one can install the package libopenmpi-dev.