1.3. Installation of Kwant¶

Ready-to-use Kwant packages are available for many platforms (like GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows). See the installation page of the Kwant website for instructions on how to install Kwant on your platform. This is the recommended way for new users.

The remainder of this section documents how to build Kwant from source. This information is mostly of interest to contributors and packagers.

Generic instructions¶

Obtaining the source code¶

Source distributions of Kwant (and Tinyarray) are available at the downloads section of the Kwant website as well as PyPI. The sources may be also cloned directly from the official Kwant git repository.

Prerequisites¶

Building Kwant requires
a NumPy-like Python package optimized for very small arrays,
• An environment which allows to compile Python extensions written in C and C++.

The following software is highly recommended though not strictly required:

In addition, to build a copy of Kwant that has been checked-out directly from version control, you will also need Cython 0.26.1 or newer. You do not need Cython to build Kwant that has been unpacked from a source .tar.gz-file.

Building and installing Kwant¶

Kwant can be built and installed following the usual Python conventions by running the following commands in the root directory of the Kwant distribution.

python3 setup.py build
python3 setup.py install


Depending on your system, you might have to run the second command with administrator privileges (e.g. prefixing it with sudo).

After installation, tests can be run with:

python3 -c 'import kwant; kwant.test()'


The tutorial examples can be found in the directory tutorial inside the root directory of the Kwant source distribution.

(Cython will be run automatically when the source tree has been checked out of version control. Kwant tarballs include the Cython-generated files, and cythonization is disabled when building not from git. If ever necessary, this default can be overridden by giving the --cython option to setup.py.)

Build configuration¶

Kwant contains several extension modules. The compilation and linking of these modules can be configured by editing a build configuration file. By default, this file is build.conf in the root directory of the Kwant distribution. A different path may be provided using the --configfile=PATH option.

This configuration file consists of sections, one for each extension module that is contained in Kwant, led by a [section name] header and followed by key = value lines.

The sections bear the names of the extension modules, for example [kwant.operator]. There can be also a [DEFAULT] section that provides default values for all extensions, also those not explicitly present in the file.

Possible keys are the keyword arguments for distutils.core.Extension (For a complete list, see its documentation). The corresponding values are whitespace-separated lists of strings.

Example build.conf for compiling Kwant with C assertions and Cython’s line trace feature:

[DEFAULT]
undef_macros = NDEBUG
define_macros = CYTHON_TRACE=1


Kwant can optionally be linked against MUMPS. The main application of build configuration is adopting the build process to the various deployments of MUMPS. MUMPS will be not linked against by default, except on Debian-based systems when the package libmumps-scotch-dev is installed.

The section [kwant.linalg._mumps] may be used to adapt the build process. (For simplicity and backwards compatibility, [mumps] is an aliases for the above.)

Example build.conf for linking Kwant against a self-compiled MUMPS, SCOTCH and METIS:

[mumps]
libraries = zmumps mumps_common pord metis esmumps scotch scotcherr mpiseq gfortran


The detailed syntax of build.conf is explained in the documentation of Python’s configparser module.

Building the documentation¶

To build the documentation, the Sphinx documentation generator is required with numpydoc extension (version 0.5 or newer), as well as jupyter-sphinx (version 0.2 or newer). If PDF documentation is to be built, the tools from the libRSVG (Debian/Ubuntu package librsvg2-bin) and a Sphinx extension sphinxcontrib-svg2pdfconverter are needed to convert SVG drawings into the PDF format.

As a prerequisite for building the documentation, Kwant must have been built successfully using python3 setup.py build as described above (or Kwant must be already installed in Python’s search path). HTML documentation is built by entering the doc subdirectory of the Kwant package and executing make html. PDF documentation is generated by executing make latex followed by make all-pdf in doc/build/latex.

Because of some quirks of how Sphinx works, it might be necessary to execute make clean between building HTML and PDF documentation. If this is not done, Sphinx may mistakenly use PNG files for PDF output or other problems may appear.

Hints for specific platforms¶

Unix-like systems (GNU/Linux)¶

Kwant should run on all recent Unix-like systems. The following instructions have been verified to work on Debian 8 (Jessie) or newer, and on Ubuntu 14.04 or newer. For other distributions step 1 will likely have to be adapted. If Ubuntu-style sudo is not available, the respective command must be run as root.

1. Install the required packages. On Debian-based systems like Ubuntu this can be done by running the command

sudo apt-get install python3-dev python3-setuptools python3-scipy python3-matplotlib python3-pytest python3-sympy g++ gfortran libmumps-scotch-dev

2. Unpack Tinyarray, enter its directory. To build and install, run

python3 setup.py build
sudo python3 setup.py install

3. Inside the Kwant source distribution’s root directory run

python3 setup.py build
sudo python3 setup.py install


By default the package will be installed under /usr/local. Run python3 setup.py --help install for installation options.

Microsoft Windows¶

Our efforts to compile Kwant on Windows using only free software (MinGW) were only moderately successful. At the end of a very complicated process we obtained packages that worked, albeit unreliably. As the only recommended way to compile Python extensions on Windows is using Visual C++, it may well be that there exists no easy solution.

It is possible to compile Kwant on Windows using non-free compilers, however we (the authors of Kwant) have no experience with this. The existing Windows binary installers of Kwant and Tinyarray were kindly prepared by Christoph Gohlke.