Install and configure

Here, we will learn how to install and configure xolotl. There are two ways to install xolotl, based on your level of expertise:

Method Download a MATLAB toolbox Use git
Who should do this Everyone Developers, advanced users
Ease Very easy Some configuration needed
OS support All common OSes Probably won't work on Windows


Using a MATLAB toolbox

xolotl is available as a MATLAB toolbox. Click here to download it, and drag the downloaded file onto your MATLAB terminal to install it. You should get a popup that looks like this:

Click on the "Install" button and you should be all set!

Using git

If you are comfortable with git, you can clone all the code and dependencies yourself:

git clone
git clone
git clone --recursive
git clone

You will have to manually set your MATLAB paths. Make sure you add the main folder for puppeteer, cpplab, xolotl and srinivas.gs_mtools.

Two add-on packages, xfit for parameter optimization, and xgrid for simulating in parallel exist as git submodules. In the local xolotl repository, initialize the submodules by

git submodule update --init
git submodule foreach -q --recursive 'git checkout $(git config -f $toplevel/.gitmodules submodule.$name.branch || echo master)'
git config --global status.submoduleSummary true

The first command clones the submodules into the correct directories. The second checks out the master branch for xolotl and all submodules. The third configures git status to display the submodule states.

Remember also to copy all git hooks from xolotl/git-hooks to xolotl/.git/hooks/.


We have provided a script, that performs these steps for you. Run it from inside the main xolotl directory, after having run git clone --recursive

Currently, xfit and xgrid are set up to use SSH for GitHub. If you do not have an SSH key set up for your GitHub account, you may experience issues attempting to install the submodules. We recommend setting up an SSH key with GitHub, or installing the MATLAB package for xolotl instead.


In most cases, xolotl can update itself to the latest version using


If you installed using git, xolotl will attempt to do a git pull and update itself. If you installed it as a MATLAB toolbox, xolotl will delete the old toolbox, download the new one, and install that.


If you installed xolotl as a MATLAB toolbox, you can easily uninstall it using:


Note that this doesn't do anything if you installed using git, or if you manually downloaded the files and linked them.

Compilers on GNU/Linux

There are a couple of quirks specific to using the MEX compiler on Linux machines.

  • MATLAB can be particular about the version of g++ it works with. For best results, use the compiler version recommended by MATLAB.
  • In addition, it's best to point MATLAB towards the system compiler, rather than one installed through distributions like Anaconda.
  • On certain Linux distributions, MEX cannot identify the installed g++ compiler, even when it exists on your path (e.g. which g++ in the terminal works fine). The error looks something like this
  >> !which g++
  >> !g++ -dumpversion
  >> mex -setup C++
  Error using mex
  No supported compiler was found.

MATLAB recommends changing your path so that you default to an older version of g++. This is not strictly necessary. MATLAB can still compile using MEX with newer versions of g++ in most cases. Generally, downgrading to an older version of g++ doesn't solve this problem.

There is a relatively simply fix however. Credit goes to GitHub user bonanza123 for figuring it out.

  • First, download the proper version of gcc/g++ as normal. If you use a package manager, there are generally legacy versions under gcc-VERSION where VERSION is the version number (e.g. 6). You can also find them here.
  • Second, change the mex_LANG_glnxa64.xml specification file, where LANG is either C or C++. This is typically found at ~/.matlab/R2018a/mex_C_glnxa64.xml (where R2018a is the MATLAB version and we're looking for the C language file).
  • Replace all references to $GCC with the path to the soft-link to your gcc compiler (e.g. /usr/bin/gcc-6). If you don't have a soft-link to your compiler set up (i.e. which gcc doesn't tell you the path to the link), then you have to set one up.
  • Repeat this process for the mex_C++_glnxa64.xml file. It should be in the same location as the C-specific file. Sometimes MATLAB doesn't generate the C++ .xml file, causing a lot of errors. If it doesn't exist, copy the C-specific version of the file, rename it to mex_C++_glnxa64.xml and replace all references to gcc with g++ so that MATLAB is forced to use the correct compiler.

The problem is fixed if you see something like this in MATLAB:

  >> mex.getCompilerConfigurations('C++')
  ans =

  CompilerConfiguration with properties:

             Name: 'g++'
     Manufacturer: 'GNU'
         Language: 'C++'
          Version: ''
         Location: '/usr/bin/g++-6'
        ShortName: 'g++'
         Priority: 'A'
          Details: [1×1 mex.CompilerConfigurationDetails]
       LinkerName: ''
    LinkerVersion: ''
           MexOpt: '/home/alec/.matlab/R2018a/mex_C++_glnxa64.xml'

See Also