Spheral Third Party Libraries (TPLs)

The Spheral build system works in two stages.

  • Stage 1: Building and setting up Third Party Libraries (TPL)s.

  • Stage 2: Building and installing Spheral.

Spheral uses Spack under the hood to handle Third Party Library dependencies. Spack will track dependencies between TPLs and version constraints of TPLs as the project develops. Spack is also particularly good at handling TPL setup across various configurations, compilers and build time options.


Spheral provides a tool (tpl-manager.py) in an attempt to simplify the spack process for the user. tpl-manager ‘s primary responsibilities are to:

  • Set up a local Spack instance for Spheral.

  • Generate a dependency tree of third party libraries (relative to the provided configuration).

  • Build and install all dependent libraries in the local Spack instance.

  • Generate a CMake host-config file for configuring Spheral builds.

tpl-manager is located at scripts/devtools/tpl-manager.py. tpl-manager can be used in two ways:

  • Build TPL’s for a single compiler configuration (ideal for users).

  • Build and setup the full range of TPLs for all of our supported compiler configurations (ideal for developers).

Running tpl-manager

tpl-manager requires python3 and should be run from the root Spheral directory.

tpl-manager takes a --spec argument to determine what compiler to use and what configuration we want to build Spheral in.

python3 scripts/devtools/tpl-manager.py --spec gcc

This will install the local Spheral Spack instance into the adjacent directory of your Spheral root dir. You can use --spheral-spack-dir if you would like to setup the spack instance somewhere else.

Above we are telling tpl-manager to build our TPLs with the gcc that is in our path. By default this will build with +mpi support, however we can disable mpi support for the TPLs and Spheral by appending ~mpi to our spec.

python3 scripts/devtools/tpl-manager.py --spec gcc~mpi


By default we have python bindings enabled (+python) and docs disabled (~docs). Therefore the spec gcc+mpi+python~docs will build the same TPL set as just gcc.For more information on spec syntax please see the spack documentation on specs-dependencies.


Spheral minimally requires a C++14 compliant compiler.

ERROR: invalid spack config dir

If you are trying to run tpl-manager.py on an operating system other than Ubuntu20.04, you will see an error to the effect of: [ERROR: invalid spack config dir: /<path>/scripts/spack/configs/<OperatingSystem><Version> ]

We define configuration files for Ubuntu20.04, as well as our common LLNL operating systems. You will need to create a set of files for your own system.

The configuration files tell spack where the packages installed in Required System Packages are located and what version they are. We have provided a generic set of config files to help in setting this up for you.

  1. Copy the directory scripts/spack/configs/generic to scripts/spack/config/<OperatingSystem><Version> (you want to match the name of the directory to the one tpl-manager.py expects to find).

  2. For each package within the packages.py file of your new folder edit the version number to be the same as what is installed on your system. There are a number of ways to retrieve versions for a given package:

    • Most version numbers should be searchable through your package manager, there are however, some system libraries that may not be managed by your package manager.

    • If the package has an executable, often you can run with some form of -V or --version. e.g. for mpich:mpiexec --version will report the MPI version.

    • For packages that only provide libraries, often the system library will be symlinked to one with the version as the extension. e.g. ls -lha /usr/lib/x86_64_gnu-linux/libreadlines.so will show it is symlinked to libreadlines.so.8.1.

  3. Each package requires the prefix: of the installation be provided. In most cases /usr is sufficient. Typically packages installed with a package manager will place files in: /usr/bin, /usr/share, /usr/lib, /usr/lib64, sometimes /usr/lib/x86_64.../. Here the common prefix is /usr.

    • If you are building Spheral on a system where you don’t have permissions to run package manager and install to /usr, then you might have installed the system packages somewhere else. In that case, replace the prefix: path for those given packages as necessary.


tpl-manager supports -h or --help if you need to reference the available options.

Manually installing TPLs

Although it is HIGHLY recommended, you do not need to use tpl-manager to setup TPLs for Spheral. TPLs can be built manually or built through your own spack installation and passed to the Spheral CMake system. See Manually Configure CMake for more details.