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.

./scripts/devtools/tpl-manager.py --spec gcc@8.3.1

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.


If running on LC be sure to launch tpl-manager in a resource allocation, as tpl-manager will take advantage of parallel builds when compiling libraries. An example appropriate for use on rzgenie would be:

srun --exclusive ./scripts/devtools/tpl-manager.py --spec gcc@8.3.1

Above we are telling tpl-manager to build our TPLs with gcc at version 8.3.1. 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.

./scripts/devtools/tpl-manager.py --spec gcc@8.3.1~mpi


By default we have python bindings enabled (+python) and docs disabled (~docs). Therefore the spec gcc@8.3.1+mpi+python~docs will build the same TPL set as just gcc@8.3.1.For more information on spec syntax please see the spack documentation on specs-dependencies.


gcc@8.3.1 is the recommended compiler for building Spheral on LC (Livermore Computing). Spheral minimally requires a C++14 compliant compiler.

CUDA Support

To build Spheral TPLs and configure Spheral to build with CUDA on LC systems we need to add the spack variant +cuda to our spec. We also need to define the cuda hardware architecture we are targetting Spheral to run on. This can be done with cuda_arch=XX. On most LC NVIDIA systems we will be targetting sm_70 architecture. Therefore a gcc spec with cuda support will look as such.:

./scripts/devtools/tpl-manager.py --spec "gcc@8.3.1+cuda cuda_arch=70"


We need to use “” here as spack requires spacing to define cuda_arch. This ensures tpl-manager doesn’t register the spec as separate arguments.

Setup Full TPL List

The simplest way to have tpl-manager build all TPLs for all supported Spheral configurations is by running this command from your Spheral root directory:

./scripts/devtools/tpl-manager.py --spec-list scripts/devtools/spec-list.json


spec-list.json contains a list of specs supported for common development system types. You can add or edit the specs in this file to build a variety of TPLs for various compiler combinations. The specs are grouped by the $SYS_TYPE environment variable for LC (Livemore Computing) machines and will default to x86_64 for eveything else.


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.