Conda install

The easiest way to install BioSimSpace is using our conda channel:

conda install -c conda-forge -c omnia -c michellab biosimspace

To install the latest development version you can use:

conda install -c conda-forge -c omnia -c michellab/label/dev biosimspace

If you plan on using BioSimSpace interactively via Jupyter, then you might also need to enable the required notebook extensions within your Conda environment:

jupyter-nbextension enable nglview --py --sys-prefix

Unless you add the required channels to your Conda configuration, then you’ll need to add them when updating, e.g., for the development package:

conda update -c conda-forge -c omnia -c michellab/label/dev biosimspace

Note that because of Conda’s peculiar scoring metrics you might not end up with the latest version of BioSimSpace when performing a fresh install or update. (It tries to minimise various things, such as the number of dependencies installed, which is difficult when your package depends on many other packages.) To see what packages are available, run:

conda search -c michellab/label/dev biosimspace

You can then install the latest version by explicitly stating the full package name, e.g.:

conda install -c conda-forge -c omnia -c michellab/label/dev biosimspace=2019.1.0=py37h14c3975_85

Binary install

The self-extracting binary for the 2020.1.0 release of BioSimSpace can be downloaded from one of the following links:

For older releases, please visit our binaries page.

The latest self-extracting binary for the development version of BioSimSpace can be downloaded from one of the following links:

(These are portable X86-64 binaries that should work on any Linux distribution released since ~2011, or any macOS >= 10.14 [Mojave, released 2018]. Note that they are compiled with AVX enabled, so will only work on modern (>2011) X86-64 Intel/AMD processors.)

Once downloaded, the binary can be unpacked as follows, e.g. for the Linux development package:

chmod +x

This will let you choose where to install BioSimSpace. By default, this will be into $HOME/

For developers

The following documents a full installation of BioSimSpace from source. Before starting, you’ll need a working Git installation.

  1. BioSimSpace is built on top of the Sire molecular simulation framework. To download and install Sire:

git clone
cd Sire

Assuming the default installation path, this will install Sire into $HOME/

(Note that the installation is slow and can take in excess of an hour.)

  1. Next you will need to download BioSimSpace and install it into your Sire application. (The following assumes the default Sire installation path.)

git clone
cd BioSimSpace/python
$HOME/ install

Once finished, you can test the installation by running:


Then try importing the BioSimSpace package:

import BioSimSpace as BSS

When developing you may not wish to continually re-install BioSimSpace and its associated dependencies. To avoid this, you can either make use of PYTHONPATH, e.g.

PYTHONPATH=$HOME/Code/BioSimSpace/python $HOME/

or use the develop argument when running the script, i.e.


You can also skip installation of external dependencies by setting the environment variable BSS_SKIP_DEPENDENCIES, e.g.


OpenMM compatibility

Some BioSimSpace functionality requires OpenMM. Although a bundled version is provided as part of the installation, this may not be appropriate for your GPU drivers. To automatically detect and install a suitable version of OpenMM, simply run the following command post-install:


(Note that, depending on your installation method, optimise_openmm may be located in $HOME/

Alternatively, to manually install a particular version of OpenMM you can use a specific Conda label, e.g.:

conda install -c omnia/label/cuda90 openmm

If you have compiled Sire against a custom OpenMM installation, then you’ll need to set the OPENMM_PLUGIN_DIR environment variable to point to the correct plugin location. By default this variable is set to the plugin directory of the bundled OpenMM package.

Common issues

  • If you experience problems with Matplotlib when importing BioSimSpace on macOS, e.g.

RuntimeError**: Python is not installed as a framework.

simply add the following to ~/.matplotlib/matplotlibrc

backend: TkAgg

Note that plotting functionality will be disabled if you are using BioSimSpace on a remote server without X forwarding.

  • If you experience problems with Jupyter permissions, try removing $HOME/.jupyter or $HOME/.local/share/jupyter

External dependencies

Several additional packages are required for full access to all of BioSimSpace’s functionality. Please download and install these packages according to their recommended installation instructions.

Please visit our compatibility page to see which versions of the external dependencies BioSimSpace has currently been tested against.