Status Notice

The CMake build system is the only one supported in GEOS versions 3.10 and after. It is available in GEOS versions 3.5 and after.

The CMake configuration for GEOS was introduced shortly after the GEOS 3.2.0 release (ticket #317). GEOS versions prior to 3.5 used GNU Automake as the only supported build system.

Building on Unix with CMake

This article describes how to use the CMake build system to build and install GEOS on Unix-like systems (Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, *BSD, etc.) using GCC or any other supported compiler.

There are two ways of running CMake:

  • cmake - CLI program accepting options or running in interactive mode
  • ccmake - program with curses-based GUI


  • CMake 3.1 or later
  • Decent C++ compiler and C++ Standard Library, GNU GCC 4.x or later recommended
  • GEOS source code.


It is recommended to build GEOS outside of the source code tree. To do this, use a build directory beside the source directory geos (from now on referred to as BUILDDIR):

$ git clone
$ mkdir build
$ ls
build geos
$ cd build
$ cmake ../geos
$ make help

CMake variables are used to control aspects of compilation and installation. They are specified on the cmake cmdline as -DVAR=VALUE.

NOTE: Running cmake with no variables does NOT clear current variable settings. They must be set explicitly on the cmdline or interactively using ccmake .. To revert to defaults the build directory can be cleared using rm -rf *

Useful CMake variables

  • CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX - by default is set to /usr/local directory
  • CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE - Values are Release or Debug (which is useful for debugging)

CMake variables specific to GEOS

  • GEOS_ENABLE_TESTS - Set to OFF|ON (default) to control build of GEOS tests package
  • GEOS_ENABLE_INLINE - Set to OFF|ON (default) to control GEOS compilation with small functions inlining
  • GEOS_ENABLE_ASSERT - Set to ON|OFF (default) to build GEOS with assert() macro enabled (not available for Visual C++ compiler)
  • GEOS_ENABLE_MACOSX_FRAMEWORK - Set to ON|OFF (default) to build a Mac OS X framework
  • GEOS_ENABLE_MACOSX_FRAMEWORK_UNIXCOMPAT - Set to ON|OFF (default) to add compatibility with *nix library linking to the Mac OS X framework
  • -DDISABLE_OVERLAYNG=NO - Set to NO|YES (default) to enable OverlayNG use in Geometry overlay methods. (Note: as of GEOS 3.9 OverlayNG is the default)


$ cmake ../geos -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug
$ cmake ../geos -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release

Note: when building a Mac OS X framework, you must specify the CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX. The default is /usr/local, and frameworks don't go there.


View / Change Variables via GUI

Use ccmake . to interactively confirm or change variables


To build, run make in BUILDDIR:

$ make

This creates:

  • GEOS C++ and C libraries in lib
  • Testing executables in bin


Under CMake testing is performed by CTest.

After building, tests can be executed in BUILDDIR. Natively, CMake uses a target named test:

$ make test

For convenience an Autotools-like check target is available:

$ make check

It is possible to run ctest directly. This gives access to ctest command line options (see ctest --help for a listing).

$ ctest
$ ctest --verbose

A list of GEOS test suites is obtained by running ctest --show-only:

$ ctest --show-only
# Test project /home/dan/dev/libgeos/cmake-build-debug
#  Test #1: test_geos_unit
#  Test #2: test_xmltester
#  Test #3: test_bug234
#  Test #4: test_sweep_line_speed

A subset of test suites can be run using a regular expression (and in this case, running 4 jobs in parallel):

$ ctest --tests-regex test_ --parallel 4

Individual test classes within the test_geos_unit suite can be run by running test_geos_unit with the name of the test group. The test group name is found in the cpp file in the group declaration.

$ bin/test_geos_unit capi::GEOSNode

Individual tests within a test class can be run by specifying the test number:

$ bin/test_geos_unit capi::GEOSNode 1

There are additional tests (typically for performance) which are built, but not run as part of the standard test suite. These can be run from the command line:

$ bin/perf_iterated_buffer


To install both C and C++ API libraries as well as headers, in BUILDDIR run:

$ make install



$ make uninstall

Open Tickets

incorrect cmake instruction

Last modified 3 months ago Last modified on Feb 23, 2021, 2:47:29 PM