12.3. Build LAMMPS as a shared library

12.3.1. Build LAMMPS as a shared library using make

Instructions on how to build LAMMPS as a shared library are given on the Build_basics doc page. A shared library is one that is dynamically loadable, which is what Python requires to wrap LAMMPS. On Linux this is a library file that ends in “.so”, not “.a”.

From the src directory, type

make foo mode=shlib

where foo is the machine target name, such as mpi or serial. This should create the file liblammps_foo.so in the src directory, as well as a soft link liblammps.so, which is what the Python wrapper will load by default. Note that if you are building multiple machine versions of the shared library, the soft link is always set to the most recently built version.


If you are building LAMMPS with an MPI or FFT library or other auxiliary libraries (used by various packages), then all of these extra libraries must also be shared libraries. If the LAMMPS shared-library build fails with an error complaining about this, see the Build_basics doc page.

12.3.2. Build LAMMPS as a shared library using CMake

When using CMake the following two options are necessary to generate the LAMMPS shared library:

-D BUILD_LIB=on            # enable building LAMMPS as a library
-D BUILD_SHARED_LIBS=on    # enable building of LAMMPS shared library (both options are needed!)

What this does is create a liblammps.so which contains the majority of LAMMPS code. The generated lmp binary also dynamically links to this library. This means that either this liblammps.so file has to be in the same directory, a system library path (e.g. /usr/lib64/) or in the LD_LIBRARY_PATH.

If you want to use the shared library with Python the recommended way is to create a virtualenv and use it as CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX.

# create virtualenv
virtualenv --python=$(which python3) myenv3
source myenv3/bin/activate

# build library
mkdir build
cd build
make -j 4

# install into prefix
make install

This will also install the Python module into your virtualenv. Since virtualenv doesn’t change your LD_LIBRARY_PATH, you still need to add its lib64 folder to it, which contains the installed liblammps.so.


Starting Python outside (!) of your build directory, but with the virtualenv enabled and with the LD_LIBRARY_PATH set gives you access to LAMMPS via Python.