The two options, in order of preference, are:

Using Docker

This installs a container, which is a self-contained linux environment (similar to a virtual machine) on your machine which is called the host. The atlas software runs entirely in the container, so is less dependent on the details of your system. This is a good option of you have trouble compiling the software yourself.

This requires adminsitrative privileges, so is mainly used for personal machines, and not institutional machines under the control of a system administrator. Also since the software is running in a container a little more effort is required for file input and output.

Install docker (community version) for your system from

Give the command:

sudo docker run -it jeffreyadams/atlasofliegroups:version1.1

to download the software and run it (it launches atlas and reads in the file docker needs to be run as roots, so all docker commands are preceded by sudo. The first time you do this it takes up to a few minutes. Subsequent times it is much faster.

To get the latest update, give the command:

sudo docker pull jeffreyadams/atlasofliegroups:version1.1

File Input and Output in Docker

Since docker runs in a container, some extra effort is required to make files read/write from the host system. On Windows this is compounded by differences between the linux and windows filesystems. For now we don’t have explicit instructions to address this issue.

Other Docker Commands

Here are a few other frequently used docker commands:

sudo docker images
sudo docker image ls

to list the images docker knows about. Similarly:

sudo docker container ls

to list the running containers (each container has a container id). Occasionally you will need the container id, as in:

sudo docker container kill container_id

to kill a container that is running. This command:

sudo docker container prune

gets rid of containers that are no longer running.

Compiling the Sofware from Source

The best compilation option is available on Windows 10 and 11. This is the bash shell, which is available in Windows 10 and 11. It provides a linux command line environment. This was produced by Canonical, the makers of Ubuntu, so it is very close to an Ubuntu linux environment.

If you haven’t done so already, install the bash shell following the instructions from the Microsoft bash shell page. We also recommend these instructions from How-To Geek.

Once you installed the bash shell, open a bash window.

Now you may need to install some necessary software. After the first call of sudo apt-get install you need to type your password. (Depending on how you installed the bash shell you might not need to use sudo.):

sudo apt-get install git
sudo apt-get install make
sudo apt-get install g++
sudo apt-get install bison
sudo apt-get install libreadline-dev
sudo apt-get install emacs (or your favorite text editor)

Download the source code using git

For users who are not familiar with git, see Help with git. git is a software management tool, and is included by default on most linux distributions.

Choose a directory on your machine to store the source code. Use your terminal to navigate into that directory, then type:

git clone

This creates a subdirectory atlasofliegroups and stores the files there.


After you have the source code, cd to the atlasofliegroups directory.



If all goes well you will have an executable file atlas. Give the command:


You should see something like:

This is 'atlas' (version 1.1, axis language version 1.0),
the Atlas of Lie Groups and Representations interpreter,
compiled on Dec 30 2021 at 16:01:25.

Congratulations! Go on to After compiling for the next steps.

You may need to edit the Makefile to change the line CXX = g++ -std=c++0x to something different, depending on your system (this is specifying the C++ compiler).

To find out your default compiler give the command:

g++ --version

The software has been well tested with g++ versions 4.8 and above.

The most likely reason for an error has to do with the readline library. The software will run without it. To see if this is the problem give command:

make readline=false

If this succeeds, you have a functioning version of the software, but without the readline functions. See Installation – Trouble Shooting for information on compiling with readline and other issues.

After compiling

We recommend running:

make install

(from the atlasofliegroups directory) to make atlas accessible from anywhere. By default this will put a shell script in ~/bin and points to the atlas-scripts directory. Make sure thath ~/bin is in your path. Then the command atlas will run the software.

The software relies on a large set of auxiliary files in the directory atlasofliegroups/atlas-scripts, with the suffix .at (or .ax). Generally you want to load all of these, by loading the single file This happens automatically if you use make install.

See the Makefile for other options.

Other ways of launching atlas

Alternatively you can launch atlas and tell it where to find the scripts. Here are few examples.

We recommend creating a directory atlasofliegroups/my_files, and always starting atlas from there. Assuming you’ve run ``make install`, you can do:

cd atlasofliegroups
mkdir my_files
cd my_files

This will read the necessary files from the directory atlasofliegroups/atlas-scripts, and any files you write to will be in atlasofliegroups/my_files. Another possibility (which doesn’t require make install is:

cd atlasofliegroups
mkdir my_files
cd my_files
../atlas --path=../atlas-scripts

Alternatively go to thedirectory in which you built the software and run atlas from there:

cd atlasofliegroups
./atlas --path=atlas-scripts

The path argument tells atlas where to find the scripts, and says to load most of the scripts (possibly excluding a few which are under development).

Another option is to run atlas from the atlas-scripts directory, in which case it doesn’t need the path:

cd atlasofliegroups/atlas-scripts

The compiler also produces an executable file ``Fokko’’ which has the core software but not the scripting language.

File Input and Output

When you read files from within atlas it looks in the working directory (from which you launched atlas) and the atlas-scripts directory, or whatever directory (or directories) you speficy with --path.

When the atlas software writes output to a file, it is always in the working directory.

Assuming you ran make install as above you don’t need to do anything else. Files will be read from the working directory (from which you launched atlas) and the atlas-scripts directory. Output will go to files in the working directory.

Other Compile Options

When you compile the software by running make, there are some other options available. Among these:

make optimize=true

is recommended: the compilation is slower, but the code runs substantially faster.

See the Makefile for more options.