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2. Getting Started

This section describes how to build and run LAMMPS, for both new and experienced users.

2.1 What's in the LAMMPS distribution
2.2 Making LAMMPS
2.3 Making LAMMPS with optional packages
2.4 Building LAMMPS via the script
2.5 Building LAMMPS as a library
2.6 Running LAMMPS
2.7 Command-line options
2.8 Screen output
2.9 Tips for users of previous versions

2.1 What's in the LAMMPS distribution

When you download LAMMPS you will need to unzip and untar the downloaded file with the following commands, after placing the file in an appropriate directory.

gunzip lammps*.tar.gz 
tar xvf lammps*.tar 

This will create a LAMMPS directory containing two files and several sub-directories:

README text file
LICENSE the GNU General Public License (GPL)
bench benchmark problems
doc documentation
examples simple test problems
potentials embedded atom method (EAM) potential files
src source files
tools pre- and post-processing tools

If you download one of the Windows executables from the download page, then you just get a single file:


Skip to the Running LAMMPS sections for info on how to launch these executables on a Windows box.

The Windows executables for serial or parallel only include certain packages and bug-fixes/upgrades listed on this page up to a certain date, as stated on the download page. If you want something with more packages or that is more current, you'll have to download the source tarball and build it yourself from source code using Microsoft Visual Studio, as described in the next section.

2.2 Making LAMMPS

This section has the following sub-sections:

Read this first:

Building LAMMPS can be non-trivial. You may need to edit a makefile, there are compiler options to consider, additional libraries can be used (MPI, FFT, JPEG, PNG), LAMMPS packages may be included or excluded, some of these packages use auxiliary libraries which need to be pre-built, etc.

Please read this section carefully. If you are not comfortable with makefiles, or building codes on a Unix platform, or running an MPI job on your machine, please find a local expert to help you. Many compiling, linking, and run problems that users have are often not LAMMPS issues - they are peculiar to the user's system, compilers, libraries, etc. Such questions are better answered by a local expert.

If you have a build problem that you are convinced is a LAMMPS issue (e.g. the compiler complains about a line of LAMMPS source code), then please post a question to the LAMMPS mail list.

If you succeed in building LAMMPS on a new kind of machine, for which there isn't a similar Makefile for in the src/MAKE directory, send it to the developers and we can include it in the LAMMPS distribution.

Steps to build a LAMMPS executable:

Step 0

The src directory contains the C++ source and header files for LAMMPS. It also contains a top-level Makefile and a MAKE sub-directory with low-level Makefile.* files for many machines. From within the src directory, type "make" or "gmake". You should see a list of available choices. If one of those is the machine and options you want, you can type a command like:

make linux
gmake mac 

Note that on a multi-processor or multi-core platform you can launch a parallel make, by using the "-j" switch with the make command, which will build LAMMPS more quickly.

If you get no errors and an executable like lmp_linux or lmp_mac is produced, you're done; it's your lucky day.

Note that by default only a few of LAMMPS optional packages are installed. To build LAMMPS with optional packages, see this section below.

Step 1

If Step 0 did not work, you will need to create a low-level Makefile for your machine, like You should make a copy of an existing src/MAKE/Makefile.* as a starting point. The only portions of the file you need to edit are the first line, the "compiler/linker settings" section, and the "LAMMPS-specific settings" section.

Step 2

Change the first line of src/MAKE/ to list the word "foo" after the "#", and whatever other options it will set. This is the line you will see if you just type "make".

Step 3

The "compiler/linker settings" section lists compiler and linker settings for your C++ compiler, including optimization flags. You can use g++, the open-source GNU compiler, which is available on all Unix systems. You can also use mpicc which will typically be available if MPI is installed on your system, though you should check which actual compiler it wraps. Vendor compilers often produce faster code. On boxes with Intel CPUs, we suggest using the commercial Intel icc compiler, which can be downloaded from Intel's compiler site.

If building a C++ code on your machine requires additional libraries, then you should list them as part of the LIB variable.

The DEPFLAGS setting is what triggers the C++ compiler to create a dependency list for a source file. This speeds re-compilation when source (*.cpp) or header (*.h) files are edited. Some compilers do not support dependency file creation, or may use a different switch than -D. GNU g++ works with -D. If your compiler can't create dependency files, then you'll need to create a patterned after Makefile.storm, which uses different rules that do not involve dependency files. Note that when you build LAMMPS for the first time on a new platform, a long list of *.d files will be printed out rapidly. This is not an error; it is the Makefile doing its normal creation of dependencies.

Step 4

The "system-specific settings" section has several parts. Note that if you change any -D setting in this section, you should do a full re-compile, after typing "make clean" (which will describe different clean options).

The LMP_INC variable is used to include options that turn on ifdefs within the LAMMPS code. The options that are currently recogized are:

The read_data and dump commands will read/write gzipped files if you compile with -DLAMMPS_GZIP. It requires that your machine supports the "popen" function in the standard runtime library and that a gzip executable can be found by LAMMPS during a run.

If you use -DLAMMPS_JPEG, the dump image command will be able to write out JPEG image files. For JPEG files, you must also link LAMMPS with a JPEG library, as described below. If you use -DLAMMPS_PNG, the dump image command will be able to write out PNG image files. For PNG files, you must also link LAMMPS with a PNG library, as described below. If neither of those two defines are used, LAMMPS will only be able to write out uncompressed PPM image files.

If you use -DLAMMPS_FFMPEG, the dump movie command will be available to support on-the-fly generation of rendered movies the need to store intermediate image files. It requires that your machines supports the "popen" function in the standard runtime library and that an FFmpeg executable can be found by LAMMPS during the run.

Using -DLAMMPS_MEMALIGN= enables the use of the posix_memalign() call instead of malloc() when large chunks or memory are allocated by LAMMPS. This can help to make more efficient use of vector instructions of modern CPUS, since dynamically allocated memory has to be aligned on larger than default byte boundaries (e.g. 16 bytes instead of 8 bytes on x86 type platforms) for optimal performance.

If you use -DLAMMPS_XDR, the build will include XDR compatibility files for doing particle dumps in XTC format. This is only necessary if your platform does have its own XDR files available. See the Restrictions section of the dump command for details.

Use at most one of the -DLAMMPS_SMALLBIG, -DLAMMPS_BIGBIG, -D- DLAMMPS_SMALLSMALL settings. The default is -DLAMMPS_SMALLBIG. These settings refer to use of 4-byte (small) vs 8-byte (big) integers within LAMMPS, as specified in src/lmptype.h. The only reason to use the BIGBIG setting is to enable simulation of huge molecular systems (which store bond topology info) with more than 2 billion atoms, or to track the image flags of moving atoms that wrap around a periodic box more than 512 times. The only reason to use the SMALLSMALL setting is if your machine does not support 64-bit integers. See the Additional build tips section below for more details.

The -DLAMMPS_LONGLONG_TO_LONG setting may be needed if your system or MPI version does not recognize "long long" data types. In this case a "long" data type is likely already 64-bits, in which case this setting will convert to that data type.

Using one of the -DPACK_ARRAY, -DPACK_POINTER, and -DPACK_MEMCPY options can make for faster parallel FFTs (in the PPPM solver) on some platforms. The -DPACK_ARRAY setting is the default. See the kspace_style command for info about PPPM. See Step 6 below for info about building LAMMPS with an FFT library.

Step 5

The 3 MPI variables are used to specify an MPI library to build LAMMPS with.

If you want LAMMPS to run in parallel, you must have an MPI library installed on your platform. If you use an MPI-wrapped compiler, such as "mpicc" to build LAMMPS, you should be able to leave these 3 variables blank; the MPI wrapper knows where to find the needed files. If not, and MPI is installed on your system in the usual place (under /usr/local), you also may not need to specify these 3 variables. On some large parallel machines which use "modules" for their compile/link environements, you may simply need to include the correct module in your build environment. Or the parallel machine may have a vendor-provided MPI which the compiler has no trouble finding.

Failing this, with these 3 variables you can specify where the mpi.h file (MPI_INC) and the MPI library file (MPI_PATH) are found and the name of the library file (MPI_LIB).

If you are installing MPI yourself, we recommend Argonne's MPICH2 or OpenMPI. MPICH can be downloaded from the Argonne MPI site. OpenMPI can be downloaded from the OpenMPI site. Other MPI packages should also work. If you are running on a big parallel platform, your system people or the vendor should have already installed a version of MPI, which is likely to be faster than a self-installed MPICH or OpenMPI, so find out how to build and link with it. If you use MPICH or OpenMPI, you will have to configure and build it for your platform. The MPI configure script should have compiler options to enable you to use the same compiler you are using for the LAMMPS build, which can avoid problems that can arise when linking LAMMPS to the MPI library.

If you just want to run LAMMPS on a single processor, you can use the dummy MPI library provided in src/STUBS, since you don't need a true MPI library installed on your system. See the src/MAKE/Makefile.serial file for how to specify the 3 MPI variables in this case. You will also need to build the STUBS library for your platform before making LAMMPS itself. To build from the src directory, type "make stubs", or from the STUBS dir, type "make". This should create a libmpi_stubs.a file suitable for linking to LAMMPS. If the build fails, you will need to edit the STUBS/Makefile for your platform.

The file STUBS/mpi.c provides a CPU timer function called MPI_Wtime() that calls gettimeofday() . If your system doesn't support gettimeofday() , you'll need to insert code to call another timer. Note that the ANSI-standard function clock() rolls over after an hour or so, and is therefore insufficient for timing long LAMMPS simulations.

Step 6

The 3 FFT variables allow you to specify an FFT library which LAMMPS uses (for performing 1d FFTs) when running the particle-particle particle-mesh (PPPM) option for long-range Coulombics via the kspace_style command.

LAMMPS supports various open-source or vendor-supplied FFT libraries for this purpose. If you leave these 3 variables blank, LAMMPS will use the open-source KISS FFT library, which is included in the LAMMPS distribution. This library is portable to all platforms and for typical LAMMPS simulations is almost as fast as FFTW or vendor optimized libraries. If you are not including the KSPACE package in your build, you can also leave the 3 variables blank.

Otherwise, select which kinds of FFTs to use as part of the FFT_INC setting by a switch of the form -DFFT_XXX. Recommended values for XXX are: MKL, SCSL, FFTW2, and FFTW3. Legacy options are: INTEL, SGI, ACML, and T3E. For backward compatability, using -DFFT_FFTW will use the FFTW2 library. Using -DFFT_NONE will use the KISS library described above.

You may also need to set the FFT_INC, FFT_PATH, and FFT_LIB variables, so the compiler and linker can find the needed FFT header and library files. Note that on some large parallel machines which use "modules" for their compile/link environements, you may simply need to include the correct module in your build environment. Or the parallel machine may have a vendor-provided FFT library which the compiler has no trouble finding.

FFTW is a fast, portable library that should also work on any platform. You can download it from Both the legacy version 2.1.X and the newer 3.X versions are supported as -DFFT_FFTW2 or -DFFT_FFTW3. Building FFTW for your box should be as simple as ./configure; make. Note that on some platforms FFTW2 has been pre-installed, and uses renamed files indicating the precision it was compiled with, e.g. sfftw.h, or dfftw.h instead of fftw.h. In this case, you can specify an additional define variable for FFT_INC called -DFFTW_SIZE, which will select the correct include file. In this case, for FFT_LIB you must also manually specify the correct library, namely -lsfftw or -ldfftw.

The FFT_INC variable also allows for a -DFFT_SINGLE setting that will use single-precision FFTs with PPPM, which can speed-up long-range calulations, particularly in parallel or on GPUs. Fourier transform and related PPPM operations are somewhat insensitive to floating point truncation errors and thus do not always need to be performed in double precision. Using the -DFFT_SINGLE setting trades off a little accuracy for reduced memory use and parallel communication costs for transposing 3d FFT data. Note that single precision FFTs have only been tested with the FFTW3, FFTW2, MKL, and KISS FFT options.

Step 7

The 3 JPG variables allow you to specify a JPEG and/or PNG library which LAMMPS uses when writing out JPEG or PNG files via the dump image command. These can be left blank if you do not use the -DLAMMPS_JPEG or -DLAMMPS_PNG switches discussed above in Step 4, since in that case JPEG/PNG output will be disabled.

A standard JPEG library usually goes by the name libjpeg.a or and has an associated header file jpeglib.h. Whichever JPEG library you have on your platform, you'll need to set the appropriate JPG_INC, JPG_PATH, and JPG_LIB variables, so that the compiler and linker can find it.

A standard PNG library usually goes by the name libpng.a or and has an associated header file png.h. Whichever PNG library you have on your platform, you'll need to set the appropriate JPG_INC, JPG_PATH, and JPG_LIB variables, so that the compiler and linker can find it.

As before, if these header and library files are in the usual place on your machine, you may not need to set these variables.

Step 8

Note that by default only a few of LAMMPS optional packages are installed. To build LAMMPS with optional packages, see this section below, before proceeding to Step 9.

Step 9

That's it. Once you have a correct, you have installed the optional LAMMPS packages you want to include in your build, and you have pre-built any other needed libraries (e.g. MPI, FFT, package libraries), all you need to do from the src directory is type something like this:

make foo
gmake foo 

You should get the executable lmp_foo when the build is complete.

Errors that can occur when making LAMMPS:

IMPORTANT NOTE: If an error occurs when building LAMMPS, the compiler or linker will state very explicitly what the problem is. The error message should give you a hint as to which of the steps above has failed, and what you need to do in order to fix it. Building a code with a Makefile is a very logical process. The compiler and linker need to find the appropriate files and those files need to be compatible with LAMMPS source files. When a make fails, there is usually a very simple reason, which you or a local expert will need to fix.

Here are two non-obvious errors that can occur:

(1) If the make command breaks immediately with errors that indicate it can't find files with a "*" in their names, this can be because your machine's native make doesn't support wildcard expansion in a makefile. Try gmake instead of make. If that doesn't work, try using a -f switch with your make command to use a pre-generated Makefile.list which explicitly lists all the needed files, e.g.

make makelist
make -f Makefile.list linux
gmake -f Makefile.list mac 

The first "make" command will create a current Makefile.list with all the file names in your src dir. The 2nd "make" command (make or gmake) will use it to build LAMMPS. Note that you should include/exclude any desired optional packages before using the "make makelist" command.

(2) If you get an error that says something like 'identifier "atoll" is undefined', then your machine does not support "long long" integers. Try using the -DLAMMPS_LONGLONG_TO_LONG setting described above in Step 4.

Additional build tips:

(1) Building LAMMPS for multiple platforms.

You can make LAMMPS for multiple platforms from the same src directory. Each target creates its own object sub-directory called Obj_target where it stores the system-specific *.o files.

(2) Cleaning up.

Typing "make clean-all" or "make clean-machine" will delete *.o object files created when LAMMPS is built, for either all builds or for a particular machine.


As explained above, any of these 3 settings can be specified on the LMP_INC line in your low-level src/MAKE/

The default is -DLAMMPS_SMALLBIG which allows for systems with up to 2^63 atoms and 2^63 timesteps (about 9e18). The atom limit is for atomic systems which do not store bond topology info and thus do not require atom IDs. If you use atom IDs for atomic systems (which is the default) or if you use a molecular model, which stores bond topology info and thus requires atom IDs, the limit is 2^31 atoms (about 2 billion). This is because the IDs are stored in 32-bit integers.

Likewise, with this setting, the 3 image flags for each atom (see the dump doc page for a discussion) are stored in a 32-bit integer, which means the atoms can only wrap around a periodic box (in each dimension) at most 512 times. If atoms move through the periodic box more than this many times, the image flags will "roll over", e.g. from 511 to -512, which can cause diagnostics like the mean-squared displacement, as calculated by the compute msd command, to be faulty.

To allow for larger atomic systems with atom IDs or larger molecular systems or larger image flags, compile with -DLAMMPS_BIGBIG. This stores atom IDs and image flags in 64-bit integers. This enables atomic or molecular systems with atom IDS of up to 2^63 atoms (about 9e18). And image flags will not "roll over" until they reach 2^20 = 1048576.

If your system does not support 8-byte integers, you will need to compile with the -DLAMMPS_SMALLSMALL setting. This will restrict the total number of atoms (for atomic or molecular systems) and timesteps to 2^31 (about 2 billion). Image flags will roll over at 2^9 = 512.

Note that in src/lmptype.h there are definitions of all these data types as well as the MPI data types associated with them. The MPI types need to be consistent with the associated C data types, or else LAMMPS will generate a run-time error. As far as we know, the settings defined in src/lmptype.h are portable and work on every current system.

In all cases, the size of problem that can be run on a per-processor basis is limited by 4-byte integer storage to 2^31 atoms per processor (about 2 billion). This should not normally be a limitation since such a problem would have a huge per-processor memory footprint due to neighbor lists and would run very slowly in terms of CPU secs/timestep.

Building for a Mac:

OS X is BSD Unix, so it should just work. See the src/MAKE/Makefile.mac file.

Building for Windows:

The LAMMPS download page has an option to download both a serial and parallel pre-built Windows exeutable. See the Running LAMMPS section for instructions for running these executables on a Windows box.

The pre-built executables are built with a subset of the available pacakges; see the download page for the list. If you want a Windows version with specific packages included and excluded, you can build it yourself.

One way to do this is install and use cygwin to build LAMMPS with a standard Linus make, just as you would on any Linux box; see src/MAKE/Makefile.cygwin.

The other way to do this is using Visual Studio and project files. See the src/WINDOWS directory and its README.txt file for instructions on both a basic build and a customized build with pacakges you select.

2.3 Making LAMMPS with optional packages

This section has the following sub-sections:

Package basics:

The source code for LAMMPS is structured as a set of core files which are always included, plus optional packages. Packages are groups of files that enable a specific set of features. For example, force fields for molecular systems or granular systems are in packages. You can see the list of all packages by typing "make package" from within the src directory of the LAMMPS distribution.

If you use a command in a LAMMPS input script that is specific to a particular package, you must have built LAMMPS with that package, else you will get an error that the style is invalid or the command is unknown. Every command's doc page specfies if it is part of a package. You can also type

lmp_machine -h 

to run your executable with the optional -h command-line switch for "help", which will list the styles and commands known to your executable.

There are two kinds of packages in LAMMPS, standard and user packages. More information about the contents of standard and user packages is given in Section_packages of the manual. The difference between standard and user packages is as follows:

Standard packages are supported by the LAMMPS developers and are written in a syntax and style consistent with the rest of LAMMPS. This means we will answer questions about them, debug and fix them if necessary, and keep them compatible with future changes to LAMMPS.

User packages have been contributed by users, and always begin with the user prefix. If they are a single command (single file), they are typically in the user-misc package. Otherwise, they are a a set of files grouped together which add a specific functionality to the code.

User packages don't necessarily meet the requirements of the standard packages. If you have problems using a feature provided in a user package, you will likely need to contact the contributor directly to get help. Information on how to submit additions you make to LAMMPS as a user-contributed package is given in this section of the documentation.

Some packages (both standard and user) require additional libraries. See more details below.

Including/excluding packages:

To use or not use a package you must include or exclude it before building LAMMPS. From the src directory, this is typically as simple as:

make yes-colloid
make g++ 


make no-manybody
make g++ 

IMPORTANT NOTE: You should NOT include/exclude packages and build LAMMPS in a single make command by using multiple targets, e.g. make yes-colloid g++. This is because the make procedure creates a list of source files that will be out-of-date for the build if the package configuration changes during the same command.

Some packages have individual files that depend on other packages being included. LAMMPS checks for this and does the right thing. I.e. individual files are only included if their dependencies are already included. Likewise, if a package is excluded, other files dependent on that package are also excluded.

The reason to exclude packages is if you will never run certain kinds of simulations. For some packages, this will keep you from having to build auxiliary libraries (see below), and will also produce a smaller executable which may run a bit faster.

When you download a LAMMPS tarball, these packages are pre-installed in the src directory: KSPACE, MANYBODY,MOLECULE. When you download LAMMPS source files from the SVN or Git repositories, no packages are pre-installed.

Packages are included or excluded by typing "make yes-name" or "make no-name", where "name" is the name of the package in lower-case, e.g. name = kspace for the KSPACE package or name = user-atc for the USER-ATC package. You can also type "make yes-standard", "make no-standard", "make yes-user", "make no-user", "make yes-all" or "make no-all" to include/exclude various sets of packages. Type "make package" to see the all of the package-related make options.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Inclusion/exclusion of a package works by simply moving files back and forth between the main src directory and sub-directories with the package name (e.g. src/KSPACE, src/USER-ATC), so that the files are seen or not seen when LAMMPS is built. After you have included or excluded a package, you must re-build LAMMPS.

Additional package-related make options exist to help manage LAMMPS files that exist in both the src directory and in package sub-directories. You do not normally need to use these commands unless you are editing LAMMPS files or have downloaded a patch from the LAMMPS WWW site.

Typing "make package-update" will overwrite src files with files from the package sub-directories if the package has been included. It should be used after a patch is installed, since patches only update the files in the package sub-directory, but not the src files. Typing "make package-overwrite" will overwrite files in the package sub-directories with src files.

Typing "make package-status" will show which packages are currently included. Of those that are included, it will list files that are different in the src directory and package sub-directory. Typing "make package-diff" lists all differences between these files. Again, type "make package" to see all of the package-related make options.

Packages that require extra libraries:

A few of the standard and user packages require additional auxiliary libraries. They must be compiled first, before LAMMPS is built. If you get a LAMMPS build error about a missing library, this is likely the reason. See the Section_packages doc page for a list of packages that have auxiliary libraries.

Code for some of these auxiliary libraries is included in the LAMMPS distribution under the lib directory. Examples are the USER-ATC and MEAM packages. Some auxiliary libraries are not included with LAMMPS; to use the associated package you must download and install the auxiliary library yourself. Examples are the KIM and VORONOI and USER-MOLFILE packages.

For libraries with provided source code, each lib directory has a README file (e.g. lib/reax/README) with instructions on how to build that library. Typically this is done by typing something like:

make -f Makefile.g++ 

If one of the provided Makefiles is not appropriate for your system you will need to edit or add one. Note that all the Makefiles have a setting for EXTRAMAKE at the top that names a Makefile.lammps.* file.

If successful, this will produce 2 files in the lib directory:


The Makefile.lammps file is a copy of the EXTRAMAKE file specified in the Makefile you used.

You MUST insure that the settings in Makefile.lammps are appropriate for your system. If they are not, the LAMMPS build will fail.

As explained in the lib/package/README files, they are used to specify additional system libraries and their locations so that LAMMPS can build with the auxiliary library. For example, if the MEAM or REAX packages are used, the auxiliary libraries consist of F90 code, build with a F90 complier. To link that library with LAMMPS (a C++ code) via whatever C++ compiler LAMMPS is built with, typically requires additional Fortran-to-C libraries be included in the link. Another example are the BLAS and LAPACK libraries needed to use the USER-ATC or USER-AWPMD packages.

For libraries without provided source code, see the src/package/Makefile.lammps file for information on where to find the library and how to build it. E.g. the file src/KIM/Makefile.lammps or src/VORONOI/Makefile.lammps or src/UESR-MOLFILE/Makefile.lammps. These files serve the same purpose as the lib/package/Makefile.lammps files described above. The files have settings needed when LAMMPS is built to link with the corresponding auxiliary library. Again, you MUST insure that the settings in src/package/Makefile.lammps are appropriate for your system and where you installed the auxiliary library. If they are not, the LAMMPS build will fail.

2.4 Building LAMMPS via the script

The src directory includes a script, written in Python, which can be used to automate various steps of the build process.

You can run the script from the src directory by typing either:

which will give you info about the tool. For the former to work, you may need to edit the 1st line of the script to point to your local Python. And you may need to insure the script is executable:

chmod +x 

The following options are supported as switches:

Help on any switch can be listed by using -h, e.g. -h -i -p 

At a hi-level, these are the kinds of package management and build tasks that can be performed easily, using the tool:

The last bullet can be useful when you wish to build a stripped-down version of LAMMPS to run a specific script(s). Or when you wish to move the minimal amount of files to another platform for a remote LAMMPS build.

Note that using is not a substitute for insuring you have a valid src/MAKE/ for your system, or that external library Makefiles in any lib/* directories you use are also valid for your system. But once you have done that, you can use to quickly include/exclude the packages and external libraries needed by your input scripts.

2.5 Building LAMMPS as a library

LAMMPS can be built as either a static or shared library, which can then be called from another application or a scripting language. See this section for more info on coupling LAMMPS to other codes. See this section for more info on wrapping and running LAMMPS from Python.

Static library:

To build LAMMPS as a static library (*.a file on Linux), type

make makelib
make -f Makefile.lib foo 

where foo is the machine name. This kind of library is typically used to statically link a driver application to LAMMPS, so that you can insure all dependencies are satisfied at compile time. Note that inclusion or exclusion of any desired optional packages should be done before typing "make makelib". The first "make" command will create a current Makefile.lib with all the file names in your src dir. The second "make" command will use it to build LAMMPS as a static library, using the ARCHIVE and ARFLAGS settings in src/MAKE/ The build will create the file liblammps_foo.a which another application can link to.

Shared library:

To build LAMMPS as a shared library (*.so file on Linux), which can be dynamically loaded, e.g. from Python, type

make makeshlib
make -f Makefile.shlib foo 

where foo is the machine name. This kind of library is required when wrapping LAMMPS with Python; see Section_python for details. Again, note that inclusion or exclusion of any desired optional packages should be done before typing "make makelib". The first "make" command will create a current Makefile.shlib with all the file names in your src dir. The second "make" command will use it to build LAMMPS as a shared library, using the SHFLAGS and SHLIBFLAGS settings in src/MAKE/ The build will create the file which another application can link to dyamically. It will also create a soft link, which the Python wrapper uses by default.

Note that for a shared library to be usable by a calling program, all the auxiliary libraries it depends on must also exist as shared libraries. This will be the case for libraries included with LAMMPS, such as the dummy MPI library in src/STUBS or any package libraries in lib/packges, since they are always built as shared libraries with the -fPIC switch. However, if a library like MPI or FFTW does not exist as a shared library, the second make command will generate an error. This means you will need to install a shared library version of the package. The build instructions for the library should tell you how to do this.

As an example, here is how to build and install the MPICH library, a popular open-source version of MPI, distributed by Argonne National Labs, as a shared library in the default /usr/local/lib location:

./configure --enable-shared
make install 

You may need to use "sudo make install" in place of the last line if you do not have write privileges for /usr/local/lib. The end result should be the file /usr/local/lib/

Additional requirement for using a shared library:

The operating system finds shared libraries to load at run-time using the environment variable LD_LIBRARY_PATH. So you may wish to copy the file src/ or src/ (for example) to a place the system can find it by default, such as /usr/local/lib, or you may wish to add the LAMMPS src directory to LD_LIBRARY_PATH, so that the current version of the shared library is always available to programs that use it.

For the csh or tcsh shells, you would add something like this to your ~/.cshrc file:

setenv LD_LIBRARY_PATH $LD_LIBRARY_PATH:/home/sjplimp/lammps/src 
Calling the LAMMPS library:

Either flavor of library (static or shared0 allows one or more LAMMPS objects to be instantiated from the calling program.

When used from a C++ program, all of LAMMPS is wrapped in a LAMMPS_NS namespace; you can safely use any of its classes and methods from within the calling code, as needed.

When used from a C or Fortran program or a scripting language like Python, the library has a simple function-style interface, provided in src/library.cpp and src/library.h.

See the sample codes in examples/COUPLE/simple for examples of C++ and C and Fortran codes that invoke LAMMPS thru its library interface. There are other examples as well in the COUPLE directory which are discussed in Section_howto 10 of the manual. See Section_python of the manual for a description of the Python wrapper provided with LAMMPS that operates through the LAMMPS library interface.

The files src/library.cpp and library.h define the C-style API for using LAMMPS as a library. See Section_howto 19 of the manual for a description of the interface and how to extend it for your needs.

2.6 Running LAMMPS

By default, LAMMPS runs by reading commands from stdin; e.g. lmp_linux < in.file. This means you first create an input script (e.g. in.file) containing the desired commands. This section describes how input scripts are structured and what commands they contain.

You can test LAMMPS on any of the sample inputs provided in the examples or bench directory. Input scripts are named in.* and sample outputs are named log.*.name.P where name is a machine and P is the number of processors it was run on.

Here is how you might run a standard Lennard-Jones benchmark on a Linux box, using mpirun to launch a parallel job:

cd src
make linux
cp lmp_linux ../bench
cd ../bench
mpirun -np 4 lmp_linux < in.lj 

See this page for timings for this and the other benchmarks on various platforms.

On a Windows box, you can skip making LAMMPS and simply download an executable, as described above, though the pre-packaged executables include only certain packages.

To run a LAMMPS executable on a Windows machine, first decide whether you want to download the non-MPI (serial) or the MPI (parallel) version of the executable. Download and save the version you have chosen.

For the non-MPI version, follow these steps:

For the MPI version, which allows you to run LAMMPS under Windows on multiple processors, follow these steps:

The screen output from LAMMPS is described in the next section. As it runs, LAMMPS also writes a log.lammps file with the same information.

Note that this sequence of commands copies the LAMMPS executable (lmp_linux) to the directory with the input files. This may not be necessary, but some versions of MPI reset the working directory to where the executable is, rather than leave it as the directory where you launch mpirun from (if you launch lmp_linux on its own and not under mpirun). If that happens, LAMMPS will look for additional input files and write its output files to the executable directory, rather than your working directory, which is probably not what you want.

If LAMMPS encounters errors in the input script or while running a simulation it will print an ERROR message and stop or a WARNING message and continue. See Section_errors for a discussion of the various kinds of errors LAMMPS can or can't detect, a list of all ERROR and WARNING messages, and what to do about them.

LAMMPS can run a problem on any number of processors, including a single processor. In theory you should get identical answers on any number of processors and on any machine. In practice, numerical round-off can cause slight differences and eventual divergence of molecular dynamics phase space trajectories.

LAMMPS can run as large a problem as will fit in the physical memory of one or more processors. If you run out of memory, you must run on more processors or setup a smaller problem.

2.7 Command-line options

At run time, LAMMPS recognizes several optional command-line switches which may be used in any order. Either the full word or a one-or-two letter abbreviation can be used:

For example, lmp_ibm might be launched as follows:

mpirun -np 16 lmp_ibm -v f tmp.out -l my.log -sc none < in.alloy
mpirun -np 16 lmp_ibm -var f tmp.out -log my.log -screen none < in.alloy 

Here are the details on the options:

-cuda on/off 

Explicitly enable or disable CUDA support, as provided by the USER-CUDA package. If LAMMPS is built with this package, as described above in Section 2.3, then by default LAMMPS will run in CUDA mode. If this switch is set to "off", then it will not, even if it was built with the USER-CUDA package, which means you can run standard LAMMPS or with the GPU package for testing or benchmarking purposes. The only reason to set the switch to "on", is to check if LAMMPS was built with the USER-CUDA package, since an error will be generated if it was not.

-echo style 

Set the style of command echoing. The style can be none or screen or log or both. Depending on the style, each command read from the input script will be echoed to the screen and/or logfile. This can be useful to figure out which line of your script is causing an input error. The default value is log. The echo style can also be set by using the echo command in the input script itself.

-in file 

Specify a file to use as an input script. This is an optional switch when running LAMMPS in one-partition mode. If it is not specified, LAMMPS reads its input script from stdin - e.g. lmp_linux < This is a required switch when running LAMMPS in multi-partition mode, since multiple processors cannot all read from stdin.


Print a list of options compiled into this executable for each LAMMPS style (atom_style, fix, compute, pair_style, bond_style, etc). This can help you know if the command you want to use was included via the appropriate package. LAMMPS will print the info and immediately exit if this switch is used.

-log file 

Specify a log file for LAMMPS to write status information to. In one-partition mode, if the switch is not used, LAMMPS writes to the file log.lammps. If this switch is used, LAMMPS writes to the specified file. In multi-partition mode, if the switch is not used, a log.lammps file is created with hi-level status information. Each partition also writes to a log.lammps.N file where N is the partition ID. If the switch is specified in multi-partition mode, the hi-level logfile is named "file" and each partition also logs information to a file.N. For both one-partition and multi-partition mode, if the specified file is "none", then no log files are created. Using a log command in the input script will override this setting. Option -plog will override the name of the partition log files file.N.


Disable writing the log.cite file which is normally written to list references for specific cite-able features used during a LAMMPS run. See the citation page for more details.

-partition 8x2 4 5 ... 

Invoke LAMMPS in multi-partition mode. When LAMMPS is run on P processors and this switch is not used, LAMMPS runs in one partition, i.e. all P processors run a single simulation. If this switch is used, the P processors are split into separate partitions and each partition runs its own simulation. The arguments to the switch specify the number of processors in each partition. Arguments of the form MxN mean M partitions, each with N processors. Arguments of the form N mean a single partition with N processors. The sum of processors in all partitions must equal P. Thus the command "-partition 8x2 4 5" has 10 partitions and runs on a total of 25 processors.

Running with multiple partitions can e useful for running multi-replica simulations, where each replica runs on on one or a few processors. Note that with MPI installed on a machine (e.g. your desktop), you can run on more (virtual) processors than you have physical processors.

To run multiple independent simulatoins from one input script, using multiple partitions, see Section_howto 4 of the manual. World- and universe-style variables are useful in this context.

-plog file 

Specify the base name for the partition log files, so partition N writes log information to file.N. If file is none, then no partition log files are created. This overrides the filename specified in the -log command-line option. This option is useful when working with large numbers of partitions, allowing the partition log files to be suppressed (-plog none) or placed in a sub-directory (-plog replica_files/log.lammps) If this option is not used the log file for partition N is log.lammps.N or whatever is specified by the -log command-line option.

-pscreen file 

Specify the base name for the partition screen file, so partition N writes screen information to file.N. If file is none, then no partition screen files are created. This overrides the filename specified in the -screen command-line option. This option is useful when working with large numbers of partitions, allowing the partition screen files to be suppressed (-pscreen none) or placed in a sub-directory (-pscreen replica_files/screen). If this option is not used the screen file for partition N is screen.N or whatever is specified by the -screen command-line option.

-restart restartfile datafile keyword value ... 

Convert the restart file into a data file and immediately exit. This is the same operation as if the following 2-line input script were run:

read_restart restartfile
write_data datafile keyword value ... 

Note that the specified restartfile and datafile can have wild-card characters ("*",%") as described by the read_restart and write_data commands. But a filename such as file.* will need to be enclosed in quotes to avoid shell expansion of the "*" character.

Also note that following datafile, the same optional keyword/value pairs can be listed as used by the write_data command.

-reorder nth N
-reorder custom filename 

Reorder the processors in the MPI communicator used to instantiate LAMMPS, in one of several ways. The original MPI communicator ranks all P processors from 0 to P-1. The mapping of these ranks to physical processors is done by MPI before LAMMPS begins. It may be useful in some cases to alter the rank order. E.g. to insure that cores within each node are ranked in a desired order. Or when using the run_style verlet/split command with 2 partitions to insure that a specific Kspace processor (in the 2nd partition) is matched up with a specific set of processors in the 1st partition. See the Section_accelerate doc pages for more details.

If the keyword nth is used with a setting N, then it means every Nth processor will be moved to the end of the ranking. This is useful when using the run_style verlet/split command with 2 partitions via the -partition command-line switch. The first set of processors will be in the first partition, the 2nd set in the 2nd partition. The -reorder command-line switch can alter this so that the 1st N procs in the 1st partition and one proc in the 2nd partition will be ordered consecutively, e.g. as the cores on one physical node. This can boost performance. For example, if you use "-reorder nth 4" and "-partition 9 3" and you are running on 12 processors, the processors will be reordered from

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 


0 1 2 4 5 6 8 9 10 3 7 11 

so that the processors in each partition will be

0 1 2 4 5 6 8 9 10 
3 7 11 

See the "processors" command for how to insure processors from each partition could then be grouped optimally for quad-core nodes.

If the keyword is custom, then a file that specifies a permutation of the processor ranks is also specified. The format of the reorder file is as follows. Any number of initial blank or comment lines (starting with a "#" character) can be present. These should be followed by P lines of the form:

I J 

where P is the number of processors LAMMPS was launched with. Note that if running in multi-partition mode (see the -partition switch above) P is the total number of processors in all partitions. The I and J values describe a permutation of the P processors. Every I and J should be values from 0 to P-1 inclusive. In the set of P I values, every proc ID should appear exactly once. Ditto for the set of P J values. A single I,J pairing means that the physical processor with rank I in the original MPI communicator will have rank J in the reordered communicator.

Note that rank ordering can also be specified by many MPI implementations, either by environment variables that specify how to order physical processors, or by config files that specify what physical processors to assign to each MPI rank. The -reorder switch simply gives you a portable way to do this without relying on MPI itself. See the processors out command for how to output info on the final assignment of physical processors to the LAMMPS simulation domain.

-screen file 

Specify a file for LAMMPS to write its screen information to. In one-partition mode, if the switch is not used, LAMMPS writes to the screen. If this switch is used, LAMMPS writes to the specified file instead and you will see no screen output. In multi-partition mode, if the switch is not used, hi-level status information is written to the screen. Each partition also writes to a screen.N file where N is the partition ID. If the switch is specified in multi-partition mode, the hi-level screen dump is named "file" and each partition also writes screen information to a file.N. For both one-partition and multi-partition mode, if the specified file is "none", then no screen output is performed. Option -pscreen will override the name of the partition screen files file.N.

-suffix style 

Use variants of various styles if they exist. The specified style can be opt, omp, gpu, or cuda. These refer to optional packages that LAMMPS can be built with, as described above in Section 2.3. The "opt" style corrsponds to the OPT package, the "omp" style to the USER-OMP package, the "gpu" style to the GPU package, and the "cuda" style to the USER-CUDA package.

As an example, all of the packages provide a pair_style lj/cut variant, with style names lj/cut/opt, lj/cut/omp, lj/cut/gpu, or lj/cut/cuda. A variant styles can be specified explicitly in your input script, e.g. pair_style lj/cut/gpu. If the -suffix switch is used, you do not need to modify your input script. The specified suffix (opt,omp,gpu,cuda) is automatically appended whenever your input script command creates a new atom, pair, fix, compute, or run style. If the variant version does not exist, the standard version is created.

For the GPU package, using this command-line switch also invokes the default GPU settings, as if the command "package gpu force/neigh 0 0 1" were used at the top of your input script. These settings can be changed by using the package gpu command in your script if desired.

For the OMP package, using this command-line switch also invokes the default OMP settings, as if the command "package omp *" were used at the top of your input script. These settings can be changed by using the package omp command in your script if desired.

The suffix command can also set a suffix and it can also turn off/on any suffix setting made via the command line.

-var name value1 value2 ... 

Specify a variable that will be defined for substitution purposes when the input script is read. "Name" is the variable name which can be a single character (referenced as $x in the input script) or a full string (referenced as ${abc}). An index-style variable will be created and populated with the subsequent values, e.g. a set of filenames. Using this command-line option is equivalent to putting the line "variable name index value1 value2 ..." at the beginning of the input script. Defining an index variable as a command-line argument overrides any setting for the same index variable in the input script, since index variables cannot be re-defined. See the variable command for more info on defining index and other kinds of variables and this section for more info on using variables in input scripts.

NOTE: Currently, the command-line parser looks for arguments that start with "-" to indicate new switches. Thus you cannot specify multiple variable values if any of they start with a "-", e.g. a negative numeric value. It is OK if the first value1 starts with a "-", since it is automatically skipped.

2.8 LAMMPS screen output

As LAMMPS reads an input script, it prints information to both the screen and a log file about significant actions it takes to setup a simulation. When the simulation is ready to begin, LAMMPS performs various initializations and prints the amount of memory (in MBytes per processor) that the simulation requires. It also prints details of the initial thermodynamic state of the system. During the run itself, thermodynamic information is printed periodically, every few timesteps. When the run concludes, LAMMPS prints the final thermodynamic state and a total run time for the simulation. It then appends statistics about the CPU time and storage requirements for the simulation. An example set of statistics is shown here:

Loop time of 49.002 on 2 procs for 2004 atoms 
Pair   time (%) = 35.0495 (71.5267)
Bond   time (%) = 0.092046 (0.187841)
Kspce  time (%) = 6.42073 (13.103)
Neigh  time (%) = 2.73485 (5.5811)
Comm   time (%) = 1.50291 (3.06703)
Outpt  time (%) = 0.013799 (0.0281601)
Other  time (%) = 2.13669 (4.36041) 
Nlocal:    1002 ave, 1015 max, 989 min
Histogram: 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 
Nghost:    8720 ave, 8724 max, 8716 min 
Histogram: 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Neighs:    354141 ave, 361422 max, 346860 min 
Histogram: 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 
Total # of neighbors = 708282
Ave neighs/atom = 353.434
Ave special neighs/atom = 2.34032
Number of reneighborings = 42
Dangerous reneighborings = 2 

The first section gives the breakdown of the CPU run time (in seconds) into major categories. The second section lists the number of owned atoms (Nlocal), ghost atoms (Nghost), and pair-wise neighbors stored per processor. The max and min values give the spread of these values across processors with a 10-bin histogram showing the distribution. The total number of histogram counts is equal to the number of processors.

The last section gives aggregate statistics for pair-wise neighbors and special neighbors that LAMMPS keeps track of (see the special_bonds command). The number of times neighbor lists were rebuilt during the run is given as well as the number of potentially "dangerous" rebuilds. If atom movement triggered neighbor list rebuilding (see the neigh_modify command), then dangerous reneighborings are those that were triggered on the first timestep atom movement was checked for. If this count is non-zero you may wish to reduce the delay factor to insure no force interactions are missed by atoms moving beyond the neighbor skin distance before a rebuild takes place.

If an energy minimization was performed via the minimize command, additional information is printed, e.g.

Minimization stats:
  E initial, next-to-last, final = -0.895962 -2.94193 -2.94342
  Gradient 2-norm init/final= 1920.78 20.9992
  Gradient inf-norm init/final= 304.283 9.61216
  Iterations = 36
  Force evaluations = 177 

The first line lists the initial and final energy, as well as the energy on the next-to-last iteration. The next 2 lines give a measure of the gradient of the energy (force on all atoms). The 2-norm is the "length" of this force vector; the inf-norm is the largest component. The last 2 lines are statistics on how many iterations and force-evaluations the minimizer required. Multiple force evaluations are typically done at each iteration to perform a 1d line minimization in the search direction.

If a kspace_style long-range Coulombics solve was performed during the run (PPPM, Ewald), then additional information is printed, e.g.

FFT time (% of Kspce) = 0.200313 (8.34477)
FFT Gflps 3d 1d-only = 2.31074 9.19989 

The first line gives the time spent doing 3d FFTs (4 per timestep) and the fraction it represents of the total KSpace time (listed above). Each 3d FFT requires computation (3 sets of 1d FFTs) and communication (transposes). The total flops performed is 5Nlog_2(N), where N is the number of points in the 3d grid. The FFTs are timed with and without the communication and a Gflop rate is computed. The 3d rate is with communication; the 1d rate is without (just the 1d FFTs). Thus you can estimate what fraction of your FFT time was spent in communication, roughly 75% in the example above.

2.9 Tips for users of previous LAMMPS versions

The current C++ began with a complete rewrite of LAMMPS 2001, which was written in F90. Features of earlier versions of LAMMPS are listed in Section_history. The F90 and F77 versions (2001 and 99) are also freely distributed as open-source codes; check the LAMMPS WWW Site for distribution information if you prefer those versions. The 99 and 2001 versions are no longer under active development; they do not have all the features of C++ LAMMPS.

If you are a previous user of LAMMPS 2001, these are the most significant changes you will notice in C++ LAMMPS:

(1) The names and arguments of many input script commands have changed. All commands are now a single word (e.g. read_data instead of read data).

(2) All the functionality of LAMMPS 2001 is included in C++ LAMMPS, but you may need to specify the relevant commands in different ways.

(3) The format of the data file can be streamlined for some problems. See the read_data command for details. The data file section "Nonbond Coeff" has been renamed to "Pair Coeff" in C++ LAMMPS.

(4) Binary restart files written by LAMMPS 2001 cannot be read by C++ LAMMPS with a read_restart command. This is because they were output by F90 which writes in a different binary format than C or C++ writes or reads. Use the restart2data tool provided with LAMMPS 2001 to convert the 2001 restart file to a text data file. Then edit the data file as necessary before using the C++ LAMMPS read_data command to read it in.

(5) There are numerous small numerical changes in C++ LAMMPS that mean you will not get identical answers when comparing to a 2001 run. However, your initial thermodynamic energy and MD trajectory should be close if you have setup the problem for both codes the same.