Installing or updating IDL on Linux


Install IDL for the first time, or update an existing installation.


  • Linux
  • IDL


Please note:This article assumes you are logging in remotely. If you are installing directly on the machine, you can skip steps 2-9, and do the installation by logging in as root on a graphical console or using the command sudo ./ in step 10.. 

  1. If you are off-campus, be sure you are connected to the U-M VPN before starting.
  2. Connect to the machine you are going to install IDL on, making sure to use the -X or -XY option to enable X Window sharing:
    ssh -XY
  3. Get the DISPLAY variable value: echo $DISPLAY
    This command should output something similar to: localhost:10
  4. Now you will need to get the .Xauthority values that astro-it has for the X Window sharing:
    xauth list
    This command should output something similar to: MIT-MAGIC-COOKIE-1 6938d35d8f0eeabe93c07a2b84bce833
    If there are multiple lines, copy the one that matches the DISPLAY value. (You will probably want to wait to copy it until you need it. It should remain on your screen as you execute the steps below.)
  5. Change to the root user (you will not need to change directories once you start this process, stay in root's home directory:
    sudo su - or sudo -i
  6. Now you need to make sure the root user has a DISPLAY variable set, as well as add the astro-it’s xauth value from the xauth list command above which astro-it had as its .Xauthority value.
  7. As the root user, run:echo $DISPLAY
  8. If DISPLAY is shown, you can skip to the next step. If there is no value set, add it with the export command to the value obtained from astro-it: 
    export DISPLAY=localhost:10.0
  9. Then you will need to add the xauth value that you received earlier, with the xauth add command, which will look similar to this:
    xauth add MIT-MAGIC-COOKIE-1 6938d35d8f0eeabe93c07a2b84bce833
    (If you get the message “xauth: file /root/.Xauthority does not exist”, this is not an error. It just means the .Xauthority file had not been previously created.)
  10. Copy over the IDL tar file into the home directory:
    Look in SWDist and get the latest version to scp to the machine.
  11. Untar the installer files:
    tar xzvf idl881-linux.tar.gz
  12.  Run the install script, which will pop open the License Administrator at the end of the install.
    ./ (if installing as root) or sudo ./
    Following is a sample transcript of an installer session. Answer "y" to everything.
Do you accept all of the terms of the preceding license agreement? (y/n): y
IDL 8.8 Installer

Please enter the directory to install in

  (e.g. "/usr/local/harris ")

(Just press return here to confirm the directory)

Please select the optional features for installation.

IDL Help files? (y/n): y

Installation Summary:
    IDL 8.8
    Installation location: /usr/local/harris
    Login: root
    IDL Help files
    Linux - X86 (64-bit)

Install the above configuration? (y/n): y

 Installation continuing...

Unpacking base1.tar.gz ...
Unpacking base2.tar.gz ...
Unpacking idl_demo.tar.gz ... 
Unpacking maps_high.tar.gz ...
Unpacking idl_help.tar.gz ...
Unpacking bin.linux.x86_64.tar.gz ...
Unpacking wb.linux.x86_64.tar.gz ...
Unpacking jre.linux.x86_64.tar.gz ...
 Do you want to create the symbolic links in /usr/local/bin? (y/n): y
Symbolic link script:
    Link Name: /usr/local/bin/idl88
    Points at: /usr/local/harris/idl88/bin/idl

    Link Name: /usr/local/bin/idl
    Points at: /usr/local/harris/idl/bin/idl
    Link Name: /usr/local/bin/idlde88
    Points at: /usr/local/harris/idl88/bin/idlde

    Link Name: /usr/local/bin/idlde
    Points at: /usr/local/harris/idl/bin/idlde

    Link Name: /usr/local/bin/idlhelp88
    Points at: /usr/local/harris/idl88/bin/idlhelp

    Link Name: /usr/local/bin/idlhelp
    Points at: /usr/local/harris/idl/bin/idlhelp

    Link Name: /usr/local/bin/idlrpc88
    Points at: /usr/local/harris/idl88/bin/idlrpc

    Link Name: /usr/local/bin/idlrpc
    Points at: /usr/local/harris/idl/bin/idlrpc

    Link Name: /usr/local/bin/idltaskengine88
    Points at: /usr/local/harris/idl88/bin/idltaskengine

    Link Name: /usr/local/bin/idltaskengine
    Points at: /usr/local/harris/idl/bin/idltaskengine

    Link Name: /usr/local/bin/harrislicense88
    Points at: /usr/local/harris/idl88/bin/harrislicense

    Link Name: /usr/local/bin/harrislicense
    Points at: /usr/local/harris/idl/bin/harrislicense

Creation of symbolic links has successfully been completed.

Do you want to run the License Administrator? (y/n): y
  1. In the License Administrator, click "Use License Server:"
    1. Enter in the name for the license server. The port should already be filled in.
      License Server: Port: 7070
    2. Click the "Connect" button. If you get the “Successfully connected” message, this step is complete, and you can close the licensing window.
  2. Back in the terminal window, you will see the message The installation has successfully been completed.
  3. Finally, to test if installation was successful, exit from root, and run the command:

External Resources


Article ID: 2628
Fri 5/29/20 2:07 PM
Fri 9/29/23 10:23 AM