Install PySCF

1) Install with pip (easiest method)

This is the recommended way to install PySCF for non-developers:

$ pip install --prefer-binary pyscf

The pip package provides a precompiled PySCF code (python wheel) which works on almost all Linux systems, and most of Mac OS X systems, and the Ubuntu subsystems on Windows 10. If you already have installed PySCF via pip, you can upgrade it to the new version with:

$ pip install --upgrade pyscf


Since PySCF version 2.1, the Linux wheels require manylinux2010 (for x86_64) or manylinux2014 (for aarch64). So the pip version should >= 19.3 for installing on Linux.

2) Build from source with pip

If you’re interested in a new feature, that’s not included in the latest release or you simply want the latest and greatest PySCF you can build from source using pip.:

$ pip install git+

To install the features developed on a particular branch use:

$ pip install git+<branch_name>

This install method compiles and links C extensions against the libraries in your system. See 3) Build from source for a full list of prerequisites. If you would like to tune the CMake compilation parameters, you can set them with the environment variable CMAKE_CONFIGURE_ARGS, for example:


See CMake options for more details about CMake configuration.

3) Build from source

Prerequisites for manual install are


  • C compiler

  • C++ compiler (optional, but required for XCFun and some extensions)

  • CMake >= 3.10

  • Python >= 3.7

  • Numpy >= 1.13

  • Scipy >= 0.19

  • h5py >= 2.7

You can download the latest version of PySCF (or the development branch) from github:

$ git clone
$ cd pyscf

Next, you need to build the C extensions in pyscf/lib:

$ cd pyscf/lib
$ mkdir build
$ cd build
$ cmake ..
$ make

This will automatically download the analytical GTO integral library libcint and the DFT exchange correlation functional libraries Libxc and XCFun. Finally, to allow Python to find the pyscf package, add the top-level pyscf directory (not the pyscf/pyscf subdirectory) to PYTHONPATH. For example, if pyscf is installed in /opt, you adjust PYTHONPATH with something like:

export PYTHONPATH=/opt/pyscf:$PYTHONPATH

To ensure that the installation was successful, you can start a Python shell, and type:

>>> import pyscf

See CMake options for details about CMake configuration.

4) Installation with conda

If you have a Conda (or Anaconda) environment, PySCF package can be installed from the Conda cloud (for Linux and Mac OS X systems):

$ conda install -c pyscf pyscf

Extension modules are not available on the Conda cloud. They should be installed either with pip, or through the environment variable PYSCF_EXT_PATH (see the section Install PySCF extensions).

5) Installation on Fedora

If you are running Fedora Linux, you can install PySCF as a distribution package:

# dnf install python3-pyscf

If you are running on an X86-64 platform, dnf should automatically install the optimized integral library, qcint, instead of the cross-platform libcint library.

Extension modules are not available in the Fedora package.

6) PySCF docker image

The following command starts a container with the jupyter notebook server that listens for HTTP connections on port 8888:

$ docker run -it -p 8888:8888 pyscf/pyscf:latest

Now, you can visit https://localhost:8888 with your browser to use PySCF in the notebook.

Another way to use PySCF in a docker container is to start an Ipython shell:

$ docker run -it pyscf/pyscf:latest ipython

Advanced build options

CMake options

A full build of PySCF may take a long time to finish. XCFun may fail to build if a proper C++ compiler is not available, such as on certain old operating systems. The CMake options listed below can be used to speed up compilation or omit extensions that fail to compile. Note: If both -DENABLE_LIBXC=OFF and -DENABLE_XCFUN=OFF are set, importing the dft module will lead to an ImportError.






Whether to use LibXC library in PySCF. If -DENABLE_LIBXC=OFF is appended to cmake command, LibXC will not be compiled.



Whether to use XCFun library in PySCF. If -DENABLE_XCFUN=OFF is appended to cmake command, XCFun will not be compiled.



Set it to OFF to skip compiling Libxc. The dft module still calls LibXC library by default. The dft module will be linked against the LibXC library from an earlier build.



Set it to OFF to skip compiling XCFun. The dft module will be linked against the XCFun library from an earlier build.



Set it to OFF to skip compiling libcint. The integral library from an earlier build will be used.



Whether to compile the F12 integrals.



Set this flag to skip the entire dft module. Neither LibXC nor XCFun will be compiled.



Whether to let the compiler optimize the code against CPU architecture

CMake config file

CMake options can be saved in a configuration file pyscf/lib/ The settings in this file will be automatically loaded and overwrite the default CMake options during compilation. For example, you can set CMAKE_C_FLAGS in this file to include advanced compiler optimization flags:

set(CMAKE_C_FLAGS "${CMAKE_C_FLAGS} -ffast-math -mtune=native -march=native")

Other settings, variables, and flags can also be set in this file:

set(WITH_F12 Off)

Some examples of platform-specific configurations can be found in directory pyscf/lib/cmake_user_inc_examples.

Environment variables and global configures

Env variable



Maximum memory to use in MB


Directory for temporary files


File where various PySCF default settings are stored


Path for finding external extensions

PYSCF_MAX_MEMORY sets the default maximum memory in MB when creating Mole (or Cell) object. It corresponds to the attribute max_memory``of Mole (or Cell) object.

The environment variable PYSCF_TMPDIR controls which directory is used to store intermediate files and temporary data when PySCF is run; it is also commonly known as the scratch directory. If this environment variable is not set, the system-wide temporary directory TMPDIR will be used as the temp directory, instead. It is highly recommended to set this variable to a directory with enough disk space, as many quantum chemistry methods may consume a huge amount of temporary storage space. It is equally important that the scratch directory has fast i/o: for instance, using a network-mounted scratch disk is often much slower than local disks.

PYSCF_CONFIG_FILE is a Python file that can be used to predefine and override several default parameters in the program: you may already have noticed statements like getattr(__config__, “FOOBAR”) many places in the source code. These global parameters are defined in PYSCF_CONFIG_FILE and loaded when the pyscf module is imported. By default, this environment variable points to ~/

PYSCF_EXT_PATH allows PySCF to find any possible extension packages. This is documented in detail in Install PySCF extensions.

Installation without network

In the usual case, all external libraries (libcint, libxc, xcfun) are downloaded and installed when the C extensions are compiled, thus requiring network access. In this section, we show how to install the external libraries without accessing to network. First, you need to download the libcint, Libxc, and XCFun libraries:

$ git clone
$ tar czf libcint.tar.gz libcint

$ wget

$ wget -O xcfun.tar.gz

Assuming /opt is the place where these libraries will be installed, these packages should be compiled with the flags:

$ tar xvzf libcint.tar.gz
$ cd libcint
$ mkdir build && cd build
$ make && make install

$ tar xvzf libxc-6.0.0.tar.gz
$ cd libxc-6.0.0
$ mkdir build && cd build
$ make && make install

$ tar xvzf xcfun.tar.gz
$ cd xcfun-cmake-3.5
$ mkdir build && cd build
$ make && make install

Next, you can compile PySCF:

$ cd pyscf/pyscf/lib
$ mkdir build && cd build
$ make

Finally, you should update the PYTHONPATH environment variable so that the Python interpreter can find your installation of PySCF.

Using optimized BLAS

The default installation tries to find the BLAS libraries automatically. This automated setup script may end up linking the code to slow versions of BLAS libraries, like the reference NETLIB implementation. Using an optimized linear algebra library like ATLAS, BLIS or OpenBLAS may, however, speed up certain parts of PySCF by orders of magnitudes; speedups by a factor of 1000x over the reference implementation are not uncommon.

You can compile PySCF against BLAS libraries from other vendors to improve performance. For example, the Intel Math Kernel Library (MKL) can provide a 10x speedup in many modules:

$ cd pyscf/lib/build
$ cmake -DBLA_VENDOR=Intel10_64lp_seq ..
$ make

When linking the program to MKL, CMake may have problems to find the correct MKL libraries for some versions of MKL. Setting LD_LIBRARY_PATH to include the MKL dynamic libraries can sometimes help, e.g.:

export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/opt/intel/compilers_and_libraries_2018/linux/mkl/lib/intel64:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH

If you are using Anaconda as your Python-side platform, you can link PySCF to the MKL library shipped with Anaconda:

$ export MKLROOT=/path/to/anaconda2
$ cd pyscf/lib/build
$ cmake -DBLA_VENDOR=Intel10_64lp_seq ..
$ make

You can also link to other BLAS libraries by setting BLA_VENDOR, eg BLA_VENDOR=ATLAS, BLA_VENDOR=IBMESSL, BLA_VENDOR=OpenBLAS (requiring cmake-3.6). Please refer to the cmake manual for more details on the use of the FindBLAS macro.

If setting the CMake BLA_VENDOR variable does not result in the right BLAS library being chosen, you can specify the BLAS libraries to use by hand by setting the BLAS_LIBRARIES CMake argument:

$ cmake -DBLAS_LIBRARIES=-lopenblaso ..

You can also hardcode the libraries you want to use in lib/CMakeLists.txt:

set(BLAS_LIBRARIES "${BLAS_LIBRARIES};/path/to/mkl/lib/intel64/")
set(BLAS_LIBRARIES "${BLAS_LIBRARIES};/path/to/mkl/lib/intel64/")
set(BLAS_LIBRARIES "${BLAS_LIBRARIES};/path/to/mkl/lib/intel64/")
set(BLAS_LIBRARIES "${BLAS_LIBRARIES};/path/to/mkl/lib/intel64/")


MKL library may lead to an OSError at runtime: OSError: ... mkl/lib/intel64/ undefined symbol: ownLastTriangle_64fc or MKL FATAL ERROR: Cannot load or It can be solved by preloading MKL core library with: export LD_PRELOAD=$MKLROOT/lib/intel64/$MKLROOT/lib/intel64/

Using optimized integral library

The default integral library used by PySCF is libcint (, which is implemented within a model that maximizes its compatibility with various high performance computer systems. On X86-64 platforms, however, libcint has a more efficient counterpart, Qcint ( which is heavily optimized with X86 SIMD instructions (AVX-512/AVX2/AVX/SSE3). To replace the default libcint library with qcint library, edit the URL of the integral library in lib/CMakeLists.txt file:


Install PySCF extensions

Extension modules

As of PySCF-2.0, some modules have been moved from the main code trunk to extension projects hosted at



















Install extensions

Since PySCF version 2.0, some modules are developed independently; see Install PySCF extensions. Individual extension modules (for example the geometry optimization module) can be installed using pip’s extra dependency mechanism:

$ pip install pyscf[geomopt]

All extension modules can be installed with:

$ pip install pyscf[all]

The extension modules can be found in (see also Install PySCF extensions).

Install extensions (advanced)

Based on the technique of namespace packages specified in PEP 420, PySCF has developed a couple of methods to install the extension modules.

  • Pip command. For pip version newer than 19.0, projects hosted on GitHub can be installed on the command line:

    $ pip install git+

    A particular release on github can be installed with the release URL you can look up on GitHub:

    $ pip install
  • Pip command for local paths. If you wish to load an extension module developed in a local directory, you can use the local install mode of pip. Use of a Python virtual environment is recommended to avoid polluting the system default Python runtime environment; for example:

    $ python -m venv /home/abc/pyscf-local-env
    $ source /home/abc/pyscf-local-env/bin/activate
    $ git clone /home/abc/semiempirical
    $ pip install -e /home/abc/semiempirical
  • Environment variable PYSCF_EXT_PATH. You can place the location of each extension module (or a file that contains these locations) in this environment variable. The PySCF library will parse the paths defined in this environment variable, and load the relevant submodules. For example:

    $ git clone /home/abc/semiempirical
    $ git clone /home/abc/doci
    $ git clone /home/abc/dftd3
    $ echo /home/abc/doci > /home/abc/.pyscf_ext_modules
    $ echo /home/abc/dftd3 >> /home/abc/.pyscf_ext_modules
    $ export PYSCF_EXT_PATH=/home/abc/semiempirical:/home/abc/.pyscf_ext_modules

    Using this definition of PYSCF_EXT_PATH, the three extension submodules (semiempirical, doci, dftd3) are loaded when PySCF is imported, and you don’t have to use a Python virtual environment.

Once the extension modules have been correctly installed (with any of the methods shown above), you can use them as regular submodules developed inside the pyscf main project:

>>> import pyscf
>>> from pyscf.semiempirical import MINDO3
>>> mol = pyscf.M(atom='N 0 0 0; N 0 0 1')
>>> MINDO(mol).run()

Common examples

… NAO … — … The nao module includes basic functions for numerical atomic orbitals (NAO) and NAO-based TDDFT methods. This module was contributed by Marc Barbry and Peter Koval. More details of nao can be found in This module can be installed with:: … $ pip install

DMRG solvers

Density matrix renormalization group (DMRG) theory is a powerful method for solving ab initio quantum chemistry problems. PySCF can be used with three implementations of DMRG: Block (, block2 (, and CheMPS2 (

Installing Block requires a C++11 compiler. If C++11 is not supported by your compiler, you can download the precompiled Block binary from

block2 can be easily installed via pip install block2 or pip install block2-mpi, or building from source.

Before using Block or CheMPS2, you need create a configuration file pyscf/dmrgscf/ (as shown by to store the path where the DMRG solver was installed.


TBLIS provides a native algorithm for performing tensor contraction for arbitrarily high-dimensional tensors. The native algorithm in TBLIS does not need to transform tensors into matrices by permutations, then call BLAS for the the matrix contraction, and back-permute the results. This means that tensor transposes and data moves are largely avoided by TBLIS. This leads to speedups in many correlated quantum chemistry methods in PySCF, such as the coupled cluster methods. The interface to TBLIS offers an efficient implementation for numpy.einsum() style tensor contraction. The tblis-einsum plugin can be enabled with:

$ pip install pyscf-tblis


error: command ‘cmake’ failed

In some cases, users who install PySCF with pip install pyscf may see an error like the following:

Building wheels for collected packages: pyscf
  Building wheel for pyscf ( ... error
  error: subprocess-exited-with-error
  × python bdist_wheel did not run successfully.
  │ exit code: 1
  ╰─> [7 lines of output]
      scipy>1.1.0 may crash when calling scipy.linalg.eigh. (Issues
      running bdist_wheel
      running build
      running build_ext
      Configuring extensions
      cmake -S/Users/<user>/personal/codes/chemistry/pyscf/pyscf/lib -Bbuild/temp.macosx-12-x86_64-cpython-310
      error: command 'cmake' failed: No such file or directory
      [end of output]

Here, pip chose not to install a binary wheel and is trying to build from source. If that’s not your intention, you should install with the command pip install --prefer-binary pyscf. On the other hand, if you are intentionally trying to build from source, you’re missing the required cmake program. See the docs for building from source above and issue 1684 for more details.

MacOS: Library not loaded

For Mac OS X/macOS, you may get an import error if your OS X/macOS version is 10.11 or newer:

OSError: dlopen(xxx/pyscf/pyscf/lib/libcgto.dylib, 6): Library not loaded: libcint.3.0.dylib
Referenced from: xxx/pyscf/pyscf/lib/libcgto.dylib
Reason: unsafe use of relative rpath libcint.3.0.dylib in xxx/pyscf/pyscf/lib/libcgto.dylib with restricted binary

This is caused by the incorrect RPATH. The script pyscf/lib/ in the pyscf/lib directory can be used to fix this problem:

cd pyscf/lib


RPATH has been built in the dynamic library. This may cause library loading error on some systems. You can run pyscf/lib/ to remove the rpath code from the library head. Another workaround is to set -DCMAKE_SKIP_RPATH=1 and -DCMAKE_MACOSX_RPATH=0 in the CMake command line. When the RPATH was removed, you need to add pyscf/lib and pyscf/lib/deps/lib in LD_LIBRARY_PATH.