Building SaVi and Geomview under Mac OS X

SaVi and Geomview run under a unix environment. If you have Mac OS X, which is unix-based, you can run SaVi and Geomview by following some simple steps. Geomview is available as a package that can be installed from MacPorts or from Fink or from Homebrew, but SaVi needs to be compiled.

10.11 El Capitan, 10.10 Yosemite and 10.9 Mavericks users: When you type make you will be prompted to install Xcode. You can also install Xcode by typing the terminal command xcode-select --install
Apple no longer includes X11 in Mac OS X. If your compilation fails with an Xlib not found error, install XQuartz to get X11 headers under /opt/X11, and then type:
make ARCH=macosx
10.7 Lion, 10.6 Snow Leopard and 10.4 Tiger users: The latest SaVi release and development code (18 December 2007 and later) runs well under your operating systems, as shown in the screenshot below at end. The -redrawn-menus flag is not required.
10.5 Leopard users: The latest SaVi 1.4 release requires and automatically invokes the -redrawn-menus flag under 10.5 Leopard to avoid a Tk menu problem.

The following instructions tell you how to install SaVi.

  1. Is the gcc C compiler installed? Run Terminal from your Applications/Utilities folder and type which gcc to find out.
  2. If /usr/bin/gcc isn't returned, you will need to install Apple's developer tools to get the gcc compiler and Tcl/Tk.
    As of Mac OS X 10.7 and later, Xcode is now an app available from the Mac App Store. As well as downloading and installing the Xcode app, it is necessary to explicitly enable command line tools so that e.g. gcc is available. The command line tools must be selected in:
    Xcode > Preferences > Downloads > Components > Command Line Tools
    Older versions of Mac OS X can install Xcode from a CD that came with your Mac (says this FAQ) or download the Xcode dmg from Apple Developer Connection, where you can also set up a free account. You'll need the right version of Xcode for your OS; for 10.4 it's Xcode 2.5. 10.5 uses 3.0, 10.6 uses 3.2, and 10.7 uses Xcode 4.
  3. Once you have gcc, you should be able to download SaVi 1.4.9b, unpack it with tar xvfz savi1.4.9b-release.tar.gz (if Safari has uncompressed the file tar xvf suffices) and then:
    cd savi1.4.9
    make ARCH=macosx

It is possible to download ActiveTcl and build with that; see the hints in src/Makefile_defs_macosx

Mac-specific problems are discussed in detail in the BUGS textfile.

Lloyd Wood (
this page last updated 4 July 2017

SaVi running on Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger)