We recommend users to use the Anaconda distribution by Continuum Analytics. Its use will make the installation of Brian 2 and its dependencies simpler, since packages are provided in binary form, meaning that they don’t have to be build from the source code at your machine. Furthermore, our automatic testing on the continuous integration services travis and appveyor are based on Anaconda, we are therefore confident that it works under this configuration.
However, Brian 2 can also be installed independent of Anaconda, either with
other Python distributions (Enthought Canopy,
Python(x,y) for Windows, …) or simply
based on Python and
pip (see Installation from source below).
Installation with Anaconda¶
Download the Anaconda distribution for your Operating System. For Windows users that want to use Python 3.x, we strongly recommend installing the 32 Bit version even on 64 Bit systems, since setting the compilation environment (see Requirements for C++ code generation below) is less complicated in that case. Note that the choice between Python 2.7 and Python 3.x is not very important at this stage, Anaconda allows you to create a Python 3 environment from Python 2 Anaconda and vice versa.
After the installation, make sure that your environment is configured to use
the Anaconda distribution. You should have access to the
conda command in
a terminal and running
python (e.g. from your IDE) should show a header like
this, indicating that you are using Anaconda’s Python interpreter:
Python 2.7.10 |Anaconda 2.3.0 (64-bit)| (default, May 28 2015, 17:02:03) [GCC 4.4.7 20120313 (Red Hat 4.4.7-1)] on linux2 Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information. Anaconda is brought to you by Continuum Analytics. Please check out: http://continuum.io/thanks and https://binstar.org
Here’s some documentation on how to set up some popular IDEs for Anaconda: https://docs.continuum.io/anaconda/ide_integration
Installing Brian 2¶
You can either install Brian 2 in the Anaconda root environment, or create a new environment for Brian 2 (http://conda.pydata.org/docs/using/envs.html). The latter has the advantage that you can update (or not update) the dependencies of Brian 2 independently from the rest of your system.
Since Brian 2 is not part of the main Anaconda distribution, you have to install it from the brian-team channel. To do so, use:
conda install -c brian-team brian2
You can also permanently add the channel to your list of channels:
conda config --add channels brian-team
This has only to be done once. After that, you can install and update the brian2 packages as any other Anaconda package:
conda install brian2
Installing other useful packages¶
There are various packages that are useful but not necessary for working with Brian. These include: matplotlib (for plotting), nose (for running the test suite), ipython and jupyter-notebook (for an interactive console). To install them from anaconda, simply do:
conda install matplotlib nose ipython jupyter-notebook
You should also have a look at the brian2tools package, which contains several useful functions to visualize Brian 2 simulations and recordings. You can install it with pip or anaconda, in the same way as Brian 2 itself, e.g. with:
conda install -c brian-team brian2tools
Installation from source¶
If you decide not to use Anaconda, you can install Brian 2 from the Python package index: https://pypi.python.org/pypi/Brian2
To do so, use the
pip install brian2
You might want to add the
--user flag, to install Brian 2 for the local user
only, which means that you don’t need administrator privileges for the
In principle, the above command also install Brian’s dependencies.
Unfortunately, this does not work for
numpy, it has to be installed in a
separate step before all other dependencies (
pip install numpy), if it is
not already installed.
If you have an older version of pip, first update pip itself:
# On Linux/MacOsX: pip install -U pip # On Windows python -m pip install -U pip
If you don’t have
pip but you have the
easy_install utility, you can use
it to install
If you have neither
easy_install, use the approach described
here to install
Alternatively, you can download the source package directly and uncompress it.
You can then either run
python setup.py install or
python setup.py develop to install it, or simply add
the source directory to your
PYTHONPATH (this will only work for Python
Requirements for C++ code generation¶
C++ code generation is highly recommended since it can drastically increase the
speed of simulations (see Computational methods and efficiency for details). To use it,
you need a C++ compiler and either Cython or weave (only for Python 2.x).
Cython/weave will be automatically installed if you perform the installation via
Anaconda, as recommended. Otherwise you can install them in the usual way, e.g.
pip install cython or
pip install weave.
Linux and OS X¶
On Linux and Mac OS X, you will most likely already have a working C++ compiler
installed (try calling
g++ --version in a terminal). If not, use your
distribution’s package manager to install a
On Windows, the necessary steps to get Runtime code generation (i.e. Cython/weave) to work depend on the Python version you are using:
- Download and install the Microsoft Visual C++ Compiler for Python 2.7
This should be all you need.
- Download and install the Microsoft .NET Framework 4
- Download and install the Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 4
For 64 Bit Windows with Python 3.4, you have to additionally set up your environment correctly every time you run your Brian script (this is why we recommend against using this combination on Windows). To do this, run the following commands (assuming the default installation path) at the CMD prompt, or put them in a batch file:
setlocal EnableDelayedExpansion CALL "C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v7.1\Bin\SetEnv.cmd" /x64 /release set DISTUTILS_USE_SDK=1
- Download and install Visual Studio Community 2015. Do not chose the default install but instead customize it, the only necessary option is “Programming Languages / Visual C++ / Common Tools for Visual C++ 2015”
For Standalone code generation, you can either use the compiler installed above or any other version of Visual Studio – in this case, the Python version does not matter.
Try running the test suite (see Testing Brian below) after the installation to make sure everything is working as expected.
To run the latest development code, you can install from brian-team’s “dev”
channel with Anaconda. Note that if you previously added the
channel to your list of channels, you have to first remove it:
conda config --remove channels brian-team -f
Also uninstall any version of Brian 2 that you might have previously installed:
conda remove brian2
Finally, install the
brian2 package from the development channel:
conda install -c brian-team/channel/dev brian2
If this fails with an error message about the
py-cpuinfo package (a
dependency that we provide in the main brian-team channel), install it
from the main channel:
conda install -c brian-team py-cpuinfo
Then repeat the command to install Brian 2 from the development channel.
You can also directly clone the git repository at github
(https://github.com/brian-team/brian2) and then run
python setup.py install
python setup.py develop or simply add the source directory to your
PYTHONPATH (this will only work for Python 2.x).
Finally, another option is to use
pip to directly install from github:
pip install https://github.com/brian-team/brian2/archive/master.zip
If you have the nose testing utility installed, you can run Brian’s test suite:
import brian2 brian2.test()
It should end with “OK”, possibly showing a number of skipped tests but no warnings or errors. For more control about the tests that are run see the developer documentation on testing.