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 with pip below).

Installation with Anaconda

Installing Anaconda

Download the Anaconda distribution for your Operating System. 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: and

Here’s some documentation on how to set up some popular IDEs for Anaconda:

Installing Brian 2


The provided Brian 2 packages are only for 64bit systems. If you want to install Brian 2 in a 32bit environment, please use the Installation with pip instead.

You can either install Brian 2 in the Anaconda root environment, or create a new environment for Brian 2 ( The latter has the advantage that you can update (or not update) the dependencies of Brian 2 independently from the rest of your system.

Brian 2 is not part of the main Anaconda distribution, but built using the community-maintained conda-forge project. You will therefore have to to install it from the conda-forge channel. To do so, use:

conda install -c conda-forge brian2

You can also permanently add the channel to your list of channels:

conda config --add channels conda-forge

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

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, similar to Brian 2 itself (but as of now, it is not included in the conda-forge channel, you therefore have to install it from our own brian-team channel), e.g. with:

conda install -c brian-team brian2tools

Installation with pip

If you decide not to use Anaconda, you can install Brian 2 from the Python package index:

To do so, use the pip utility:

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 installation.

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 pip:

easy_install pip

If you have neither pip nor easy_install, use the approach described here to install pip:

Alternatively, you can download the source package directly and uncompress it. You can then either run python install or python develop to install it, or simply add the source directory to your PYTHONPATH (this will only work for Python 2.x).

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 available 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. using 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 g++ package.


On Windows, the necessary steps to get Runtime code generation (i.e. Cython/weave) to work depend on the Python version you are using (also see the notes in the Python wiki):

Python 2.7

This should be all you need.

Python 3.4

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

Python 3.5 and 3.6

  • Install the Microsoft Build Tools for Visual Studio 2017.
  • Make sure that your setuptools package has at least version 34.4.0 (use conda update setuptools when using Anaconda, or pip install --upgrade setuptools when using pip).

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.

Development version

To run the latest development code, you can install from brian-team’s “dev” channel with Anaconda. Note that if you previously added the brian-team 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 ( and then run python install or python 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

Testing Brian

If you have the nose testing utility installed, you can run Brian’s test suite:

import brian2

It should end with “OK”, showing a number of skipped tests but no errors or failures. For more control about the tests that are run see the developer documentation on testing.