Installation Instructions

To build critic2, you will need:

These tools may already be available on your machine but, if they are not, they can be typically installed using a software package manager (apt, rpm, etc. on Linux; homebrew on macOS).

Build Using cmake

Using cmake is the recommended installation procedure. Change to the critic2 root directory and make a subdirectory for the compilation:

mkdir build
cd build

Then do:

cmake ..

There are a number of compilation options that can be passed to cmake, the most relevant of which is -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=prefix, which sets the installation directory. You can tweak this and other compilation options using one of the multiple cmake interfaces, like ccmake (use ccmake .. from the build directory). To compile a static version of critic2, use:


This version can be copied to a different computer (with the same architecture), even if it does not have the compiler libraries. To compile a version with debug flags,

cmake .. -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug

This version gives more informative errors when the program crashes.

To build the program, do:


You can use make -j n to use n cores for the compilation. Running make creates the critic2 binary in build/src/.

Build Using configure/make

If you downloaded the code from the git repository, you will need to run:


Prepare for compilation by doing:


Use configure --help for information about the different compilation options. The --prefix option to configure sets the installation path. More details about configure can be found in the INSTALL file included in the distribution. Once critic2 is configured, compile the program using:


This should create the critic2 executable inside the src/ subdirectory.

Installing and Setting up the Environment

Critic2 can be installed to the prefix directory by doing:

make install

However, the binary can be used directly from the source directory by setting the CRITIC_HOME environment. It must point to the root directory of the distribution:

export CRITIC_HOME=/home/alberto/programs/critic2dir

This variable is necessary for critic2 to find the atomic densities, the cif dictionary, and other files. These files should be in ${CRITIC_HOME}/dat/.

Critic2 is parallelized with OpenMP for shared-memory architectures (unless disabled during compilation). You change the number of parallel threads by setting the OMP_NUM_THREADS environment variable. Note that the parallelization flags for compilers other than ifort and gfortran may not be correct.

Which Compilers Work?

Critic2 uses some features from the more modern Fortran standards, which may not be available in some (most) compilers. In consequence, not all compilers may be able to generate the binary and, even if they do, it may be broken. Two versions of critic2 are distributed. The development version, corresponding to the master branch of the repository, and the stable version, in the stable branch. Only patches addressing serious bugs will be introduced in the stable version; all new development happens in the development version. The stable version is compilable with all versions of gfortran starting at 4.9. All intel fortran compiler versions from 2011 onwards also compile the stable code.

The development version can be compiled with gfortran-6 and later and with intel fortran 2019 and later. All other compilers tested have issues, and fail to produce a working binary. This is the list of compilers tested:

  • gfortran 4.8: critic2 cannot be compiled because allocatable components in user-defined types are not supported in this and older versions.
  • gfortran 4.9 through 5.4 (and possibly older and newer gfortran-5): the code compiles correctly but there are errors allocating and deallocating the global field array (sy%f) and other complex user-defined types. The program is usable, but problems will arise if more than one crystal structure or more than 10 scalar fields are loaded.
  • gfortran 6.x and above: no errors.
  • ifort, all versions from 12.1 up to 18.0.3: catastrophic internal compiler errors of unknown origin.
  • ifort, version 2019.0.3.199: it compiles but inexplicable segmentation faults with nonsensical tracebacks are thrown when using YT or BADER and when loading and unloading fields.
  • ifort, version 2019.0.5.281: if aggressive optimization is used (-O2 and -O3 flags), the compiler may freeze while compiling systemmod@proc.f90.
  • Portland Group Fortran compiler (pgfortran), version 17.3. There are two important compiler problems: i) passing subroutines and functions whose interface includes multidimensional arrays as arguments or function results does not work, and ii) internal compiler error when compiling meshmod.f90.

In summary: Only recent versions of gfortran and ifort are guaranteed to work with the development version. If you cannot use gfortran 6 or newer or ifort 2019 or newer, download the stable version. I do not think this is because of errors in the critic2 code (though if you find that it is, please let me know). If you paid for a recent version of your compiler and it throws an internal compiler error while trying to build critic2, you may want to consider submitting a bug report to the compiler developers.

If a recent compiler is not available, an alternative is to compile the program elsewhere with the static linking option:

LDFLAGS='-static -Wl,--whole-archive -lpthread -Wl,--no-whole-archive' ./configure ...

provided the machine has the same architecture. (The part between the -Wl is there to prevent statically-linked gfortran executables from segfaulting.) You can choose the compiler by changing the FC and F77 flags before configure:

FC=gfortran F77=gfortran ./configure ...

The BUILD_STATIC and CMAKE_Fortran_COMPILER options serve the same purpose in a cmake build.

External Libraries


When critic2 is built using cmake, it is possible to link against the readline library. This library enables shell-like features for critic2’s command line interface such as keyboard shortcuts, history, and autocompletion.


Libxc is a library that implements exchange-correlation energies and potentials for many semilocal functionals (LDA, GGA and meta-GGA). In critic2, it is used to calculate exchange and correlation energy densities via de xc() arithmetic expressions (see below).

To compile critic2 with libxc support, you must pass the location of the library via configure:

./configure --with-libxc=/opt/libxc

where /opt/libxc/ is the directory that was the target for the libxc installation (i.e. you used --prefix=/opt/libxc when you configured the libxc library). The code in critic2 is not compatible with versions of libxc older than 4.1.

The libxc library is used in critic2 to create new scalar fields from the exchange and correlation energy density definitions in the library using a density, gradient, or kinetic energy density already available to critic2 as a scalar field. For instance, if urea.rho.cube contains the electron density in the urea crystal, then:

CRYSTAL urea.rho.cube
LOAD urea.rho.cube
LOAD AS "xc($1,1)+xc($1,9)"

defines a scalar field (number 2, $2) as the LDA exchange-correlation density. In the output, the cell integral of the second field:

  Cell integral (grid SUM) = -23.30215685

is the LDA exchange-correlation energy in this system. GGA and meta-GGA exchange-correlation energy densities can be constructed in a similar way, but they require additional arguments to xc().

Another example: if we have a molecular wavefunction for benzene in benzene.wfx, we can build a field containing the PBE energy density and then integrate the PBE exchange-correlation energy with:

MOLECULE benzene.wfx
LOAD benzene.wfx
MOLCALC "xc($1,$1:g,101)+xc($1,$1:g,130)"

In this case, xc() takes two arguments: the density and the gradient. The :g field modifier is used to pass the gradient of the first field as the second argument to xc(). The MOLCALC keyword performs a numerical integration in a molecular mesh.

See the manual for more information.


Libcint is a library for calculating molecular integrals between Gaussian-Type Orbitals (GTOs). In critic2, this library is used mostly for testing but some options to the MOLCALC keyword and some functions in arithmetic expressions require it. To compile critic2 with libcint support, do either of these two:

./configure --with-cint-shared=/opt/libcint/lib
./configure --with-cint-static=/opt/libcint/lib

where /opt/libcint/lib is the location of the libcint static (.a) or shared (.so) libraries prefix where libcint was installed. If compiled with the shared option, the same path needs to be available when critic2 is executed (for instance, through the LD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable).

The libcint library is used with molecular wavefunctions that provide the basis set information (at present, this is only for fields read from a Gaussian fchk file, but more will be implemented). The mep(), uslater(), and nheff() chemical functions use the molecular integrals calculated by libcint, as well as the MOLCALC HF keyword. See the chemical functions and the MOLCALC sections of the manual.