Installing CMake

Your CMake version should be newer than your compiler. It should be newer than the libraries you are using (especially Boost). New versions work better for everyone.

If you have a built in copy of CMake, it isn't special or customized for your system. You can easily install a new one instead, either on the system level or the user level. Feel free to instruct your users here if they complain about a CMake requirement being set too high. Especially if they want 3.1+ support. Maybe even if they want 3.21+ support...

Quick list (more info on each method below)

Ordered by author preference:

Official package

You can download CMake from KitWare. This is how you will probably get CMake if you are on Windows. It's not a bad way to get it on macOS either (and a Universal2 version is supplied supporting both Intel and Apple Silicon), but using brew install cmake is much nicer if you use Homebrew (and you should; Apple even supports Homebrew such as during the Apple Silicon rollout). You can also get it on most other package managers, such as Chocolatey for Windows or MacPorts for macOS.

On Linux, there are several options. Kitware provides a Debian/Ubunutu apt repository, as well as snap packages. There are universal Linux binaries provided, but you'll need to pick an install location. If you already use ~/.local for user-space packages, the following single line command1 will get CMake for you 2:

~ $ wget -qO- "" | tar --strip-components=1 -xz -C ~/.local

The names changed in 3.21; older releases had names like cmake-3.19.7-Linux-x86_64.tar.gz. If you just want a local folder with CMake only:

~ $ mkdir -p cmake-3.21 && wget -qO- "" | tar --strip-components=1 -xz -C cmake-3.21
~ $ export PATH=`pwd`/cmake-3.21/bin:$PATH

You'll obviously want to append to the PATH every time you start a new terminal, or add it to your .bashrc or to an LMod system.

And, if you want a system install, install to /usr/local; this is an excellent choice in a Docker container, for example on GitLab CI. Do not try it on a non-containerized system.

docker $ wget -qO- "" | tar --strip-components=1 -xz -C /usr/local

If you are on a system without wget, replace wget -qO- with curl -s.

You can also build CMake on any system, it's pretty easy, but binaries are faster.

CMake Default Versions

Here are some common build environments and the CMake version you'll find on them. Feel free to install CMake yourself, it's 1-2 lines and there's nothing "special" about the built in version. It's also very backward compatible.


Chocolatey package MSYS2 mingw package MSYS2 msys2 package

Also Scoop is generally up to date. The normal installers from are common on Windows, too.


Homebrew package Homebrew Casks package MacPorts package

Homebrew is quite a bit more popular nowadays on macOS, at least according to Google Trends.



CentOS 7 package CentOS 8 package EPEL 7 package

The default on 8 is not too bad, but you should not use the default on 7. Use the EPEL package instead.


Ubuntu 14.04 package Ubuntu 16.04 package Ubuntu 18.04 package Ubuntu 20.04 package

You should only use the default CMake on 18.04+; it's an LTS release with a pretty decent minimum version!


Alpine Linux 3.12 package Arch package Debian Stable package Debian Testing package Fedora 32 package FreeBSD port OpenBSD port Gentoo package openSUSE Tumbleweed package Linuxbrew package

General tools

ConanCenter package PyPI Conda-forge Anaconda

Just pip install cmake on many systems. Add --user if you have to (modern pip does this for you if needed). This does not supply Universal2 wheels yet.


Distribution CMake version Notes
TravisCI Xenial 3.12.4 Mid November 2018 this image became ready for widescale use.
TravisCI Bionic 3.12.4 Same as Xenial at the moment.
Azure DevOps 18.04 3.17.0
GitHub Actions 18.04 3.17.0 Mostly in sync with Azure DevOps
GitHub Actions 20.04 3.17.0 Mostly in sync with Azure DevOps

If you are using GitHub Actions, also see the jwlawson/actions-setup-cmake action, which can install your selection of CMake, even in a docker action run.

Full list

Versions less than 3.10 are marked by a deeper color of red.

Full listing

Also see


This is also provided as an official package, maintained by the authors of CMake at KitWare. It's a rather new method, and might fail on some systems (Alpine isn't supported last I checked, but that has a recent CMake), but works really well when it works (like on Travis CI). If you have pip (Python's package installer), you can do:

gitbook $ pip install cmake

And as long as a binary exists for your system, you'll be up-and-running almost immediately. If a binary doesn't exist, it will try to use KitWare's scikit-build package to build, which currently can't be listed as a dependency in the packaging system, and might even require (an older) copy of CMake to build. So only use this system if binaries exist, which is most of the time.

This has the benefit of respecting your current virtual environment, as well. It really shines when placed in a pyproject.toml file, however - it will only be installed to build your package, and will not remain afterwords! Fantastic.

Personally, on Linux, I put versions of CMake in folders, like /opt/cmake312 or ~/opt/cmake312, and then add them to [LMod][]. See envmodule_setup for help setting up an LMod system on macOS or Linux. It takes a bit to learn, but is a great way to manage package and compiler versions.

1. I assume this is obvious, but you are downloading and running code, which exposes you to a man in the middle attack. If you are in a critical environment, you should download the file and check the checksum. (And, no, simply doing this in two steps does not make you any safer, only a checksum is safer).
2. If you don't have a .local in your home directory, it's easy to start. Just make the folder, then add export PATH="$HOME/.local/bin:$PATH" to your .bashrc or .bash_profile or .profile file in your home directory. Now you can install any packages you build to -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=~/.local instead of /usr/local!

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