HOWTO get ns-3 running on Mac OS X (10.6.2 Intel)

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The installation instructions included in this page are not meant to be comprehensive and represent only one of the many ways of getting ns-3 to build in a Snow Leopard Mac OS X system (note: also works for OS X Lion). Commands (>>) should be run from a Terminal window. Mac OS X does not support all of the features of ns-3, but core functionality is provided. Check Installation for further details on what is and what is not supported on Mac OS X.

1) Install XCode

You will find XCode in the Mac OS X Install DVD that came with your Mac. Alternatively, you can download the most recent version of XCode from the Apple Developer Connection website ( The XCode development environment includes the gcc compiler and critical libraries required to build applications to be run in Mac OS X.

Note: as of October 2011, XCode seems to be distributed through the App Store, which means you need to have an account there. Please be aware that if you install this app, you will only install a meta-app called "Install Xcode"; you need to go into Applications/ directory and run this to complete the installation of Xcode.

You will know you have installed it if you can see gcc installed:

 ns-buildmaster:~ tomh$ which gcc

2) Install Fink

2.1) Download Fink source release version 0.29.10 from

2.2) Extract the contents of the file and enter open up the Terminal in the resulting folder.

2.3) Install Fink (during the interactive installation process, select the 32 bit installation).

>> ./bootstrap

2.4) Execute a script in order to setup the environment variables for Fink.

>> /sw/bin/ (assuming a default install folder).

2.5) Install updated packages, if available.

>> fink selfupdate

2a) Install MacPorts

Note that you can use also MacPorts ( instead of Fink. It's really a matter of your personal choice, but it is better to go with one or the other and not both. If you are using MacPorts, or you want to install it, you can ignore the above about fink and move to step 3.

3) Install Mercurial

  • MacPorts: sudo port install mercurial
  • Binaries: Choose the latest binary package. Either you can choose to install mercurial through MacPorts or Fink, but make sure to have a recent version (1.4.2 or better)
  • Also, there is a self extracting binary installer dmg file for OS 10.6.2 (mercurial-1.6.3)

4) Download source code

>> hg clone

>> cd ns-3-allinone

>> ./

5) Build the local repository

>> ./

6) Test the installation

>> cd ns-3-dev

>> ./

Possible issues

There is a known bug involving -arch directive. If you get an error about linking and object architecture mismatch, check if you have an environment variable "CFLAGS=-arch i386" or similar. If you do, try disabling it.