Installing Boost 1.56 with MPI (Ubuntu 12.04, 13.04, 14.04, Fedora)

Finally, one of the my favourite aspects of C++. Boost is one of the most well received additions to the C++ standard library that is out there. So much so in fact that you can see a lot of its implementation absorbed into the new standard, C++11; an example in point been shared pointers, initialisation of static containers such as std::map, the foreach iterator, boost::array is now std::array, addition of unordered sets and of course this is just a drop in the ocean of what else is now included. Boost is well developed and has been well supported over the years. Covering boost would take forever and a day and I am certainly no authority on the subject, however, to follow on from the promise in the last blog, and show you how to install this wonderful toolkit.

Boost is extremely simple to install, as usual you can try the “sudo apt-cache search boost” (Ubuntu) or “yum search boost” (Fedora) first and see if there are libraries already pre-compiled for your distro. As you may have guessed by now I prefer the manual install as you get the latest release where usually the repo is a few versions behind. For a full install of everything you will also need python libraries and icu libraries (if you want regex pattern matching) which are easily got via the “apt-get” method and in this script. Navigate to the Boost homepage and download the release, copy the below once inside the downloaded directory and run the script, it will install Boost in your /usr/local area as per usual. Please read the script NEVER EVER install something if you are unsure, however it is quite simple to follow and follows the basic instructions on the Boost webpages!! As of 25/07/2013 the script worked for Ubuntu 13.04.

# Get the version of Boost that you require. This is for 1.54 but feel free to change or manually download yourself
wget -O boost_1_56_0.tar.gz
tar xzvf boost_1_56_0.tar.gz
cd boost_1_56_0/
# Now we are inside the boost directory we can get the installation script and execute it.
chmod +x

The script is given here if you wish to cut and paste it.

# Matthew M Reid 10/01/2013. Please use and distribute under GNU licence.
# This script will compile boost on the maximum number of physical cores.
# If you plan to build the Parallel Graph Libraries you may find the
# following warning: Graph library does not contain MPI-based parallel components.
# note: to enable them, add "using mpi ;" to your user-config.jam. The script does this for you.

# Get the required libraries, main ones are icu for boost::regex support
echo "Getting required libraries..."
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install build-essential g++ python-dev autotools-dev libicu-dev libbz2-dev libzip-dev

./ --prefix=$installDir

# pipe "using mpi ;" to the config file so that mpi is enabled
user_configFile=`find $PWD -name project-config.jam`
mpicc_exe=`which mpic++` # required incase the mpi path is not in root
echo "using mpi : $mpicc_exe ;" >> $user_configFile

# Build using maximum number of physical cores
n=`cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep "cpu cores" | uniq | awk '{print $NF}'`

# begin install
sudo ./b2 --with=all -j $n cxxflags="-std=c++11" --target=shared,static install 

sudo echo "$installDir/lib" >> /etc/"
sudo ldconfig -v

This will install Boost.MPI. If you do not want or require the MPI aspect of this installation then comment out the line starting with ‘”echo “using mpi ;”‘ by placing a hash, #, before the echo command. That’s it! One point to note is to make an entry in your .bashrc for easy compilation; export BOOSTROOT=/usr/local/boost-1.56.0. For those who installed with the MPI option, you can run a test by using the code I provide below. So like I mentioned in a previous blog serialisation is one of the coolest things about Boost.MPI, more on that once I get a minute to write something interesting.

// M. Reid - Boost.cpp - Test of boost mpi interface

#include <iostream>

// The boost headers
#include "boost/mpi.hpp"

int main(int argc, char* argv[])
    // Allows you to query the MPI environment
    boost::mpi::environment env( argc, argv );
    std::string processor_name( env.processor_name() );
    // permits communication and synchronization among a set of processes
    boost::mpi::communicator world;
    unsigned int rank( world.rank() ), numprocessors( world.size() );
    if ( rank == 0 ) {
        std::cout << "Processor name: " << processor_name << "\n";
	std::cout << "Master (" << rank << "/" << numprocessors << ")\n";
    } else {
	std::cout << "Slave  (" << rank << "/" << numprocessors << ")\n";
    return 0;

To compile you can check any required library names by looking in your /usr/local/lib/libboost_xxxx, from there you find the one you want and remove the “lib” and any subsequent numbers at the end. To check the installation has worked, try the compiling the code posted above “Boost.cpp” with the following,

mpic++ -W -Wall Boost.cpp -o Boost -lboost_mpi -lboost_serialization -lboost_system -lboost_filesystem -lboost_graph_parallel -lboost_iostreams
matt@matt-W250ENQ-W270ENQ:$ mpirun -np 4 Boost
Processor name: matt-W250ENQ-W270ENQ
Master (0/4)
Slave  (1/4)
Slave  (2/4)
Slave  (3/4)

Or stick that in a makefile or cmake (I will eventually get around to doing something on cmake, ping me if you are interested) or which ever your favourite compiler aid may be, clearly several of these libraries are redundant in this example since we do not require linking to the graph, filesystem, serialization, iostreams or system libraries in order for this code to work. Enjoy, more to come in due course.