Unix Compilation

PDAL comes with support for building with CMake. PDAL requires at least version 3.5 of CMake. CMake is a cross-platform meta-build system that provides a unified system for building applications on multiple platforms with various build tools. CMake has generators for many build tools, though PDAL has been tested only with Ninja and GNU Makefiles on Unix/OSX. Ninja builds PDAL faster, so the following instructions use that build tool, though building with GNU Makefiles works similarly (simply replace “ninja” with “make” when running the build tool).


The PDAL continuous integration provides example configuration and build recipes for Linux, Windows, and OSX.


Building PDAL successfully depends on having other libraries configured and installed. These dependencies can be built from source or can be installed via a packaging system (apt works well on Ubuntu and Debian-based Linux systems. Conda works well on most systems. Some have had success with brew on OSX systems.) Often, the only package that needs to be installed prior to building PDAL is GDAL. Installing a GDAL package will normally install other PDAL dependencies automatically.

$ apt install libgdal-dev


$ conda install gdal


$ brew install gdal

Using Ninja on Linux or OSX

Get the source code

PDAL can be cloned from GitHub or you can download a release bundle

Prepare a build directory

CMake allows you to generate different builders for a project. Here we’re using Mac OSX, but the procedure and output are nearly identical on Linux distributions.

$ cd PDAL
$ mkdir build
$ cd build

Run CMake

Running CMake uses the specified generator to create an environment suitable for building PDAL with the requested tool. (Ninja in this case).

$ cmake -G Ninja ..
-- Numpy output: /usr/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/numpy/core/include

-- The following features have been enabled:

 * PostgreSQL PointCloud plugin, read/write PostgreSQL PointCloud objects
 * Python plugin, add features that depend on python
 * Unit tests, PDAL unit tests

-- The following OPTIONAL packages have been found:

 * PkgConfig
 * LibXml2
 * Curl

-- The following REQUIRED packages have been found:

 * GDAL (required version >= 2.2.0)
   Provides general purpose raster, vector, and reference system support
-- The following RECOMMENDED packages have not been found:

 * LASzip (required version >= 3.1)
   Provides LASzip compression

-- Configuring done
-- Generating done
-- Build files have been written to: /home/foo/pdal/build

Issue the ninja command

If cmake runs to completion (reports that build files have been written), you can run Ninja to build PDAL.

$ ninja

If no errors are reported, Ninja will have created the pdal program in the bin directory. A set of necessary support libraries will have been created in the lib directory.

$ ls bin/pdal

$ ls lib/libpdalcpp*

Checking the build and running PDAL tests

You can quickly check that PDAL has built properly by running the pdal info command.

$ bin/pdal info ../test/data/las/autzen_trim.las
  "filename": "../test/data/las/autzen_trim.las",
  "pdal_version": "1.8.0 (git-version: c39e62)",
          "maxx": -123.0689038,
          "maxy": 44.0515451,
          "maxz": 158.651448,
          "minx": -123.0734481,
          "miny": 44.04990077,
          "minz": 123.828048

CMake will normally build a set of tests that can be used to verify that PDAL executes most functions properly. You can run these tests yourself if desired, though it’s not typically necessary.

$ ctest
Test project /Users/foo/pdal.master/build
      Start  1: pdal_filters_pcl_block_test
 1/97 Test  #1: pdal_filters_pcl_block_test ............   Passed    0.23 sec
      Start  2: pdal_filters_icp_test
 2/97 Test  #2: pdal_filters_icp_test ..................   Passed    0.12 sec
      Start  3: pdal_filters_python_test
 3/97 Test  #3: pdal_filters_python_test ...............   Passed    3.52 sec
      Start  4: pdal_io_numpy_test
 4/97 Test  #4: pdal_io_numpy_test .....................   Passed    0.31 sec
93/96 Test #93: pdal_io_ilvis2_metadata_test ...........   Passed    0.03 sec
      Start 94: pdal_io_ilvis2_reader_metadata_test
94/96 Test #94: pdal_io_ilvis2_reader_metadata_test ....   Passed    0.05 sec
      Start 95: xml_schema_test
95/96 Test #95: xml_schema_test ........................   Passed    0.04 sec
      Start 96: pdal_io_ilvis2_test
96/96 Test #96: pdal_io_ilvis2_test ....................   Passed    0.04 sec

100% tests passed, 0 tests failed out of 96

Total Test time (real) =  39.54 sec

Failed tests may not indicate problems other than a lack of support for some feature on your system. For example, tests for database drivers will fail if the database isn’t installed or configured properly.

Install PDAL

PDAL can be installed to the default location (usually subdirectories of /usr/local) using Ninja.

$ ninja install