OpenFOAM® Installation on Linux

OpenFOAM®  Installation on Linux

RPM Installation

For openSUSE users, OpenCFD Ltd. is working with the community Science Portal and the build service to provide OpenFOAM as precompiled RPM packages.

Simply go to the download page and follow the instructions there.

If you already have the Science repository registered on your system, you should be able to install it directly with dnf (Fedora) or zypper (openSUSE) or with graphical tools such as YaST2.


Note that the science repository also includes the latest versions of scotch and ParaView for using with OpenFOAM.

Up-to-date information can be found on our wiki page.

Fedora, RedHat

For RedHat-based systems, OpenCFD Ltd. current uses the copr infrastructure to provide RPM packages. These pre-compiled packages leverage standard components available from EPEL (Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux) and some elements of PowerTools as well.

Up-to-date information can be found on our wiki page.


For Debian/Ubuntu, OpenCFD works actively with the Debian (science) maintainers to improve the packaging, but also provides its own early-release repository.

Up-to-date information can be found on our wiki page.


OpenCFD Ltd. uses Docker Hub to distribute pre-compiled versions of OpenFOAM for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows, including a complete development environment.

Docker containers enable binaries compiled on a given Linux environment to be run on other platforms without any performance degradation. Docker also operates on Windows and Mac OS X wrapped in a light-weight Virtual Box.

An image of OpenFOAM contains binaries and source code. The Docker environment provides:

  • A complete development environment to compile local modifications and create executables.
  • A consistent behaviour of the OpenFOAM across all platforms

Check if your (Linux or Windows or Mac OS X) system is supported by visiting

Installing Docker

Docker is available in two editions: Community Edition (CE) and Enterprise Edition (EE). For installing and running the OpenFOAM image, the Community Edition is sufficient. Please see:

Installing and running OpenFOAM

  • Make sure the user is in the group ‘docker’. This can be checked with

    The list of groups should include docker.
  • Make sure the Docker daemon is running:

    docker info
  • Download the following scripts from the release instructions and put them in a local directory (e.g. home directory)
  • Make the install script executable

    chmod +x installOpenFOAM
  • Download and create the Docker container for OpenFOAM by executing the first script

  • This only needs to be done once per login. The first ever invocation will download the whole OpenFOAM installation so might take some time to finish. Any future invocations will take a few seconds only.
  • Make the start script executable

    chmod +x startOpenFOAM
  • Start the Docker container with the second script:

  • This will open a new shell with the OpenFOAM environment fully installed and ready to use, e.g.

    mkdir -p $FOAM_RUN
    cp -r $FOAM_TUTORIALS/incompressible/icoFoam/cavity/cavity .
    cd cavity
  • All user files inside the Docker environment are available on the host inside the home directory.

Frequently Asked Questions on Docker

  • Is there any performance degradation when running via Docker?
    No performance penalties are expected. On Linux, OpenFOAM inside Docker should run as fast as natively compiled code. On Windows and Mac OS X there may be a slight performance penalty associated with I/O.
  • How do I check if the OpenFOAM image has been downloaded correctly?
    Type the command

    docker images
    to show the images available in Docker environment, e.g.

    REPOSITORY                         TAG       IMAGE ID        CREATED        VIRTUAL SIZE
    openfoamplus/of_v1706_centos73   latest    88d542266184    4 hours ago    1.574 GB
    If you receive an error message about not being able to contact the Docker daemon check that
    • the Docker daemon is started at boot time
    • the user account is in the group ‘docker’
  • Where are my files?
    The user files inside Docker are visible (i.e. mounted) in your home area and can be operated on just like any other file.
  • Why doesn’t paraFoam display?
    • Make sure that your machine’s software is fully up-to-date. See if you can start a simple X-windows, non-graphics program, e.g.: xterm If this does not come up there may be a problem with the xhost access to the host screen. This is one of the steps inside the startOpenFOAM script.
    • An alternative remedy is to install the native ParaView version for your system, and use the built-in OpenFOAM reader and/or OpenFOAM data conversion tools.
  • How do I run parallel?
    Same as any other OpenFOAM installation, e.g.: mpirun -np 2 icoFoam -parallel
  • How do I run parallel on multiple computers?
    This is not trivial inside the Docker environment. Also you might want to include optimised communication libraries (MPI) so it probably makes more sense to perform a native compilation.
  • How do I compile code?
    The Docker environment contains a full OpenFOAM development environment so all Allwmake, wmake, wclean etc. commands work (it is running the actual environment OpenFOAM was compiled in!)
  • What does installOpenFOAM do?
    It downloads the OpenFOAM image from the Docker Hub and creates a specialised container. This container
    • mounts the home directory of the user with read/write access
    • optionally channels the graphics
    • sets up the OpenFOAM environment.

    The image itself was created from CentOS 7.3. If you wish to install any additional tool in your docker container, start it as usual via the startOpenFOAM script, login as root with the password openfoam and use e.g. yum.

  • I still have questions...
    The Docker route to OpenFOAM is new and still being refined. It you have comments/tips please mail them to: docker (at)