Mar 29, 2016

Compiling Caffe under Mac OS X with Anaconda dependencies

In this post, I will describe how to install the Caffe neural network framework on Mac OS X as a Python library. Caffe is a work in progress, so its installation is not that trivial.


Here is the setup this guide was tested for:

  • MacBook Pro 13' Late 2013
  • Mac OS X El Capitan 10.11.3
  • Anaconda: supplies most of the dependencies of Caffe
  • Homebrew: supplies some dependencies of Caffe
  • Python 2.7 from the Anaconda platform
  • CPU-only build


We will compile a very basic working setup without the CUDA support.

We will use Anaconda as our primary platform, so if something we need is available on Anaconda, we'll tend to use Anaconda to get it. If something is not present on Anaconda, we will use Homebrew to install it.

Here is a big picture of what we will do:

  1. Clone the Caffe repository
  2. Install all the required dependencies
  3. Configure the Caffe compilation by editing Makefile.config
  4. Compile and test Caffe
  5. Compile and test the Python module for Caffe

First of all, clone the Caffe repository from GitHub to some directory and head to the official installation guide. Read carefully the guide so that you have a general idea of what needs to be done from the official point of view.


You need to download all the dependencies of Caffe. They are listed in the Prerequisites section of the official guide.

Here's which dependencies we'll download using Anaconda:

  • protobuf
  • hdf5

Here's which dependencies we'll download using Homebrew:

  • OpenBLAS
  • Boost and Boost Python
  • glog
  • gflags

Execute the following commands to download and install the dependencies:

conda install protobuf hdf5
brew install homebrew/science/openblas boost boost-python glog gflags

Configuring the Build

Before building Caffe, we need to configure it. Head to the root directory of the Caffe repository you cloned and execute the following command to create a Makefile.config from an example one:

cp Makefile.config.example Makefile.config

Now open Makefile.config in your favorite text editor and let's start editing it.


There's a lot of code in this file and we should edit it in some places. In this section I will describe only the parts that you need to do something about. Otherwise then described here, leave Makefile.config as it is.

I will list the code in the state it should be edited to here. For example, if there's a comment to be uncommented, it will be uncommented here. You can find the required lines by searching for the text from the comments which obviously doesn't need to be changed.

First, we should uncomment a block that explicitly states that we don't want a GPU support.

# CPU-only switch (uncomment to build without GPU support).

There were some optional dependencies listed on the Caffe installation guide, but we skipped them, since we're aiming at the simplest setup possible. Uncomment the variables in the following block to specify that we don't have the optional dependencies.

# uncomment to disable IO dependencies and corresponding data layers

We will be using OpenBLAS as our BLAS implementation, so set the BLAS variable to open in the following block.

# BLAS choice:
# atlas for ATLAS (default)
# mkl for MKL
# open for OpenBlas
BLAS := open

Since we have installed OpenBLAS via Homebrew, obviously we need to uncomment the following block to specify where Homebrew is located.

# Homebrew puts openblas in a directory that is not on the standard search path
BLAS_INCLUDE := $(shell brew --prefix openblas)/include
BLAS_LIB := $(shell brew --prefix openblas)/lib

Now we'll specify where Python resides. Since we're using Anaconda, we should use its Python and not the system one. It is always better to use tools from one platform then from several different ones.

First, we should comment the first PYTHON_INCLUDE variable in the following block and uncomment ANACONDA_HOME and the second PYTHON_INCLUDE.

# NOTE: this is required only if you will compile the python interface.
# We need to be able to find Python.h and numpy/arrayobject.h.
# PYTHON_INCLUDE := /usr/include/python2.7 \
#     /usr/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/numpy/core/include
# Anaconda Python distribution is quite popular. Include path:
# Verify anaconda location, sometimes it's in root.
ANACONDA_HOME := $(HOME)/anaconda
    $(ANACONDA_HOME)/include/python2.7 \
    $(ANACONDA_HOME)/lib/python2.7/site-packages/numpy/core/include \

In principle, the second PYTHON_INCLUDE will override the first one, but just to make sure and not ask for the troubles let's comment the first one.

ANACONDA_HOME specifies where your Anaconda is installed - make sure the path is correct. Do ls ~/anaconda to see whether this folder exists, and if it is not, you should locate where you installed Anaconda and specify that path instead.

In the next block, we need to specify the correct path to the Python libraries. By default the first line is not commented and the second one is. Since we are using Anaconda, we should uncomment the second line and comment the first one. This way PYTHON_LIB will point to Anaconda's lib folder.

# We need to be able to find or .dylib.
# PYTHON_LIB := /usr/lib



Now that we have everything set up, let's compile Caffe and its tests:

make all -j4
make test -j4

-j4 here indicates the number of threads to use for the compilation - set it to the number of cores in your machine as recommended in the official guide. 4 in my case.

Linking Caffe

Now comes the tricky part. We need to run the tests in order to verify that the installation went well. This is done with the following command that will result in an error:

make runtest

The error message will be:

dyld: Library not loaded: @rpath/./libhdf5_hl.10.dylib

This means that hdf5 library was not linked correctly to the .build_release/tools/caffe file. The linking errors are quite common in this project, but all of them are solved similarly to this one - by manually linking the file in question to the correct libraries. Later on we will write a short script to do this automatically.

First, you may want to list the linked libraries of the file in question to see the other potential errors of this kind early:

otool -L .build_release/tools/caffe

You see that libhdf5_hl.10.dylib and libhdf5.10.dylib are linked the similar way and must belong to the same package (judging by the names):

  @rpath/./libhdf5_hl.10.dylib (compatibility version 11.0.0, current version 11.1.0)
  @rpath/./libhdf5.10.dylib (compatibility version 11.0.0, current version 11.1.0)

So while libhdf5_hl.10.dylib is causing the error (for now), we'd better relink libhdf5.10.dylib too to prevent the potential error from its side.

In order to relink them, run the following commands:

install_name_tool -change @rpath/./libhdf5_hl.10.dylib ~/anaconda/lib/libhdf5_hl.10.dylib .build_release/tools/caffe
install_name_tool -change @rpath/./libhdf5.10.dylib ~/anaconda/lib/libhdf5.10.dylib .build_release/tools/caffe

The first argument of the commands is the path of the library to be relinked as shown in the otool output, the second is the actual location of the library and the third is the executable file the linking information of which we are editing. This means that there is no guarantee the second argument will work for you as specified here, since your hdf5 library may reside in a different location. Previously in this guide we used Anaconda to install this library, so, if you did it, the path after ~/anaconda/ should be the same for you, but you need to check whether ~/anaconda/ is where your Anaconda is installed. If it is installed in a different location, write the path to it instead of ~/anaconda/.

Now, to make sure the linking have actually changed, list the linked libraries of the file in question:

otool -L .build_release/tools/caffe

For me, the linking for hdf5 became as follows:

/Users/anatolii/anaconda/lib/libhdf5_hl.10.dylib (compatibility version 11.0.0, current version 11.1.0)
/Users/anatolii/anaconda/lib/libhdf5.10.dylib (compatibility version 11.0.0, current version 11.1.0)

However, if you try to run make runtest again, it will fail yet again with a very similar error:

.build_release/test/test_all.testbin 0 --gtest_shuffle --gtest_filter="-*GPU*"
dyld: Library not loaded: @rpath/./libhdf5_hl.10.dylib

Apparently there's one more file with the bad linking to fix, and it is .build_release/test/test_all.testbin. In principle, you can repeat the procedure described above for this file too, but no one likes to do the same job twice, especially the programmers, and the commands to input are quite lengthy.

So a better solution would be to write a shell script that will contain the corrections for all the known bad linkings and will be able to fix any file you provide it as an argument.

Create such a script and make it executable:

chmod +x

And write in it the following code you're already familiar with:

install_name_tool -change @rpath/./libhdf5_hl.10.dylib ~/anaconda/lib/libhdf5_hl.10.dylib $1
install_name_tool -change @rpath/./libhdf5.10.dylib ~/anaconda/lib/libhdf5.10.dylib $1

Make sure you specify the actual path to the library correctly!

Now patch the offending file:

./ .build_release/test/test_all.testbin

And try to run the tests again:

make runtest

If you've done everything right, the tests should be executed and should pass.

The Python module

We have just built and tested Caffe, now let's build the Caffe Python module so that we can use it from Python.

First, let's install the Python dependencies for the module. From the root of the repository, run:

(cd python/; for req in $(cat requirements.txt); do pip install $req; done)

Now build the module:

make pycaffe -j4

And add it to the PYTHONPATH environmental variable:

echo "export PYTHONPATH=$(pwd)/python:\$PYTHONPATH" >> ~/.bash_profile

Restart your terminal for the variable to be defined!

Linking the Python module

Now to the tricky part. Let's test whether we can import caffe. Open your python console (make sure you are using Anaconda's Python, since all of the dependencies are defined for it. To check, run which python) with python, and run there:

import caffe

You'll get an error:

ImportError: dlopen(/Users/anatolii/Projects/clones/caffe/python/caffe/, 2): Library not loaded: @rpath/./libhdf5_hl.10.dylib

hdf5 was not correctly linked here again, so let's patch it with the file we've written earlier:

./ python/caffe/

Now if we run import caffe from the Python console again we'll get... another error, Segmentation fault: 11, which is much less descriptive kind of an error.

As it turns out, uses the system Python by default, while we try to import it from the Anaconda's one. To fix the issue, we need to relink yet another library in libpython2.7.dylib, we should make it be resolved from Anaconda's home. We can do it by:

install_name_tool -change libpython2.7.dylib ~/anaconda/lib/libpython2.7.dylib python/caffe/

But, since we have already agreed to store all the linking information in, let's just open this file and edit it so that it looks as follows:

install_name_tool -change @rpath/./libhdf5_hl.10.dylib ~/anaconda/lib/libhdf5_hl.10.dylib $1
install_name_tool -change @rpath/./libhdf5.10.dylib ~/anaconda/lib/libhdf5.10.dylib $1
install_name_tool -change libpython2.7.dylib ~/anaconda/lib/libpython2.7.dylib $1

Again, make sure you specify your libraries correctly.

Let's patch again:

./ python/caffe/

Now, when we run import caffe from the Python console, it imports well and doesn't fail with any errors.

Since specifies the correct linkings of the libraries, you can re-use it each time you recompile Caffe safely on any file that requires relinking.