Live! system

Quick guide to getting the Live! system running. This will create a virtual machine running Debian Jessie with NEST and PyNN already installed. Courtesy of Oliver Breitwieser and Eric Müller.

1) in your bios, activate all virtualization options (under "security")

2) get VisionaryJessie.ova

3) get VirtualBox

4) import VisionaryJessie.ova from the VirtualBox manager (for Windows users: doubleclick the .ova file)

5) if the above operation was successful, you can remove the .ova

6) if necessary, increase allocated video memory and ram in the VirtualBox settings

7) if necessary, set system to debian 64 bits in the VirtualBox settings

8) run the VisionaryJessie machine from the VirtualBox manager

9) your uid/pw are testuser/test, but you will be auto-logged-in

10) to become root, type su, password is neuron

Installing the simulation framework under Linux

Again, courtesy of Oliver Breitwieser.

For most people, using the Live! system (above) is the most comfortable and easiest method to start playing with NEST and PyNN. Still, people who are already running Linux might want to install the required software themselves, so here is how to do it.

Depending on which distribution you are running, you should be able to install the following (Python 2.7) packages via your package manager (aptitude, yum, emerge, pacman etc):

  • python-numpy
  • python-matplotlib
  • python-pip
  • libncurses-dev
  • libgsl0-dev

(These are the names for Debian/Ubuntu, in other distros they might be called slightly differently.)


First, you need to compile and install nest 2.8.0. The source code can be downloaded from

You extract and compile with the following commands:

tar xf nest-2.8.0.tar.gz
cd nest-2.8.0
./configure --prefix=$HOME/.local
make && make install


This will compile and install nest for the local user. An alternative - to install it system-wide - would be

./configure --prefix=/usr/local
make && sudo make install


Afterwards, you need can install PyNN and its dependencies via the previously installed pip utility.

pip install --user PyNN lazyarray quantities neo


As before, this installs the Python packages for the current user only. To install globally, simply drop the --user and run as root.