Installation instructions for plt_pov/POV-Ray rendering system

plt_pov is a program for converting O plot files into input files for the popular ray-tracing renderer POV-Ray.
Using these programs, images of publication quality can be produced from O.

This is the help file for installing the programs for standalone use.
There is also much nicer web-based interface available, but this must be set up on a local web server, so many small groups will prefer this simpler unsophisticated standalone system. For those who want more information on the web interface, go to the the Molray homepage at :

Installation on Mac OS X

(Update Oct 2010 : forget this page and use pltpov-on-a-stick)

First pick up the plt_pov source and executable along with POV-Ray include files from here : at
unpack the tar file somewhere interesting with the command :
% tar xf plt_pov.tar
which will create a subdirectory called plt_pov at that location.

If you have a fortran compiler, edit the plt_pov.f source file and set 'incl_dir' to point at the directory containing the POV-Ray include files that you just installed, then build with the command :
% gfortran -O -ffixed-line-length-132 -m32 -o plt_pov plt_pov.f
If you don't have a fortran compiler you can use the plt_pov executable but then in each shell that you run the program you must first set the include directory through an environment variable thus :
% SETENV POV_INC_DIR /blah/blah/wherever/pltpov/plt_pov_inc/
Now pick up the first Mac MegaPOV version from this download page : and follow the instructions there.

Running plt_pov and MegaPOV on Mac OS X

Get a plot file from O, which we we call myfile.plt. Run plt_pov in a terminal window like this : % plt_pov -complete -in=myfile.plt -out=myfile.pov -obj=allting
(-obj=allting means use all objects. I use the Swedish word to avoid conflicts with the object 'all' that many people have).
Now run MegaPOV. Unfortunately you again have to specify where the include files are under "set search Paths for additional include files" since the include files in our pov file themselves refer to more include files. Then specify "Scene" as myfile.pov and hit "Render". You should see a pretty picture appear on your screen, and if you go into the "Image & quality" tab and set "Image type" to PNG you'll also get an output file. And that's it !

Older installation instructions :

First you need to install POV-Ray. You can find distribution kits for various machines at :, but I can't help you much with details, as we installed on a Dec Alpha, and it's unlikely that you will be doing that. I believe it's particularly easy to install POV-Ray on SGIs.

Then installing plt_pov is easy - First pick up the single FORTRAN source file at
Edit the file and set 'incl_dir' to point at the directory containing the POV-Ray include files and font files that came with the POV-Ray distribution, then build with the command :
% f77 plt_pov.f -o plt_pov
(On a mac use: % gfortran -O -ffixed-line-length-132 -m32 -o plt_pov plt_pov.f)
Move the executable to a public executable directory, or set up an alias for you to use it privately, eg :
% alias plt_pov ~myhome/mydir/plt_pov
If you get compilation errors that mention dates (particularly on SGIs), this is most probably due to there still being 2-digit/4-digit date discrepances between compilers. Edit the source file, jump down to the end of the file and uncomment the five-line alternative date subroutine that is included but disabled by default. Recompile, and you'll probably be fine.

Unless you are running Linux. I just heard that it failed horribly, and so I made some quick fixes to get rid of the error messages, but I don't yet know what else I got rid of....
At your peril, try :

Because POV-Ray outputs TARGA format files, you will probably want a conversion program to make JPEGs and GIFs. If you don't already have one, I can recommend :
convert, which is part of the ImageMagick suite at :
If you get ambitious and start making movies, then for assembling animated GIFs, I can recommend :
gifsicle, at :
and for mpegs :
mpeg_encode, at :
You can pick up an example parameter file for running this at

Now that you have these programs in place, read the plt_pov help file at to make your images.

Feel free to mail me for help at : markh "at"

Mark Harris, 19 Jan 2000

(The Molray Homepage)