NGCM Summer Academy - Basics Course

Software Prerequisites

Prior to the workshop, it is vital that you install some software on your laptop and create an account at GitHub by following the instructions below!

There is little time during the workshop to deal with installation problems, so it makes the day run much more smoothly if you arrive with your software already installed.

Please make sure you run the verification script that can be found at the bottom of this page!


Take a look at the Configuration Problems and Solutions wiki page for help with any installation problems. If you are still having trouble please contact us, and make sure you arrive early so that we can try and address your problems before the course starts. Please let someone know at the information desk when you arrive that you need help and they'll point you to the right people to give you this. .

Text Editor

A text editor is the piece of software you use to view and write code. If you have a preferred text editor, please use it. If you don't have one, we recommend the following.


There are two possibilites for a text editor in windows, it is highly recomended that you choose the first since this will more closely align with the experience on Mac OS X and Linux.

1) Nano

Nano. This link will download a zip file containing the Nano executable file. Make sure you know where the download location is, usually this is your Downloads folder, if not the following commands may need changing. Please ask for some help!

Open up Git for windows (see below) and enter the following commands (each line should be followed by hitting return);

unzip Downloads/
echo “alias nano=~/Downloads/nano.exe” >> .bash_profile
source .bash_profile
git config --global core.editor "~/Downloads/nano.exe -w"
2) Notepad++

Notepad++. Just download the installer and run it.

After the installer has finished open up Git for windows (see below) and enter the following commands (each line should be followed by hitting return);

echo "alias npp='/c/Program\ Files\ \(x86\)/Notepad++/notepad++.exe -multiInst -notabbar -nosession -noPlugin'" >> .bash_profile
source .bash_profile
git config --global core.editor "'c:/program files (x86)/Notepad++/notepad++.exe' -multiInst -notabbar -nosession -noPlugin"

Mac OS X and Linux

Nano is a text editor that is installed by default on Mac OS X and Linux.

You can verify you have nano installed by opening a terminal and entering:


If nano is not installed, you will receive an error. If it is installed, nano will open (appearing not dissimilar to the terminal window, but with menu items at the bottom of the window).

To exit nano press CTRL+X (you might be prompted you to save or discard modified buffer - just type “N” to exit without saving).


We will use Python 3, because it is the newest version of Python. We will also use the numpy and matplotlib libraries. Fortunately, these do not need to be installed separately! The “Python 3 Anaconda” installation provides everything Python-related you will need for the workshop. Even if you already have Python set up on your machine we advice that you still install Anaconda - It is easy to remove and will not effect your current set up. To install Anaconda, follow the instructions below.


Download the Python 3 Anaconda installer. Double click the installer and follow the instructions.

Mac OS X

Download the Python 3 Anaconda MAC OS X Graphical installer. Double click the .pkg file and follow the instructions.


Download the Python 3 Anaconda installation script. Install via the terminal like this:


I already have Anaconda!!

You can create a python 3.6 enviroment using the following code;

conda create -n py36 python=3.6 jupyter numpy matplotlib

To use this new enviroment it is necessary to run the following command;

source activate py36 


Git is the version control software we will use. It allows you to keep track of your software and the edits made to it.

Create a Github account

You should create a Github account before attending the workshop!

To create an account, go to the Github website and provide your details. It’s quick and it’s free. Once you have your account, you need to install the Git software as described below.


Download and install Git for Windows. Please note that you can accept the default installation options, with one exception - at the step ‘Configuring the terminal emulator to use with Git Bash’ you must select ‘Use Windows default console window’.

Mac OS X

On Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks and 10.10 Yosemite, Git will be installed automatically the first time you try to run it. Open a terminal and enter:


There may be a short delay whilst the installer operates. You can then follow the prompts to install the Apple command line development tools.

On Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leoapard, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and 10.8 Mountain Lion, download and open the Git installer image. Double click the .pkg file and follow the instructions.

If you intend to use an earlier version of Mac OS X, please contact us before the event.


Install via a terminal like this:

Ubuntu 14.04LTS and derivatives:

sudo apt-get install git

Debian and its derivatives:

sudo yum install git

Verify your setup

To make sure that everything has installed correctly, we have written a simple Python script to test the prerequisites.

This must be done from a new terminal window!!

Enter the command below into your terminal. It will download the python script and run it to check your prerequisites.


From the Git folder in the Start Menu, open the Git Bash terminal.

curl -L | python

Mac OS X, Linux

Close your existing terminal and reopen it. This is important!

curl -L | python

On Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, the script will run and output some text. If everything has installed correctly, within the text you will see six passes and no failures, like this:

check Git (git)... pass
check Python version (python)... pass
check IPython script (ipython)... pass
check Jupyter (jupyter)... pass
check NumPy (numpy)... pass
check Matplotlib (matplotlib)... pass

If anything fails, please contact us before the workshop.