How to build SuiteSparse under Windows using Visual Studio

Howto: SuiteSparse under Windows

Patch and build instructions for compiling SuiteSparse under windows using cl.exe and other routine from Visual Studio.

UPDATE 13.04.2013: tested for SuiteSparse 4.0.2 only

SuiteSpare – exists only for *nix-based systems. Officially. But if you want – you can build it and use under windows.

I have to build iSam library under Windows and because it depends on several libraries from SuiteSpare I had to firstly build SuiteSparse. For iSam I need only several libraries from SuiteSparse – AMD, CAMD, COLAMD, CXSparse and, finally, CHOLMOD.

You should take into account that CHOLMOD can be build using fortran-based libraries (using BLAS and LAPACK), using ACML library (Core Math Library) or without them. If it is crucial for you to achieve the best performance – and if you are absolutely sure that you use it – you have to see notes at the end of this article.

Instructions below for building CHOLMOD without any additions as LAPACK, BLAS or METIS (used flags are -DNSUPERNODAL -DNPARTITION).

Instructions step by step:
1. Download and install cygwin.
2. Add to cygwin.bat (c:/cygwin by default) routines for setting up Visual Studio environments:
     call “c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\VC\bin\vcvars32.bat”
     call “c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\VC\bin\amd64\vcvars64.bat”
(exact path depend on VisualStudio install path and your target architecture)
3. Download patch for building SuiteSparse under Windows – suitesparse_win and save it into root directory in which located SuiteSparse folder.
4. Run cygwin with cygwin.bat, cd into SuiteSparse directory and type:
     patch -p1<../SuiteSparse_win.diff

UPDATE 13.04.2013:
For linking your binaries using Visual Studio link utility you have to copy link.exe from VS’s bin folder –
(by default –
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\VC\bin\link.exe and
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\VC\bin\x86_amd64\link.exe
into cygwin bin folder (by default – c:\cygwin\bin\).
You should name them as link_32.exe and link_64.exe accordingly.
Such trick is necessary due to existance of “link” routine from Cygwin programms set.

5. Now you can build all desired libraries:
     make isam_libs

There are two types of build : “win32 debug” and “x64 release”.
You can switch between them by changing variables CFLIB, LINK at makefile (from SuiteSparse_config folder). DO not forget to restart cygwin with appropriate variable set scripts (call to vcvars32.bat or vcvars64.bat)!

Note: Path to the Visual Studio’s libraries are set in that file also. If it is differ from your – linking error as “cannot open file ‘LIBCMT.LIB” – just change it.
You can get appropriate path by typing
this var should been set by vcvars*.bat script during startup of cygwin.

Brief patch description:
– CXSparse – all *.c renamed into *.cpp
– CXSparse – added c-style casts for every memory allocation routine
– all variables CC, CF, ARCHIVE, RUNLIB, LIB are changed to appropriate for Visual Studio
– *.deff files for export symbols were added
– and probably some other minor changes

Notes 1:
There is port of SuiteSparse under Windows –
Under project folder you can find Visual Studio solution files for building CHOLMOD and some others (AMD, CAMD, COLAMD,CCOLAMD).
But_1 – it has modified version of CHOLMOD for use ACML (Core Math Library – AMD library for building SuiteSpare (yeah, yeah it can be used on intel machines).
But_2 – it has settings for x64, for x86 you have to manually edit project settings
But_3 – not all of the libraries have valid export definition files (without them your library will compile without any exported functions).

Notes 2:
you can try to build CHOLMOD using LAPACK and BLAS. I spent the whole day to give try it but with no luck. Few tips: use mingw compiler, do not forget that gfortran and all x64 routine in cygwin should be appropriately pointed in

Notes 3:
In case you wish to setup SuiteSparse as Visual Studio project you should keep in mind internal structure of SuiteSparse and different approaches to build it (for example – with and without support of complex numbers – which reflected in recompile the same source with different flags).

how to build LAPACK (for use via CHOLMOD) –
Prebuilt libraries for Microsoft Visual Studio –


1 ping

    • Philipp on January 14, 2014 at 1:08 am


    Thanks a lot for the instructions, they really saved me a few days of work!!
    One note: for individual libraries, I got the linking error
    LINK : fatal error LNK1146: no argument specified with option ‘/OUT:’
    The error refers to the windows-archiver lib.exe, which has this syntax. Is it a problem with the patch (that it did not modify the link-lnes in makefiles), or is something missing on my system?

    Anyway, for my purposes it was not critical as I could do the linking “by hand”. But for others it may be of use…


      • admin on January 14, 2014 at 9:21 pm

      Hello and thank you for point out this issue.
      Could you please specify which version of SuiteSparse do you use? I will check it.

      Probably, in new version of SuiteSparse were introduced some changes breaking current version of patch.

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