Installing PCRaster

Installing binaries

PCRaster is available on conda-forge and can be installed using conda. Supported platforms are Linux, macOS and Windows. On the Apple M1 platform our osx-64 version can be used, see below.

We recommend to download and install Miniconda. The user guide and short reference on conda can be found here. After install you can check which Python versions are supported by PCRaster:

conda search -c conda-forge pcraster

Afterwards you can create a new environment and install PCRaster, e.g. with the following steps:

conda create --name pcraster -c conda-forge python

conda activate pcraster

conda install -c conda-forge pcraster

In case you would like to use a specific Python version you can set e.g. python=3.8. You can also combine these steps and install additional packages in one go e.g. by:

conda create --name pcraster -c conda-forge python pcraster spyder matplotlib

Always use the conda-forge channel when installing further packages into your PCRaster environment.


If you installed previous versions of PCRaster (4.2 or older) you need to remove their entries from the PATH and PYTHONPATH environment variables before activating your environment. Modifying PATH and PYTHONPATH environment variables as required for previous PCRaster versions is not necessary anymore starting from version 4.3, the settings are done automatically when you activate your environment.

Installing on Apple silicon (M series)

We do not have a native build yet for the Apple M platform but our osx-64 version can be used. Install Miniconda using Miniconda3 macOS Apple M1 64-bit bash. Specify the osx-64 channel when creating and installing packages into a PCRaster environment:

conda create --name pcraster -c conda-forge/osx-64 python=3.9 pcraster

To allow displaying the visualisation tool Aguila it is required to set an additional environment variable after activating your environment:

$ conda activate pcraster
(pcraster) $ export QT_MAC_WANTS_LAYER=1

Testing your installation

You can execute a few basic steps to check if PCRaster works properly in your conda environment. In case you have not done yet, activate your PCRaster environment. Then you can test the visualisation tool Aguila by starting it from the command prompt. It will show its help page. Afterwards start Python:

$ conda activate pcraster
(pcraster) $ aguila -h
(pcraster) $ python

Import the PCRaster module, print the version number and afterwards create a raster with 6 rows, 4 columns, cell length 1 and 0, 0 as origin. Fill the entire raster with random values drawn from a uniform distribution and display the result:

import pcraster as pcr

pcr.setclone(6, 4, 1, 0, 0)

You will see that Aguila is displaying the map:

Aguila showing a map with random values, generated with PCRaster Python using conda.

You can also test the PCRaster command line applications. Exit the Python interpreter and type pcrcalc. The usage information will be shown:

(pcraster) $ pcrcalc
pcrcalc 4.3.1 (linux/x86_64)
 USAGE: pcrcalc [options] "expression"
 or     pcrcalc [options] -f scriptFile
  ( or #!: pcrcalc -F [options]+)
 other flags:
  s #  : set seed (integer > 0) for random generator
         default is based on current time
  b f  : overrule script bindings
  1    : update timeseries files at end of each timestep
  r f  : set run directory
  d f  : debug mode, check MV creation on assignment
          comparing against clone or areamap boolean mask
  c    : strict Case significant filename check (Unix portability)
  p    : print profile information
  m    : optimize with areamap MV compression
  l    : use less memory but more temporary disk storage
  t    : test argument substitution


Aguila fails to start on macOS

On newer macOS versions Aguila may fail to start up. This should be resolved by adding the following environment variable:


Import of the pcraster module fails

An error message such as

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "C:\Software\pcraster\pcraster-4.2.1\python\pcraster\", line 21, in <module>
    from ._pcraster import *
ImportError: DLL load failed while importing _pcraster: Kan opgegeven module niet vinden.

During handling of the above exception, another exception occurred:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "C:\", line 1, in <module>
    import pcraster as pcr
  File "C:\Software\pcraster\pcraster-4.2.1\python\pcraster\", line 55, in <module>
    raise ImportError(msg)
ImportError: The 'pcraster' module was built for Python 3.6, the version used is 3.8

indicates that an older version of PCRaster is available on the system, here located at C:\Software\pcraster\pcraster-4.2.1. You need to remove the corresponding PCRaster entries of the PATH and PYTHONPATH environment variables. After starting a new terminal you can import the pcraster module.