This section describes the recommended way to download and make a fresh install of LinuxCNC. There are also Alternate Install Methods for the adventurous. If you have an existing install that you want to upgrade, go to the Updating LinuxCNC section instead.

Fresh installs of LinuxCNC are most easily created using the Live/Install Image. This is a hybrid ISO filesystem image that can be written to a USB storage device or a DVD and used to boot a computer. At boot time you will be given a choice of booting the "Live" system (to run LinuxCNC without making any permanent changes to your computer) or booting the Installer (to install LinuxCNC and its operating system onto your computer’s hard drive).

The outline of the process looks like this:

  1. Download the Live/Install Image.

  2. Write the image to a USB storage device or DVD.

  3. Boot the Live system to test out LinuxCNC.

  4. Boot the Installer to install LinuxCNC.

1. Download the image

This section describes some methods for downloading the Live/Install Image.

1.1. Normal Download

Download the Live/Install CD by clicking here:

1.2. Download using zsync

zsync is a download application that efficiently resumes interrupted downloads and efficiently transfers large files with small modifications (if you have an older local copy). Use zsync if you have trouble downloading the image using the Normal Download method.

zsync in Linux
  1. Install zsync using Synaptic or, by running the following in a terminal

    sudo apt-get install zsync
  2. Then run this command to download the iso to your computer

zsync in Windows

There is a Windows port of zsync. It works as a console application. It can be downloaded from:

1.3. Verify the image

(This step is unnecessary if you used zsync)

  1. After downloading, verify the checksum of the image to ensure integrity.

    md5sum linuxcnc-2.7.14-wheezy.iso


    sha256sum linuxcnc-2.7.14-wheezy.iso
  2. Then compare to these checksums

    md5sum: bdd85ad00f05d7c67e5037a72bae4934
    sha256sum: 079ba1fae48861b0814187b8048d6f2f299f943427d8c4806b65519f3a560d48
Verify md5sum on Windows or Mac

Windows and Mac OS X do not come with an md5sum program, but there are alternatives. More information can be found at: How To MD5SUM

2. Write the image to a bootable device

The LinuxCNC Live/Install Image is a hybrid ISO image which can be written directly to a USB storage device (flash drive) or a DVD and used to boot a computer. The image is too large to fit on a CD.

Writing the image to a USB storage device in Linux
  1. Connect a USB storage device (for example a flash drive or thumb drive type device).

  2. Determine the device file corresponding to the USB flash drive. This information can be found in the output of dmesg after connecting the device. /proc/partitions may also be helpful.

  3. Use the dd command to write the image to your USB storage device. For example, if your storage device showed up as /dev/sde, then use this command:

    dd if=linuxcnc-2.7.14-wheezy.iso of=/dev/sde
Writing the image to a DVD in Linux
  1. Insert a blank DVD into your burner. A CD/DVD Creator or Choose Disc Type window will pop up. Close this, as we will not be using it.

  2. Browse to the downloaded image in the file browser.

  3. Right click on the ISO image file and choose Write to Disc.

  4. Select the write speed. It is recommended that you write at the lowest possible speed.

  5. Start the burning process.

  6. If a choose a file name for the disc image window pops up, just pick OK.

Writing the image to a DVD in Windows
  1. Download and install Infra Recorder, a free and open source image burning program:

  2. Insert a blank CD in the drive and select Do nothing or Cancel if an auto-run dialog pops up.

  3. Open Infra Recorder, and select the Actions menu, then Burn image.

3. Testing LinuxCNC

With the USB storage device plugged in or the DVD in the DVD drive, the shut down the computer then turn the computer back on. This will boot the computer from the Live/Install Image and choose the Live boot option. Once the computer has booted up you can try out LinuxCNC without installing it. You can not create custom configurations or modify most system settings like screen resolution unless you install LinuxCNC.

To try out LinuxCNC from the Applications/CNC menu pick LinuxCNC. Then select a sim configuration to try out.

To see if your computer is suitable for software step pulse generation run the Latency Test as shown here.

4. Installing LinuxCNC

To install LinuxCNC from the LiveCD select Install (Graphical) at bootup.

5. Updates to LinuxCNC

With the normal install the Update Manager will notify you of updates to LinuxCNC when you go on line and allow you to easily upgrade with no Linux knowledge needed. It is OK to upgrade everything except the operating system when asked to.

Do not upgrade the operating system if prompted to do so.

6. Install Problems

In rare cases you might have to reset the BIOS to default settings if during the Live CD install it cannot recognize the hard drive during the boot up.

7. Alternate Install Methods

The easiest, preferred way to install LinuxCNC is to use the Live/Install Image as described above. That method is as simple and reliable as we can make it, and is suitable for novice users and experienced users alike.

In addition, for experienced users who are familiar with Debian system administration (finding install images, manipulating apt sources, changing kernel flavors, etc), new installs are supported on following platforms:

Distribution Architecture kernel Typical use

Debian Jessie

amd64 & i386


simulation only

Debian Wheezy



machine control & simulation

Debian Wheezy

amd64 & i386


machine control & simulation

Debian Wheezy

amd64 & i386


simulation only

Ubuntu Precise



machine control & simulation

Ubuntu Precise

amd64 & i386


simulation only

Ubuntu Lucid



machine control & simulation

Ubuntu Lucid

amd64 & i386


simulation only

The RTAI kernels are available for download from the debian archive. The apt source is:

  • Debian Wheezy: deb wheezy base

  • Ubuntu Precise: deb precise base

  • Ubuntu Lucid: deb lucid base

The Preempt-RT kernels are available for Debian Wheezy from the regular archive. The packages are called linux-image-rt-amd64 and linux-image-rt-686-pae.

7.1. Installing on Debian Wheezy (with Preempt-RT kernel)

  1. Install Debian Wheezy (Debian version 7), either i386 or amd64. You can download the installer here: One version that is tested is the net install debian-7.9.0-i386-netinst.iso. Be careful and don’t download Debian 8.

  2. After burning the iso and booting up if you don’t want Gnome desktop select Advanced Options > Alternative desktop environments and pick the one you like. Then select Install or Graphical Install.

    Do not enter a root password, if you do sudo is disabled and you won’t be able to complete the following steps.
  3. Run the following in a terminal to bring the machine up to date with the latest packages.

    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
  4. Install the Preempt-RT kernel and modules

    sudo apt-get install linux-image-rt-amd64
    sudo apt-get install linux-image-rt-686-pae
  5. Reboot, and select the Linux 3.2.0-4-rt-686-pae kernel. When you log in, verify that `PREEMPT RT`is reported by the following command.

    uname -v
  6. Open Applications Menu > System > Synaptic Package Manager search for linux-image and right click on linux-image-3.2.0-4-686-pae and select Mark for Complete Removal. Do the same for linux-image-686-pae. Reboot.

  7. Add the LinuxCNC Archive Signing Key to your apt keyring by running

    sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkp:// --recv-key 3cb9fd148f374fef
  8. Add a the apt repository:

    sudo add-apt-repository "deb wheezy base 2.7-uspace"
  9. Update the package list from

    sudo apt-get update
  10. Install uspace (a reboot may be required prior to installing uspace)

    sudo apt-get install linuxcnc-uspace

7.2. Installing on Ubuntu Precise

  1. Install Ubuntu Precise 12.04 x86 (32-bit). Any flavor should work (regular Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, etc). 64-bit (AMD64) is currently not supported. You can download the installer here:

  2. Run the following to bring the machine up to date with the latest packages in Ubuntu Precise.

    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
  3. Add the LinuxCNC Archive Signing Key to your apt keyring by running

    sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkp:// --recv-key 3cb9fd148f374fef
  4. Add a new apt source

    sudo add-apt-repository "deb precise base 2.7-rtai"
  5. Fetch the package list from

    sudo apt-get update
  6. Install the RTAI kernel and modules by running

    sudo apt-get install linux-image-3.4-9-rtai-686-pae rtai-modules-3.4-9-rtai-686-pae
  7. If you want to be able to build LinuxCNC from source using the git repo, also run

    sudo apt-get install linux-headers-3.4-9-rtai-686-pae
  8. Reboot, and make sure you boot into the rtai kernel. When you log in, verify that the kernel name is 3.4-9-rtai-686-pae.

    uname -r
  9. Run

    sudo apt-get install linuxcnc