SIXTE Installation Instructions



The presented simulation software package provides generic tools to model different X-ray telescopes and detectors. The detailed functionality of the simulation software is described in Christian Schmid's PhD thesis.

Receiving Updates and Bugfixes

In order to stay updated on new developments and bugfixes, we recommend that you subscribe to our sixte-users maillinglist. You can subscribe by filling out the form here. Questions and bugfixes can be directed to sixte-support'at'lists.fau'dot'de.


This section describes how to obtain and to install the simulation software package on a Linux system. Mac is supported on a best effort basis (see special instructions for mac here). We are not supporting Windows due to lack of resources.

To obtain the code, you can download the most recent version as tar ball.

Required Packages

The installation of the simulation software package requires the following packages:

  • libreadline-de
  • libncurses-dev
  • libexpat1-dev
  • libgsl0-dev
  • libboost-dev

These are the ubuntu-linux package names, other Linux distributions will use similar package names. We also recommend that you have a current version of NASA's HEASOFT package:


Please download the most recent versions of SIMPUT and SIXTE here:

SIMPUT simput-2.2.0.tar.gz 2017-07-04
SIXTE sixte-2.2.0.tar.gz 2017-07-04

Installing SIMPUT

Once you have downloaded the tar archive with a release of SIMPUT, you have to extract the archive.

tar xvzf simput-x.y.z.tar.gz
cd simput-x.y.z

You compile and install the simulation software to a directory simputdir with the following commands:

./configure --prefix=simputdir
make install

Note: If you encounter problems during the installation with pgplot in the wcslib, try adding the option "--without-pgplot" in the "./configure" step.

Installing SIXTE

Installing sixte is similar to simput. Extract the downloaded SIXTE tar archive and perform the normal build process. We recommend you install sixte in the same location as simput (i.e, installing it in simputdir).

tar xvzf sixte-x.y.z.tar.gz
cd sixte-x.y.z
./configure --prefix=simputdir
make install

In case you choose a different location for sixte you have to specify this in the configure step. That means the configure call should look like this:

./configure --prefix=sixtedir --with-simput=simputdir
If the gsl library is not found in the configure step, you can specify the path directly by --with-gsl=gslpath.

Installing from GIT

If you want to contribute to the source development or if you want to run the cutting edge version of the software, you need to install from our code tree, which is maintained with the version control system Git. Both, SIMPUT and SIXTE are available in this form. If Git is installed on your system, you can directly clone the repository containing the source code using the following command:

git clone


git clone

In case you want to contribute to any of the two repositories, we recommend that you contact us (

After the initial clone of the Git repository you have to run the command

autoreconf --install --force
in the project directory to create a configure script with the autotools. Now you can proceed with the normal installation process.

Building SIMPUT and SIXTE on Mac

SIMPUT and SIXTE is constantly tested on a Mac OSX. Still, installing it for the first time might be a little bit complicated. Please find below a few points which are important during the installation process. This is not meant to be a complete set of instructions, but rather point out possible pitfalls. Do not hesitate to contact the sixte support:

First of all, make sure you are using the gcc compiler (and not clang or something similar). Commands like below will set up your environment properly:

sudo port install gsl +gcc47

export LDFLAGS="-L/opt/local/lib"
export CFLAGS="-I/opt/local/include"
export CC=gcc-mp-4.7
export CXX=g++-mp-4.7
export FC=gfortran-mp-4.7

Important note: If you have Mac OSX El Capitan, be sure to switch off the "System Integrity Protection" in order to ensure that the SIMPUT and SIXTE installation is working correctly (see here for more information on how to do this).

For SIXTE, you will also need a recent version of the boost-library. It can be simply installed by a command like

sudo port install boost

If build from git, you might also need to install libtool.

Using the Tools

To be able to use the tools, the environment variable $SIMPUT and $SIXTE has to be set to the respective installation directories. In a (t)csh, use:
setenv SIMPUT simputdir
setenv SIXTE sixtedir
source ${SIXTE}/bin/sixte-install.csh
In a bash, call
export SIMPUT=simputdir
export SIXTE=sixtedir
. ${SIXTE}/bin/
(these lines can be set in the ~/.cshrc, or ~/.bashrc respectively).

The required steps are also described in greater detail the file INSTALL.txt, which is contained in the project directory.


In order to set up a simulation for a particular X-ray instrument, additional files such as the Point Spread Function of the respective telescope or the detector response matrix are required. For most currently supported instruments these files are available in a separate. The calibration files have to be installed in the same directory as the instrument definition files contained in SIXTE, i.e., the directory sixtedir/share/ (where sixtedir denotes the location defined by the --prefix directive of configure).

You can find all available instrument files below. Either you decide to download all available mission files (however, note the large size of >1.6 GByte!)

instruments_all-1.5.0.tar.gz 2017-08-30 1.4GByte

or you can also choose the single missions.

Athena WFI instruments_athena-wfi-1.6.0.tar.gz 2017-10-16 41MByte
Athena X-IFU instruments_athena-xifu-1.4.4.tar.gz 2017-10-16 73MByte
Gravitas instruments_gravitas-1.0.0.tar.gz 2017-08-30 642Byte
Mirax instruments_lattes-1.0.0.tar.gz 2017-08-30 3.1MByte
Loft instruments_loft-1.0.0.tar.gz 2017-08-30 1.9MByte
NuSTAR instruments_nustar-1.0.0.tar.gz 2017-08-30 3.5MByte
eROSITA instruments_srg-1.3.1.tar.gz 2017-08-21 129MByte
XMM instruments_xmm-1.0.0.tar.gz 2017-08-30 1.2GByte

Move the files to sixtedir and unpack them in the existing data tree. For the complete data archive the commands to achieve this are the following:

mv instruments_all-x.y.z.tar.gz $SIXTE/
tar xvzf instruments_all-1.5.0.tar.gz

After these steps the simulation software is ready for use. For instance, an observation with eROSITA can be simulated by running the following tool:


SIXTE team · Dr. Remeis-Sternwarte Bamberg · Sternwartstraße 7 · D-96049 Bamberg