Install ISIS on Windows 10

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Installing ISIS on Windows is not trivial but thanks to the available Linux subsystem in Windows 10 we can install it like any other Linux program. It is required that the WSL (Windows Subsystem Linux) is activated. Note that if you choose this way you have to compile isis. Using a singularity container will not work.


  1. Enable WSL
    1. As Administrator start PowerShell (<WinKey> + R and type 'powershell' + <enter>)
    2. Enter dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:VirtualMachinePlatform /all /norestart
    3. Restart your computer
  2. Install Ubuntu WSL
    1. Open the Microsoft Store and search for 'Ubuntu'
    2. Install the latest Ubuntu version
    3. Start the newly installed Ubuntu System (this should provide you with a terminal) and complete the installation steps (enter user name and password)
  3. Install required software
    1. In the newly installed Ubuntu environment type
      sudo apt install -y libreadline-dev libcurl4 libcurl4-gnutls-dev \
      libncurses*-dev xorg-dev build-essential gfortran perl-modules python-dev \
      pgplot5 libpng-dev libslang2-dev
      This will install all necessary tools to build and use heasoft and isis
    2. We strongly recommend to install s-lang before building isis. The best way to do this is by compiling it by yourself:
      bzip2 -d slang-2.3.2.tar.bz2
      tar xvf slang-2.3.2.tar
      cd slang-2.3.2
      make install

      (alternatively, s-lang is also distributed via ubuntu, but this tends to older versions).

    3. Download the heasoft source from

      Beware: The heasoft package is large and the connection slow so this make take up to several hours.

    4. Unpack the downloaded package with tar xvf heasoft-6.27.2src.tar.gz
    5. Enter the build directory
       cd heasoft-6.27.2/BUILD_DIR 
    6. Configure the package ...
       ./configure --prefix=$HOME/heasoft 
    7. ... build it ...
    8. ... and install
       make install 
  4. Finally install ISIS
    1. Download ISIS: wget and unzip unzip
    2. Enter the directory cd isis-master
    3. Make heasoft known to the system
      export HEADAS=$HOME/heasoft/x86_64-pc-linux-gnu-libc2.27/
      source $HEADAS/
      This step is required every time one wants to use ISIS
    4. Configure isis
      ./configure --with-headas=$HEADAS --with-cfitsio=$HEADAS --with-slang=/usr --with-pgplot=/usr --prefix=$HOME
    5. And finally
       make && make install 
      To install isis in $HOME/isis/1.6.2

Installing an X11 Server to use graphical applications


  1. Install Xming from
  2. After Xming is successfully installed launch it and make it known to your linux environment
    export DISPLAY=localhost:0.0