Install Vowpal Wabbit on Mac OS X

I failed to get vw installed during the first lecture of NYU’s new big data course, but I’ve got it installed now. Here’s one way to do it:


  1. Install Xcode command line tools. This will give you Apple’s collection of compilers and so on. You could probably get other ones if you prefer.
  2. Install Homebrew. This seems to be the best Mac package manager at the moment. Once you have Homebrew everything else is easy to install.

Install steps (skip lines if you know you have things already):

brew install libtool
brew install automake
brew install boost
brew install git
git clone
cd vowpal_wabbit

At this point you have everything you need. You could link glibtoolize so you can refer to it as libtoolize, or you can edit the and put a ‘g' in front of libtoolize. Do one or the other. You’re ready to go through the normal make process.

make install

And you have vw at /usr/local/bin/vw. Easy!

7 thoughts on “Install Vowpal Wabbit on Mac OS X

  1. Thank you for you post. I tried to install Vowpal Wabbit all weekend using the steps above. No success. I keep on getting the message below to running “make” command. I would appreciate any directions…

    $ make
    cd vowpalwabbit; make things
    g++ -march=nocona -Wall -pedantic -O3 -fomit-frame-pointer -fno-strict-aliasing -ffast-math -D_FILE_OFFSET_BITS=64 -I /usr/local/include -L/usr/local/lib -L. -o vw main.o -l vw -l allreduce -lboost_program_options-mt -lboost_serialization-mt -l pthread -l z
    ld: library not found for -lboost_program_options-mt
    collect2: ld returned 1 exit status
    make[1]: *** [vw] Error 1

  2. Editing the Makefiles to remove the trailing -mt in the boost libraries (e.g. have -lboost-program_options instead of -lboost_program_options-mt) fixes this issue for me.

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