Documentation:Tutorial Section 5.1

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What to do if you don't have POV-Ray

This documentation assumes you already have POV-Ray installed and running however the POV-Team does distribute this file by itself in various formats including online on the internet. If you do not have POV-Ray or are not sure you have the official version or the latest version, then the following sections will tell you what to get and where to get it.

Which Version of POV-Ray should you use?

POV-Ray can be used under Windows™ XP or newer, x86 Apple™ Macintosh™, and Linux™ & UNIX™ on numerous hardware platforms. See section Where to Find POV-Ray Files for more info.

Dos, Windows 3.1, Windows for Workgroups, SunOS and Amiga are no longer supported (though we do preserve old versions for these platforms in our archives if you wish to access them).

If your platform is not supported and you are proficient in compiling source code programs written in C/C++, then you may like to retrieve the source for POV-Ray from our website and attempt to built it yourself (note that the POV-Team provides no official support for building POV-Ray from source code).

Microsoft Windows

As of POV-Ray version 3.7 the Microsoft™ Windows™ versions of POV-Ray require Windows XP and later. We have had reports of v3.7 working on Windows 2000 with all service packs installed, however we cannot guarantee that this will remain the case indefinitely, as we do not test against W2K. If you have an older system you may like to look at POV-Ray version 3.6, which works on Windows 95 and up.

We supply both 32 and 64-bit versions of POVWIN which have been tested to run with AMD™ and Intel™ x86 and x64 processors. As of version 3.7, SMP systems are fully supported; by default POVWIN will use all available processing cores when rendering. For 32-bit systems, we supply both non-SSE2 and SSE2-enabled binaries. The installer will determine which is the most appropriate for your system at install time and install shortcuts to that executable (note however all executables are always placed in the bin folder regardless of the platform). For 64-bit systems there is only a single executable - a separate SSE version is not needed as all x64 CPU's have SSE2 available.

We recommend 100mb free disk space (the installation does not require that much, but room for temporary files during rendering is generally required) and at least 1gb free (i.e. available to POV-Ray at runtime) memory. POV's actual RAM requirement can vary greatly; it's possible to render files with as little as 30mb of free RAM, but typical needs are much greater than this. The actual use depends on what SDL files are provided for rendering and the image output options in use. We strongly recommend that you have sufficient RAM for rendering your scene files without resorting to swap - if a render hits the pagefile regularly it will completely destroy rendering performance.

Note: Accelerated graphics hardware (such as 3D cards) will not improve rendering performance. This technology is not currently aimed at raytracing but is, generally speaking, optimized for single-precision scanline rendering as used in games or other simulations. POV-Ray, like all raytracers, requires double-precision floating-point in order to be able to accurately render scenes.

  • Required POV-Ray files: the setup EXE supplied via our download page. This file will be timestamped and digitally signed by Persistence of Vision Raytracer Pty Ltd. The key in use at the time of writing is issued by DigiCert and remains current until August 2014. All binaries (DLL's and EXE's) supplied by us for version 3.7 are also signed by this key.
  • Optional: The source code is not needed to use POV-Ray. It is provided for the curious and adventurous. See the source-code links on our download page.

Note: System admins/lab techs who wish to do custom installs of POV-Ray for Windows should refer to the windows platform-specific documentation for more details.

Apple Macintosh

Documentation Pending


Because Linux/Unix run on a wide variety of hardware, the POV-Team cannot provide executable versions for every variation. Instead, we distribute a generic, portable C++ source code package suitable for generating binaries on Unix or Unix-like platforms. It is known to compile and run correctly on recent versions of GNU/Linux for x86/x64, and should be fairly straightforward to get running on any POSIX-compliant Unix-like operating system with a Bourne-compatible shell.

You will need a recent C++ compiler which follows the ISO C++ standard as closely as possible (g++ 4.x is known to work), and (optionally) SVGAlib for GNU/Linux based systems if you wish to enable render preview display.

Required POV-Ray files: povray-3.7.tar.bz2 - the C++ source code of POV-Ray for UNIX. Contains generic parts and UNIX/Linux specific parts. The package includes sample scenes, standard include files and documentation in HTML and plain text ASCII format.

All Versions

All versions of the program share the same ray-tracing features like shapes, lighting and textures. In other words, a Windows PC can create the same pictures as a supercomputer as long as it has enough memory and you are willing to wait enough time.

Where to Find POV-Ray Files

The internet home of POV-Ray is reachable on the World Wide Web at There is also an active user community in our forums.

Suggested Reading

Beside the POV-Ray material mentioned in Books, Magazines and CD-ROMs, there are several good books or periodicals that you should be able to locate in your local computer book store or your local university library.

  1. "An Introduction to Ray tracing" Andrew S. Glassner (editor)
    ISBN 0-12-286160-4; Academic Press; 1989
  2. "Realistic Image Synthesis Using Photon Mapping" Henrik Wann Jensen
    ISBN: 1568811470; AK Peters; July 2001
  3. "3D Artist" Newsletter, "The Only Newsletter about Affordable PC 3D Tools and Techniques")
    Publisher: Bill Allen; P.O. Box 4787; Santa Fe, NM 87502-4787; (505) 982-3532
  4. "Image Synthesis: Theory and Practice" Nadia Magnenat-Thalman and Daniel Thalmann;
    Springer-Verlag; 1987
  5. "The RenderMan Companion" Steve Upstill;
    Addison Wesley; 1989
  6. "Graphics Gems" Andrew S. Glassner (editor);
    Academic Press; 1990
  7. "Fundamentals of Interactive Computer Graphics" J. D. Foley and A. Van Dam;
    ISBN 0-201-14468-9; Addison-Wesley 1983
  8. "Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice (2nd Ed.)" J. D. Foley, A. van Dam, J. F. Hughes;
    ISBN 0-201-12110-7; Addison-Wesley; 1990
  9. "Computers, Pattern, Chaos, and Beauty" Clifford Pickover;
    St.Martin's Press;
  10. "SIGGRAPH Conference Proceedings";
    Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics
  11. "IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications"; The Computer Society;
    10662, Los Vaqueros Circle; Los Alamitos, CA 90720

The POV-Team no longer recommends books from CRC Press.

Thanks Table of Contents

This document is protected, so submissions, corrections and discussions should be held on this documents talk page.