Getting SWI Prolog to build on Mac OS X (Darwin) is no small feat. Yes, one could use the MacPorts or Homebrew packaging systems, and that would certainly make things easier. Frankly, after using Solaris for many years, I’m burned out on third-party packaging systems. Especially when there are multiple competing systems; it makes the Dependency hell that much worse.

Below, I’ll quickly go over each of the steps for compiling swipl and its dependencies. This assumes you have installed Xcode since it tends to make compiling software from source code much easier.

GNU readline

Install GNU readline, which is really easy so I won’t go into details.

$ tar zxf readline-master.tar.gz
$ cd readline-master
$ ./configure
$ make
$ sudo make install


Install GMP, which is needed for multi-precision numbers in Prolog.

$ tar jxf gmp-6.0.0a.tar.bz2
$ cd gmp-6.0.0/
$ ./configure
$ make
$ make check
$ sudo make install

SWI Prolog

Compiling SWI Prolog itself on the Mac requires a few additional steps. To start with, edit the build.templ file at the top of the pl-x.y.z directory such that the LIBRARY_PATH and CPATH values for Darwin have the /usr/local equivalents before the default paths (I have no /opt to speak of, so I have removed them in the example below).

export LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib:/usr/lib
export CPATH=/usr/local/include:/usr/include

Now you are ready to build from the command line.

$ export LDFLAGS=-L/usr/local/lib
$ export CFLAGS=-I/usr/local/include
$ ./configure
$ make
$ sudo make install


And now to fire up SWI Prolog.

$ swipl
Welcome to SWI-Prolog (Multi-threaded, 64 bits, Version 6.6.6)
Copyright (c) 1990-2013 University of Amsterdam, VU Amsterdam
SWI-Prolog comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY. This is free software,
and you are welcome to redistribute it under certain conditions.
Please visit for details.

For help, use ?- help(Topic). or ?- apropos(Word).


Trying to quit is fun. Turns out Ctrl-d works, as does halt(0). Once you have that operational, take a look at Bernardo Pires introduction to Prolog.