Install POV-Ray 3.7 on Ubuntu 20.04 (even on a Raspberry Pi 4!)

Several people have asked us, how to use POV-Ray 3.7 on an Ubuntu 20.04LTS Linux distro (even on a Raspberry Pi 4!), or some of the older releases (we tested 19.10, 18.04 LTS and 17.10 ourselves) as well. Of course we can use the version in Ubuntu their official repositories, but what when they update their version and we want to be able to continue to use a specific version, for example 3.7, because the rendered results were too different, which unfortunately happened between versions 3.1 and 3.6, when radiosity was changed dramatically!

Version 3.7, the version we have come to know and love (and used in this iteration of this website and its content) can be installed, by ourselves, by entering the following in an Ubuntu Terminal window:

  cd /tmp

And then download the source code using:


Check the SHA-256 checksum for the just downloaded file:

  shasum -a 256

Which should be:


Now continue with:

  cd povray-

Now install the required dependancies using:

  sudo apt-get install autoconf automake build-essential cmake libboost-all-dev \
  libpng-dev libjpeg-dev libtiff-dev libopenexr-dev libsdl1.2-dev

Start compiling POV-Ray itself with the following commands:

  cd ..
  ./configure COMPILED_BY="Your name <your email@address>" --with-x
  sudo make install

You can speed up the make process by changing the last command into the following, now all of your cpu cores will be used:

  sudo make -j $(nproc) install

When done with all of these steps, go to the Tips and tricks section on this page.

Should you wish to use the official Ubuntu repositories version, follow these few steps:

To install POV-Ray, open your Terminal by pressing Ctrl-Alt-T. Type in the following lines, executing each one by pressing the Return-key:

  sudo apt-get install povray
  mkdir -p ~/.povray/3.7
  cp /etc/povray/3.7/povray* ~/.povray/3.7/

You should now be able to use the command line version of POV-Ray, by just typing the command:


which should give you an error message stating that "No input file provided".

Tips and tricks

• One of the advantages of the command line version of POV-Ray is the ability to render multiple renders simultaneously by opening extra Terminal windows and launching new renders from those extra windows. Of course you will get a speed penalty, your computing power gets divided by the number of renders you will be having simultaneously!

• You can also batch render! Just type:

  povray render_one.ini ; povray render_two.ini

substituting render_one.ini and render_two.ini with your own to be rendered filenames. The second render will start the very moment the first has finished!

• Should you need to pause a render, then use the following command, in another Terminal window:

  killall -STOP povray

To resume the rendering again, use:

  killall -CONT povray

• You have a render that needs to be done with a high(er) priority than the render(s) you have currently running? Simple, in a new Terminal window, type the following line:

  killall -STOP povray ; povray priority_render.ini ; killall -CONT povray

When you want to know the exact time that was taken to render your scene, one should not rely on the values that POV-Ray gives at the end, instead you should render your scene with:

  time povray test.ini

• And last but not least: you can use "Fire and forget" renders! Normally you would have to keep the Terminal window open while a render is in progress, however, when you type:

  nohup povray test.ini > /dev/null &

You may now close the Terminal window if need be, as long as the computer stays on, the render will continue in the background.

• When you want to have that background render not eat away all of your CPU abilities, add a line to the .ini file for your render, which contains the text:


where you should replace the "the_number_of_threads" with the number of threads you can spare, for example when you have a quadcore CPU with Hyperthreading, set the number to 6, which should leave 2 threads for reading mail and browsing the internet.

• A fun fact about POV-Ray running under Ubuntu, something which the Mac version does not, is that it supports showing the progress of your render, in a graphical window! You can enable this in the whichever_render_you_want_to_run.ini file, by changing the line:




Render progress of 6923 Particle Ionizer

However keep in mind that we have only been able to use this up to Full HD renders, 1920 x 1080. When you try this on a 4K sized frame, 3840 x 2160, then the render will render all the way till the very end, yet not close the output file and exit with a crash. It does render with a usable 4K file till the end, when you disable the graphical preview window. This using the setting in the whichever_render_you_want_to_run.ini found above, producing a nice PNG, Targa or whatever file format you may have chosen.
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