Installing Ferret (NOAA) onto Ubuntu

Ferret is an application produced by the NOAA .  It is an interactive computer visualization and analysis environment used by Geographers and the like. This is how I installed it onto Ubuntu 10+ and my notes from following their install guide.

Download the three files into a know location.  I keep all my software files together so inside my software folder I created a new folder called ferret and used wget to grab copies. This means I have a record of what files and versions I’m using:

mkdir -p ~/software/ferret
cd ~/software/ferret

These are links to the 32bit versions. You are advised to check that this is what you want and that the 64bit versions would suit your system better – see note at bottom. I use wget to grab these.

Change to the recommended install location and create a new folder called ferret and step into this folder. You will probably need to SUDO from this point on.

cd /usr/local
mkdir ferret
cd ferret

Installing the Support Files

Now you need to extract the support files into the ferret folder you just created. Type:

sudo tar -xzf ~/software/ferret/fer_environment.tar.gz

where ~/software/ferret/ is replaced with the location you saved the original download files in. Doing a ls in that folder should now give you the following listing – different to what is given on the NOAA install pages.

bin contrib examples ext_func go ppl

Now you need a location to store the sample files for ferret and should extract them from the downloads location.

mkdir ~/fer_data
cd ~/fer_data
sudo tar -xzf ~/software/ferret/fer_dsets.tar.gz

which should give you:

data descr grids

Installing Ferret

You should now be able to install ferret using a supplied script. If you have followed the instructions above you can run.

sudo /usr/local/ferret/bin/Finstall

And make the following choices:

  1. Click 1
  2. Enter the following for FER_DIR:  /usr/local/ferret
  3. Enter the full path to the /software/ferret folder.  This means you cannot use ~ but would need to give the full path e.g. /home/username/software/ferret

Customizing the Paths

To customize the paths so Ferret knows where to find everything we must do the following:

  1. Click 2
  2. Enter /usr/local/ferret as the FER_DIR if you followed the instructions above.
  3. Enter /home/username/fer_data as FER_DSETS if you followed the instructions above.
  4. Provide a location for the creation of ferret_paths file e.g. /usr/local

Lastly you need to add the required paths to your bash path profile by running the script created in the previous section. Type:

source /usr/local/ferret_paths

at the command line where /usr/local was the location selected above for the path files. You should now be able to run Ferret with the ferret command. Success should equal something like:

FERRET v6.71
Linux 2.6.32-131.6.1.el6.x86_64 32-bit - 08/08/11
30-Aug-11 10:31 


Type quit to exit.

If this doesn’t work – then jump to the bottom to see a possible resolution.

However, once you have closed your terminal window you will also lose the ability to type ferret into the command line with success. So I recommend you add the sources line to your bashrc file (at the top):

nano .bashrc

Set up your Graphical Interface

So that you can get graphical output from your workstation you need to specify the X windows display correctly Ferret suggests you type setenv DISPLAY WORKSTATION:0.0 where WORKSTATION is replaced with the name of your machine. You can find out your hostname by typing more /etc/hostname. However setenv is not a Ubuntu Bash command and if you try it you are likely to get setenv: command not found. There are also issues with DISPLAY as explained on this page. The following code should work:


NOTE: There is a problem with this section that appears to crash the terminal 🙁 On running the test (below) and closing the test window the terminal becomes unresponsive and leaves me with the following message.

XIO: fatal IO error 11 (Resource temporarily unavailable) on X server ":0.0"
after 318 requests (50 known processed) with 0 events remaining.

I’ve done a quick search and spend a few moments trying to resolve it but didn’t find any immediate success and with other stuff to do today I’m going to need to leave it here for now.

Test It
You can test your setup with the following command (be sure to type ferret first and get the yes? prompt:

PLOT/i=1:10 1/i

Error: bash, no such file or directory
SO this was a marginally successful install onto Ubuntu Natty if you exclude the graphical problems. When we tried to replicate the install onto my wifes netbook we came upon this error. Everything was the same except that our server runs Intel 64 and the netbook is on AMD 64. Well thanks to this this forum post we were able to fix our issue by installing ia32-libs via apt-get. Easiest way to check your CPU is sysinfo again grabbed via apt-get.

23 Comments on “Installing Ferret (NOAA) onto Ubuntu

  1. If you run ferret and get the following error:

    ferret: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

    check to see if curl is installed on your machine with which curl If this returns nothing then its likely that curl is not installed. Easily fixed with sudo apt-get install curl

    • ferret: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

      Im getting this error although Im having installed curl …..
      I got this wen i typed “yum install curl”
      “Package curl-7.24.0-4.fc17.x86_64 already installed and latest version
      Nothing to do”…pls help

      • Mmm, don’t know to be honest. I was going to say Google it but I guess you did that hence ending up here. What versions of stuff are you using?

  2. Hi Chris, It’s really helpful, and it works on my Ubuntu after giving up Win 7. Suggest should have this web links from NOAA ferret.

    • Thanks Arnold, it’s always nice to know someone appreciates your efforts. I’m happy for the NOAA Ferret to link here but that’s their call – I won’t approach them!

  3. It works nicely with ubuntu 12.04. In 12.04, here is no problem with the graphical output.

  4. dear Chris, its very helpful and work on my Ubuntu. But i have problem now, do you know how to fix if i have message “**ERROR Ferret crash; signal = 11” on my ferret? Thanks

    • Sorry, I don’t. I went through the install process to help my wife as she wanted to use it on our server at home. She did all the actual ferret work. I asked but she didn’t either. Sorry 🙁

  5. Dear Sir,
    I followed instructions properly ferret_paths,, and ferret_paths.csh files found in /usr/local. ‘ferret’ file also found in /usr/local/ferret/bin/ visually. But when command typed on terminal it gives message as ‘bash: /usr/local/ferret/bin/ferret: No such file or directory’. And there is no effect of double click on ‘ferret’ file.
    I have installed ubuntu 12.04 on my dell machine having i5 intel processor.
    ubuntu is new for me.

    • I’m sorry I cannot help you. I would advise checking the paths are correct and ensuring that your ferret file has executable permissions.

  6. Hi Chris!
    I’ve installed Ferret as you explained, and it been installed with no error. But whenever i try to PLOT anything or check demos, i get that error :


    How can i solve that, do you have any idea ?

  7. I install ferret correctly in ubuntu in one terminal, but if I open another terminal it says ferret is not install.
    How to change the file .bashrc? what are the sources line?

    • Hi, I’m not sure I understand your problem. Please make sure you have followed the instructions carefully and not skipped a step. You will need to start the terminals once installed for the changes to your path to be recognised.

  8. Hi there Chris,
    I would just like to thank you for this page. It helped a lot and worked perfectly for me.

  9. Good day Chris, your instructions are helpful but I still get stuck when I try to run Finstall. It says “unable to execute /usr/local/ferret/bin/Finstall: No such file or directory” . I did a ls and it shows the Finstall file present, please I need your help thanks!

    • Sorry, I’ve no idea without looking at installing it again. Sounds like you are in the wrong place, wrong permission or missed a step. I was installing it for the wife at a time when she was using it for research. She has no need for it anymore so we don’t use it. Sorry.

  10. I downloaded the files again, followed your instructions and this time it worked! Turns out I had the wrong bit of the software downloaded previously. Thanks a lot!!

  11. Hi there Chris,
    I’ve certainly done a wrong manipulation giving the path in the .bashrc file. Then the following message “A: command not found” prompts each time I open a new terminal before “my username: ~$.
    How can I disable it?
    Thank you very much for your useful help.

    • I would suggest undoing whatever you did and trying again. Sometimes an incorrect space will cause weird behavior in a bashrc file.

  12. hi
    I have fedora 20 on my machine ,and i am getting error when typed
    sudo /usr/local/ferret/bin/Finstall
    the error is : no such file or directory
    please help me

  13. Hi Pooran, I’m sorry but if you see the comments above. I don’t run ferret myself and don’t currently have a install available to look at. I would check path is correct. Did untar the files in the suggest install location?

  14. Dear Chris, its very helpful and work on my Ubuntu. But i have problem now, do you know how to fix if i have message,
    ferret: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory, thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.