Installing and use cmake 3.4.1 in Ubuntu 14.04 using alternatives

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Due to a developer request I needed to install the latest cmake 3.4.1 on an Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, however in trusty the cmake version is somewhat outdated (2.8.12) and there are no newer version in trusty-backports either.

On Ubuntu PPA I found a personal repository from Nathan Osman for cmake 3.x packages which sounds about the right source. Unfortunately this PPA does not contain the 3.4.1 version yet, so I had to go and compile cmake myself.

Compiling of cmake is pretty straight forward:

tar -xvzf cmake-3.4.1.tar.gz
cd cmake-3.4.1/

Make's install command installs cmake by default in /usr/local/bin/cmake, shared files are installed into /usr/local/share/cmake-3.4.

sudo make install

Now I wanted to tell Ubuntu that the cmake command is now being replaced by an alternative installation. This can be done using update-alternatives:

update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/cmake cmake /usr/local/bin/cmake 1 --force

This tells Ubuntu to create a new alternative for /usr/bin/cmake by using /usr/local/bin/cmake. The name of this replacement/alternative is "cmake". In my case I needed to add --force because cmake was already installed and the /usr/bin/cmake binary wasn't replaced with the symlink otherwise.

Now cmake is available system wide and can be launched with the new 3.4.1 version:

cmake --version
cmake version 3.4.1

CMake suite maintained and supported by Kitware (

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Comments (newest first)

alxcancado from Brazil wrote on Feb 3rd, 2018:

Thank you! I just installed in ethOS (ubuntu based)

Craig from USA wrote on Apr 4th, 2017:

Terrific write-up! Worked well for me, except the "update-alternatives" command gave me this error:

update-alternatives: using /usr/local/bin/cmake to provide /usr/bin/cmake (cmake) in auto mode
update-alternatives: error: error creating symbolic link `/etc/alternatives/cmake.dpkg-tmp': Permission denied

I just had to precede the command with "sudo" and the rest was fine. Not sure if everyone needs to, but thought I'd mention it. In my case, I was installing cmake 3.7.2 onto Ubuntu 14.04.

suek0 from Spain wrote on Feb 23rd, 2017:

Very useful!
Thanks a lot.

suek0 from Spain wrote on Feb 23rd, 2017:

Very useful!
Thanks a lot.

guar from wrote on May 10th, 2016:

It was very useful, since I am total newbie with Ubuntu. It saved me a lot of time. Thank you!