Install/Upgrade cmake 3.12.1 on Ubuntu 14.04 using alternatives

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Published on - last updated on June 6th 2019 - Listed in Linux

Note: This article applies not only to Ubuntu 14.04 but also later Ubuntu versions. Today (June 6th 2019) I successfully applied the same steps on Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic.

In a previous article, I described how it's possible to Install/Upgrade cmake 3.10.1 in Ubuntu 14.04 using alternatives.

Since then a couple of new versions were released and the same procedure can still be used to install cmake 3.12.1.

Download and compile:

$ wget
$ tar -xvzf cmake-3.12.1.tar.gz
$ cd cmake-3.12.1/
$ ./configure
$ make

Make's install command installs cmake by default in /usr/local/bin/cmake, shared files are installed into /usr/local/share/cmake-3.10.

Now it's time to create a backup, in case you need to roll back to the old version:

$ /usr/local/bin/cmake --version
cmake version 3.10.1

CMake suite maintained and supported by Kitware (

$ sudo cp -p /usr/local/bin/cmake{,.3.10.1}

$ ll /usr/local/bin/cmake*
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 16509675 Dez 22  2017 /usr/local/bin/cmake
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 16509675 Dez 22  2017 /usr/local/bin/cmake.3.10.1

To install (copy) the binary and libraries to the new destination, run:

$ sudo make install

If you haven't already installed a newer cmake installation, run the following command to tell Ubuntu that the cmake command is now being replaced by an alternative installation:

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

If you already have a custom cmake version installed (in my case I still had the 3.10.1 version active), the update-alternatives command is not necessary.
The make install command will replace the existing binary in /usr/local/bin/cmake. This can be verified using:

$ cmake --version
cmake version 3.12.1

CMake suite maintained and supported by Kitware (

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Comments (newest first)

Alain from wrote on Oct 31st, 2019:

Good tutorial, thanks. Would be worthwhile to make two tweaks:
1) Suggests users download and build in a temporary folder (eg. $HOME/tmp)
2) After installation is complete, the temporary folder can be deleted

tayyab from Pakistan wrote on Oct 25th, 2019:

Thanks for your helpful insights on installing cmake.