Cockpit is available on the Python Package Index (PyPI) and can be installed like any other Python package. The short version is:

pip install microscope-cockpit

For platform-specific instructions, details, and caveats, see below.

Once installed, Cockpit can be started from command line:



In the absence of configuration files, Cockpit will simulate the required devices. See the configuration section for details on how to configure Cockpit to control real devices.


Linux systems have a package manager but Cockpit and some of its dependencies are not always available. To avoid conflicts, it is a good idea to avoid installing packages with the Python package manager if they are available via the system package manager.

Debian based distributions (such as Ubuntu)

The only Cockpit dependency not available on Debian repositories is microscope which can be installed with pip. To avoid having pip installing the other dependencies from PyPI, they need to be installed first with apt:

sudo apt install \
  python3 \
  python3-freetype \
  python3-matplotlib \
  python3-numpy \
  python3-opengl \
  python3-pip \
  python3-pyro4 \
  python3-scipy \
  python3-serial \
  python3-setuptools \


Older versions of Debian and Ubuntu may not have some of the dependencies packaged, namely freetype-py. In such case, simply omit them from the apt install command and let pip install them as part of pip automatic handling of missing dependencies.

Once that is done, installing Cockpit with pip will install any missing dependencies:

pip3 install --user microscope-cockpit


The easiest method to install Cockpit on macOS is to install the build of the latest python version and then use pip to install cockpit and its dependencies:

1. Download and install the latest Python 3 from

2. Once python is installed open a terminal window (/Application/Utilities/Terminal) and use pip to install Cockpit. You must use pip3 to use the newly installed Python 3 rather than the system default Python 2.7:

pip3 install microscope-cockpit

3. This may prompt you to install the XCode command line utilities. Please install these as they are required for some of the instrument control functionality in Cockpit. If this step is required you will have to rerun the pip3 install command above as it will have failed the first time.

  1. Once installed, cockpit can be started from command line:


Microsoft Windows

Python must be installed first, and the installer can be downloaded from During the Python installation, ensure that pip is also installed (it will be by default) and that the install and scripts directories are added to Windows PATH (check the “Add Python X.Y to PATH” option during installation).

Once Python is installed, Cockpit can be installed with pip like so:

pip install microscope-cockpit

Development sources

Cockpit development happens in a public git repository making it possible to install cockpit from development sources:

git clone
pip install cockpit/

If the plan is to make changes to the source code or to have the installed version follow development, consider installing in develop mode, also known as editable mode:

pip install --user --editable cockpit/