OxCal > Installation



This version of OxCal can be used in a number of different ways depending on how frequent and intensive your use of the program is likely to be:

The program has three main components:

If you are accessing a server all you will need to deal with is the input and output modules which are integrated, the analysis module runs on the server once you have defined the inputs for the program.

Accessing the site

To access the server, you need a username and password. To get this you click on [New user] and enter your initials, surname and Email address.

A password will then be emailed to you which you can use to enter the site. It is a good idea as you log on to click on [Change password/email] and enter a password that you can remember. You will also have to re-enter your initials, name and email address.

Once you are logged on you have access to your own working area on the server for storing your OxCal data. This data can also be saved locally which is a good idea as the data on the server will not be kept indefinitely.

See Input of data for the next stage once you are sure that your web browser is suitable.

Browser requirements for remote access

The input and output modules perform a lot of operations themselves and so require an up-to-date browser that is set to allow cookies, javascript and pop-up windows. In addition the graphical output is generated within the OxCalPlot module and so if you want graphs you will need to use a browser capable of displaying SVG output. As this is a fairly new standard this limits the choice of browsers.

SVG capabilities are currently provided by all the major browsers Safari, Google Chrome, Opera, Firefox and Internet Explorer (OxCal works with v11 or later).

The choice of browser will depend on your operating system.


The following setups work very satisfactorily under windows:

Mac OS X

Here the choice is similar except that Internet Explorer is not available in a usable version. The recommended setups are:


You may also have success with other operating systems. This is likely to depend on whether you can get Firefox or Opera to work properly on your system.

Use on your own computer

The program can also be run directly on your own computer. However the integrated package only runs with Firefox with a specific addon which is distributed with OxCal.

Download the distribution package from the OxCal website and unzip the package.

Upgrade to the latest version of Firefox.

Installation on a PC

Copy the OxCal directory from the package to the directory:

C:\Program Files\

In Firefox use the menu item [Tools > Add-ons] to load the addon which can be found at:

C:\Program Files\OxCal\bin\oxcaladdon.xpi

Installation on a Mac

Copy the OxCal directory from the package to the directory:


In Firefox use the menu item [Tools > Add-ons] to load the addon which can be found at:


Running the program under Firefox

Once the addon is installed you should see a new OxCal icon on your Firefox toolbar. Press this to start the program. You will be prompted for the directories used for the application and your user files: if you installed the program somewhere different, you need to specify this here.

When you restart Firefox and press the OxCal button, you will always be prompted for the directories, so you can change them later if you want. You can also change them by pressing [File > Reset] from within OxCal.

Installation on Linux

This is essentially the same as for Mac but uses a different executable which has been compiled under Ubuntu.

Summary of browser capabilities

Server versionLocal installation
TextGraphicsSave SVGSave as PDF/PNG TextGraphicsSave SVGSave as PDF/PNG
Google Chrome
Internet Explorer 11 or later

Internet Explorer does now support SVG but not in a way which is compatible with this version of OxCal. This is something which will be corrected in later versions.

Installation on a server

The full server version of the program is also included in the distribution. This should allow you to run an OxCal server on a local server to mimic what we do on the main OxCal server. As distributed, there is no built-in security and everyone using the system will have the same user-area. This could easily be changed by adapting the login.php file to give different $_SESSION["Directory"] settings to different people. It is up to you to ensure that the directory of your server has the appropriate security options to only allow the right people to access it. You might just wish to run this on your own computer as a local server.

Server requirements

To use this at all you have to have php running on your server. In addition if you wish to have online image conversion you will need to install java and the Batik toolkit. If you also wish to have multiple-page plots, you will need to install LaTeX and make sure that the pdftex graphicx package is installed. Please do not ask me about any of these installations!

Before running you should check the settings in the /config/oxcalconfig.php file. This is where you set the locations of parts of the software etc. You also need to make sure that the user directory is created and writable by the www user.

A standard php setup should be sufficient. Php should not be run in safe mode and the execution time should be extended. To achieve this the php.ini file should be edited to contain these lines:

safe_mode = Off
max_execution_time = 6000

This will set a maximum analysis time of 100 minutes which is suitable for all but the biggest models. you may wish to set this to a lower value for only calibrations which take very little time. All of the graphics generation is performed on the client machines so only the OxCal analysis uses significant server resources.

Directory structure

OxCal uses three different directories: