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Chimera on Mac OS X using X windows

Chimera versions are available for X windows and for native Aqua windows. We recommend the X windows version because of the many problems with the current port of the Aqua Tk window toolkit that Chimera uses.


To run the X windows version of Chimera you must have an X server installed and running. We have tested with Apple's X server beta release 3 and the XDarwin X server, versions and

Chimera does not run on versions of Mac OS prior to 10.2 (Jaguar).


To install Chimera, open the disk image file you downloaded. This will put the Chimera application on your desktop. This may have happened automatically when you downloaded.

If more than one person will be using Chimera, the Applications folder is a good place to put it. Moving it to that folder requires administrator privileges. If it is only for your use, putting it in your home Applications folder or leaving it on the desktop are reasonable choices.


Chimera does not yet provide a deinstallation program. Instead, follow these deinstallation instructions.

Starting Chimera from the command-line

The usual method of starting Chimera is by double clicking the icon. If you wish to run it from the command-line use the following executable. The DISPLAY environment variable must be set and the X server must be running for Chimera to start.

Problems Downloading Chimera

If, in response to clicking the download link, your browser returns an error saying that access is denied then you may be behind a firewall that disallows outgoing http connections to ports other than port 80 (the download link goes to port 8000). You need to either access the download link from a machine that is outside your firewall, or have your firewall administrator temporarily allows connections to port 8000. As a last resort, you can send mail to us identifying yourself, saying you agree to the license terms, and specifying what platform you need Chimera for, and we will send you the installer for that platform in a few days. It will be sent as a mail attachment, so your mailer will need to be able to accept large attachments.

Problems with the X windows and Aqua versions of Chimera

Problems with the X windows version of Chimera

Which X server to use

We recommend using Apple's X server. It provides hardware OpenGL acceleration. This produces faster and smoother rotation of large molecules than XDarwin which does not provide hardware acceleration. OpenGL is the 3D graphics library used by Chimera.

To see how different computer systems perform with and without OpenGL hardware support see the Chimera benchmarks page.

The commercial XTools X server from Tenon has hardware OpenGL acceleration but does not work adequately for Chimera. Menus sometimes appear behind windows. Some Chimera windows may resize to be tiny. Numerous OpenGL error message are generated. This was observed with an August 2002 version of XTools.

The commercial eXodus X 8.0.2b server has hardware acceleration but was unable to run Chimera version 1 build 1602.

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