Installing TensorFlow for C

TensorFlow provides a C API defined in c_api.h, which is suitable for building bindings for other languages. The API leans towards simplicity and uniformity rather than convenience.

Supported Platforms

You may install TensorFlow for C on the following operating systems:

  • Linux
  • Mac OS X


Take the following steps to install the TensorFlow for C library and enable TensorFlow for C:

  1. Decide whether you will run TensorFlow for C on CPU(s) only or with the help of GPU(s). To help you decide, read the section entitled "Determine which TensorFlow to install" in one of the following guides:

  2. Download and extract the TensorFlow C library into /usr/local/lib by invoking the following shell commands:

     TF_TYPE="cpu" # Change to "gpu" for GPU support
     OS="linux" # Change to "darwin" for Mac OS
     curl -L \
       "${TF_TYPE}-${OS}-x86_64-1.3.0.tar.gz" |
       sudo tar -C $TARGET_DIRECTORY -xz

    The tar command extracts the TensorFlow C library into the lib subdirectory of TARGET_DIRECTORY. For example, specifying /usr/local as TARGET_DIRECTORY causes tar to extract the TensorFlow C library into /usr/local/lib.

    If you'd prefer to extract the library into a different directory, adjust TARGET_DIRECTORY accordingly.

  3. In Step 2, if you specified a system directory (for example, /usr/local) as the TARGET_DIRECTORY, then run ldconfig to configure the linker. For example:

    sudo ldconfig

    If you assigned a TARGET_DIRECTORY other than a system directory (for example, ~/mydir), then you must append the extraction directory (for example, ~/mydir/lib) to two environment variables. For example:

     export LIBRARY_PATH=$LIBRARY_PATH:~/mydir/lib # For both Linux and Mac OS X
     export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=$LD_LIBRARY_PATH:~/mydir/lib # For Linux only
     export DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH=$DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH:~/mydir/lib # For Mac OS X only

Validate your installation

After installing TensorFlow for C, enter the following code into a file named hello_tf.c:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <tensorflow/c/c_api.h>

int main() {
  printf("Hello from TensorFlow C library version %s\n", TF_Version());
  return 0;

Build and Run

Build hello_tf.c by invoking the following command:

gcc hello_tf.c

Running the resulting executable should output the following message:

Hello from TensorFlow C library version number


If building the program fails, the most likely culprit is that gcc cannot find the TensorFlow C library. One way to fix this problem is to specify the -I and -L options to gcc. For example, if the TARGET_LIBRARY was /usr/local, you would invoke gcc as follows:

gcc -I/usr/local/include -L/usr/local/lib hello_tf.c -ltensorflow

If executing a.out fails, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did the program build without error?
  • Have you assigned the correct directory to the environment variables noted in Step 3 of Installation?
  • Did you export those environment variables?

If you are still seeing build or execution error messages, search (or post to) StackOverflow for possible solutions.