Installation and Getting Started

To make full use of the Rigetti Forest SDK, you will need pyQuil, the QVM, and the Quil Compiler. On this page, we will take you through the process of installing all three of these. We also step you through running a basic pyQuil program.


If you’re running from a Quantum Machine Image, installation has been completed for you. Continue to Getting Started.

Upgrading or Installing pyQuil

PyQuil 2.0 is our library for generating and executing Quil programs on the Rigetti Forest platform.

Before you install, we recommend that you activate a Python 3.6+ virtual environment. Then, install pyQuil using pip:

pip install pyquil

For those of you that already have pyQuil, you can upgrade with:

pip install --upgrade pyquil

If you would like to stay up to date with the latest changes and bug fixes, you can also opt to install pyQuil from the source here.


PyQuil requires Python 3.6 or later.

Downloading the QVM and Compiler

The Forest 2.0 Downloadable SDK Preview currently contains:

  • The Rigetti Quantum Virtual Machine (qvm) which allows high-performance simulation of Quil programs
  • The Rigetti Quil Compiler (quilc) which allows compilation and optimization of Quil programs to native gate sets

The QVM and the compiler are packed as program binaries that are accessed through the command line. Both of them provide support for direct command-line interaction, as well as a server mode. The server mode is required for use with pyQuil.

Request the Forest SDK here. You’ll receive an email right away with the download links for macOS, Linux (.deb), Linux (.rpm), and Linux (bare-bones).

All installation mechanisms, except the bare-bones package, require administrative privileges to install. To use the QVM and Quil Compiler from the bare-bones package, you will have to install the prerequisite dependencies on your own.


You can also find the open source code for quilc and qvm on GitHub, where you can find instructions for compiling, installing, and contributing to the compiler and QVM.

Installing on macOS

Mount the file forest-sdk.dmg by double clicking on it in your email. From there, open forest-sdk.pkg by double-clicking on it. Follow the installation instructions.

Upon successful installation, one should be able to open a new terminal window and run the following two commands:

qvm --version
quilc --version

To uninstall, delete the following files:


Installing the QVM and Compiler on Linux (deb)

Download the Debian distribution by clicking on the link in your email. Unpack the tarball and change to that directory by doing:

tar -xf forest-sdk-linux-deb.tar.bz2
cd forest-sdk-2.0rc2-linux-deb

From here, run the following command:

sudo ./

Upon successful installation, one should be able to run the following two commands:

qvm --version
quilc --version

To uninstall, type:

sudo apt remove forest-sdk

Installing the QVM and Compiler on Linux (rpm)

Download the RPM-based distribution by clicking on the link in your email. Unpack the tarball and change to that directory by doing:

tar -xf forest-sdk-linux-rpm.tar.bz2
cd forest-sdk-2.0rc2-linux-rpm

From here, run the following command:

sudo ./

Upon successful installation, one should be able to run the following two commands:

qvm --version
quilc --version

To uninstall, type:

sudo rpm -e forest-sdk
# or
sudo yum uninstall forest-sdk

Installing the QVM and Compiler on Linux (bare-bones)

The bare-bones installation only contains the executable binaries and manual pages, and doesn’t contain any of the requisite dynamic libraries. As such, installation doesn’t require administrative or sudo privileges.

First, unpack the tarball and change to that directory by doing:

tar -xf forest-sdk-linux-barebones.tar.bz2
cd forest-sdk-2.1-linux-barebones

From here, run the following command:


Upon successful installation, this will have created a new directory rigetti in your home directory that contains all of the binary and documentation artifacts.

This method of installation requires one, through whatever means, to install shared libraries for BLAS, LAPACK, and libffi. On a Debian-derivative system, this could be accomplished with

sudo apt-get install liblapack-dev libblas-dev libffi-dev libzmq3-dev

Or on any rhel-derivative systems (e.g. Amazon Linux) with

sudo yum install -y lapack-devel blas-devel epel-release
sudo yum install -y zeromq3-devel

To uninstall, remove the directory ~/rigetti.

Getting Started

To get started using the SDK, you can either interact with the QVM and the compiler directly from the command line, or you can run them in server mode and use them with pyQuil. In this section, we’re going to explain how to do the latter.

For more information about directly interacting with the QVM and the compiler, refer to their respective manual pages. After installation, you can read the manual pages by opening a new terminal window and typing man qvm (for the QVM) or man quilc (for the compiler). Quit out of the manual page by typing q.

Setting Up Server Mode for PyQuil


This set up is only necessary to run pyQuil locally. If you’re running in a QMI, this has already been done for you.

It’s easy to start up local servers for the QVM and quilc on your laptop. You should have two terminal windows open to run in the background. We recommend using a resource such as tmux for running and managing multiple programs in one terminal.

$ qvm -S

Welcome to the Rigetti QVM
(Configured with 10240 MiB of workspace and 8 workers.)
[2018-09-20 15:39:50] Starting server on port 5000.

$ quilc -S

... - Launching quilc.
... - Spawning server at (tcp://*:5555) .

That’s it! You’re all set up to run pyQuil locally. Your programs will make requests to these server endpoints to compile your Quil programs to native Quil, and to simulate those programs on the QVM.

NOTE: Prior to quilc version 1.10 there existed two methods for communicating with the quilc server: over HTTP by creating the server with the -S flag, or over RPCQ by creating the server with the -R flag. The HTTP server mode was deprecated in early 2019, and removed in mid 2019. The -S and -R flags now both start the RPCQ server.

Run Your First Program

Now that our local endpoints are up and running, we can start running pyQuil programs! We will run a simple program on the Quantum Virtual Machine (QVM).

The program we will create prepares a fully entangled state between two qubits, called a Bell State. This state is in an equal superposition between \(\ket{00}\) and \(\ket{11}\), meaning that it is equally likely that a measurement will result in measuring both qubits in the ground state or both qubits in the excited state. For more details about the physics behind these concepts, see Introduction to Quantum Computing.

To begin, start up python however you like. You can open a jupyter notebook (type jupyter notebook in your terminal), open an interactive python notebook in your terminal (with ipython3), or simply launch python in your terminal (type python3). Recall that you need Python 3.6+ to use pyQuil.

Import a few things from pyQuil:

from pyquil import Program, get_qc
from pyquil.gates import *

The Program object allows us to build up a Quil program. get_qc() connects us to a QuantumComputer object, which specifies what our program should run on (see: The Quantum Computer). We’ve also imported all (*) gates from the pyquil.gates module, which allows us to add operations to our program (Programs and Gates).


PyQuil also provides a handy function for you to ensure that a local qvm and quilc are currently running in your environment. To make sure both are available you execute from pyquil.api import local_forest_runtime and then use local_forest_runtime(). This will start qvm and quilc instances using subprocesses if they have not already been started. You can also use it as a context manager as in the following example:

from pyquil import get_qc, Program
from pyquil.gates import CNOT, Z
from pyquil.api import local_forest_runtime

prog = Program(Z(0), CNOT(0, 1))

with local_forest_runtime():
    qvm = get_qc('9q-square-qvm')
    results = qvm.run_and_measure(prog, trials=10)

Next, let’s construct our Bell State.

# construct a Bell State program
p = Program(H(0), CNOT(0, 1))

We’ve accomplished this by driving qubit 0 into a superposition state (that’s what the “H” gate does), and then creating an entangled state between qubits 0 and 1 (that’s what the “CNOT” gate does). Finally, we’ll want to run our program:

# run the program on a QVM
qc = get_qc('9q-square-qvm')
result = qc.run_and_measure(p, trials=10)

Compare the two arrays of measurement results. The results will be correlated between the qubits and random from shot to shot.

The qc is a simulated quantum computer. By specifying we want to .run_and_measure, we’ve told our QVM to run the program specified above, collapse the state with a measurement, and return the results to us. trials refers to the number of times we run the whole program.

The call to run_and_measure will make a request to the two servers we started up in the previous section: first, to the quilc server instance to compile the Quil program into native Quil, and then to the qvm server instance to simulate and return measurement results of the program 10 times. If you open up the terminal windows where your servers are running, you should see output printed to the console regarding the requests you just made.

In the following sections, we’ll cover gates, program construction & execution, and go into detail about our Quantum Virtual Machine, our QPUs, noise models and more. If you’ve used pyQuil before, continue on to our New in Forest 2 - Other. Once you’re set with that, jump to Programs and Gates to continue.