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ronnietucker

Linux astronomy software

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Hi John

Yes I really like Distro astro 3  and it was working great with Kstars controlling the scope except when I tweaked the mount onto a star with my joystick it didn`t then default to tracking and I then had to enable the tracking by dancing around the onscreen windows until I found the `Track` button by which time the star had drifted off the position I had it on all very frustrating (I do tend to use that word `frustrating` a lot when discussing Linux!) so a quick post onto the Indi forum and Jasem came up with a fix for it .....EXCEPT its for Kstars-bleeding and not Kstars and you`ve guessed it Distro astro is based on 14.04 and not able to have bleeding???? so round and round we go again !!. Very frustr..... sorry!

Steve

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I'd try asking the distro people Steve. I seem to recollect a mailing list or something similar.   :grin: Sounds like bleeding needs fixing as well. That wouldn't surprise me at all.  Sometimes the need by some people to change software causes them to forget usability factors and press ahead with major changes or enhancements. I'm glad it runs for you. Hope it does for me too so that I can see what it's at. I've owned various telescopes for a long time but until now have steered clear of imaging so am setting up for that from scratch.

Me - I'm a confirmed Linux user and I too find the INDI area frustrating. It might make me run windows software again.  From your comment the asto distro people sound like they may be fairly sane. No doubt it will update at some point. That can take rather a lot of work at times especially if the bug count needs to be low.

I followed up an arduino twin channel focuser shown on indi - I dare not comment on what had been put in the arduino.

John

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At the moment I have an oldish desktop dual boot with Win 7 and Distroastro3 which I tend to use for day to day stuff and the spectro software which comes with Distro astro is pretty useful. My obs laptop is a dual boot Win 7 and Netrunner 15 setup and I have another laptop with Fedora 22 running which has just been installed with all the latest Fedora Indi rpm conversions installed. I tend to use this one to try out stuff before installing on the obs one. I also have just got the little Raspberry Pi2 with Rasbian installed which is running an ARM version of Oacapture for my ASI 120 guide cam, seems to be working well.

I do love using Linux as when stuff works it just works but when it doesn`t ;-((((.

I guess when OS`s are created free of charge and written by folk who willingly give their time and effort to help others its very hard to criticise them !.

Must admit the Scientific Linux that Danielle mentions above sounds interesting, haven`t tried that one?.

regards

Steve

Edited by Gasman

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These days a lot of OSS desktop stuff is extended or written by people who want it to do something or the other. They come and go. Personally I feel that desktop Linux is in danger long term. Server side should be safe but Microsoft keep trying to get more and more of that.  People seem to forget that some Linux distro's are run by commercial organisations. I believe Redhat went bump  recently.  More might follow.  Ubuntu used to mention company wide solutions as the main header on their web page. In some ways this is what some of them aim at and that plus selling support is what keeps them going. The pay for packages some offer are also more stable  than the free stuff.

While it may seem a good idea to have every one running Ubuntu it wont be long term.  :grin: It's beginning to look like some producers think that has happened already. To me though INDI etc seems a bit odd. I have installed debian and other distro based packages before without any problems from source. I'm wondering if the problem is down to it mostly being run on Gnome and that it includes a KDE application - kstars. I've always run KDE and if I can't find a distro rpm for a Gnome application I have had problems installing it. Not something that has cropped up very often so pass.

:shocked: I just tried installing the INDI Ekos VM in virtual box on Linux to get something up and running. VB comes up with a corruption error. I think they provide the VM  to allow Windows and others to run it without Linux. It's on their download page if show all downloads is clicked. The error relates to unzipping. Odd as I don't usually have any problems unzipping what ever or using VB.

Ubuntu? I did try it once. Spent time making Gnome a little more kde like.  Set up a separate root account and found that even though it had let me do that it didn't work. They seem to have hijacked it for some reason or the other. Then tried the KDE version more recently and was extremely unhappy about the miserable selection of software it's desktop installer offered.  I do most things from the desktop including working as root at times.

Rant - What was the initial comment on the INDI forum concerning OpenSuse - switch to a more modern distro ???  Actually they have an answer to bleeding edge called Tumbleweed - you will get it as it arrives if that is what some one wants.  :grin: Rant over.

John

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Actually if you're doing any public deployment then you should always use long term support builds then do a second bleeding edge nightly build.

Not doing that means nobody can run the damn stuff..

It's bad enough with Apple only supporting the last two OS X releases in the modern tools..

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I just wanted a reliable system that works when you want it to (like everyone wants!) and after losing many nights observing using Windows when stuff didn`t work I thought I might have found it with Linux.  I`m now on powered hub no.4 and the usb side is fine with Linux which was why I switched from Windows maybe I should try Windows again now? or perhaps our Holy Grail is to be found with the promised free Windows 10 upgrade (or maybe not :kiss: ).

I did try Scientific Linux 7 last night, installed fine but the ruddy thing wouldn`t let me go on line, some KDE wallet thing kept flashing up preventing me but I digress.

Watching some spectroscopy done by professional astronomers on Youtube the other night they were all using Macs but I think they had Linux running or it looked like it (not sure which one) now a Mac is something i`ve never tried and not sure what telescope control software is available for it and how reliable are Macs anyway?? That might be an option for the future :smiley: .

cheers

Steve

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Hi all,

  I'm coming very late to this party as I don't regularly monitor this (or any other) forum due to competing demands on my time, and the past month has been even worse than usual. Anyway, thought I'd note a couple of Linux astronomy packages I've used to advantage. First is James F.'s oaCapture program. I'm quite amazed at the progress he's made in such a short amount of time, and I'm highly interested to see how the new architecture develops. Another very good package developed and maintained by one individual is Edward Simonson's GoQat. I've used this program for autoguiding with a Starlight Xpress Lodestar and it is both intuitive and quite effective. Edward recently added INDI support, and once my observatory is up and running I'll be investigating that new functionality. A long time ago, I used some packages which are part of IRAF, an old UNIX package intended for the realm of professional astronomers which still has some maintenance support. IRAF offers a lot of functionality, however its origins are in the days of batch jobs submitted via decks of punch cards, and it shows.

  My most-used astronomy program is probably XEphem. As has been previously noted, this isn't an entirely open source program (though parts of it are), however I'm not such a purist that I'm  unwilling to pay for software which is worth having. XEphem most certainly meets that criterion. Unlike planetarium programs, XEphem doesn't provide a highly polished visual experience, however what it does offer (among many positive attributes) is exquisite accuracy. I've been running the 3.3.7 release candidate, built from source, for some time now. This revision supports UCAC4, and I've found that the plotted accuracy of field stars is quite a bit better than what was available when the Hipparcos and Hubble guide star catalogs were used. I've visually observed many main belt asteroids, almost always with a finder chart generated by XEphem using the Lowell database as the source for ephemerides, and the quality of these charts is extremely good compared to what I've been able to produce using other packages. XEphem also supports INDI, and I've found good success controlling my Losmandy Gemini mounts through that interface.

  For FITS image viewing, SA09 is very good, though it does take a bit of time to become proficient. The stand-alone plate solution software available at astrometry.net should be very helpful in the observatory provided that 1) I'm able to complete construction before it gets too hot to work outside here in the Sonoran desert, and 2) I can ever successfully compile and link the binaries. As a point of note, a may well preceed b. Fortunately, the web-based Nova software option works quite well provided that you have Internet access. Finally, while not technically an astronomy program, I've created probably more than a hundred drawings which have been turned into real-world astronomical hardware using QCad. I've drawn everything from counterweights to diffraction masks to a pair of roll-off roof observatories witih this package, and it is certain that my ability to complete projects would be severely limited without it. Similar to XEphem, there are open source and slightly more capable paid editions available, and I've been quite happy to pay for the upgrade, if for no other reason to do my part to ensure continued support of this most useful tool.

  -- Mike --

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:rolleyes: I've been determined to get something up and running and have spent days trying to get the INDI "stable" up and running away from Ububtu.  I had a feeling that I might be able to do it if I could find older source but not much luck so far. More recently I noticed a show all downloads option on the INDI site. There is a virtual image of the lot I assume to allow windows and mac users to use it. I've given it a go on Linux under virtual box. First problem was it took 5 downloads to get one with the correct MD5 checksum. Then I found that it wont run in VB, ubuntu options come up followed by a black screen of death when it boot fully.  :grin: At least it's not blue. To check that my VB was OK I then installed AstroDistro (AD) in it. No problems running it as a live DVD other than VB has changed since I last used it - have to click the cd icon and navigate to the ISO file which I have on my hard drive. I can't install without changing the virtual hard drive size. It all works though complete with a resizeable virtual window which functions correctly. It's double click as far as the desktop  is concerned - not the way Linux should do that.

Oddly AD doesn't put Kstars on the desktop but it is available from the start button so I have now at last seen INDI / EKOS in it's full glory but only with the telescope and ccd simulators plus guiding via the same ccd. I have this thing about software - should be possible to do something with it in 1/2 hr at the worst without any help files etc.  :grin: No luck so far, none at all. It might help if I could drag the scope view around in Kstars but so far haven't found out how. I thought I might be able to take some perfect images via kstars maps - again no luck so far - just ccd noise. I noticed that the EKOS window remains on top and can't be minimised and that I can't find what version I am running from that either. I've already found that playing around isn't a good idea and couldn't find the abort button - maybe that should always be on top. I can't see why the Ekos window has to remain on top etc. It hasn't got the usual KDE window options either except remain on top which isn't ticked.

I've just found out how to slew the scope but when I tried to calibrate the focus it crashed.

I'm getting the impression that it's too complicated. Also note that it's shifting to KDE5 shortly. KDE4 still has irritations and some feel that they wont get fixed. There have been various comments about what KDE5 will be -  including a VM.

John

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Hi Mike and welcome!

I registered a copy of Xephem recently (all 3 discs) and got it installed ok but I couldn`t quite fathom out how to configure it for scope and ccd control despite hunting for tuts and I didn`t find the user guide very intuitive (although that might be my lack of intuition :smiley: ) and sort of put it on the back burner for now, maybe its worth another look?. Distro astro includes Xephem (just the free bits) and also IRAF and Pyraf both excellent packages but steep learning curves.  I`ve also been following the Youtubes of Ds9 with interest. I`m pretty sure the ideal os/distro is out there somewhere just need to find it. Not sure my poor old lappy can take many more reformats :laugh:

regards

Steve

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After reading a few comments on this xEphem, I am curious to try it. :) 

I love carte du ciel in Linux. It works very nice to me. 

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HI John

if you haven`t already sussed it out you might find you need to add the line      sudo adduser $USER dialout     to enable access to the eqmod driver.

Took me a while to work out why I couldn`t access my EQ6.

cheers

Steve

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Something interesting as happened. I decided to install Kstars on my desktop machine as the one in the astro distro seemed a bit odd to me. Much to my amazement it picked up that indi was about but when I fired it up and connected the whole thing crashed.  I then tried the package search for INDI and it came up so selected one click install. The stuff I had tried to install manually caused dependency problems so I selected down grade. All seems ok now and proper KDE windows which can be minimised.

I've not used root or sudo other than root password to install. So far I have parked the scope simulator and then slewed to Jupiter. It's tracking it too. I need to bitch about what else I can do with it on the INDI forum before connecting anything real to it.

This is OpenSuse 12.3. As that's not supported any more I was surprised that I could update without any problems. I'd guess that the stuff is also available for 13.2. OpenSuse seems to be a bit of a culture shock for Ubuntu users. I don't see why but it is best to understand partitioning when installing it if anything other than defaults are wanted. I always set mine up manually but the defaults were fine. If Linux is already about it probably wont wipe these areas by default and that can cause problems if it's a different distro. I had that happen playing around on a netbook. From memory custom partitioning has to be selected to format any of these but it will retain the default layout or even import the existing one.

If some one wants to try it they may need the package search to get the correct files. That's here and will default to INDI. Then search Kstars.

https://software.opensuse.org/package/libindi

Don't expect INDI 1.x it's a 0.9x

John

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I don`t compile my own John but tend to use Debian/Ubuntu based distro`s that either have their own Kstars packages or able to use the sudo apt-get install kstars-bleeding command direct from the ppa.

I think I read on the Indi forum that someone is configuring OpenSuse packages for Kstars-bleeding and Indi. They have just been done for Fedora which `seemed` ok! Haven`t tried all my gear with Fedora yet.

Steve

Edited by Gasman

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Maybe I wasn't clear Steve - OpenSuse has had Kstars for yonks and INDI too but for some reason Kstars didn't like INDI being installed. There is no need to install from source. They work together now. The OpenSuse package search offers one click installs and also unofficial installs as an option. The Kstars and INDI I have installed is official.  OpenSuse is an RPM based package just like Fedora but the owners are Novel who are mostly server orientated. The syntax for installing is a little different. Most can be done with a graphics utility called YAST. It lists everything in their repo's and also in any repo's that the user adds so installation just involves clicking a check box and hitting continue. It then sorts out all of the dependencies and installs them. It will also indicate when updates are available. Some things that aren't in the repo's such as a photographic package I use a lot called Fotoxx is available in the package search. Other packages are available in the build search which is where lupinix is doing his work. Some debian packages are built there too. I've posted that OpenSuse have "done it" in lupinix's thread on the INDI forum as what they have done may help him sort bleeding out for OpenSuse.

That covers graphical installs from the desktop except that areas are categorised.  I do build from source at times so click development and lo all of the available dev packages are shown. It's also possible to search packages by description.  :grin: Kstars is under educational. All of these can be selected during install as well if the full dvd is used. Not sure about the live one.

Console installs are different. A utility called zypper is used but to be honest there isn't much  point in using it except if YAST can not do a multiply package exchange but I think that is sorted out now. The other feature in the console is say a command that has been typed doesn't exist on the system. It suggest typing cnf <command> which searches the repo's for it and comes back with the zypper command to install it.  I use copy paste for that.

There is also a very unofficial repo that goes by the name of rpm.pbone.net. Unlike the other unofficial stuff this may depart seriously from the other sources of update.  :grin: Adding that to the repo list can be a disaster. It's possible to load files from several repo's that are not compatible and finish up having to fix it in safe mode at the prompt. Zypper is useful for that and some one on the OpenSuse forum can usually guide people through sorting out what went wrong and fixing it. There is also some sort of snap shot idea about now but I've not tried it yet - that should allow roll backs.

Installing from source isn't difficult. Usually the instructions for installing are in the enclosed readme file or an install file. INDI were naughty on that score but now do provide enough info with the package download. Earlier ones just had a web link - out of date. Compiling needs header files - these are simply name-dev. Also if serious debugging is needed there will usually be a name-debug available. Kernel headers can be needed as well at times. The biggest problem is things like C++ headers but a search for C and C++ in YAST fixes that - there are a lot to click on.

To be honest I don't have much interest in bleeding especially if it includes KDE5 as I wont be installing INDI on a separate machine. It will have to fit in with the other stuff I use. I've been on the KDE mailing list for donkeys years and can't wait to see what happens. There has already be one question which suggest a complete difference to 4 and comments about certain oddities about 4 still keep rolling in. The list is a shadow of what it used to be though. On 3 there might have been a couple of hundred posts in some weeks and always some one about who could help and also at times change things. The KDE forum is more active now but it can be frustrating - suggest a change - great idea - I'll look at that - and it doesn't happen. I have more luck with Novel's bug reporting. It usually happens.

John

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I understand now John think I misread your reply :tongue: . Thing for me is I need Kstars-bleeding instead of Kstars purely for that tracking fix as when I`ve tweaked a star onto a 25micron slit in my spectroscope guide FOV I have to quickly find the `Track` button so it stays in position but that short delay is enough for the star to wander off the slit! All good fun ???

Steve

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You've lost me their Steve. I have one indi control panel. I assume more ccd tabs come up if there is more than one.  :grin: It's tracking Jupiter on the other side of the planet at the moment. I wondered what happened if it went off the Kstars screen. I'd say carry on as it has is the prefered option.

post-2035-0-40984100-1427107781.jpg

There was another window last night but it seems to have gone. I minimised it.

John

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Hi John

In Kstars If you go to Tools/Devices/Device Manager you can add more equipment such as ccd`s by choosing for example the CCDs tab then the one you want then `run service` then you get an additional tab in the Indi control panel with your chosen additional ccd!

HTH

Steve

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I haven't found anything to nudge the telescope pointing around Steve but am surprised if it stops tracking when something does that. I'd expect keyboard shortcuts to be available to correct pointing. Even on a high res 27in monitor it's difficult to select say Jupiter and slew to it rather than a nearby star - with a full sky view.

I'll play more when I get back home again.

John

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Edited by Ajohn

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The nudging was done using my joystick to control my EQ6 John. The settings are buried somewhere in the control panel, not on my Linux pc at the mo so can`t remember where ;-)

Steve

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I came across this thread after looking for astronomy software that runs on Linux and I was wondering what would be the best distro to use. I recently installed Ubuntu 14.04 LTS on my Dell 1545 laptop but to be honest I don't like it much. I am a total beginner when it comes to Linux so any help would be appreciated.

Thanks 

Andy

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I'm not a fan of the Ubuntu UI any more.  You can switch to the Gnome3 desktop rather than the default Unity which you may prefer, but many people now choose Mint over Ubuntu because it has a more traditional desktop.  Mint is in fact based on Ubuntu, the obvious difference being the desktop UI.  http://www.linuxmint.com/

Some of the usual suspects are available for Linux such as  Stellarium and Cartes du Ciel, but there's nowhere near as much available as there is for Windows.

James

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I was actually looking at Mint this morning so I may give it a try. 

Thanks for the quick reply James

Andy

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