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Vox45

Moving to Linux - What works and alternatives

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This thread was created to help people who would like to leave MS and move to Linux. The idea is to list, in a concise manner, the list of all softwares that are either cross-platform (for exemple: Carte Du Ciel) or alternatives to what is commonly used (for exemple INDI Library instead of ASCOM)

I'll let people who are computer savvy expand on this list...

There are also Linux distribution that were created specifically for astrophotography

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Here is what I got so far:

Stellarium
Cartes du Ciel
Iris
PixInsight
Virtual Moon Atlas

You can build PHD2 for Linux. (I admit I would rather have it run natively)

Regarding hardware: here is a list of supported hardware from "Distro Astro"

Edited by Vox45
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Stellarium is actually in the Ubuntu (Canonical) repo. CDC and VMA also run on Ubuntu but have to be installed via the Terminal. KStars is in the Ubuntu repo as well.

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3 minutes ago, Mak the Night said:

Stellarium is actually in the Ubuntu (Canonical) repo. CDC and VMA also run on Ubuntu but have to be installed via the Terminal. KStars is in the Ubuntu repo as well.

Yes, this thread is in no way distro specific, I am not pushing for 'Astro Distro'. On the contrary, let's list what is working on Linux in general and what can we use as replacement (there may not be any for some) and see where this leads us. The conclusion of this thread could very well be... Linux is not ready yet.

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Thank you for starting this thread Vox - just what I wanted and had thought of starting one myself :)   I think I might change over to Linux for my observatory laptop before I start imaging again.  One of the things that has been putting me off is problems with Win 7 and having to reboot when things stop working.  I haven't used any Linux astro apps but my experience with Linux for other things has been very favourable.

I would like to go back to Linux for desktop use too but I make a lot of use of Photoshop both for astro and general photograpy and have a goodly amount of experience in astro image processing.

Edited by Gina

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Just now, Vox45 said:

Yes, this thread is in no way distro specific, I am not pushing for 'Astro Distro'. On the contrary, let's list what is working on Linux in general and what can we use as replacement (there may not be any for some) and see where this leads us. The conclusion of this thread could very well be... Linux is not ready yet.

I run Stellarium and KStars on Ubuntu Trusty Tahr LTS and ran CDC on Trusty on another computer, so I can only comment from experience. I don't know about non-Debian based distros as I don't run them.

Linux is ready, and has been for a long time, but outside of Debian based packages I can't comment.

Linux isn't just one thing. It's a mistake to treat it as one entity. If you do, you may as well include Android.

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I have Stellarium running under OpenSUSE, no probs. I think I will try running AS!2 within WINE. My main issue is with capture software (I must test oaCapture one of these days). ImageJ (and AstroImageJ) work fine in Linux, as does GIMP, of course. ImPPG is developed under Linux.

 

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Quote

 

I run Stellarium and KStars on Ubuntu Trusty Tahr LTS and ran CDC on Trusty on another computer, so I can only comment from experience. I don't know about non-Debian based distros as I don't run them.

Linux is ready, and has been for a long time, but outside of Debian based packages I can't comment.

Linux isn't just one thing. It's a mistake to treat it as one entity. If you do, you may as well include Android.

 

Quite so - there are many Linux distros and they have their differences - I have used several in the past but by no means all of them.  Also Linus is a collection of parts - eg. the windows/desktop is separate from the kernel and you can mix and match.  A distro (distribution) is a collection of the parts assembled in a particular way plus various applications such as office software and browsers.

Edited by Gina

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4 minutes ago, Mak the Night said:

Linux is ready, and has been for a long time, but outside of Debian based packages I can't comment.

Linux isn't just one thing. It's a mistake to treat it as one entity. If you do, you may as well include Android.

I'll keep that in mind.

Note that I was talking about Linux being 'astro ready' for Windows user who want to make the switch in the most transparent way possible. Just the fact that ASCOM and EQMOD are not cross-platform can be quite a turn off for some.

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28 minutes ago, Vox45 said:

I'll keep that in mind.

Note that I was talking about Linux being 'astro ready' for Windows user who want to make the switch in the most transparent way possible. Just the fact that ASCOM and EQMOD are not cross-platform can be quite a turn off for some.

Yes, that's what I mean though. Saying 'Linux' is or isn't astro ready is a bit like saying 'binary operating systems' are or are not ready. Linux is many things. Android is a form of Linux. The most common distros appear to be Debian based; Ubuntu and its forks predominantly. But there are quite popular distros that aren't Debian based and fall under the umbrella term of Unix-like.

Furthermore, software update releases for individual distros, whether Debian or non-Debian, are often different to or behind the Windows equivalent. PPA packages aren't always updated with the same frequency in Ubuntu for example.

I don't even think there is actually a Windows equivalent for KStars, although I think it can be compiled on Windows if you have the necessary libraries.

Edited by Mak the Night

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21 minutes ago, Vox45 said:

Note that I was talking about Linux being 'astro ready' for Windows user who want to make the switch in the most transparent way possible. Just the fact that ASCOM and EQMOD are not cross-platform can be quite a turn off for some.

I think the other turn off is lack of documentation. A lot of the best Linux astronomy software is aimed at academic astronomers and observatories; it's not always the most user friendly.

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8 minutes ago, billyharris72 said:

The following list is useful and highlights some of the main software available.

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UbuntuScience/Astronomy

Also:

Iris

Siril (a simplified Linux native version of IRIS)

Virtual Moon Atlas

Distro Astro seems to have a tonne of bundled software.

I run Celestia on Ubuntu and it works well but the skins on some of the planets don't render properly. I don't know of any fix for this.

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Definitely try Kstars and within it use Ekos/Indilib to control mount,ccd`s filter wheels etc etc. I haven`t used it for a while as I went back to Windows 10 but I`m thinking of trying it again.

The last time I used it I had a couple of hardware niggles but that may have been resolved now and the Indilib forum is very busy and the mods are quick to respond.

I have just bought a raspberry Pi3 and have Kstars/Ekos running on that but haven`t had time to try it in the obs yet!

Steve

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1 hour ago, cgarry said:

And I know that 2 of those alternative also have their dev active on this forum :) (oaCapture and Siril)

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5 hours ago, Gina said:

Quite so - there are many Linux distros and they have their differences - I have used several in the past but by no means all of them.  Also Linus is a collection of parts - eg. the windows/desktop is separate from the kernel and you can mix and match.  A distro (distribution) is a collection of the parts assembled in a particular way plus various applications such as office software and browsers.

I've got more faith in Linux (Ubuntu) these days than MS. Come to think of it, isn't OS X basically UNIX?

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Yes, but it doesn't look much like any distro of Linux I know of - it seems very different to me.

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12 minutes ago, Gina said:

Yes, but it doesn't look much like any distro of Linux I know of - it seems very different to me.

I think Unity resembles a Mac interface a bit with the systems tray being in the upper right, and it looks much more like OS X with an added dock. I believe there was even a 'MacBuntu' theme once for people who want a MacBook feel to their laptop lol.

I wasn't brave enough to try MacBuntu ROTFL.

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I work daily on Linux, but for astrophotography I use Windows. The Linux alternative are either insufficient or none. Some Windows apps work through Wine, but still I want a stable platform as much as possible and best applications I want to use.

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Just now, Mak the Night said:

I don't think WINE runs too well on Ubuntu 14.0.4 LTS, although I haven't actually tried it myself yet.

I works since long time, but still it's better to have the latest Ubuntu release for the latest software.

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Just now, riklaunim said:

I works since long time, but still it's better to have the latest Ubuntu release for the latest software.

I've spoken to a few people on the Ubuntu forums who had problems with it. Trusty Tahr is more stable than 16.0.4 LTS at the moment and it will be supported for a few more years yet, so I don't believe that being that up to date with Ubuntu releases is necessarily true. In fact, non-LTS Canonical releases are far less stable than the long term ISO's and less compatible usually. Ubuntu isn't Microsoft and there is no compulsion to purchase every new OS version released.

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5 minutes ago, Mak the Night said:

I've spoken to a few people on the Ubuntu forums who had problems with it. Trusty Tahr is more stable than 16.0.4 LTS at the moment and it will be supported for a few more years yet, so I don't believe that being that up to date with Ubuntu releases is necessarily true. In fact, non-LTS Canonical releases are far less stable than the long term ISO's and less compatible usually. Ubuntu isn't Microsoft and there is no compulsion to purchase every new OS version released.

I gave this post a "like" because it's obviously well informed.

However, everything I've highlighted in red illustrates why the mainstream user does not understand and does not adopt Linux: I know what an "ISO" is, but many wouldn't and I have no idea what the other highlighted terms mean, and I'm an engineer who's been on a Unix administration course! I know that GIYF, but it takes time ;)

I want to adopt Linux, but the learning curve is steep and, to be honest, puts me off somwhat.

I will, however, persevere. One thing that came to mind to me is to get a secondary system running with mount/camera/obsy simulators until I'm confident that I can diagnose problems and find solutions without wasting night upon night of clear skies before going "live"....

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