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Moving to Linux - What works and alternatives


Vox45
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Some great news on the INDI/Ekos front :) !

Problem statement: on a RPI3, in the field without access to the internet, I want to be able to retrieve GPS coordinates and time to synchronize my mount.

Solution:

(1) buy an external antenna and module for RPI (current method)

(2) use my iphone/andoid to get the information. This was not possible until today :)

There is now a new panel in ekos where you can enter the IP address of your iphone and get that info from an app installed on your phone. I am pretty impressed by the time it took between identifying and reporting the need to do this, until the time it became a new feature.... 2 days ! This again shows the power of open source :)

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Getting back to basics on this thread, here's my experience of venturing into Linux for the first time, which may or may not help other potential new users. I did have some slight acquaintance with Unix years ago.  I have an old Samsung N150 netbook, Atom processor that I used to use for browsing, TeamViewer (indoors) linking to my laptop connected to imaging kit (outdoors), and for occasional HEQ5 mount control and DMK41 solar imaging. It could never be called speedy, but with Windows updates it made watching paint dry a quick fire pursuit. Rather than send it to recycling, I gave Linux a go.

I found a recommendation that Lubuntu would be optimal for my  N150 netbook, so after a test booting from usb I went the whole hog and wiped out Windows to give Lubuntu a clean install. It works a treat, boots up quickly and doesn't use up half the CPU just existing. It came bundled with Firefox, also Software Center  is handy.

I put TeamViewer on successfully, that justifies the netbook's continuing use.

I installed Stellarium from Software Center, but the recent versions use OpenGL which is not supported by my Atom-based netbook, so I uninstalled it.

Next was KStars with INDI (I had never heard of INDI before).  It took a bit of effort – including a fresh Lubuntu install when I cocked up somehow, but I got it running. I am able to control my HEQ5 mount – although it did go a bit wild at first.

I also installed Skychart / Cartes du Ciel, which I normally use for mount control. However, it was unable to connect to the INDI server, and its recommendation to launch INDIstarter was not helped by my being unable to install INDIstarter. 

Camera control so far has been hopeless. In  KStars nothing has connected except the netbook's inbuilt camera.  I have tried  ATIK Titan and 314 , Canon DSLR  and DMK41 (I have read about problems with Imaging Source drivers).  Incidentally, if anyone knows what the KStars Device Manager icon that looks like a blue telephone means, I'd like to know.

I also tried CCDCiel, but couldn't get anywhere with that.

I have no idea if these problems are to do with the limitations of the netbook, or if I have failed to install something or another.

I did manage to have some success with a DSLR using the Entangle  app, but doubt if I'll want to use it.

One minor achievement was writing a small script for the screen. Various packages have window panels that are not adjustable. The netbook's resolution is 1024x600, and while in Windows I could change this to 1024x763 for Skychart, etc, I found a better solution in Lubuntu with a .sh  script  to allow panning across the screen to give me 1040x763 without compressing the display. I just click the script to execute it.  The command is:

xrandr --output LVDS1 --mode 1024x600 --rate 60 --fb 1024x763 --panning 1024x763

(a second script reverts it to normal)

GIMP works fine.

Conclusion so far – limited success, could do better.

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I contacted Lakeside and they put me onto the chap who wrote the driver. I said I was interested in trying it. Lakeside have now agreed to allow it to be incorporated into the INDI build, so good news there! I've tested it and it seems to work ok. I'll be testing it fully as soon as the sky allows.

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Leigh

Result:happy8:

That`s good to know. I was interested in buying a Lakeside focuser, but it had to have an INDI driver available. I didn't want to give to much away as I was unsure how close the driver was to release. More sales for Lakeside, I will be one once I get permission:hmh:

Graham

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  • 2 weeks later...

After reading the posts on here about 10 times to make sure I had some idea of what I needed to do I took the plunge again into Linux. Only, this time I stuck at it. I have loaded Linux Mint 18.2 Sonya Cinnamon edition on a fresh hard drive, I had serious problems with error messages on a couple of old but working drives, and then loaded ;

Kstars

Skychart (CDC)

IndiStarter

tried Skychart this morning and it appeared to connect first time to my Meade LX200 GPS. However, I had to go out as  I needed a ride on the motorcycle to wipe the cobwebs away. Came back and opened the Obsys which is at the far end of the garden and is connected via Cat 5 and 6 cables via various converters.

I used another computer (Win10) to access my internal and an external webcam set up and connected again. Well happy ? the scope does all it is supposed to do. What I need now is some Linux webcam software that will run over cat cables so I can keep it all on one machine.

i have also purchased a Raspberry Pi3 as I would like to run my AP cameras from this and connect it to my network. That is my next challenge. ?

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  • 8 months later...

Good news on the update front. INDI and Kstars have had both new releases this week. If you are still on old version you may want to upgrade as there are a lot of new features and bug fixes.

Some of the new features I found interesting are :

+ New Celestron Nightscape 8300 CCD driver.
+ New INDI FFMPEG-based Webcam driver.
+ New ZWO USB2ST4 driver.
+ New Arduino ST4 driver.
+ New Weather Watcher driver.
+ MacOS improvements
+ Ekos Auto Park Timer
+ Revamped Ekos Scheduler

You can find the whole list of fixes and improvements here:

INDI v1.7.4

KStars v2.9.7

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9 hours ago, Vox45 said:

 

Some of the new features

Special mention for indi-eqmod? Now works solidly with side of pier reporting correctly; IOW you can use an eq6 with PHD2 and DEC doesn't fly away:) Big thanks to Andy @ PHD2 for coding the fix. We're currently working on and testing the ekos dither code. PRs should be here soon:)

HTH and clear skies

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  • 6 months later...
  • 2 years later...
On 02/02/2019 at 14:57, RadekK said:

Welcome all fans of open source astronomy! I have just joined the forum and I'm hoping to bring some valuable input to discussions on linux, raspberry and similar topics.

Clear skies!

Radek Kaczorek
Astroberry Server | NEQ6 | Atik 460EX | Atik EFW2 | ASI 120MM

It may have taken me a while (and I know this thread is a few years old) but having acquired a 2nd laptop solely for Astro I have now installed Ubuntu and am looking forward to integrating it all with my RPI Astroberry setup which I currently use with my MacBook! Hoping that I can do all things Astro on this dedicated laptop 😊🤞

Edited by Dazzyt66
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A worthy "necro thread" revival Dazzy!

I really don't know how people get confused by installing Ubuntu - Kstars etc.

Just have a cheap laptop without Windoze, plus the foresight to have a non windoze environment. 

Linux isn't very different, just less complex!  INDI and KStrars had me 3" Dec and 0.1" RA off PA, no issues, no downloads. 

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22 minutes ago, Stu Todd said:

A worthy "necro thread" revival Dazzy!

I really don't know how people get confused by installing Ubuntu - Kstars etc.

Just have a cheap laptop without Windoze, plus the foresight to have a non windoze environment. 

Linux isn't very different, just less complex!  INDI and KStrars had me 3" Dec and 0.1" RA off PA, no issues, no downloads. 

Indeed! I am finding it quite easy to use! I easily use Kstars/Ekos using the built in VNC 'Reminna' or via firefox no probs, so its all good there. And its really fast!

I am struggling to get kstars to work 'locally' on the laptop but with  indi/ekos remotely on the RPI (astroberry) - I can get them to work the mount and navigate fine (so I must've set it up OK), but I want to just capture images only on the rpi  for speed (and then move them later for processing), but for some reason I'm struggling with this - it always wants to find a folder on the laptop not the rpi and wont let me direct to a folder on the rpi - so I guess I'll need to do some youtubing over the next day or so. 👍

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If you are going Kstars, Linux on your new cheap laptop, go hard. Full BIOS to your Ubuntu / Mint "distro of choice".

Every distro has a "try now" version over Windoze, just accept the full linux version

Happy Days bro

 

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4 minutes ago, Stu Todd said:

If you are going Kstars, Linux on your new cheap laptop, go hard. Full BIOS to your Ubuntu / Mint "distro of choice".

Every distro has a "try now" version over Windoze, just accept the full linux version

Happy Days bro

 

Already there fella! Full Ubuntu overwrite. No regrets at all! 😀

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6 minutes ago, Dazzyt66 said:

Indeed! I am finding it quite easy to use! I easily use Kstars/Ekos using the built in VNC 'Reminna' or via firefox no probs, so its all good there. And its really fast!

I am struggling to get kstars to work 'locally' on the laptop but with  indi/ekos remotely on the RPI (astroberry) - I can get them to work the mount and navigate fine (so I must've set it up OK), but I want to just capture images only on the rpi  for speed (and then move them later for processing), but for some reason I'm struggling with this - it always wants to find a folder on the laptop not the rpi and wont let me direct to a folder on the rpi - so I guess I'll need to do some youtubing over the next day or so. 👍

You should be able to set this up on the imaging sequence by selecting upload to remote only and inputting the path there or in the camera settings under the Options tab, at least on recent-ish KStars. If you've got a reasonably fast (wired) network then you'll likely find it doesn't win you that much performance - I think KStars will still pull the image down from the remote end in order to show it and do any analysis (e.g. HFR for automatic focus triggers), so saving it locally isn't a big overhead.

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All good with the Pi4 Dazzy?

I always use Linux and it works great. I don't do the remote stuff though. I'm the berk sat with the laptop watching what's happening for 50 minutes lol

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10 minutes ago, Stu Todd said:

All good with the Pi4 Dazzy?

I always use Linux and it works great. I don't do the remote stuff though. I'm the berk sat with the laptop watching what's happening for 50 minutes lol

Yeah, its all good! Captured some test images of M81 and M82 the other night no problem - all from the comfort of my kitchen!

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13 minutes ago, discardedastro said:

You should be able to set this up on the imaging sequence by selecting upload to remote only and inputting the path there or in the camera settings under the Options tab, at least on recent-ish KStars. If you've got a reasonably fast (wired) network then you'll likely find it doesn't win you that much performance - I think KStars will still pull the image down from the remote end in order to show it and do any analysis (e.g. HFR for automatic focus triggers), so saving it locally isn't a big overhead.

Yeah, I'm not sure why I'm having a problem, but it occurred to me that even if I save it only on the rpi the FITS image viewer is still gonna get the feed over the connection - which in my case is wifi - so I think having Kstars on the laptop is not going to make any difference (in fact its probably slower) than just using VNC...

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Just now, Dazzyt66 said:

Yeah, I'm not sure why I'm having a problem, but it occurred to me that even if I save it only on the rpi the FITS image viewer is still gonna get the feed over the connection - which in my case is wifi - so I think having Kstars on the laptop is not going to make any difference (in fact its probably slower) than just using VNC...

Quite likely, yep. For what it's worth I use KStars on a Pi remotely via VNC and it's plenty quick enough in my experience (I actually run VNC'd into a Pi4 sat in the house which is running KStars, with INDI running on another Pi4 which is strapped to the back of the telescope). This is with everything wired through a good 1Gbps network, though!

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2 minutes ago, discardedastro said:

Quite likely, yep. For what it's worth I use KStars on a Pi remotely via VNC and it's plenty quick enough in my experience (I actually run VNC'd into a Pi4 sat in the house which is running KStars, with INDI running on another Pi4 which is strapped to the back of the telescope). This is with everything wired through a good 1Gbps network, though!

I'm pretty sure that is the case from watching a couple of tutorials. It doesn't matter to me really as VNC is plenty quick enough even over the wifi - I only want to plate-solve and then start imaging - its not like I'm stacking live or anything - so once the captures are underway I can just leave it going. Its easy enough the next day to move the captures over through wifi even if it does take a bit longer than wired. Suits me fine and I'm loving it all! 😀

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1 minute ago, Dazzyt66 said:

I'm pretty sure that is the case from watching a couple of tutorials. It doesn't matter to me really as VNC is plenty quick enough even over the wifi - I only want to plate-solve and then start imaging - its not like I'm stacking live or anything - so once the captures are underway I can just leave it going. Its easy enough the next day to move the captures over through wifi even if it does take a bit longer than wired. Suits me fine and I'm loving it all! 😀

Yep - I normally just have KStars sat on the graph view so I can keep an eye on things. Once I've finished writing this Rust INDI lib I'm hacking away at (or give up and fix some of the pure-Python ones) I do want to hook up a watchdog program that can alert me if imaging or the mount stops - I've had one too many kstars crashes on overnight imaging sessions!

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