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Vox45

Moving to Linux - What works and alternatives

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11 minutes ago, cgarry said:

In that case I would recommend Ubuntu MATE 16.04, not the standard version of Ubuntu with the Unity desktop.  I found the MATE desktop to be much more intuitive coming from a Windows background.

 

I've downloaded both and will try which one looks best :) That is such a shame as Mint Linux was quite nice, best interface (for my taste) I've come across so far.

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44 minutes ago, Vox45 said:

ho the humanity !

INDI Forum Admin : "I think I would have to add a warning NOT to use Mint since it's pretty old compared to Ubuntu. It's recommended to download Kubuntu/Ubuntu 16.04 and then you won't have problems with the PPA"

Seems an odd thing to say as the current 17.3 was only released end of last year!

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From uname -a and documentation, Linux Mint 17.3 is based on Ubuntu 14.04 (kernel v3.13). The current release is 16.04 (kernel v4.4)

14.04   Trusty Tahr      3.13
14.10   Utopic Unicorn   3.16
15.04   Vivid Vervet     3.19
15.10   Wily Werewolf    4.2
16.04   Xenial Xerus     4.4

I pointed out to the admin that the installation page does say : "INDI Library is available for Ubuntu 14.04 and higher." which is misleading to say the least ... I was so happy to see that Mint was supported... it is not.

Edited by Vox45
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45 minutes ago, cgarry said:

In that case I would recommend Ubuntu MATE 16.04, not the standard version of Ubuntu with the Unity desktop.  I found the MATE desktop to be much more intuitive coming from a Windows background.

 

Unity is very easy to use though. I often wonder why people claim it's not intuitive. I remember the old Gnome interface and Unity is a definite improvement IMO. It's a bit Marmite in a way I think; you either love Unity or hate it. I remember the first time I tried Unity, I think it took me all of 15 mins to get used to it. lol

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9 minutes ago, Vox45 said:

From uname -a and documentation, Linux Mint 17.3 is based on Ubuntu 14.04 (kernel v3.13). The current release is 16.04 (kernel v4.4)


14.04   Trusty Tahr      3.13
14.10   Utopic Unicorn   3.16
15.04   Vivid Vervet     3.19
15.10   Wily Werewolf    4.2
16.04   Xenial Xerus     4.4

I pointed out to the admin that the installation page does say : "INDI Library is available for Ubuntu 14.04 and higher." which is misleading to say the least ... I was so happy to see that Mint was supported... it is not.

Yes, but of the OS's above only three are LTS releases and Trusty, Vivid and Xenial will be supported for years to come. Mint's probably based on Trusty as Trusty is the most stable.

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I agree. Unfortunatly when following the procedure to add the packages, it fails and this was the explanation provided by the admin (Mint is too old) which is a shame ...

I've downloaded 3 versions of ubuntu ( MATE / Lubuntu / Kubuntu, I may even try Fedora) as I have a lot of time on my hands ;)

In any case, the more I dig into this, the more I am hopeful that I can make a smooth transition. I see so many doors opening with Raspberry PI, web interface/server control, Android/IOS ... Good times !

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52 minutes ago, Vox45 said:

I agree. Unfortunatly when following the procedure to add the packages, it fails and this was the explanation provided by the admin (Mint is too old) which is a shame ...

I've downloaded 3 versions of ubuntu ( MATE / Lubuntu / Kubuntu, I may even try Fedora) as I have a lot of time on my hands ;)

In any case, the more I dig into this, the more I am hopeful that I can make a smooth transition. I see so many doors opening with Raspberry PI, web interface/server control, Android/IOS ... Good times !

Yeah, Linux is weird. I could load CDC via the Terminal on my old laptop running Trusty (x86) but VMA positively refused to download. Notwithstanding hardware compatibility problems.

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The ODroid C2 thread I've pointed at uses Ubuntu Mate 16.04 64bit for ARM. If you use Intel/AMD then there is more support.

The pre-built ISO for the VM is probably a good way to test the move into the world of Linux. Oracle's VirualBox will work nicely if your machine has enough memory/clout. 

Once you have that working you can switch over as fast as you want.

The main things on linux are:

* distribution - the collection of kernel and packages that are bundled together to make the version..

* kernel - the underlying OS version, this can be important for drivers etc .. if something says "recompile the kernel" then find a different path (it's convoluted and ongoing support is on your own head).

* desktop manager - some have different requirements, others have links into applications that mean things don't always work as they should if funky features are used.

* package management - this is *the* kicker for most.. each distribution has their own "tool" just to make it an Bottom..

* architecture - this is the CPU target (type and the 32/64bit for most). Stick with IntelAMD and you'll have a lot of support.. 

The cleverer you attempt to get.. the more you'll find you're managing linux rather than doing any stargazing. Linux can sometimes be a hard lesson in "it works for me..."

 

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10 hours ago, Vox45 said:

HitecDCfocus (there is a list of INDI drivers here, but nothing on HitecAstro)

I was planning on getting one of these soon. 

There are two ways to crack this, i. reach out to HitecAstro and offer to create a free INDI driver for them if they provide the specifications or ii. reverse engineer the spec.

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For some reason I never had "stability issues" with Ubuntu releases. And I don't like using old software for pseudo-stability.

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12 hours ago, ajk said:

I was planning on getting one of these soon. 

There are two ways to crack this, i. reach out to HitecAstro and offer to create a free INDI driver for them if they provide the specifications or ii. reverse engineer the spec.

Houuuu ! please let us know of the progress in this thread or pm me so I can update this. I see that there are a lot of focuser already supported (shoestring, robofocus, JMI, etc) so it would be a shame if HitecAstro was not in the near future.

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Having just read the entire thread...

OSX is indeed UNIX-like under the hood.  The UI hides pretty much everything for most users, but for developing oacapture I use it from the command line (usually logged in remotely) just like I do for many Linux machines.  Apple actually have a long history of producing hardware running UNIX-like operating systems.  Twenty-odd years ago I even ported a large COBOL development system to the Motorola 68030-based Mac II (I think?) running some flavour of UNIX.

My current preferred Linux distribution is Mint, running the MATE desktop.  I just can't get on with Unity.  In fact I used Fedora for a long time until they switched to GNOME3, which wouldn't allow me to do a load of stuff I wanted, so then moved to Ubuntu until they switched to Unity which made me jump to Mint.  I'm sure Unity works for lots of people though.  The way I use a desktop machine is probably quite atypical.

People say the learning curve for Linux is so steep, but actually I don't think it's any significantly different for Windows.  For most people however the Windows learning curve has been stretched out over many years and they expect to reach the same level of competence with Linux in a matter of days if they decide to switch.  I think one of the advantages of the Mint distribution where the newcomer is concerned is that it does try very hard to make everything "just work" as far as possible.  There are still areas where it's not as strong as it could be though.  For example, I have to configure my particular model of mouse by editing a file manually.

James

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Short report: WOW !

Long report: I've downloaded and compared a bunch of Ubuntu flavors. Not that I am advocating for a particular one but I had to start somewhere ;)

OS installation

I finally settled on Lubuntu which is a lightweight variant of Ubuntu. It is popular with PC and laptop users running on low-spec hardware. the interface is minimal but still nice (Win95 look)

(1) install is next-next-next type. Took 10 minutes, no brainer. Total disk space used for OS+Kstars (which includes Ekos)+Catalogs+Drivers .... 7GB ;)

(2) once installed I just ran 2 simple commands to add a repository (an online location where you obtain patches and software from) and 1 command to install the drivers + kstars.... realllllly simple stuff

What do I get for my troubles ?

* Kstars (a kind of Carte Du Ciel/Stellarium) I could still install Carte Du Ciel and/or Stellarium if I wish to do so

* I was looking for Ekos and learned that I had to actually go open Kstars > tools > and launch Ekos from there

Q: if Kstars is Carte Du Ciel, what is Ekos ?

A: it is the graphical client used to control the devices exposed by INDI

Q: ok, so what can I do with this graphical interface ?

A: Control your telescope, CCD (& DSLRs), filter wheel, focuser, guider, adaptive optics unit, and any INDI-compatible auxiliary device from Ekos.
- Built-in native Auto Guiding with support for automatic dithering between exposures and support for Adaptive Optics devices in addition to traditional guiders. Save time by using existing dark frames in the dark files library.
- Extremely accurate GOTOs using astrometry.net solver (both Online and Offline solvers supported).
- Load & Slew: Load a FITS image, slew to solved coordinates, and center the mount on the exact image coordinates in order to get the same desired frame.
- Measure & Correct Polar Alignment errors using astromety.net solver.
- Completely automated scheduler to control all your observatory equipment, select the best targets for imaging given current conditions and constraints, monitor weather conditions, and capture your data while you are away!
- Auto and manual focus modes using Half-Flux-Radius (HFR) method.
- Automated unattended meridian flip. Ekos performs post meridian flip alignment, calibration, and guiding to resume the capture session.
- Automatic focus between exposures when a user-configurable HFR limit is exceeded.
- Powerful sequence queue for batch capture of images with optional prefixes, timestamps, filter wheel selection, and much more!
- Automatic flat field capture, just set the desired ADU and let Ekos does the rest!
- Automatic abort and resumption of exposure tasks if guiding errors exceed a user-configurable value.
- Support for dome slaving.
- Complete integration with KStars Observation Planner and SkyMap

In other words, using this slick interface I can slew, PA, guide, platesolve, sequence, focus, control filter wheel, dither, dome control. All this can be done remotely from another OSX/Windows or Linux machine.

Next step is to install Pixinsight and openPHD (this is not required as you can choose to either use the guiding in Ekos or an external guiding software like PHD) and test the whole system in a live environment. I am not saying that all is perfect but so far, the ease of use and ease of installation plus what I get in return (a tightly integrated open source system) is worth my trouble...

Now, let me be clear, a lot of commercial software out there can do this, maybe even be better at it, so I am not trying to say that this is the be-all and end-all of astronomy software and I may be overenthusiastic

...let see what happens from here ;)

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And there is one major thing that I always forget to mention when talking about Linux in general is that when you update your system, you update EVERYTHING on it. No more visiting a bunch of website and keeping tabs on which version you have and which is current. In my case I just need to run this:

sudo apt-get update

that's it! Eveything is updated at once to the latest version availlable... less time spend managing your system, more time spent imaging ;)

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1 hour ago, JamesF said:

Having just read the entire thread...

OSX is indeed UNIX-like under the hood.  The UI hides pretty much everything for most users, but for developing oacapture I use it from the command line (usually logged in remotely) just like I do for many Linux machines.  Apple actually have a long history of producing hardware running UNIX-like operating systems.  Twenty-odd years ago I even ported a large COBOL development system to the Motorola 68030-based Mac II (I think?) running some flavour of UNIX.

My current preferred Linux distribution is Mint, running the MATE desktop.  I just can't get on with Unity.  In fact I used Fedora for a long time until they switched to GNOME3, which wouldn't allow me to do a load of stuff I wanted, so then moved to Ubuntu until they switched to Unity which made me jump to Mint.  I'm sure Unity works for lots of people though.  The way I use a desktop machine is probably quite atypical.

People say the learning curve for Linux is so steep, but actually I don't think it's any significantly different for Windows.  For most people however the Windows learning curve has been stretched out over many years and they expect to reach the same level of competence with Linux in a matter of days if they decide to switch.  I think one of the advantages of the Mint distribution where the newcomer is concerned is that it does try very hard to make everything "just work" as far as possible.  There are still areas where it's not as strong as it could be though.  For example, I have to configure my particular model of mouse by editing a file manually.

James

As you may have read earlier, Mint was my prefered choice but I could not add the repository to get Kstars installed as version ubuntu 14.4 is not 'supported' even though it says otherwise on INDI website :( Now there is good news as there has been an annoucement that Linux Mint 18 "Sarah," will be based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), so there is hope as it is expected to be released later this year.

" Mint 18 "Sarah," which will be available in a Beta form in early June for early adopters and public beta testers. The final release of Linux Mint 18 will ship in the coming months, most probably in July or early August, but there's no exact date set yet."

I'll try the Beta version to make sure I can install Kstars and Ekos properly. If I can, then Mint will be the prefered platform for me :)

Another thing to consider is that Kstars/Ekos works only on KDE

Edited by Vox45

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On 26/05/2016 at 16:35, Vox45 said:

ho the humanity !

INDI Forum Admin : "I think I would have to add a warning NOT to use Mint since it's pretty old compared to Ubuntu. It's recommended to download Kubuntu/Ubuntu 16.04 and then you won't have problems with the PPA"

Still digging and I just realized that the 'admin' on the forum who told me this is actually the Lead Developer & Maintainer Jasem Mutlaq .... which also explain the cryptic command ppa:mutlaqja/ppa

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1 hour ago, Vox45 said:

As you may have read earlier, Mint was my prefered choice but I could not add the repository to get Kstars installed as version ubuntu 14.4 is not 'supported' even though it says otherwise on INDI website :( Now there is good news as there has been an annoucement that Linux Mint 18 "Sarah," will be based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), so there is hope as it is expected to be released later this year.

" Mint 18 "Sarah," which will be available in a Beta form in early June for early adopters and public beta testers. The final release of Linux Mint 18 will ship in the coming months, most probably in July or early August, but there's no exact date set yet."

I'll try the Beta version to make sure I can install Kstars and Ekos properly. If I can, then Mint will be the prefered platform for me :)

Another thing to consider is that Kstars/Ekos works only on KDE

I run KStars on Trusty Tahr, although I don't drive a mount with it.

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A very interesting topic, (I also have just read it end-to-end :) ) because I have from time to time moved to Linux since before there was a Windows ( DOS > Linux ! ) and promptly moved back again !! (to DOS & Windows) because of allsorts ! The nearest I came to completing the task was a few years back with a Live Mint, which was the first to almost do what I wanted !
So, it sounds as though Lubuntu may be worth a new excursion :) I wonder if there is a Live version yet ?

As for the learning curve - yep fallen off the steep Linux one more than once ! The thing is with Windows it just works at the shallow end of the curve and one can happily remain there (if printing birthday cards is all one wants :) ): one can tackle the steeper parts of the curve later. With Linux there was no shallow end, it was just steep jagged mountain tops and fisures the whole way from getgo (time was you had to be a geek just to print "Hello World" :( ) so I agree with the Red bits
It got easier with the advent of the internet, but was a bit silly all the time having to boot to Windows to get connected to learn why one's Linux wasnt !!!

Kstars sounds interesting, goes looking for a Windows Portable demo :) muwahhah !>>>>

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, JamesF said:

Having just read the entire thread...

OSX is indeed UNIX-like under the hood.  The UI hides pretty much everything for most users, but for developing oacapture I use it from the command line (usually logged in remotely) just like I do for many Linux machines.  Apple actually have a long history of producing hardware running UNIX-like operating systems.  Twenty-odd years ago I even ported a large COBOL development system to the Motorola 68030-based Mac II (I think?) running some flavour of UNIX.

My current preferred Linux distribution is Mint, running the MATE desktop.  I just can't get on with Unity.  In fact I used Fedora for a long time until they switched to GNOME3, which wouldn't allow me to do a load of stuff I wanted, so then moved to Ubuntu until they switched to Unity which made me jump to Mint.  I'm sure Unity works for lots of people though.  The way I use a desktop machine is probably quite atypical.

People say the learning curve for Linux is so steep, but actually I don't think it's any significantly different for Windows.  For most people however the Windows learning curve has been stretched out over many years and they expect to reach the same level of competence with Linux in a matter of days if they decide to switch.  I think one of the advantages of the Mint distribution where the newcomer is concerned is that it does try very hard to make everything "just work" as far as possible.  There are still areas where it's not as strong as it could be though.  For example, I have to configure my particular model of mouse by editing a file manually.

James

Yeah, Unity's a lot like Marmite, you either love it or loathe it lol. I'm kinda partial to Marmite myself. :wink:

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After using various other distros including Debian and OpenSusie (or however it's spelt) and several others the release of Ubuntu was a breath of fresh air - just install and go - it just worked :)

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On 26/05/2016 at 12:31, Gina said:

 I've used the GIMP in the past - must check up on latest version - have they upgraded to 64bit yet, for instance? 

Yes. There are 64bit versions (( windows builds, both portable and installable, of both Gimp2.8 (stable but only 8bits/ch) and the 2.9 (dev with 16bits/ch) The first place that comes to mind is at Partha's Place http://www.partha.com/ ))

 

Edited by SilverAstro
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7 hours ago, Vox45 said:

I've downloaded and compared a bunch of Ubuntu flavors. Not that I am advocating for a particular one but I had to start somewhere

I will almost certainly be starting with the distro you mentioned right at the start of this thread, http://www.distroastro.org/

Why?

i) it comes from the same base as Ubuntu

ii) It's tailored to what we are all doing already (and maintained going forward)

It's last major release was May 2015 which was a year ago. This may signal either "it's so mature no more major releases are needed, only repo package updates required" or "it's gathered dust due to a lack of community energy".

Regardless of which it to me seems a great starting place. It may just need some new community spirit pouring on it to set it going again. Last time I looked SGL is a pretty good community.

I will use this distro to write the HitechAstro DC Focuser INDI driver anyway as INDI is it's base so will make for an easier starting point. I'll see how I get on with AstroDistro and let you know.

 

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That's the HitecAstro DC Focuser and a Skywatcher Auto Focuser on order from FLO. I'll probably have the software done before I have a telescope to attach it to!

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22 minutes ago, ajk said:

I will almost certainly be starting with the distro you mentioned right at the start of this thread, http://www.distroastro.org/

Why?

i) it comes from the same base as Ubuntu

Indeed.  My recollection is that DistroAstro is based on Mint which is in turn based on Ubuntu.

James

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