Frequently Asked Questions
- Who is `The Random Factory' ?
- How do I report a bug
- Where can I get versions of the packages for other operating systems
- When will ??? run on NT
- Which Linux distribution do I need
- Which Linux kernel version do I need
- HTML document links don't work
- LfA database searches don't work
- Why isn't package ??? included
- Mini-Linux X-windows will not start
- Mini-Linux networking does not work
- SAOIMAGE cannot find imtoolrc
- IRAF display doesn't!
- IRAF cannot find iraf.h
- IRAF cl does not start
- How do I compile a new IRAF package
- Why don't my IRAF .imh files work
- Why doesn't the MIDAS image display window open
`The Random Factory' is owned and operated by Dave Mills, who is currently
under contract to the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (based in Tucson, AZ).
Dave previously worked for the European Space Agency, the UK Starlink Project,
and the Optical Science Laboratory at
University College London.
The `Linux for Astronomy' project is self funded, but
relies on the cooperation of Astronomical Software project groups world-wide.
Send email to email@example.com with the Subject - LfA Bug Report.
The current distribution includes the VNC (virtual network computing) tools
which make it possible to perform remote diagnosis on your system
(given an adequate internet connection). If we cannot solve your problem
via email we may ask you to run a VNC session and demonstrate the problem live.
The main LfA website has links to the current locations of the ftp sites
for each package.
They are also mentioned in the /astro/SPECS/*.spec file for each package.
`The Random Factory' is actively investigating the options for porting the major
packages to NT. This would be a significant undertaking, and would only be
practical for packages which are distributed under the GNU licence.
Watch our website for news.
The V3/4 LfA cdroms included a full Linux system distribution and
we recommend that you install Linux from the LfA cdrom for maximum
The latest release (V5 and 6) does NOT include Linux system code.
Volume 5 & 6 have been extensively tested with the latest Linux
distributions from RedHat (6.2) and SuSE (6.4). We recommend either
of these distributions.
Other distributions which have been tested include Caldera OpenLinux 2.3 and
Mandrake versions 6 and 7. These are compatible with minor issues which can be
It is possible to persuade the LfA packages to run on any Linux system based on
the 2.2 kernel series, but in some cases it may be necessary to load newer
version of system libraries.
Another option is to use the VMWARE product
which can support multiple virtual machines running different operating systems
simultaneously (including multiple flavors of Linux). In this case you can keep
your favorite Linux distribution and create a virtual machine to run the LfA
packages in one of our recommended Linux flavors.
The basic requirements for LfA V5 & 6 (the latest release) are
Linux kernel 2.2.x, GLIBC 2.0 and GLIBC 2.1.
The previous release (V3 & 4) included a full Linux system.
There are two main causes.
- You are not connected to the network, and the link references an
- You are not using the http server to serve the document. i.e. you
opened a `local file' with your browser.
The database searches rely on having BOTH httpd running, and the htdig scripts available.
You must install the lfa-search.tgz contents from V6 before you can use the search facility.
This release of the cdrom was completely full, even after we compressed
some packages to fit them on.
If you have a recommendation for a package please send us the details.
Mini-Linux is a VERY minimal distribution. It only includes X-server
executables for low-end graphics cards. The executables for most other
cards are available at all the major Linux ftp sites (eg sunsite.unc.edu).
Mini-Linux only has network drivers for the most common network
cards. We are planning to include a somewhat more complete
(and modern) Not-so-mini-Linux with release 2.
SAOIMAGE needs a link to be set up
ln -s /astro/iraf/dev/imtoolrc /usr/local/lib/imtoolrc
You need to be Superuser to make this link.
Are you running an image display server (SAOIMAGE, Ximtool) ?
Check that the /dev/imt* files exist. Are the permissions correct ?
Try running /astro/bin/setupiraf from an xterm (as root).
The IRAF Ximtool will run ONLY on 8-bit X-windows, if you are running in a
different mode (16,24,32 bits per pixel) then you can either
- Change your default color depth to 8bpp (in the /etc/XF86Config file)
- Run a second X-server in 8bpp mode
- Use the image display tool /astro/bin/ds9.latest instead (beta code)
A link needs to be set up
ln -s /astro/iraf/unix/hlib/libc/iraf.h /usr/include/iraf.h
You need to be Superuser to set this up.
Check that the link referenced above is present. You may also need to set
up the link
ln -s /astro /iraf
You need to be Superuser to set this up.
You will need to have GCC and g77 installed if you want to
build IRAF packages.
- READ the IRAF documentation about this topic
- start a tcsh
- source /astro/iraf/unix/hlib/irafuser.csh
- cd to the package directory
- type mkpkg (some packages need a `-p pkgname' flag)
- edit the extern.pkg file to add the package
IRAF .imh files are machine dependent. You cannot transfer them
from some other computer and expect them to work (unless the
other comuter is also an x86 Linux system). In general you must
first convert to FITS (using wfits), transfer the FITS file (using BINARY
transfer mode) and then convert back to .imh (using rfits).
A common problem is lack of color-table entries. If you are running a program
which uses a lot of colortable slots, try stopping it and then restarting it after
you have opened a MIDAS image display.
Last updated 3rd-June-2000