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Setting up

Special Hardware

Most of the visualisation software will run on any standard workstation, however, some of the more advanced features require special hardware, available on the visualisation workstation   phoenix. These features include    24 bit colour and    stereoscopic display. In addition, phoenix has 4 HyperSPARC 90 processors, which makes it far more powerful than the average workstation.

For users at the Marsfield site, the SGI Power Challenge XL raptor (with 10 75 MHz r8000 processors, 1 GByte RAM and 50 GBytes of disc) is a fine machine to work with, both for data reduction as well as visualisation. You can run all of the visualisation software on this machine and have the display on your desktop workstation. This is a particularly good idea if you are visualising a huge dataset. Unfortunately, it is not possible to run xray on any machine other than phoenix if you want to use a stereoscopic display.

The rendering software is both demanding in CPU and I/O. It is therefore important to run the software on the same machine that has the disk where you have your data. phoenix is a fast machine bought to be used for visualisation work. One option is to run the programs on phoenix, while displaying on your local workstation. The architecture of the display software is such that sending the images over the local net gives very little loss of preformance. However, please bear in mind that xray can produce 24 bit colour which is best displayed on a 24 bit display, such as on phoenix. Because ordinary workstations can only display 8 bit colour, 24 bit colour images are automatically compressed, resulting a loss of quality (although the compression is quite good).

Phoenix Allocations

There are two bookable discs on phoenix with a total of 3 GBytes of space. To make a booking, please email bookings, as you would normally.

Because people are permitted (at the moment) to use phoenix for remote processing of large jobs, interactive performance can be quite bad. If you are using phoenix at the console and are doing interactive visualisation and find other peoples' jobs are slowing the system down, run the khogd programme. After two minutes warning, the jobs of other people will be suspended whenever you run kview or xray. Once you exit these programmes other peoples' jobs are resumed.

Environments needed  

The visualisation software is written using the karma   package (a library for networked data processing and visualisation). In order to be able to use this library, a number of environment variables have to be set. There are two ways of doing this:

1) is to type:

source /usr/local/karma/.login

You can also include this in your .login file.

2) if you are using the standard .login file, select karma

Regardless how you setup karma, you have to set the environment for the visualisation software by:

source /applic/viz/karma/viz_setup (Epping & Parkes)
source /source/viz/karma/viz_setup (Narrabri)

Operating Systems

All the programs here are available under SunOS and Solaris. If you want to run it under another operating system, we will try to make the executables for it. The Karma library and some of the visualisation tools have been ported to many other platforms (SGI, Alpha, Ultrix, Cray, HP9000, Linux), and the rest of the visualisation tools are likely to follow. 

Note that on SGI machines, Karma had some problems with the header of datasets that have been converted from FITS, sometimes causing programs to crash. All known bugs have been fixed, however, if you find any more, please contact Richard Gooch ( so the bug can be fixed ASAP.

Data Format   

See the Karma User Manual section on dataformats.

next up previous contents index
Next: Common Features Up: ATNF Visualisation Software Previous: Contents
Richard Gooch