Setting up a linux workstation for Pixinsight (for “marketing” people using the Pc as a black box, like me)
I decided to write a few notes for people that would like to try the "Linux Pixinsight" experience but don’t have the right background like me. I think it is great that with Pixinsight we have basically no constraints for OS and we can switch among the different options depending on needs.
Note: here following are my personal considerations, considerations and statements of a “non technical guy”. Also, if you follow some of the points you do this at your own risk
Key targets of the installation
Set up a fine desktop, install Video drivers if necessary, install colorimeter and color management framework, install Pixinsight, achieve good performance
Decide the hardware
In my case I decided to use a full 250Gb SSD, keeping the Windows 7 disk intact and separated. From Bios or Linux booter you will have the chance to start Windows or Linux. Windows 7 files will be visible and accessible, provided that you didn’t set any encryption or data protection.
/Boot (ext4) (size recommended by Fedora)
/Root (ext4) (I decided for 30Gb)
/PI_DATA (ext4) (all remaining space on disk)
/PI_SWAP (ext4) (30Gb in case you need later)
Swap ( size equal to ram, but to big in my opinion)
You can rework your partitions later but it is easier to select the right schema during the automatic installation procedure. If you have average requirements (I have 4kx4k mono ccd) your best choice for swap will be to top your RAM and create a Ram disk. If you work with projects like me, 10GB of Ram for the Ramdisk won't be enough, the best option would be to buy a PCI-e SSD disk.
Choosing the distribution
The right distribution is the one that allows you to meet all the installation objectives. The chance something doesn’t work is very high and correcting an install is a nightmare for unskilled people like me. One update (even automatic) can ruin your install . I started with Kubuntu, but run into issues with color management and KDE. After a week or so I moved to Fedora 22. Don’t choose the distro for the performance (10% won’t probably change your life..) but watch for problems. My Fedora was incredibly slow due to issues with the Nvidia open driver.
My Fedora 22 Installation
Download the distro and burn the ISO image on a DVD: I suggest you download the main distribution and then customize it installing additional desktops if you like. Restart the PC, go to bios and change boot sequence to have the DVD booting first. Start the installation and follow the menus, very easy, windows like. Watch carefully the partitioning phase, and select manual partitioning but leave Fedora the ability to work the configuration for you. Adjust the partitions sizes and define the new (PI_SWAP, PI_DATA). You only need to not touch the Windows disk, so pay attention. For maximum security I prefer to detach the Windows disk during install, but it is not really needed. This will avoid Linux to write the boot loader in the Windows disk if you make the wrong choice. Let the system complete the install, remove the DVD, and restart. You now have a basic Fedora 22 system, and it is time to prepare the system. The less you install, the better. Only install things really needed. Package have dependencies and if one fail it is difficult to clean up.
There are a number of things to improve the system after the first install, I have found this like extremely helpful.
1 Update the system.
Open the Terminal (from applications or ALT+F2 and Gnome Terminal) and digit “sudo dnf update”. You will need to provide your root password. It will take a lot of time and you will need network connection. Wait till the end and reboot the system. Now you could have a better system or, like in my case, a problem with the video driver (resolution down to 1024x768). I solved this installing the original Nvidia drivers, that seem to work very well in Fedora.
2 Install extra repositories:
you need to configure the extra repositories to access relevant software and particularly the Nvidia driver RPM package. Just open the “RPM Fusion website” and select both “free” and “non free” repositories. These will be added automatically to your package management application (one of the the tool you use to install software in Fedora)
3 Install the Nvidia x Driver.
If you have an NVIDIA card and the Nouveau Open driver doesn’t work or it is slow (just check CPU usage and note if high with no real load) .Open yum from applications and digit “nvidia”. Choose the right driver for your card (last kernel, because you updated) and install. This way worked for me very well and it is, I think, the only viable way for basic Linux people like me. The Nvidia procedure is a nightmare for not experienced people. Restart the system and you should now see a good desktop Install VLC “sudo dnf install vlc”, Clementine “sudo dnf install clementine”, just if you want some better video player and music player to assist you during image processing
4 Install Fedy
a nice tool to customize your Gnome desktop. It will change your life.
$ su -c "curl https://satya164.github.io/fedy/fedy-installer -o fedy-installer && chmod +x fedy-installer && ./fedy-installer"
5 Customize Fedy
if you like 6 Install Gnome Tweak tool. “sudo dnf install gnome-tweak-tool” . This will also change your life.
7 Color management:
my choice was to use DispcalGUI and Argyll. Argyll comes with DispcalGUI and you don’t need to install anything for Fedora 22 , but DispcalcGUI (the program to use your colorimeter, calibrate the monitor and install the profiles) need to be downloaded and installed. You need to get the last version from the site
Installation is straightforward, just double click the package
8 Monitor profiling:
it is best to try immediately the profiling and profiling install, as I had issue with Kubuntu that led me to change to Fedora. I suggest you run the application , create the profile and install it system wise. You can check in the system tools menu-color if the profile has been selected as default.
9 Ram disk set up:
Ram disk performance is much higher than SSD so I decided to set up a RAM disk of 12GB (I have 32GB)
sudo mkdir -p /media/ramdisk sudo mount -t tmpfs -o size=2048M tmpfs /media/ramdisk grep /media/ramdisk /etc/mtab | sudo tee -a /etc/fstab
Remember to select the mount (/media/ramdisk in this case) point later in Pixinsight Global preferences
10 Copy The ICC Profile:
Pixinsight will look for monitor profiles in specific folders. Copy the profile in /share/color/icc using nautilus (file manager) as root
11 Install Pixinsight:
download the tar ball from the website and execute Prework If you are very basic like me, some work is needed to start linux. Not much, but it helps a lot to solve things. I would cover the following: -File systems -the shell -File manager -permissions -root and users -sudo & su -package system (Package kit, yum, dnf) -fstab -gparted