Fine-tuning (K)ubuntu and installing some astro/math packages

Ubuntu, is one of the best linux distros currently (as of 2009 Feb 11). However the live CD that you can download from the Ubuntu website is pretty minimalistic. Most likely you will need to install additional libraries/software. There are many, many webpages devoted to setting up your desktop so that it looks pretty, flashy and play all kinds of media. As as astronomer/astrophysicist, I have a few additional requirements, viz. installing the astronomical software (e.g. HEASOFT, ISIS, IRAF), mathematics libraries (e.g. GSL), and plotting packages (e.g. gnuplot and pgplot). Some of these (and their pre-requisites) are non-trivial and takes a fair amount of searching the internet. Therefore I am trying to put these things together here, so it can be helpful (mainly to me, but maybe others too) for future reference.

Disclaimer: These settings are what I like (today) … so beware …


0. Random, unorganized notes

2009 Jun 19: The KDE software updater marks the linux kernel upgrades as 'blocked' and wouldn't install them by default. The way to force the kernel upgrade seems to be via 'sudo aptitude full-upgrade'.

1. Setting up Kubuntu

Maybe good to reboot at this point and make sure everything is working properly.


2. Then a few more (optional) fine-tunings that I like (and most others don't)


2.1 Start->System Settings->Notifications->Turn of all sounds.

2.2 Start->System Settings->Window Behavior->Under 'Focus' tab, in Focus box, change 'Policy' to 'Focus follows mouse', check 'Auto Raise' with Delay 500ms. Also make the titlebar expands vertically on double click.

2.3 I hate KDE wallet. Disable it: xterm->kwalletmanager->configure kwallet

2.4 Add logoff/shutdown applet to panel.

2.5 Configure the clock in the panel to show day of the week, and also the seconds. I like when the clock has the same fonts as the rest (Sans Serif 9).

2.6 To solve the problem with check-boxes on Firefox (hope they fix it quickly): Start -> System settings -> Appearance -> GTK Styles and Fonts -> Use another style -> QtCurve


3. Now to the non-standard mathematics/astronomy/astrophysics packages

Note: The version numbers change quite rapidly for these software. These commands assume whatever is the most recent version now (2009 Feb 11). Therefore you may need to edit the commands accordingly. Also, I like to install these in the directory ~/installed/software-name-<version>. Also the sequence of installation is slightly important; particularly you may want to install ISIS after heasoft if you want to link ISIS to heasoft and thus be able to install the XSPEC models.

Update 2009 Sep 25: Maybe I was slow to learn this, but you no longer need to install Pgplot and cfitsio yourself before installing ISIS as long as you have installed heasoft beforehand. You only need to install s-lang. Also VERY, VERY important … use the same set of compilers for compiling s-lang/heasoft/ISIS and preferably the other ISIS modules/accessories like slirp, slgsl etc.


4. Setting up Panotools (autopano, hugin, enblend etc.)


6. Setting up Heasoft/ISIS on a Mac OS X (v10.5.8)


7. image analysis tips


8. latex/dvips random stumbles

9. Tips & tricks


This page was created by Dipankar Maitra, in an attempt to learn some of the wiki-lingo.

Comments are welcome. You can reach me at: ddotmaitra AT gmail . com

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