2009-07-19

Homepage, community and distribution update

Since February, I'm working hard on new properties of Munipack. A long-time fine tuning of parameters of fitspng was the initial impulse for me. I spend a lot of time (hours) with selection of appropriate values to get a naturally looking picture.

Of course, this is fault of any command line interface. So I've started working on a GUI to Munipack. It inspired me to did some additional changes.

I think, that is one of ways to pass my photometric experiences to next generations. A software in action, together with a source code, may help me describe all details of methods. They will illustrate more preciselly than a natural language. Any white-paper or a web article can't fully describe implementation details. From this point of view, Munipack is a part of my mind and experiences.

Homepage

The past-looking homepage of Munipack has been replaced to a new one. Its style is improved version of Nightview's homepage. All pages are static and they are generated directly from my version system one per day.

I also moved main Munipack site to this new address:


to highlight connection between Munipack and Masaryk university using of .muni.cz domain. The original name is inspired by DAOPHOT originated at Dominion Astronomical Observatory. The -pack suffix means that a set routines isn't focused only to a specific photometry task.


Community site

I founded Munipack's side on Google code:


The site provides two important tools. Wiki which can be used by anybody to write some descriptions, experiences or to summarize some procedure of data processing useful for others. I'm expecting that the wiki will used generally for astronomical image processing. I'm will very gladly when Munipack will used for the processing.

Google code also offers a bug-tracking system. It is an ideal place for reporting bugs and feature requests. I think that will provide for me some better arrangement of development needs.

I think that a mailing list may be very useful to Munipack. So I also founded the Google group for Munipack:


Again, It is intended for a general discuss about the astronomical photometry and I will greet with using of Munipack for this work.


Binary distribution

While average Munipack user is not familiar with a code compilation process, I'm providing binary distribution packages. At the time, only Linux 32-bit and 64-bit packages are generated from Munipack's source tree. The installation itself is really simple like installation of a Linux game. Unfortunately, the distributed binaries occupies a lot of space because they must contain wxWidgets, libpng and cfitsio libraries.

The binary distribution tree stores two sets of binaries. The bin/ directory contains statically linked routines. They will work without any system setup. Opposite with this, the lib/munipack/bin/ contains shared binaries which needs libraries linked against in a system or a specified directory. The setup is done via a shell script in bin/ directory.

Binary installators are created with help of Makeself utility. The packaging itself is done on base of ideas published in that article: Linux Game Development by Troy Hepfner.

The output binaries will probably work on any modern Linux. I haven't resources to directly prepare of packages for a specific Linux distribution like Ubuntu, Mandriva, Fedora etc. The script to generate of the binary packages is included in source distribution in dist/.

In any case, I still recommends source code installation including compilation itself. The advantages are:
  • smaller binaries, optionally with tuning
  • better setup of optimization, be faster
Especially, the compiled binaries are smaller and uses system libraries (usually optimized). They are occupied both less disk storage and a computer memory. The optimization on a target platform and a processor can significantly speed up of run. Especially using of advanced instructions (SSE,..) on 32-bit processors, which are not switched on by default, can be important.

Also, I strongly recommends use of Intel Fortran compiler (ifc) which strongly boost run. Unfortunately, binaries created by ifc can't be freely distributed. Ones are created by GNU tools: gfortran and C, C++ compilers.


Warning

Munipack is in rapid development phase now. You can find bugs, a strange behavior or something like this. Also anything can be changed.
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