Distro Astro 2.0 is released, codenamed Pallas. This release of Distro Astro focuses on software used by professional astronomers.
Astronomy software can be classified into roughly two broad categories: those for amateur astronomers and professional astronomers. While the best amateur astronomy software are currently written for Microsoft Windows, the reverse is true for professional software which are mostly written for Unix/Linux.
While Distro Astro aims to provide the best experience for both professional and amateur astronomers, it will take us longer to reach this goal for amateur astronomers.
It therefore makes sense for us in 2.0 Pallas to focus on improving the distribution for professional use, and to focus on amateur astronomy in 3.0 Juno. This will also give needed software more time to mature.
For a detailed list of what’s new, see the Full Change Log.
Distro Astro 2.0 Pallas is available for download as a LiveDVD ISO. This is exactly the same ISO file distributed on November 20, 2013 at the SEAYAC conference in Bandung, Indonesia.
If you wish to download now, you may proceed to the Download Section and follow the instructions given in that page.
The following are the features in Distro Astro 2.0 Pallas:
The kernel update is provided via the Ubuntu LTS Hardware Enablement Stack (HES). Being based on Ubuntu LTS repositories (currently Precise), Distro Astro uses the HES to provide kernel updates.
Distro Astro 2.0 now allows you to dual boot between Distro Astro and Windows 8. You still need to enable Legacy Boot, and then install it the way you would normally dual-boot Linux and Windows: either by partitioning it beforehand or using the Ubiquity installer to set up partitioning.
Although the older Distro Astro 1.0.2 Ceres didn’t support touch screen, you can always plug in a mouse.
Our new APT repository is located in packages.distroastro.org. It is now included and enabled by default in the
/etc/sources.list file of 2.0 Pallas.
APT stands for Advance Packaging Tool and is the software management tool used in Debian-based systems.
The developers of Distro Astro have decided to provide upgraded versions of included software in the Distro Astro repositories. Packages not found in Ubuntu repositories, e.g., XEphem, are maintained in the Distro Astro repositories.
We plan to keep astronomy software in our repositories upgraded to the latest stable versions, backported to the latest Ubuntu LTS libraries.
However, to do this successfully we need volunteers to maintain debian packages in our repositories, checking for new stable versions and building compatible packages for each new upstream release.
Our developers recognize that many astronomers are moving to Python as a preferred programming language, and 2.0 Pallas reflects this trend. The preinstalled Python Astropack includes PyRAF, AstroPy, PyFITS, PyWCS, VOTable, NOVAS, and astrolib.coords. In addition, the repositories also contain SciPy, CosmoloPy, APLPy, PyEphem, and NASA’s OSCAAR software that are installable via apt-get.
Also recognizing the vast amount of legacy FORTRAN software for astronomy, our repositories contain both GFortran and G95 to allow you to run almost all of them. GFortran is installed by default while G95 is available via apt-get.
Warning: the upgrade will take several hours. You will need a consistent Internet connection. Do not interrupt the upgrade or you may end up with a broken system.
If you are currently happy with 1.0.2, there is no need to upgrade. We are still using the same Ubuntu base as Ceres.
The following features were planned but did not make it into 2.0 Pallas:
When Distro Astro switches to a new Ubuntu 14.04 LTS base in 3.0 Juno, Ekos will be included.
The following tasks are currently ongoing:
Considering this is a huge task we need volunteers to do it. Contact us if you are interested, and tell us which application you are volunteering to package.
In particular, we are looking for people highly familiar with Debian packaging who are willing to create binary and source packages for IRAF, CASA, CIAO, ESO’s SciSoft Collection, and NASA’s FTOOLS.
We are also looking for developers who can port Windows software to Linux, such as NAOJ’s Mitaka planetarium program released under an MIT license.
Pallas is a great release, and we hope you enjoy using it! We also know that Distro Astro is still largely a work in progress. Please be patient with us. Better yet, join our team!