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Installing the Binary Distributions for IMACS/LDSS Mask Generation

This is the distribution of executable Linux software for making I.M.A.C.S. slit masks. This distribution consists of:

  • Executable Linux binaries:

    intgui maskgen maskcut ncplot smdfplt

  • Data files used by the above:

    opticdef.dat maskcut.cfg pmap.dat

  • Documentation
    • README (this file) -- how to install the software
    • mginstr.txt -- how to use the software
    • faq.txt -- Frequently Asked Questions (read before asking)
    • catdata.txt -- example of and explanation of object catalog data
    • obsfile.txt -- explains the ".obs" file used by maskgen
    • smdfile.txt -- explains the ".SMF" file produced by maskgen
    • config.txt -- explains configuration parameters and data files
  • Useful scripts
    • getlsi -- used to get new distributions (see below)
    • mgclean -- deletes files generated from user input
    • obscat -- used to create observing catalog entries

Depending on the system architecture you are using, you will need to download the appropriate ".tgz" file (compressed tar file). These can be found on the Carnegie Code Repository. Copy the tgz file to the directory of your choice, and extract the contents using a command of the form:

    > gtar  xfz  lsi.tgz

The executable programs here will need to be present at least in the execution path of each user who will be using them. The accompanying data files (opticdef.dat, pmap.dat, and maskcut.cfg), or a symbolic link to them, will be needed wherever the user is using the software. The best thing to do is to make a symbolic link to the distributed data files from /usr/local/etc/ or /usr/local/etc/maskgen/. It is very important to link to the place where you unpack new distributions so that new data files are used rather than old copies, since changes to these files are considered part of the new distribution. As an alternative, the environment variable OPTICDEF may be defined as the directory name where opticdef.dat is stored. Also, the environment variable CUTDEF may be defined as the directory name where maskcut.cfg is stored. The environment variable DEFAULTS may be defined as the directory name where pmap.dat is stored. And, these needed files or a symbolic link may be in the parent directory of the directory in which the programs are used. See the file config.txt for more details.

System Libraries and Dependencies

The distributed programs are executable images, and are linked with dynamic libraries. Currently libraries needed are:

        libm    libX11  libc    libpthread      libcurl         libcrypto

The first 4 should be quite standard, but the last 2 may be not yet installed on your system. You will need to install them, or ask your system manager to do so.

You may also need to install X11 fonts that are no longer shipped by default in the most recent versions of Ubuntu (and possibly other Debian-based systems). If intgui crashes with an error like:

       X Error of failed request:  BadName (named color or font does not exist)

Then use your Linux package manager (apt-get, yum, etc) to install the X11 fonts (on CentOS, these are called xorg-x11-fonts-*, on Ubuntu, they are called xfonts-*).


The documentation files may be stored in any location where they can be conveniently referred to by users. PLEASE read the documentation files. Read faq.txt before asking those questions again, especially the first one. Really, read it!

All of these programs, data files and documentation are in current development. This distribution is only a snapshot of an evolving set of software and information. Things will change, and new things will be added. Often these changes will be documented, sometimes not. Some major changes will be announced, minor ones will not, but the file dates will show that things are changing.

Users are encouraged to obtain new distributions in a timely manner, at least prior to using the software for making masks to be used in any actual observing run. Fixes and new features appear approximately on a monthly basis. With release 2.0, users are reminded at the start of each program whether their software is current or in need of update.

Also, if you experience any problems or errors in using any of the programs, get the latest version, distribute the files to their locations in your use, and try again. That way, you can say "yes" when I ask if you have the latest distribution.

The current location for the official distributions of software is kept on the Carnegie Code Repository. Please visit before making masks to check to see if a new version exists.

The star catalogs:

The "skywin" feature of interface GUI uses a set of star catalogs which have been slightly compressed and reformatted from the publicly available source data. These are not expected to change at all, which means they may be downloaded once and stored in a central location.

The star catalog distribution is over 4 Gigabytes of data. It is possible to download this overnight in two tar files of about 2 Gigabytes each. Downloading takes about 2 hours for each file. A link in the maskmaking.html page (above) will show how to do it.

If you have an internet connection and need to make only a few masks, and don't want to download the catalogs, the catalog information is available over the internet from; if local catalogs are not found, an internet request will be automatically made, and the data saved locally for future use. This download may take a minute or two when done the first time. Guide stars are absolutely required to cut an IMACS mask.