Distro Astro Changelog

New in version 3.0

November 13th, 2014
  • Location-aware Astronomy:
  • Astronomers move from place to place. They travel to witness astronomical phenomena, conduct an outreach program in a faraway place, or simply journey in search of darker skies. In any case, every astronomical app opened would need to have its settings updated to their new location.
  • Distro Astro takes care of this for them. Distro Astro keeps track of the user's changing location via GeoIP or GPS, and keeps astronomy programs updated as well. Of course, users can turn it off or even set the location manually, but in most cases you can just let it work in the background and forget about it.
  • Astrophotography Support:
  • Astrophotography has long been one of Linux's weak points, but not anymore. Ekos is a wonderful Linux-based tool that provides autoguiding, autofocus, polar alignment, video capture, and filter wheel support. It is integrated into KStars, a full-featured planetarium software. The INDI library provides driver support for astronomy hardware, and Astrometry.net analyzes your images. Working together, KEIA (short for KStars, Ekos, INDI, and Astrometry.net) is a tightly-integrated solution that will turn your computer into an astrophotography tool.
  • One Million Deep Sky Objects:
  • The Master Optical List is a huge database of over a million deep sky objects, that it is sometimes called the Million Object List. It integrates all the existing catalogs and sorts out the duplicates into a single master list. This database is now built into Distro Astro and integrated into Cartes du Ciel, and makes it easier for users to query information about any known DSO.

New in version 2.0 (June 26th, 2014)

  • Updated Kernel from 3.2.0 to 3.8.0:
  • We know it's not the latest kernel, but we have tested this for stability and compatibility with the astronomy software we provide. Linux 3.8.0 is the same kernel available in Ubuntu Raring Ringtail and Linux Mint 15 Olivia.
  • 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.
  • Ability to Dual Boot with Windows 8:
  • Distro Astro 1.0.2 cannot dual boot with Windows 8. It can be installed by enabling Legacy Boot on Windows 8 machines, but you will have to wipe out Windows 8.
  • 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.
  • Support for Touch-Screen Monitors:
  • Well, this isn't a big deal for most astronomers like us, but it's nice to know that the newer X.Org drivers that comes with Pallas now supports touch screen. After all, it may be the input device of the future.
  • Although the older Distro Astro 1.0.2 Ceres didn't support touch screen, you can always plug in a mouse.
  • Our very own APT repository:
  • Ok, this isn't entirely new. Prerelease versions of Distro Astro (versions 0.1 to 0.8) had an APT repository in apt.astromedia.ph. The repository stopped being functional when we moved to the distroastro.org domain. Thus it was removed in 1.0 Ceres to prevent error messages during apt-get.
  • 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.
  • Automatic Upgrades of Astronomy Software:
  • Related to the addition of an APT repository are the automatic upgrades. Ubuntu repositories do not normally provide upgrades to new versions, only updates within the same version. Thus, you are stuck with e.g. Stellarium 0.11.0 throughout the LTS cycle.
  • 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.
  • Focus on Professional Astronomy Use:
  • Distro Astro 2.0 Pallas has improved compatibility with software used by professional astronomy, e.g., IRAF now has FITS set as default image type and CASA can now be more easily installed.
  • 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.
  • Upgrade Ceres to Pallas
  • If you currently have Ceres installed and wish to upgrade to Pallas, we have written an upgrade script. Just download it and run it.
  • 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.
  • Still an LTS release:
  • This may not be a feature for some who are looking for an updated repository base, but we did this on purpose. Despite the upgrade in kernel and graphics stack, we have kept compatibility with the current Long-Term Support (LTS) repository, currently Precise. This means that Pallas will continue to be supported until 2017. If we switched to a Quantal, Raring or Saucy base we would be facing end of life in no time.
  • 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.

New in version 1.0.2 (September 28th, 2013)

  • Upgraded software:
  • INDI Library 0.9.6 now includes all the latest drivers as of July 18, 2013.
  • Mint Display Manager upgraded from 1.0.8 to 1.2.5.
  • LibreOffice 4 upgraded from 4.0.1 to 4.0.4.
  • Gimp 2.8 upgraded from 2.8.4 to 2.8.6.
  • Linux Kernel upgraded from 3.2.0-40 to 3.2.0-49
  • Internal packaging changes:
  • LibreOffice has a new icon theme that is consistent with the rest of the distribution.
  • Mint Display Manager has a new HTML theme with Hubble UDF background.
  • IRAF shortcut icon now opens it as the current user instead of user 'iraf'.
  • Fixed a few (mis)alignments in current default login screen.
  • Optimization tweaks.
  • VirtualBox guest packages removed from local repository because it is not needed and merely occupies space.
  • Inherits updated packages from Ubuntu and Linux Mint repositories as of July 25, 2013.