One of the great things about Linux is that there really is a distribution for everybody, even astronomers or folks who would just like to learn a little bit about astronomy. If that’s you then you’ll want to take a peek at Distro Astro 1.0.2. Distro Astro is all about learning about our solar system and the universe itself.
Distro Astro comes bundled with a great selection of astronomy applications (more on that in the software section), and it’s based on Ubuntu and Linux Mint. So it’s easy to install and use, even if you’re new to Linux.
What’s New in Distro Astro 1.0.2
Here’s a sample of the changes in this release:
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.
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.
This is a point release, so there’s not an enormous amount of new features in it.
System Requirements for Distro Astro 1.0.2
I was not able to find a detailed list of system requirements for Distro Astro 1.0.2. However, it was originally based on Ubuntu 12.04 and Linux Mint 13 Maya, and has been updated as noted above in the What’s New section. So if your system can run either of those distributions, you should be able to run Distro Astro as well.
If you come across a specific list of requirements for Distro Astro, please post them in the comments below. Thanks.
Distro Astro 1.0.2 Download
You can download Distro Astro from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 2.02 GB, so it’s not a small download by any means. Don’t let that throw you though since it comes with some great software.
Distro Astro 1.0.2 Installation
As I noted earlier, Distro Astro is based on Linux Mint and Ubuntu. It uses the same installer, so it’s quite easy and fast to install it. You can watch a slideshow of Distro Astro features and software while your install happens. I recommend going through the slideshow since it introduces you to some of the astronomy applications included with Distro Astro.
Note also that Distro Astro is a live distribution, so it’s possible to run it off a disc to check it out without having to do an install.
The Distro Astro 1.0.2 Desktop
One of the things I really like about Distro Astro is the look and feel of it. The developers didn’t just glom a bunch of astronomy apps into Ubuntu and Linux Mint. They took the time to include some gorgeous wallpapers to give it’s own feel and identity. The wallpapers are images from the Hubble telescope.
From the minute you boot into the desktop, you know that this distro is all about the heavens. The default wallpaper is gorgeous, but you can easily switch it by right clicking your desktop and choosing Change Desktop Background. There are a number of attractive space-based wallpapers that are included by default, and you can get different kinds online.
On the desktop you’ll find a couple of icons for personal files, and your computer. But there are also seven icons for astronomy applications that make it easy to get started learning about space and the universe.
Click the Start button on the panel, and you’ll see the handy Linux Mint menu. If you’ve used Linux Mint before, you’ll feel right at home in Distro Astro. It’s easy to navigate around to find applications, the Software Manager, Control Center, etc.
If you prefer you can opt for the Nightvision theme instead of the default Clearskies. Nightvision is much darker, with red text. It’s not my cup of tea, as I don’t care for red text at all. But your mileage may vary so check it out anyway.
There are also Nightvision and Hubble screensavers you can use in Distro Astro 1.0.2. The Hubble images are quite gorgeous, especially if you’ve never seen them before. Some of them are breathtaking to behold, and they convey well the amazing beauty of our universe.
Linux Software Included in Distro Astro 1.0.2
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release. The focus of Distro Astro is obviously on astronomy apps, and there’s quite a lot to choose from as you can tell from the list below.
But the developers of this distro have not forgotten the need for other applications, you’ll find all your usual favorites here such as VLC, GIMP, LibreOffice, etc. So you can do quite a bit more with Distro Astro than just use astronomy applications.
AstroCC Coordinate Converter (convert astronomical coordinates)
Astronomy Clock 2 (see astronomical time)
Astronomy Lab 2 (simulate astronomical events)
Celestia (explore the universe)
GCX Astro-Image Processor (process astronomical images)
GPredict (satellite tracker)
Gravity (gravitational simulator)
Iris (process astronomical images)
KStars Planetarium (desktop planetarium)
Meteoracle (predict and observer meteor showers)
Nightshade (desktop planetarium)
OpenRocket (design and simulate model rockets)
OpenUniverse Space Simulator (explore the solar system)
ORSA (celestial mechanics tool)
Planets (simulations of planetary systems)
Radio Meteor Analyzer (analyze radio meteor data)
Sky Charts (desktop planetarium)
SkyGlobe (desktop planetarium)
StarPlot (view star charts)
Virtual Moon Atlas (study lunar features)
VMA Command Center (virtual moon atlas)
Where is M13? (display deep sky objects)
wxAstroCapture (capture planetary objects)
XEphem (astronomical ephemeris)
XTide (view tide and current predictions)
Totem Movie Player
Linux Software Management Tools in Distro Astro 1.0.2
Distro Astro uses the Linux Mint Software Manager, so it’s quite easy to add or remove applications. Just find the application and then click the Install or Remove button. You can also read see star ratings and read short reviews by other users, before installing an application.
Problems & Headaches Found in Distro Astro 1.0.2
Distro Astro 1.0.2 ran very well for me. I saw no noticeable issues with it. It seemed fairly fast and was very stable while I was running it.
If you’ve seen any issues with it, please note them in the comments below for the benefit of other readers. It’s always helpful to know if there are potential problems with a distro before somebody installs it. Thanks in advance if you note anything.
Where To Get Help for Distro Astro 1.0.2
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to email the Distro Astro developers, send them a form email on their site, or post on the Distro Astro Facebook page.
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Final Thoughts About Distro Astro 1.0.2
I was quite impressed with Distro Astro 1.0.2. Any Linux users who are interested in astronomy should definitely check it out, it’s certainly worth a download. It provides a great selection of astronomy applications, but it can also be used for other things. So it’s not just limited to its primary function.
If I could change one thing about this distro, it’s the name. Distro Astro just isn’t memorable enough. If there are no copyright issues involved, perhaps the developers could simply call it “Voyager” and then use a tagline like “Discover the Universe with Linux.” Okay, maybe I’m nitpicking, but a catchy name can work wonders at getting people’s attention. And I’d really like to see this distro get some real attention since it has quite a lot to offer sky watchers.
Distro Astro 1.0.2 is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
What’s your take on Distro Astro 1.0.2? Tell me in the comments below.