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1. Introduction

1.1. Knowledge Required

With all the help from major Linux distributions such as SuSE, Redhat and many others, Linux based systems are becoming easier to use. However, there is still some need of understanding of basic Unix skills to make the most of Linux. Thus, this HOWTO will assume that the reader has at least a basic knowledge of using a Unix system including the ability to compile and install programs.

A few resources we have found useful over the years include:

  • "A Practical Guide to the Unix System", Mark G. Sobel

  • "Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment", the late W. Richard Stevens

  • "Running LINUX", Matt Welsh et al.

  • "LINUX Device Drivers", Alessandro Rubini

Similarly, this is not a tutorial or reference for astronomy principles or astronomical instrumentation. Astronomy is perhaps the grandest of all sciences, employing widely disparate disciplines in a bold attempt to understand nothing less than the universe itself. Your interests will lead in many directions. A few references we have used include:

  • "Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac", P. Kenneth Seidelmann

  • "Astronomy with your Personal Computer", Peter Duffett-Smith

  • "Astronomy on the Personal Computer", Oliver Montenbruck et al

  • "Textbook on Spherical Astronomy", W. M. Smart

  • "The Astronomy and Astrophysics Encyclopedia", Stephen P. Maran, ed.

1.2. Scope

The authors define the scope of this HOWTO as primarily an index to Linux tools applicable in some fashion to the pursuit of Astronomy. It is NOT our intention to list WWW astronomy references in general. Our own interests tend more toward the technology than the pure science and so we welcome contributions from others who have found Linux tools which contribute in other ways to Astronomy. Please contact us at the address above.

1.3. Disclaimer

No liability for the contents of this documents can be accepted. Use the concepts, examples and other content at your own risk. As this is a new edition of this document, there may be errors and inaccuracies, that may of course be damaging to your system. Proceed with caution, and although this is highly unlikely, the author(s) do not take any responsibility for that.

All copyrights are held by their by their respective owners, unless specifically noted otherwise. Use of a term in this document should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark.

Naming of particular products or brands should not be seen as endorsements.

You are strongly recommended to take a backup of your system before major installation and backups at regular intervals.

1.4. Version

$Revision: 1.56 $

$Date: 2007/04/17 02:45:46 $

The latest version of this document is always available on the Astronomy Net at Astronomy HOWTO.

We eagerly accept suggestions from you. Send them to Astronomy HOWTO Editors.

1.5. Copyright

Copyright 2000-2007 by Elwood Downey and John Huggins. This document may be distributed only subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the LDP License except that this document must not be distributed in modified form without the author's consent.

A verbatim copy may be reproduced or distributed in any medium physical or electronic without permission of the author. Translations are similarly permitted without express permission if it includes a notice on who translated it. Commercial redistribution is allowed and encouraged; however please notify authors of any such distributions.

Excerpts from the document may be used without prior consent provided that the derivative work contains the verbatim copy or a pointer to a verbatim copy.

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document provided the copyright notice, the list of authors and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.

In short, we wish to promote dissemination of this information through as many channels as possible. However, we wish to retain copyright on this HOWTO document, and would like to be notified of any plans to redistribute this HOWTO. For information about translations of this document, please see below.

1.6. Contributions

As we pursue the goals of the Astronomy HOWTO, we will recognize the contributions of folks who provide us with data here.

  • Progga - Helped us get this document into modern times by converting the older linuxdoc to docbook.

1.7. Translations

Since Astronomy is very much an international effort, we encourage translation of this HOWTO into any language. We only ask the following:

  • If you are a translator, please contact us at the above address so we may give proper credit here. This way, readers will immediately see what translations are available and see where to get them.

  • Please obtain the latest copy of the Astronomy HOWTO from its home at Astronomy Net before you begin your translation effort.

We thank the following for their translation efforts:

1.8. About the authors

Elwood Downey has over two decades experience in software engineering for various astronomy projects. Mr. Downey is currently the software and systems engineer for the Nasmyth Telescope in New Mexico. Learn more about Elwood at Clear Sky Institute.

John Huggins has over twenty years experience in hardware engineering including eight years associated with an astronomy observatory project. He also maintains a twelve year old popular astronomy web site called www.astronomy.net; It includes forums, AstroGuide and astronomy articles. Learn more about John at John's Site.