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Questions for the Linux users

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#1 Mike Phillips

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Posted 10 October 2008 - 10:21 PM

Hey there linux users.

I'm a bit of a WinXP convert for various reasons and switched to Ubuntu about one year ago.

I'm curious to see:

1) What distro do you use and why?

2) What are the main things you use linux for?

3) What is your favorite Astronomy-related linux app?

4) Are you using any native linux apps over wine/virtual windows ones?

5) Any planetary imagers out there? (loaded question)

Also, is there any type of support group? :) I'm not the most savvy, but I can hold my own...

OK, I'll go 1st:

==================================

1) What distro do you use and why?
Ubuntu 8.04 - Hary Heron. Why? Sorta sad, but my employer locked me out of our standard WinXP build when not plugged into the network. Yeah, that *BLEEP* me off. But still, I'm rational, I should be on the network anyways right? What happens when when I'm not and I really want to do something offline? OH THE HORROR!
So this and the bomb of a Vista launch got me thinking about moving 'back' to linux. I did try slackware in college (late 90's).

I heard about Ubuntu and had to try it out seriously. So I dual-booted around the aforementioned 'secure' WinXP that I couldn't use. Over time I got the hang of it, stuck with the bumps in the road and am an avid advocate of making the switch!

2) What are the main things you use linux for?
anything I can!

3) What is your favorite Astronomy-related linux app?
coriander, then stellarium

4) Are you using any native linux apps over wine/virtual windows ones?
coriander for planetary captures!, kstars, stellarium

5) Any planetary imagers out there? (loaded question)
ME!

Mike

#2 llanitedave

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Posted 10 October 2008 - 11:17 PM

1. I'm also a Hardy Heron user. I have an older G-4 Apple iBook which is very nice, but my wife is the main user of it. She's gradually switching over to her own desktop Linux machine.

2. Everything. It's all I use at home.

3. I like Kstars a lot, and keep coming back to it.

4. Not sure what "over" means. The only Windows application I've used so far that I need Wine for is NEWT. Everything else I've ever needed to do I can do with Linux or web based applications.

5. Not yet. Hopefully that will change at some point.

#3 TomC10

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Posted 10 October 2008 - 11:41 PM

Hi Mike.

1. Mainly SimplyMepis 7.0, with Hardy Heron on another partition. I find Mepis more responsive, has what I need and it just works.

2. Yeah, everything I can. I still program on XP though. When doing proof of concepts and prototypes its much faster and simpler for me than Linux.

3. Stellarium, K-stars, Celestia, Mars24, Systemic (I'm trying to learn a little more about exoplanet discovery and doppler velocities).

4. 5. no.

#4 tk89123

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Posted 11 October 2008 - 01:23 PM

1) What distro do you use and why?
I use Kubuntu 7.04 mostly since it works the best of many distributions I tried on my old laptop and my desktop too.

2) What are the main things you use linux for?
Almost everything. I dual boot with XP but only use XP for a couple of things maybe 2-3 times per month.

3) What is your favorite Astronomy-related linux app?
Kstars. Stellarium won't run on my old laptop, P3 850mhz 320mb ram, at least not very well, slow as frozen molasses.

4) Are you using any native linux apps over wine/virtual windows ones?
No.

5) Any planetary imagers out there?
I've done a little bit of planetary imaging with a Phillips SPC900 webcam, but have not found any video capture apps for linux that work on my laptop with the SPC900. I would like to get a Meade DSI color and a 3.3 focal reducer to try some DSO photography thru my 8" sct but finances force me to wait for now.

#5 Mike Phillips

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Posted 11 October 2008 - 09:49 PM

Sorry if I put some poor wording around #4:

4) Are you using any native linux apps over wine/virtual windows ones?

I meant to ask if folks are using a native linux app that does the same thing that a windows app would do. If not are you using native windows (aka dual boot) or wine/virtual environments for the native windows app under linux?

I use WIMP, Registax and Iris in wine and MaxDSLR in a WinXP via VirtualBox.

As for the planetary stuff. I own an Astronomy Camera's DMK21AF04 and toyed around with some of the UniCap software. It has some potential for the USB cameras, but as I firewire use I go the coriander route. I picked up some coriander mods from a fellow CN'er that rock!

Mike

#6 Lamb0

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Posted 12 October 2008 - 03:05 AM

1) SimplyMepis 7.0 based on Debian is stable, has what I need, and it just works.

2) What are the main things you use linux for? ummm... Yes! :grin:

3) KStars

4) Stellarium, Celestia (ancient programs like Sky & Tel's sec.exe run fine with dosbox)

5) My budget doesn't allow an Atlas, so imaging with my DSI Color is limited - job hunting takes a lot of time away from observing already.

#7 JoeF

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 12:44 PM

1) What distro do you use and why?

Mandrake 10 on 450Mhz PII (yes I know I should upgrade! but it works for me.)
Ubuntu something on old laptop.
I rarely play with distros though I do upgrade software so really each of my distros evolves and I don't really bother about the differences anymore.

2) What are the main things you use linux for?
Everything except Modes which is standard museum software and MS Access.

3) What is your favorite Astronomy-related linux app?
Xephem. Not Astro Related it has to be Lyx.

4) Are you using any native linux apps over wine/virtual windows ones?
No.

5) Any planetary imagers out there? (loaded question)
No.

Cheers

Joe

#8 Ben Ritchie

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Posted 14 October 2008 - 01:44 AM

1) What distro do you use and why?

Ubuntu 8.04 on a T40 thinkpad. Why? Ease of use, and familiarity. In the past i've been a RedHat (since 5.2) and Mandrake user.

2) What are the main things you use linux for?

Internet, text editing (Latex, emacs) and FIGARO/DIPSO and IRAF for my 'other' involvement in Astronomy.

3) What is your favorite Astronomy-related linux app?

FIGARO and DIPSO, through familiarity.

4) Are you using any native linux apps over wine/virtual windows ones?

Don't use Wine, keep a spare Windows PC for the one Windows application I can't live without (MS Money). I've never got it running correctly on Wine, and it's such high value to me I wouldn't trust it on Wine anyway.

5) Any planetary imagers out there? (loaded question)

Not me.

#9 CaptianX

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Posted 14 October 2008 - 09:17 AM

1) I use Mandriva 2007.1 on my desktop at work, and Mandriva 2008.1 at home. I also have an eeepc which is running the stock Xandros for now, but I love to tinker so by next week It'll probably have Mandriva 2009 on it.

2)I use it for pretty much everything, from web browsing and music to web server and programming. There are only 2 things I need windows for, CAD drawing, and DVB satellite TV.

3)Kstars, Stellarium, xephem

4)on Wine I often run a little app called Jupiter2- it predicts transits and shadows of the moons, and the position of the GRS I have also used Registax.

5) Just some attempts at handheld Afocal shots so far.

#10 Mike Phillips

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 11:19 PM

Awesome info... Here I thought I was one of the very few... turns out theres a bunch of us out there!

Ok, so looks like most folks are NOT Planetary observers. What are folks doing for CCD or DSLR? I'm stuck with MaxDSLR running in Virtual Box for DSO / DSLR shutter control. Works great, but recently I've turned back to WinXP on a older laptop and setup RDP for remote control via my warm cozy house on the linux box! :p

Mike

#11 groz

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 05:30 PM

1) What distro do you use and why?


On pc hardware, I load debian. Have it loaded on 4 servers, 4 notebooks, and a couple of desktops. The third one with a pc oriented distribution is my EEE, and its got the xanadros it came with, simply because it came on it. I use debian because of the depth and granularity of the package repositories, the same reason a lot of other distributions originate from debian. I've cross built a few debian packages to load onto my EEE, stuff not available from it's default repositories. Most of the boxes here that normally boot windows, do have a debian option in the boot menus.

On non-pc hardware I use LFS (Linux from Scratch), which gets built on the debian boxes, then flashed into the non pc boxes from there. Currently in my office, there's about 16 non pc devices running, all attached to the network, most have no monitor/keyboard. All of those devices have 'from scratch' linux builds on them, some based on a minimal busybox installation, some based on a full blown installation sourced from debian package repositories. The gamut runs from 200mhz mips devices with 4 meg flash and 16 meg ram, a couple of arm processors, and a couple higher end machines that have x86 processors with a few gig of ram and a few more gig of flash. I run 'from scratch' on these because there are no distributions that we can just load and run, linux distributions tend to be very peecee centric, with a few targeting mac or other mainstream hardware, but, there's nothing I can 'just load and run' on the little mips or arm processor based systems. For that we compile from scratch, then load the flash.

2) What are the main things you use linux for?

Industrial process control and/or routers. Some are 'just boxes doing a simple job', others run soft real-time stuff, and others we run hard real time processes on. And some are just toys :) Example, one is an arm processor with 32meg of ram, and a couple hard drives, sits on the network as a raid, and is the target of all the daily backups here. The hardware is the Western Digital Mybook form factor, but, all the software on it has been replaced with a 'from scratch' build out of my own source trees. Another one, I have a little embedded device with wifi on it, which I have put my own linux based firmware onto, it has a usb port. I've used it 'at the telescope' with NexImage and the dslr plugged in, remoting it's data back to the house over the wifi link. I gave up on that configuration due to problems getting drivers for more sensative cameras. We used it extensively last winter to do unquided photography with the dslr, and I got guiding working 'ok' using the NexImage, but, the webcam just isn't sensative enough for what we wanted.

Some of the devices here started life as off the shelf commercial products, others started life as 'box of parts' that got soldered into a device.

3) What is your favorite Astronomy-related linux app?

I've used stellarium and kstars lightly. I've been meaning to start toying around with iraf, but haven't really got to that yet. Soon. Until I can solve the drivers problem for some of the camera hardware, still stuck with windows 'at the telescope', but, I do expect to change that over the next year or two.

4) Are you using any native linux apps over wine/virtual windows ones?

I dont install Wine on any boxes. But, for windows boxes where I need to run linux stuff, I use either CoLinux or VirtualBox. Both serve different purposes, and work very well. I've been using CoLinux for years, and just recently started with VirtualBox. A CoLinux system on a windows laptop gives me a full linux development system to go, packaged up on a platform that'll still run all the stupid network virus thingies that are 'required' on some corporate networks, and not available on linux.

5) Any planetary imagers out there? (loaded question)


I've toyed with some, haven't gotten serious with it yet, but that is in the plan for the upcoming winter. One problem I have trying to do this with linux, the astronomy hardware vendors are very 'linux hostile', I've got a lot of hardware here for which there are no drivers available, and, the vendors have refused to provide documentation that would allow me to write those drivers.

Example, two of the cameras I have which are very suitable for planetary imaging, Orion Starshoot Solar System Imager II, and the QHY5. I've requested technical documentation from orion and qhy for both of them, to allow driver development. Both refused. With the orion one, i asked after I bought the camera, wasn't surprised when they refused. With the QHY, I specifically asked prior to purchasing, if documentation could be had for driver development, and the response was yes. In reality, the original intent was to use the camera to prototype something for a customer who had a requirement to do some black and white video in a very low light environment, and I thought it would be great to use an astro toy as the prototype, end up with a toy left over afterwards, possibly push the sale of a few hundred units on to the vendor should the project go past prototype, and into production. So, after confirming documentation would be available, cameras were ordered, and docs requested. Cameras have been here for a few months now, and no sign of any docs. We ended up using a different camera for the clients prototype, and, they are now headed for production using that other camera.

My NexImage functions fine with the Philips drivers on linux. My Dsi-Pro, QHY5, and SSSSII are all orphaned on linux, to get any of them running will be a major reverse engineering project. The original plan was to get specs, then write some drivers that turn them into V4L devices, and commit those back to the mainline kernel tree, it would be a fun winter project with proper documentation. Without documentation, we've decided to just use windows 'at the telescope' and be done with it. I've got better things to do with my hobby time than spend endless hours with usb sniffers deciphering how these cameras work, and the vendors all made it really clear, they dont want anybody creating these drivers and committing them back to a 'for free' system.

I dont understand the linux hostile nature of the vendors, but I've fought that battle enough in the past. We just want to work with astrophotography, so a couple active usb extension systems, now we can sit in the living room and usb attach to the telescope gear outside. I'll re-visit the plan to do it all from linux boxes if/when we find the right guide cameras.

This much I can say with certainty tho, we are not spending another cent on astro hardware which doesn't have drivers already in the linux mainline kernel tree, or, full documentation in my hands. Been there, done that, not going to happen again. When I tally up all the notebooks, desktops, and servers in this household, the total is 16. 4 still have windows on them for various reasons, and astro gadget drivers is one of those reasons. The guide cams are the item holding us back from going all linux for the astro toys, and, if we start replacing guidecams, it'll be with stuff that works plugged into a linux box. In an ideal world, I'd like something I can plug into a tiny embedded system that sits at the telescope, then remotes the data back to our main boxes over a network link. I've got it all prototyped with the Neximage, but, to date haven't found suitable 'final' cameras for it. I will eventually, but not in a hurry anymore.

#12 Mike Phillips

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 10:25 PM

Groz, quite a collection you've got there! Very impressive, both your hardware and your knowledge and workings of OS'es.

I am interested in any work or findings on guide cams!

As for Planetary work, don't forget there's a host of cams that use 1394 (aka firewire). libdc1394 seems to work VERY well for my Astronomy Camera's DMK21AF04. In fact, it is recognized out of the box in coriander. The only problem was getting coriander to record a format that Registax was happy with. I saw that Anthony Wesley was working well with it on his Fedora/RH dist. I asked (more like nagged him) about it and he helped me get a great automated capture routine. I've yet to finish writing up the doc describing my current capture and processing routine, but someday!!

Net-net, I always use Linux with coriander for all my lunar and planetary work. Only short coming was for DSO/dimmer planetary work on Uranus and Neptune, I had to flip back to windows to get over 1second exposures.

Mike

PS - Great so see some s/w ideas from everyone!

#13 BlueMoon

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 11:00 PM

BTW, if anyone is interested in using a "small footprint" LINUX distro, you might try **** Small Linux (DSL) from here:
http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/

Based on the Debian distro (which rocks!) and great for replacing Win98, ME or XP on an older laptop or desktop... I'm currently using it to build a firewall/filter for a small business on some older legacy hardware.

#14 NeoDinian

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 11:29 PM

I like the Bootable USB option. :)

#15 BlueMoon

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 11:46 PM

Sorry if this is a bit of a hijack...

Here's a quick n dirty cropped screen cap of DSL running *inside* of my XP box. This is the result of downloading the "embeddable" version .zip file, extracting it and then running two .bat files. Took all of 5 minutes... This config uses QEMU to set up the environment and then load the LINUX system into it. Very slick...

Posted Image

What's cool is you could use DSL in a "temporary" fashion like this to access the boot configs for setting up a USB drive without having to mess about installing DSL on your HD first.

#16 groz

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 12:43 AM

As for Planetary work, don't forget there's a host of cams that use 1394 (aka firewire). libdc1394 seems to work VERY well for my Astronomy Camera's DMK21AF04.


Yah, but, the problem is, the systems we use for our embedded applications have no firewire. I need to work with usb connections. By the time I source embedded hardware that has a firewire, may as well use a plain old notebook, which defeats the original goal.

#17 lambermo

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 02:09 PM

Sorry to quote so much, but it's relevant for the context, so I hope it's OK.

5) Any planetary imagers out there? (loaded question)

One problem I have trying to do this with linux, the astronomy hardware vendors are very 'linux hostile', I've got a lot of hardware here for which there are no drivers available, and, the vendors have refused to provide documentation that would allow me to write those drivers.

Example, two of the cameras I have which are very suitable for planetary imaging, Orion Starshoot Solar System Imager II, and the QHY5. I've requested technical documentation from orion and qhy for both of them, to allow driver development. Both refused. With the orion one, i asked after I bought the camera, wasn't surprised when they refused. With the QHY, I specifically asked prior to purchasing, if documentation could be had for driver development, and the response was yes. In reality, the original intent was to use the camera to prototype something for a customer who had a requirement to do some black and white video in a very low light environment, and I thought it would be great to use an astro toy as the prototype, end up with a toy left over afterwards, possibly push the sale of a few hundred units on to the vendor should the project go past prototype, and into production. So, after confirming documentation would be available, cameras were ordered, and docs requested. Cameras have been here for a few months now, and no sign of any docs. We ended up using a different camera for the clients prototype, and, they are now headed for production using that other camera.

My NexImage functions fine with the Philips drivers on linux. My Dsi-Pro, QHY5, and SSSSII are all orphaned on linux, to get any of them running will be a major reverse engineering project. The original plan was to get specs, then write some drivers that turn them into V4L devices, and commit those back to the mainline kernel tree, it would be a fun winter project with proper documentation. Without documentation, we've decided to just use windows 'at the telescope' and be done with it. I've got better things to do with my hobby time than spend endless hours with usb sniffers deciphering how these cameras work, and the vendors all made it really clear, they dont want anybody creating these drivers and committing them back to a 'for free' system.

I dont understand the linux hostile nature of the vendors, but I've fought that battle enough in the past. We just want to work with astrophotography, so a couple active usb extension systems, now we can sit in the living room and usb attach to the telescope gear outside. I'll re-visit the plan to do it all from linux boxes if/when we find the right guide cameras.

This much I can say with certainty tho, we are not spending another cent on astro hardware which doesn't have drivers already in the linux mainline kernel tree, or, full documentation in my hands. Been there, done that, not going to happen again. When I tally up all the notebooks, desktops, and servers in this household, the total is 16. 4 still have windows on them for various reasons, and astro gadget drivers is one of those reasons. The guide cams are the item holding us back from going all linux for the astro toys, and, if we start replacing guidecams, it'll be with stuff that works plugged into a linux box. In an ideal world, I'd like something I can plug into a tiny embedded system that sits at the telescope, then remotes the data back to our main boxes over a network link. I've got it all prototyped with the Neximage, but, to date haven't found suitable 'final' cameras for it. I will eventually, but not in a hurry anymore.


I've looked at guider camera's for Linux too and recognize the Orion/QHY driver problem (See also my discovery thread at http://qhyccd.com/cc...hp?topic=1051.0 on this subject).

I've made this is the list of 'relative low-cost' options :
- guider without built-in ST4 interface
-- A webcam (like the SPC900NC)
-- Imaging Source DMK 21AU04
- guider with built-in ST4 interface
-- SDI/Atik 16IC (definitely has linux support)
-- Lodestar (not sure about Linux support, hw interface seems open. I might follow up on this one. Very interesting)
-- Orion/QHY5/AL_CCD5/PL-130M/etc. are out (hw interface is under NDA if I'm correct)
-- YR Triffid Nugget (unknown if it has Linux support)

This is all I could find

#18 lambermo

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 02:14 PM


libdc1394 seems to work VERY well for my Astronomy Camera's DMK21AF04.


Yah, but, the problem is, the systems we use for our embedded applications have no firewire. I need to work with usb connections.


There is a USB version of this camera too : Imaging Source DMK 21AU04 AS USB camera monochrome :)

#19 lambermo

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 02:49 PM

1) What distro do you use and why?

Kubuntu. I started using it for my desktop machines because I found myself getting too lazy to keep my FreeBSD machines (note: FreeBSD is no Linux) up to date (and I've been doing that for over 10 years). I still use FreeBSD on my servers.

2) What are the main things you use linux for?

All regular desktop activity :)

3) What is your favorite Astronomy-related linux app?

Stellarium, Kstars, DS9, fv, wxAstroCapture, SkyChart (aka Cartes du Ciel), Celestia, SkyLive, INDI
Gimp, CinePaint
Looking into gcx, Siril, AstroBuffer, x11iraf, GCCD

4) Are you using any native linux apps over wine/virtual windows ones?

I've tried DeepSkyStacker under Wine, but it failed. I've added this issue to this http://bugs.winehq.o...ug.cgi?id=14014 bug.

5) Any planetary imagers out there? (loaded question)

I have not done planetary stuff yet, but I'm beginning with deep space imaging (and happy about it too :) . I use a Canon EOS 40D DSLR, which has very limited support under Linux (libgphoto2) and is not useable yet for remote imaging. It also lacks live-view of course.

I've written to Canon about this and this is their response :

"Unfortunately Linux operating system is not supported and we do not have information if there would be a way to use the camera on it properly.
We are sorry for the inconvenience."

Sad.

So for now I use VNC to connect to an XP machine which runs the Canon software to control the camera and I save the raw image results to another Linux machine running Samba.

#20 Zotty

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Posted 26 September 2009 - 09:54 AM

I've made this is the list of 'relative low-cost' options :
-- Orion/QHY5/AL_CCD5/PL-130M/etc. are out (hw interface is under NDA if I'm correct)

While looking for Linux drivers for the QHY5 I ran into this topic. It appears QHY5 support was added to INDI (their device support page doesn't show it, but it's in the source repository). Haven't had a change to test this yet, but just wanted to let others using the QHY5 and Linux know things are looking up.

#21 takfs78

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 11:24 PM

Saw that some of you used DSI under Linux. How do u do that? What program do u use. Checked up on KStar but it only supports webcam and some non Meade cameras.

#22 daev

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 07:15 AM

Try www.winehq.org for starters, and let wine install the app. Dunno how far along the Linux curve you are, so apologies as needed ;)

What linux flavor are you running?


dave

#23 Arctic_Eddie

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 08:14 AM

Install Wine and Wine-Doors using the Synaptic Package Manager. Be sure to initialize Wine from a user terminal window. Thereafter, install Windows apps using a command in Wine-Doors. I think it's in the File Menu.

#24 dr_rod

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 10:58 PM

I prefer Ubuntu, Mandriva, and Debian - not in that order. Linux rocks but I have several Windows only software packages that I need to use. EG - Astroart.

Windows XP has been a really good experience and I'm sorry to see it go.

#25 Skywatchr

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 09:42 AM

I run Ubuntu 9.10 with Win4Lin pro which allows you to install Windows (I have XP Pro) to run within Linux for those occasions I need it. And in "snapshot" mode, Windows will never get infected and the registry will never get bloated or corrupted. It beats Wine since you are actually running Windows.

Jeff


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