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Age old question - PC or Mac

beginner imaging
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#26 wxcloud

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 11:25 AM

For automation / acquiring images: Linux or windows. Probably leaning towards Linux. You can get a low spec computer load a Debian based system into it, say ubuntu, load kstars on it.

For processing, you could probably get by with Linux. Dss don't work on it however, I've needed some work arounds namely wine to run some stuff but it's manageable. PI is available on Linux also.

Probably to make sure everything I'd want to do is available, I'd actually go to windows.

#27 fewayne

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 11:34 AM

BTW, speaking of Windows security, run, do not walk, away from Win 7 and XP! Since support for both has long since lapsed they should be used only for honeypots when you want to collect malware. Even for a scope-side computer, it's too much risk IMO -- sooner or later you'll connect to the Net to download an update or something.


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#28 bobzeq25

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 11:44 AM

BTW, speaking of Windows security, run, do not walk, away from Win 7 and XP! Since support for both has long since lapsed they should be used only for honeypots when you want to collect malware. Even for a scope-side computer, it's too much risk IMO -- sooner or later you'll connect to the Net to download an update or something.

Agree with that.  Whatever OS you use, using the latest version is a good move.



#29 DubbelDerp

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 12:32 PM

Didn’t mean to tweak anyone with my earlier post. I work with windows all day, so it’s not that I don’t understand how it works. But having to get all the software working together, especially with a low end mount, was extremely frustrating. I know lots of people have no issues with it, but for me it was just one too many dropped connections, a piece of software glitching, one too many BSOD after checking the gear in the morning...

My point, and then I’ll be done here, is that Kstars/Ekos was a game changer for me, and having all the different modules within the same piece of software eliminated all the connection issues that was making me pull out my hair in trying to get everything working reliably with my windows-based system. Now I’m not leaving the laptop out overnight getting covered in frost, but the little raspberry pi is chugging along unattended after I get the sequence up and running from my windows laptop.

To each their own - I’m not trying to convince anyone, but there are certainly viable options under macOS and Linux that are worthy of consideration.
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#30 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 12:39 PM

Agree with that.  Whatever OS you use, using the latest version is a good move.

Caveat: as long as you aren't upgrading to the newest OS on day one. I guarantee that something which was working just fine previously will now glitch out in unexpected ways. Win 10 is certainly mature enough now to be a no-brainer... especially if you are, for some unknown reason, still rocking XP or 7 (or one of the horrific mistakes out of Redmond that shall not be mentioned).


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#31 fewayne

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 01:09 PM

(or one of the horrific mistakes out of Redmond that shall not be mentioned).

Heh. Our team hasn't had a lot of turnover over the years, but we do have one to whom we refer to as The Programmer Who Shall Not Be Named. My highest ambition is not to move into that position once I retire.


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#32 rgsalinger

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 02:02 PM

See, whenever someone starts out imaging, the first thing that I suggest is that they get someone experienced to help them. Part of being experienced is being able to avoid any possible pitfalls in how to set up a box for imaging. It's not just knowing how to do a polar alignment it's also about installing the ASCOM platform correctly and before trying to install the ASCOM drivers. It's knowing that a powered hub is a much better solution than long cables going into a laptop (that has exactly one root hub). 

 

When I get Win10 Pro over 5 years ago (insider program) the early releases were interesting. Once it got beyond beta I put it on all my imaging computers. At this point I have 7 computers configured for imaging across 4 imaging systems. I have only seen ONE problem in all that time which could be traced to a Windows update and that didn't affect any of the boxes I was using at the time. So, I'm always baffled when people claim to have terrible experiences with Win10. 

 

Three things have become very clear to me over the years and inform my standard recommendations to new comers to the hobby.

 

The first is to avoid using laptops and the second is to understand and be mindful of the USB topology that you use setting up a system. I guess you could add in know about the power settings that are particularly complex when it comes to laptops. Other than that, it's just a matter of downloading and installing the software from the websites. I do make it a practice to install the ASCOM platform first.

 

The third one is that once my systems are running smoothly I do not take updates any more frequently than I have to. This year I updated the SKYX from a 2 year old release to a current release to get some features that I wanted to use. When I got my new camera and my new rotator I got them working and have left the drivers pretty much exactly the same. My copy of MaximDL is now over 2 years old and works just fine. The trap that people fall into with regards to wanting the latest drivers is just that a trap. Upgrade when there's a reason to do so, and avoid upgrades when you don't have to do them. 

 

Rgrds-Ross


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#33 blue

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 02:11 PM

Longtime Mac user here. If a Mac is your primary personal computer, the barriers to using it in your AP hobby really have gone away in recent years. In my non-work life for years, my AP and EAA activity was the only time I used Windows (using a Kangaroo mini PC and Parallels on my Mac) but I haven't had to launch Windows in months.

 

The game changer for me was the advent of the mini PC at the mount. I use ASIAir Pro but there are other options including DIY solutions with open source. This takes care of controlling the mount, guiding, framing and acquisition and I manage it wirelessly via iPad. If you want to do this from your Mac, there are many, many options.

 

I process using AstroPixelProcessor and Photoshop, both Mac native.

 

Macobservatory.com has a long list of Mac astronomy and astrophotography software which is an excellent resource.

 

I'd only describe myself as a serious novice, and I'm sure there are more advanced imagers who are reliant on Windows-only software in their workflow. But I don't see myself as being close to limited by my setup anytime soon, and if you're starting fresh and want to use a Mac, I think your needs will be met.

 

One other note for thought - with the introduction of the M1 processor, a <$1000 MacBook Air now has the capability to run intensive image-processing tasks on a par with high-end Windows workstations.


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#34 brian_a_paden

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 02:15 PM

As a software developer that uses linux exclusively, I hate to say it but the majority of good astro software runs on Windows.



#35 sn2006gy

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 03:41 PM

 

When I get Win10 Pro over 5 years ago (insider program) the early releases were interesting. Once it got beyond beta I put it on all my imaging computers. At this point I have 7 computers configured for imaging across 4 imaging systems. I have only seen ONE problem in all that time which could be traced to a Windows update and that didn't affect any of the boxes I was using at the time. So, I'm always baffled when people claim to have terrible experiences with Win10. 

 

Ditto for me too.

 

Patch Tuesday is the 2nd Tuesday of the month. If you image, just remember to update and reboot and it won't surprise you at all.

 

You can even opt in to another PC to test the patches before it goes to any device you own and see what to expect in advance.

 

The options we have now regardless the OS are great. You can do the same for MacOS and you can certainly build your own binaries or roll your own kernel on linux too. The flexibility on MacOS and Linux is seen as good - community involvement, open betas, test away.

 

But when it comes to windows so many people refuse to accept it as a good thing we get updates.

 

On windows, if you really run into issues install the feedback hub and file a bug. We're not forced to live with it anymore and that's a good thing.



#36 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 08:08 PM

That there even exists a "Patch Tuesday" is the problem.  Windows has accumulated too much baggage, and there is too much to learn in order to properly maintain it.  Wading through the patches and trying to understand what they mean, what the implications are, and so forth is why companies either have an IT department, or hire it out.  I have neither.

 

Before I retired in 2016, I used both Linux and Windows on a daily basis.  My PC ran Linux on the bare metal, and Windows on top of that with a Virtual Machine.  For the most part, I managed the Linux side, and the IT folks managed the Windows side, though I did a fair amount of management of it too.  I could count on one hand the number of times when I had to shut down Windows in order to reboot Linux, while relatively speaking Windows kept going up and down like a yo-yo.  This is over a period of about 15 years.  The prior 15 were all Windows.  I'm not a newbie to either system.

 

Note that this was in an office environment, where Windows is intended to be used.  It's our Astronomy use for real-time data collection and control where it's problems really surface.  We are not the use case that the folks Up North are designing to, and therein is the problem.  Surprise posts abound on the forum, and surprises are seldom good.


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#37 idclimber

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 08:29 PM

The PC guys tend to think us Mac users don't know our way around Windows. I would bet most of us have spent more time on the alternate OS than they have on the Mac. Some of us go back to the Windows for workgroups days (3.11) and have fond memories trying get Pagemaker files to print across the local network. 



#38 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 08:48 PM

The PC guys tend to think us Mac users don't know our way around Windows. I would bet most of us have spent more time on the alternate OS than they have on the Mac. Some of us go back to the Windows for workgroups days (3.11) and have fond memories trying get Pagemaker files to print across the local network. 

Oh, we're calling those fond memories now? :p


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#39 sn2006gy

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 11:42 PM

That there even exists a "Patch Tuesday" is the problem.  Windows has accumulated too much baggage, and there is too much to learn in order to properly maintain it.  Wading through the patches and trying to understand what they mean, what the implications are, and so forth is why companies either have an IT department, or hire it out.  I have neither.

 

 

This makes no sense at all.

 

Linux updates all the time - most distros release a quarterly major update.  Web browsers update weekly.  My iphone has what, 4 quarterly updates a year plus patch releases as much as patch tuesday. 

 

You don't need to have an it department to manage any of this, you just have to have the desire to learn. It's no different than AP - the second you stop learning, it will pass you on by.



#40 JEPott

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Posted 06 December 2020 - 09:14 AM

This has all been fairly helpful but we are starting to digress into the ‘my OS is better than your OS...’. Suffice to say, each OS has its advantages and downfalls - i’m ok with that. 

 

I will I’ll be starting with getting my LXD75 mount connected and guided (don’t have a guidescope yet but plan on getting one soon - that’s another discussion). I already have and use a DSLR for acquisition, that will be the last change on my list as it’s a good DSLR and is working fine for me. 

 

As I start off, I want to make sure that I go down a path that will work and it sounds like both will work fine. I’m leaning towards setting up a windows machine for guidance as I would rather not leave my Mac outside as it’s my primary work machine. 


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#41 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 06 December 2020 - 04:40 PM

As I start off, I want to make sure that I go down a path that will work and it sounds like both will work fine. I’m leaning towards setting up a windows machine for guidance as I would rather not leave my Mac outside as it’s my primary work machine. 

In terms of risk leaving something expensive outdoors, you might consider going with a Raspberry Pi 4B and Astroberry.  Software-wise, if Kstars / EKOS is a usable set of tools for you and your Mac, it would be essentially the same on a Pi / Linux.  And Astroberry pretty much works out of the box for this, with no Linux experience required.  Or, with a split client / server configuration for INDI, your Mac could even control things from indoors comfort, with the Pi providing the direct interface to the telescope.
 


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#42 rgsalinger

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Posted 06 December 2020 - 06:59 PM

Each of my 3 Win 10 Pro/I5/SSD computers costs 200 dollars each at Amazon. The only moving part in them is the fan They are left outside 100 nights per year under a bit of cover. Since they have lasted 4, 3 and 2 years so far, the overall investment is trivial. It's trivial to connect from inside the house (or your car from a Mac or any other computer to one of these.

 

The idea that you should learn a new operating system and hem yourself in to limited software and hardware choices to save maybe 50 dollars a year just doesn't seem right to me. Some night using your RPI4 you'll wish you had some analysis software like CCD Inspector running at the mount. If you're lucky someone will lend you their PC to help you out diagnosing problems. 

 

Rgrds-Ross


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#43 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 07 December 2020 - 01:42 AM

Each of my 3 Win 10 Pro/I5/SSD computers costs 200 dollars each at Amazon. The only moving part in them is the fan They are left outside 100 nights per year under a bit of cover. Since they have lasted 4, 3 and 2 years so far, the overall investment is trivial. It's trivial to connect from inside the house (or your car from a Mac or any other computer to one of these.

 

The idea that you should learn a new operating system and hem yourself in to limited software and hardware choices to save maybe 50 dollars a year just doesn't seem right to me. Some night using your RPI4 you'll wish you had some analysis software like CCD Inspector running at the mount. If you're lucky someone will lend you their PC to help you out diagnosing problems. 

 

Rgrds-Ross

Except it's not a matter of money.  It's the human cost of which platform is a better match for me and my needs, in terms of setup, maintenance, and reliability.  I have all the tools I need (including CCD inspector) on the Astroberry platform. 

 

With both the Mac and Linux using the INDI infrastructure, I'm only suggesting to the OP that if they are concerned about the Mac being outdoors, a Raspberry Pi with Astroberry could be easier than moving to Windows, and less of a maintenance load in the longer term.


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