DW Artifice, Inc.

Which Unix for Radiance?

Kevin Matthews with Artifice staff.


Written by Greg Ward (greg@hobbes.lbl.gov) and his compatriots at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL), with additional contributions from other researchers around the world, Radiance is a sophisticated suite of ray-tracing software capable of producing beautiful renderings of architectural computer models, with qualitatively accurate bounced lighting effects. The Radiance software is distributed by LBL free of charge across the internet.

Nearly all the many other rendering programs available on many computer platforms, were written to make renderings which look "good", typically from an illustration or entertainment point of view. In contrast, Radiance has been engineered from its beginnings to make renderings which are accurate. The result is a powerful and reliable tool for architectural design simulation.

Radiance is currently primarily available for the UNIX operating system. However, now you can use Radiance conveniently from your desktop computer (either Windows or Macintosh), with a simple 1-2-3 web page interface, using the Radiance Online automated Radiance rendering service provided by Artifice. However, you may want to have complete in-house control of your rendering environment, or may have difficulty maintaining an internet connection. In these cases, you may want to set up your own Unix computer for running Radiance. Either an Intel PC with a Pentium processor, or a Power Macintosh with a PowerPC processor, can be inexpensively converted into a Unix compute-server for running Radiance. The process is intricate and rather technical, requiring the development of some knowledge of the Unix operating system, but it is not inherently difficult, and by successfully running Radiance on your own computer you can get a great sense of control over technology.

For running Unix on an Intel PC, the clear choice is Linux, several flavors of which are widely supported on the Internet.

For running Unix on a Power macintosh, there are two main options. By installing either MachTen or MkLinux on a Power Macintosh, you can conveniently and inexpensively put Macintosh design-oriented architectural modeling together with the very best architectural rendering on one fast friendly machine, in your own office.

Power MachTen and MkLinux are each types of Unix that will run beautifully on Power Macintosh hardware, and each will support Radiance renderings nicely. The choice of which kind of Unix to use is a matter of personal preference, based on tradeoffs between cost and convenience that will be different for different users.

Power MachTen from Tenon costs a bit, but it allows you to run Unix and the Mac OS simultaneously side-by-side on the same computer. For instance, you can copy and paste between Unix windows and Macintosh windows. MkLinux, distributed by Apple, is free over the internet, and it provides maximum speed and economy for pure Unix. However, while running MkLinux, the Macintosh operating system is not accessible. The MkLinux machine is a pure Unix workstation, which can be switched back and forth from a pure Macintosh computer by rebooting.

For Power Macintosh users, Artifice provides instruction for installing Radiance on an MkLinux system. Artifice also provides instructions for installing Radiance on a Power MachTen system. The Design Integration Laboratory has provided technical leadership in establishing Radiance on Power Macintosh in cooperation with Artifice, Inc.

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© 1995-98 Kevin Matthews, All Rights Reserved. This document is provided for on-line viewing only.

Posted 98.08.20 KMM, rev. 98.08.20