How To Install Yafaray Under Linux

One of the computing subtopics I dabble in, is the acquisition of 3D-graphics software. Therefore, I already have “Blender 2.78a”, which has its own built-in software-rendering engine, and I have several other rendering engines installed on my Linux-based computers.

Further, the rendering engines by themselves can be useless, unless they integrate well with a GUI (such as with Blender). And so one undertaking which I’ll typically reach with a given computer, is to install “Yafaray”, which used to be ‘Yafray’, which stood for ‘Yet Another Free Ray-Tracer’. If it’s installed properly, Blender can render its scenes, using Yafaray, but from within Blender.

Yafray used to be a much simpler piece of software to install than it has become. But I’m sure the effort I put into it this evening, will be well-worth it eventually. What I’m used to doing is to download a source-tree, and if it’s CMake-based, to run ‘cmake-gui‘ on it, to custom-pick my build options, and to go. But as it happens with Yafaray, this approach led to near chaos. What this did, was to compile all the source-code properly into libraries, but then to install those libraries to nonsensical locations within my system folders. One reason was the fact that a part of the project was to create Python 3 bindings, and another was the need for the Blender-integration, where modern Blender versions are based on Python 3. In any case I was sure to install all the build dependencies via my package-manager, but doing so was not enough to obtain working outcomes.

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Panda3D Compiled and Installed on ‘Klystron’

I have just completed a project, by which I downloaded, compiled and installed the 3D-game / 3D-application development software named Panda3D, on the powerful Linux laptop I name ‘Klystron’. That laptop is not to be confused with the less-powerful Web-server I name ‘Phoenix’.

This game-development kit started out years ago as a much-simpler project from Carnegie-Mellon University, which at the time I called a toy. But as it stands today, the level of sophistication and power available through Panda3D has grown tremendously. It is no longer a toy by any means, and is also one of the few game-dev platforms I know of, that can be scripted directly in Python.

One of the new features that make it interesting, is the ability to use Bullet Physics, especially since the simpler ODE (Open Dynamics Engine), game-physics engine, is broken on some platforms.

Another new feature is the support for a browser plug-in, that will allow games etc. to be deployed as Web-content, as long as the browser has the run-time plug-in installed. The actual embedded applet will then take the form of a ‘.p3d’ File.

One aspect of compiling this software that takes some getting used to, is that its python-based make-commands accept an ‘–everything’ parameter, which essentially tells the make-script to find all the relevant dependencies on the local computer, and then to configure the version of Panda3D we are compiling, to link only to the dependencies which were found, thereby either including some features or leaving them out.

I found that my only way to process that information, was to run the make command a first time as a dummy-run, and then to interrupt it. At the top of its build-log, it will show the power-user which libraries / dependencies it did not find, as if the intention was not to include those. After having interrupted this first run, I next went through my package-manager and installed all the packages named, which I felt might add some value to my build of Panda3D.

And so, after I checked out the GIT version of the software to a folder named ‘~/Programs/panda3d’ , and after ‘cd’ -ing to that directory, I felt that the following recipes were of use to me:

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CSEditing

In This Posting, I wrote that I had completed my testing of ‘Crystal Space 2.1‘ on the laptop I name ‘Klystron’ – for now, by installing the ‘Blender‘ add-on script, that would actually allow a user to create content.

But there was yet another facet of this open-source game engine, which I have not yet tested. This is the ‘CSEditing‘ extension. On the surface, this plug-in is supposed to permit in-game editing of content.

Digging a bit deeper reveals a flaw, in what my expectations were.

Crystal Space is not a game, but a set of libraries with an API, that allows its users to create games, but which also allows its users to create any type of application, which will then benefit from complex 3D-graphic output. If such a game or application has in-game editing, it will be because individual users gave their creations this ability. It is not as if any of the CS demos actually show off this ability, and thus, there are few or no 3D applications yet written, that use this additional API.

When we compile the libraries that comprise CSEditing, we also compile an executable – a run-time program, which is meant just to prove that the API exists and can be used from an application. This actual run-time is not in itself a comprehensive editor.

In fact, the loading of the shared libraries, which make this feature work, still needs to be taken care of by the user, who wants to use Crystal Space in C++ to create his application. AFAIK, CSEditing does not depend on the Crystal Entity Layer.

The actual CSEditing API only has sparse documentation, which would be very valuable in the future, seeing as users will be trying to integrate such an advanced feature into their indie creations. But this also seems to suggest, that this is very much a work in progress.

What the demo application does show, is the stated capability of subdividing the window into panels, each of which either display a 3D view, or which display certain types of information panels, and which can be used to select elements of the 3D scene. Based on this last capability, a C++ program should also be able to grab more properties from each of the selected nodes, than this scant run-time does in practice.

But then, this run-time only display certain information about ‘the scene graph’ as it were, without allowing its user to edit anything. It would be up to the user himself, to design a¬†better application that uses this API.

And so, users like me are more likely just to appreciate such full-featured applications as Blender, to do actual editing. Without targeting an audience ourselves, with a transferred ability to edit content.

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Completed Installation of Crystal Space on Klystron Today

In This Posting, I wrote that I had installed “Crystal Space 2.1” on my laptop named ‘Klystron’.

This is an open-source game engine, which competes with “OGRE“, the latter of which is also open-source.

It is not enough just to have the game / rendering engine installed. In order to create content, authors also need to use 3D Model Editors, and the most important of those available in the open source community, happens to be ‘Blender‘, which has its own file-formats for storing projects.

Therefore, one also needs to install the add-on into Blender, which will allow it to export what we have created within it, into Crystal Space format. Fortunately, when I compiled Crystal Space, I did so with full Python support. Blender scripts happen to be written in Python. And in the appropriate shared directory, the Blender add-on could be found.

One word of caution though. In order for this add-on to work properly, Blender must be started with the ‘CRYSTAL‘ environment variable set. This can be done from the command-line, but eventually the authors will want that taken care of automatically.

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