Using AIPS

The Astronomical Image Processing System is a software package for calibration, data analysis, image display, plotting, and a variety of ancillary tasks on Astronomical Data. It comes from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. It is primarily for Radio Astronomy. There is a Usenet newsgroup alt.sci.astro.aips that deals with AIPS issues and has occasional interesting announcements. There is a FAQ (answers to Frequently Asked Questions) for this newsgroup too.

To set up all the environment variables that AIPS requires, always start by running:


To then run the "test" version (31DEC07) on a Configured Workstation, enter:

aips tv=local tpok

Or to run the "new" version (31DEC06), enter:

aips new tv=local tpok

To completely exit AIPS, closing all associated windows, enter:


at an AIPS prompt.

See the AIPS Cookbook for detailed documentation on using AIPS.

Installing AIPS

Fernando asked the 'makers' of AIPS whether it should work ok in Debian:

Subject: Re: [daip] aips on debian
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 2005 09:59:03 -0700
From: Eric Greisen <>
To: Fernando Camilo <>
References: <>

Fernando Camilo writes:

  > Could you please let me know whether there are any known issues for AIPS
  > running under Linux Debian 3.1 (sarge)?  We are building a new Linux-based
  > computing network here at the Columbia Astrophysics Lab and want to make
  > sure that the key packages will work under our proposed operating system.

So far as I know there are no issues.  But I do not know if it has
been tested properly either.  We offer AIPS in both source-code and
binary versions.  The former mostly has issues with compilers, where
some versions of GNU for example simply make many mistakes in
optimization.  The latter is build with the Intel compiler on a RedHat
9 host.  It is possible that some issues might arise from OS
incompatibilities.  In fact, we are seeing serious degradation of AIPS
TV performance on those machines that have been "upgraded" to RedHat
Enterprise.  Whether Enterprise just does not like standard sockets
especially Inet loopback sockets or whether load modules build with an
Enterprise system would work better, we do not yet know.

Eric Greisen

New or Upgrade Installation

First read the Quick Start Guide for AIPS and then read the Install Wizard Guide.

At CAL, we have done a text (source) install.

To begin, download the Install Wizard ( into a working directory on the "master" host. The Install Wizard will attempt to download the AIPS tarball, 31DEC07.tar.gz, but if it has trouble, you can download it ahead of time into the same directory where the Install Wizard is located.

Run it as the AIPS manager (not root) on the "master" host:


Note: The AIPS manager running needs to have "write" access to the AIPS_ROOT directory. At CAL, the AIPS manager is secrest, the "master" host is io, and the AIPS_ROOT directory is /opt/aips.

The Install Wizard will then take you through 11 screens, asking various questions.

Here are the answers to selected questions for the AIPS installation at CAL:

Screen 3: AIPS Root area: /opt/aips

Screen 4: What group should be used for AIPS? aips

Screen 5: Your site name: CAL

Screen 5a: Single portable computer? N

Additional Hosts

Screen 6 of the Install Wizard asks about additional hosts on which AIPS will be run. It is not necessary to add all the hosts while running the Install Wizard because you can add them later by editing the /opt/aips/HOSTS.LIST file. In fact, it is probably easier to edit the HOSTS.LIST file directly than to enter all the hosts while running the Install Wizard.

The format of the lines in HOSTS.LIST is:

+  IO           LINUX      CAL        NONE CAL Configured Workstation

The first column should have a '+' to signify a host that runs AIPS. Then there should be exactly two spaces and then the hostname in all CAPS. The next field is the architecture ('LINUX', in our case), and the next is the site name, ('CAL', in our case). The next field ('NONE') is irrelevant in our case and the rest is just comments. You can find more detailed descriptions of these fields in the HOSTS.LIST file itself.

Data Areas

Screen 7 of the Install Wizard asks about User Data Areas. The host name (in CAPS) should be part of the data area name, and typically there is an underscore and a number appended to the name. For example, /opt/aips/DATA/IO_1 is one of the data areas. Again, it is not so important to enter all this information while running the Install Wizard because it can be added later into the files, /opt/aips/DA00/DADEVS.LIST and /opt/aips/DA00/NETSP.

The directory, /opt/aips/DA00, also contains directories for each of the hosts (in all CAPS) listed in HOSTS.LIST. These directories need to be writable by the users on those hosts. Since the /opt filesystem is an nfs mounted, read-only filesystem, the DA00 directory is a symlink into the /home/cal filesystem, also nfs, but writable by regular users. In particular:

0 secrest@phobos:/opt/aips$ ls -l|grep DA00
lrwxrwxrwx  1 secrest aips    26 2007-05-14 14:40 DA00 -> /home/cal/groups/aips/DA00
0 secrest@phobos:/opt/aips$

In our CAL installation of AIPS, the data areas are in /opt/aips/DATA, but that directory contains nothing but symlinks to scratch disks. For example:

0 secrest@phobos:/opt/aips/DATA$ ls -l|grep PHOBOS
lrwxrwxrwx 1 secrest aips 27 2007-05-15 17:31 PHOBOS_1 -> /scratch/aips/data/PHOBOS_1
lrwxrwxrwx 1 secrest aips 27 2007-05-15 17:31 PHOBOS_2 -> /scratch/aips/data/PHOBOS_2
lrwxrwxrwx 1 secrest aips 27 2007-05-15 17:31 PHOBOS_3 -> /scratch/aips/data/PHOBOS_3

Note that the /opt filesystem is shared between all the Configured Workstations, but the scratch disks are local to each workstation, so the symlinks will only be valid for the particular workstation on which they were intended. Again, these directories must be writable by the users who run AIPS on that workstation.

The configuration file for the AIPS data areas is /opt/aips/DA00/DADEVS.LIST. It has the following kind of entries:

-  /opt/aips/DATA/IO_1
-  /opt/aips/DATA/IO_2
-  /opt/aips/DATA/IO_3
-  /opt/aips/DATA/IO_12
-  /opt/aips/DATA/TETHYS_1
-  /opt/aips/DATA/TETHYS_2
-  /opt/aips/DATA/TETHYS_3

For a little more information on the format of this file, look at /opt/aips/31DEC07/SYSTEM/UNIX/DADEVS.SH. There is a maximum of 35 data areas per host; although, we have only been configuring 12 per host because the NETSP file (described next) can't have more than 512 entries total, across all hosts.

Also, every data area needs to contain a file named, SPACE, which can be zero bytes.

Besides adding the data areas to DADEVS.LIST, they also need to be added to the /opt/aips/DA00/NETSP file. Here is an extract from that file:

# Disk name             TIMDEST   --------------Allowed Users-----------
/opt/aips/DATA/IO_1    365.0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0
/opt/aips/DATA/IO_2    365.0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0
/opt/aips/DATA/IO_3    365.0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0
/opt/aips/DATA/IO_12    365.0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0
/opt/aips/DATA/TETHYS_1   365.0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0
/opt/aips/DATA/TETHYS_2   365.0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0
/opt/aips/DATA/TETHYS_3   365.0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0

The comments in this file explain, briefly, the meaning of the fields in this file. At CAL, they have just been left as the values set by the Install Wizard. The ZDCHIN program will not process more than 512 entries in the NETSP file.

For more information on data areas, see the AIPS Managers' Questions page. Also see the Adding Hosts and Data Areas section below.


Screen 8 of the Install Wizards asks about printers. It is not necessary to add all the hosts while running the Install Wizard because you can add them later by editing the /opt/aips/DA00/PRDEVS.LIST file.

The PRDEVS.LIST files at CAL has the following printers listed:

# printer    type     AIPS options   Description
beetle       PS       DUP            Samsung ML-3051ND                  in 1008
cricket      PS-CMYK  DUP            HP Color LaserJet 3800dtn          in 1008
monarch      PS       DUP            Samsung ML-3051ND                  in 1210
dragonfly    PS       DUP            HP 4100 duplex                     in 1328
bee          PS-CMYK  DUP            HP Color LaserJet 3800dtn          in 1328
moth         PS       DUP            Lexmark T420 duplex                in 1407

The printer name is a value that is appropriate when issuing an 'lp -d printername ...' command. The type 'PS' means b&w postscript and 'PS-CMYK' means color postscript. The option 'DUP' means duplex (printing on both sides of the page).

Other Installation Settings

Screen 9 of the Install Wizard asks about tape drives. At CAL, none have been set up. They can be set up later in the /opt/aips/DA00/TPDEVS.LIST file.

Screen 10 of the Install Wizard asks about advanced settings. At CAL, these have been left with their default values. The AP (array processor) settings can be changed in the /opt/aips/INC/PAPC.INC file. The Fortran settings can be changed in the /opt/aips/31DEC07/LINUX/SYSTEM/CAL/FDEFAULT.SH file. The C settings can be changed in the /opt/aips/31DEC07/LINUX/SYSTEM/CAL/CCOPTS.SH file. The linker settings can be changed in the /opt/aips/31DEC07/LINUX/SYSTEM/CAL/LDOPTS.SH file.

Adding Hosts and Data Areas

To add a host after the Install Wizard has already been run, add the hostname (in all CAPS) to /opt/aips/HOSTS.LIST as described in the Additional Hosts section above. Then, to set up the right environment, run:

. /opt/aips/LOGIN.SH

(or 'aips-shell' which does almost the same thing) and then run (as the AIPS manager) on a workstation that has write access to /opt (io):


where 'WOOHOO' is the hostname for the new host.

That will ask you a few questions for which the answers for our CAL installation are:

AIPS manager: secrest
AIPS group: aips
master host name: io

This will copy the necessary files into /opt/aips/DA00/WOOHOO/ (where 'WOOHOO' is the hostname of the new host), except for the files 'GRD000000;' (the 'gripe' file) and 'PWD000000;' (the 'password' file) which it will make as symlinks to files with the same names in /opt/aips/DA00/IO/ where 'IO' is the 'master host name'.

To add data areas to a newly configured host, or to a previously configured host, just add the appropriate lines to /opt/aips/DA00/DADEVS.LIST and /opt/aips/DA00/NETSP as described in the Data Areas section above, including creating the necessary directories and 'SPACE' files on /scratch for that host with symlinks to those directories in /opt/aips/DATA.