Elphel Software Kit for Ubuntu

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This page is a simple howto for running Elphel software on (K)Ubuntu GNU/Linux.

Instructions below are updated for the Kubuntu 9.04 , should work with Ubuntu 9.04 also --Andrey.filippov 02:52, 24 May 2009 (CDT)

You can download this GNU/Linux distribution freely from http://www.kubuntu.org/

If you are new to GNU / Linux

Many forums and wikis are available in many languages to help you to install and use Ubuntu. Ex: http://www.google.com/search?q=forum+ubuntu (you can add "&hl=fr" or any language code to the URL)

Most instructions below are commands that you need to enter in the in the terminal window. For the lines that do not end with "\" sign you just copy them one-by-one and paste in the terminal window (in KDE it is Konsole in the "System" menu). For pasting you can not use <cntrl-V> - you need to right-click in the terminal window and select "Paste" from the drop-down context menu. Alternatively you can use the middle mouse button to both copy (drag while middle mouse pressed) and paste - click it in the console window.

Character "\" at the end of the line means continuation, so you can copy the whole block of text where each line but the very last ends with "\" and paste them together.

Many of the commands start with "sudo" - first time system will ask you for your user password that you enter without any starts (provided you have administrative privileges).

If you get some problems it is very useful to copy the error message that system outputs (avoiding anything specific to your particular installation - like user directories names) and paste them into the search box of you browser.

User software

Some software need to be patched and recompiled even if they exist in Ubuntu software repositories, some softwares are not yet packaged in Ubuntu, so you have to compile them from sources also. We try to push our software patches to the mainstream applications, but it take time and is not always possible.


Kubuntu 9.10 includes MPlayer that is working with Elphel camera "out of the box" So for (K)Ubuntu 9.10 you just need to install

sudo apt-get install mplayer-nogui mplayer gecko-mediaplayer

Mplayer - installation for (K)Ubuntu older than 9.10 release

With the previous verions MPlayer has to be patched and recompiled, following instructions document how to do it on (K)Ubuntu or Debian based workstation.

Install gecko-mediaplayer before compiling/installing MPlayer, if you do it later it will install non-patched version of MPlayer

sudo apt-get gecko-mediaplayer

First install some compilation dependencies, mainly libraries...

sudo apt-get install build-essential debhelper libncurses5-dev libesd0-dev liblircclient-dev libgtk2.0-dev \
libvorbis-dev libsdl1.2-dev sharutils libasound2-dev gawk libjpeg62-dev libaudiofile-dev \
libsmbclient-dev libxv-dev libpng12-dev libgif-dev libcdparanoia-dev libdv4-dev \
liblivemedia-dev libfreetype6-dev libgl1-mesa-dev libdvdread-dev libdts-dev libtheora-dev \
libglu1-mesa-dev libfontconfig-dev libxxf86dga-dev libxinerama-dev libxxf86vm-dev \
libxvmc-dev libggi2-dev libmpcdec-dev libspeex-dev libfribidi-dev libfaac-dev  libaa1-dev libcaca-dev \
libx264-dev  libpulse-dev libmad0-dev ladspa-sdk libdbus-glib-1-dev libaudio-dev liblzo2-dev libdvdnav-dev \
libopenal-dev libjack-dev libtwolame-dev libsvga1-dev libenca-dev libmp3lame-dev

Current MPlayer code is capable of working with full resolution video produced by Elphel cameras. That is not yet true for the MPlayer packages in Ubuntu repositories, so you'll have to obtain the source code from MPlayer recommended source - their Subversion (SVN) source. First you need to install Subversion itself:

sudo apt-get install subversion

Now create a download directory and get MPlayer source:

mkdir download; cd download
svn checkout svn://svn.mplayerhq.hu/mplayer/trunk mplayer

Configure, compile and prepare Debian package from that source (will take some time):

cd mplayer
sudo dpkg-buildpackage 

Occasionally dpkg-buildpackage fails to build, try the comon ./configure, make, make install way then.

Now uninstall the default Ubuntu's mplayer and mencoder & install the created package:

sudo apt-get remove mplayer mencoder mplayer-nogui
cd ..
sudo dpkg  --install mplayer_1.0svn*.deb

MPlayer - testing with Elphel camera

You should be able now to play videos with up to 5MB frames (highest quality 5MPix images are around 1 MB) as a multicast or unicast video stream. (the streamer in the camera should be ENABLED)

mplayer rtsp:// -vo x11 -fs -zoom

Update 10/09/2009: In (K)Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) repository the 50,000 bytes limit on the frame size is fixed, but unfortunately the other one -frame width limit of 2048 pixels (submitted to MPlayer SVN on May, 5, 2009) - is not--Andrey.filippov 19:03, 9 October 2009 (CDT)

The first (50,000) makes you picture break after the first 50,000 bytes (only top is shown), the second (current for the 9.10) makes MPlayer to report fatal error. So you still have to use MPlayer SVN to have the full resolution from Elphel cameras.

Additionally, to make MPlayer work inside the web page you need to specify video output as "x11" in the MPlayer config file - add a line


To ~/.mplayer/config file

For developers

Adding universe and multiverse sources

Please follow this howto for adding universe and multiverse sources.




Install needed packages

Minimal packages:

sudo apt-get install cvs build-essential autoconf flex byacc bison libglib2.0-dev tcl gettext libncurses5-dev patch zlib1g-dev nfs-kernel-server bash xutils-dev

Suggested packages:

sudo apt-get install kinfocenter minicom firefox graphviz doxygen ctags cervisia php5 php5-cli xchat ssh kompare

Installation of GCC Compiler kit for Axis ETRAX processor

Download and install Cris-GCC compiler. It is needed to compile C and C++ programs for the CPU used in Elphel cameras - Axis ETRAX FS :

mkdir -p ~/Downloads/axis ; cd ~/Downloads/axis
wget http://www.axis.com/ftp/pub/axis/tools/cris/compiler-kit/cris-dist-linux-headers-1.64.tar.gz   
wget http://www.axis.com/ftp/pub/axis/tools/cris/compiler-kit/cris-dist-linux-headersv32-1.64.tar.gz  
wget http://www.axis.com/ftp/pub/axis/tools/cris/compiler-kit/cris-dist-glibc-1.64.tar.gz 
wget http://www.axis.com/ftp/pub/axis/tools/cris/compiler-kit/cris-dist-1.64.tar.gz
tar zxvf cris-dist-1.64.tar.gz
cd cris-dist-1.64/
tar zxvf ../cris-dist-linux-headers-1.64.tar.gz                                 
tar zxvf ../cris-dist-linux-headersv32-1.64.tar.gz                             
tar zxvf ../cris-dist-glibc-1.64.tar.gz

Unfortunately CRIS compiler does not compile with GCC 4.3.x and the only know working solution would be to temporary downgrade the compiler. You'll rather upgrade it back to the current one after gcc-cris is built:

sudo apt-get remove gcc

See what other packages are removed as being dependent on GCC. You may copy that list an re-install them later with "sudo apt-get install list of removed packages

sudo apt-get install gcc-4.2 g++-4.2

And link them as default version:

sudo ln -sf /usr/bin/gcc-4.2 /usr/bin/gcc
sudo ln -sf /usr/bin/g++-4.2 /usr/bin/g++
sudo ln -sf /usr/bin/gcc-4.2 /usr/bin/cc

You may verify the current GCC version (make sure it is 4.2.x) with the following command:

gcc --version

Now you may proceed with compiling gcc-cris (takes some time):

sudo ./install-cris-tools

answer by default (enter, enter, ...)

If everything finished OK you may reinstall the GCC back (and add other packages you may have removed):

sudo apt-get install build-essential g++ gcc

Don't forget to export the path to the cris-compiler - the defaul location is /usr/local/cris, as example

tobias@MoonbaseAlphaOne:~$ export PATH=$PATH:/usr/local/cris/bin

If everything worked out well, you can check the compiler version with

gcc-cris --version

Which should result in an output like this one (example, might vary with version)

cris-axis-elf-gcc (GCC) 3.2.1 Axis release R64/1.64
Copyright (C) 2002 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software; see the source for copying conditions.  There is NO

Configure your NFS server

Let's say you want to configure an NFS server on your machine and your IP address is

Modify the configuration file:

kdesudo kate /etc/exports

Add at the end of the file:

/nfs  ,sync,no_root_squash)

save the file.

If it does not yet exist make /nfs directory and make it world writable to make it possible to write logs from the camera.

sudo mkdir /nfs
sudo chmod 777 -R /nfs

And finally export the filesystem.

sudo exportfs -a

Installation of Kdevelop 3.5

note: Newer KDevelop 4 does not work with Elphel software

pre (K)Ubuntu 9.10

sudo apt-get install kdevelop

(K)Ubuntu 9.10

see Installation of KDevelop 3.5 on (K)Ubuntu 9.10

Install Icarus Verilog and GTKWave

(If you plan to develop FPGA code or at least look how it works)

GTKWave is OK from repository:

sudo apt-get install gtkwave

But unfortunately Icarus Verilog (package verilog) is compiled without needed support for compressed output format, so you'll have to compile it

wget "ftp://ftp.icarus.com/pub/eda/verilog/v0.9/verilog-0.9.1.tar.gz"
tar zxvf verilog-0.9.1.tar.gz
cd verilog-0.9.1/
sudo make install

Installing Xilinx WebPack (to be moved to a separate page, just a link here)

If you plan to compile the FPGA code from the source code you will need to install appropriate software from the FPGA manufacturer web site. This is proprietary (and non-free) software provided by Xilinx free of charge. This software is called the ISE WebPACK and you may download it (currently some 2.2GB) after registering at Xilinx web site. Currently tested version is 10.1.03, we'll try to update our code when Xilinx will release the new version of their software.

You will also need that software if you would like to simulate the FPGA functionality. Elphel camera FPGA code (written in Verilog HDL) is licensed under GNU GPLv3, simulator and waveform viewer (see below) are also Free Software, but there are a few Verilog models of some primitives of Xilinx FPGA that are not and can be only obtained from Xilinx as a part of their unisims library. For simulation we use small subset of the unisims library components and only for functional simulation so it will probably make sense to re-write those primitives models so the 2.2 GB distribution will not be needed to extract just few kilobytes of required source code.

Such independent re-implementation will help us to solve another problem - we have to patch the Xilinx library components to make them work correctly with our code and the simulator we use and currently each Xilinx library update breaks our patches.

When you will build Elphel software (as described later) the installation script will try to locate Xilinx software on your computer and patch a copy of unisims library. If you'll install Xilinx WebPack after building the camera software - you'll need to navigate to fpga subdirectory of the source tree and execute

make clean ; make

It is described in file README.simulation in that subdirectory.

There are additional steps required for the Xilinx WebPACK installation if you have a 64-bit GNU/Linux operation system. The next command line detects if you are running on 64 bit version of GNU/Linux and conditionally installs ia64-libs. That library is needed if you'll install Xilinx WebPack software (Xilinx does not allow to use 64-bit programs in their free for download software and the provided installation script does not install 32-bit version on its own). There is another trick you'll need to be aware of if you are using 32-bit Xilinx WebPack on a 64-bit GNU/Linux system.

if [ `uname -m` = "x86_64" ] ; then sudo apt-get install ia32-libs ; fi

Installation of the source code of Elphel camera software

You may install Elphel source code by either of the two methods. Either from the CVS (the most current code) and form the tarball files.

Installation from the CVS

Get elphel353_80_install_from_cvs.sh open archive that contains the shell script and execute it. It is recommended that you create subdirectory in your home directory, i.e. "elphel_projects", move and execute elphel353_80_install_from_cvs.sh script there. Directory "distfiles" will be created there and used as a cache for software archives that will be downloaded during installation.

mkdir -p ~/elphel_projects; cd ~/elphel_projects
wget "http://downloads.sourceforge.net/elphel/elphel353_80_install_from_cvs.sh.tar.gz"
tar zxvf elphel353_80_install_from_cvs.sh.tar.gz

Installation from the tarball (release file)


  • get one of the elphel353-8.0.* releases
  • decompress the archive
  • execute the ./install_elphel script

There will be created a file build.log in the top installation directory. If you get any installation problems you can compress that file and email it to Elphel support.

At the end of installation the script will generate a list of all the files in the target (camera) file system that are to be installed and compares it against the contents of the file target.list that is included in the distribution. If there are any differences -- they will be reported (there should be none). If there are some missing files it is likely that something failed to install correctly.

After the installation will be completed successfully you may want to execute the following command in the top installation directory (the one that has apps, configure-files, ... subdirectories)


That will create elphel353.kdevelop - a project file for KDevelop IDE (version 3.5.x), you can use it as described here - KDevelop

New SDK Environment

  • About

Considering the existing/old Knoppoix-based Live CD is outdated in terms of its software packages and it's currently left out with no periodic maintenance, we're planning to build a new SDK environment for the users/developers.

  • Architecture
         o x86 compatible, 32bit (i386) & 64bit (amd64)
         o Can be fit into USB key(4GB) and DVD(4.7GB) 
         o Ubuntu 9.10 based for first prototype, release in Feb. 2010. Collect bug report/feedback to make improvement and target to have the first official release (Ubuntu 10.4 based ) in June 2010.
         o Default desktop environment: KDE (so Kubuntu actually)

  • Main Feature
         o USB key can be self-bootable
         o USB key can be used both as live system and installation media (same as Ubuntu Desktop DVD)
         o The live system should be able to drive and demo the Elphel camera.
         o Can be used as a normal Ubuntu system
         o Default installation of following packages: (TBD, refer to http://wiki.elphel.com/index.php?title=Elphel_Software_Kit_for_Ubuntu)
               + mplayer-nogui mplayer gecko-mediaplayer (1.0 from sourceforge)
               + libvorbis-dev libsdl1.2-dev sharutils libasound2-dev liblzo-dev gawk libjpeg62-dev libaudiofile-dev \
                 libsmbclient-dev libxv-dev libpng3-dev libgif-dev libcdparanoia0-dev libxvidcore4-dev libdv-dev \
                 liblivemedia-dev libfreetype6-dev em8300-headers libgl1-mesa-dev libdvdread-dev libdts-dev libtheora-dev \
                 libglu-dev libartsc0-dev libfontconfig-dev libxxf86dga-dev libxinerama-dev libxxf86vm-dev \
                 libxvmc-dev libggi2-dev libmpcdec-dev libspeex-dev libfribidi-dev libfaac-dev  libaa1-dev libcaca-dev \
                 libx264-dev  libpulse-dev libmad0-dev ladspa-sdk libdbus-glib-1-dev libaudio-dev liblzo2-dev libdvdnav-dev \
                 libopenal-dev libjack-dev libtwolame-dev libsvga1-dev libenca-dev libmp3lame-dev
               + cvs build-essential autoconf flex byacc bison libglib2.0-dev tcl gettext libncurses5-dev patch zlib1g-dev nfs-kernel-server bash xutils-dev
               + kinfocenter minicom firefox graphviz doxygen ctags cervisia php5 php5-cli xchat ssh kompare
               + KDevelop 
         o Key package list in exclude list so actions like apt-get upgrade would not break above packages that are already installed
         o Above packages must be included in the USB key image
         o Create meta-package such as apt-get install elphel-dev ?
         o For packages cannot be included in the installation media due to the legal restriction, create meta package / installation script? (put on the desktop)
         o Elphel document link(such as user manual) on desktop (both in installation media live system and installed system)
         o Provide a debian/ubuntu style repository for users so apt-get install can be an feasible option for people who have regular Ubuntu system
         o Include zeroconf for device discovery (10373)
         o Include "camera discovery" script for device discovery
         o Desktop icons for starting mplayer & gstreamer live stream from camera

  • Release & Update
         o Release in a six months cycle in accordance with Ubuntu release cycle, focus on LTS version
         o Wiki page to include key information (installation, important notice etc)
         o Include both USB key in camera package.
         o ISO image downloadable from Elphel website, user may choose to burn into DVD or USB key.
  • Others
         o Elphel label sticker on USB key.
         o Legal/comliance check to ensure no violation on Canonical/Ubuntu, Xilinx, Verilog, Axis, etc such as logo, name use, etc. Vendor selection (USB key, label etc)