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F14 Programing Applications IDL

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Associate Professor Gregory R. Kriehn
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F14 IDL

Almost as legendary as the vi vs. emacs war is the Matlab vs. IDL war. IDL, which stands for Interactive Data Language, brought to you by RSI, is my personal preference for a data visualization and analysis platform — especially for research and modeling in optics. The picture below is simulation that I performed as a graduate student in my Fourier Optics class (many years ago now) that modeled the propagation of a HeNe laser beam from a rectangular aperture into the far field. Simply beautiful. This is why I prefer IDL over Matlab — it simply knocks the socks off Matlab when it comes to the visual display of quantitative information.

Beam Propagation Simulation in IDL

At any rate, to install IDL requires the purchase of a license from RSI, as well as the libXp library. 
To install the library, use yum:
~> sudo yum install libXp
Press 'y' when prompted to install the programs and any additional dependencies.

Assuming that you have the installation CD, insert the CD into a CD-ROM, and mount the directory:
~> sudo mkdir /mnt/cdrom
~> sudo mount /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom
If the /mnt/cdrom directory does not exist, create it. Run the initialization script as root.
~> cd /mnt/cdrom
~> sudo ./xinstall.sh
Allow the system to install the sys5_idl_lmgrd file, which will be placed in /etc/init.d/. Once it is there, change the permissions to be world readable:
~> sudo chmod go+r /etc/init.d/sys5_idl_lmgrd
and edit the file using sudo. Perform a search on LOG_FILE_NAME, and change it to the following:
LOG_FILE_NAME="/var/log/rsi/license.log"
Save and exit. Next, create a /var/log/itt directory:
~> sudo mkdir /var/log/itt
Next, create an /etc/logrotate.d/itt file for log rotation. Place the following information in it:
/var/log/itt/license.log {
        notifempty
        weekly
        missingok
        rotate 4
}
Save and exit. Finally, copy over the license.dat file from an appropriate location. The file should be copied to /usr/local/rsi/license as license.dat. Alternatively, you can allow the CD to do it for you.
~> sudo cp [license file location] /usr/local/rsi/license/license.dat
The next time you reboot, the license manager will automatically start. To start it now, simply type:
~> sudo service sys5_idl_lmgrd start
Although you will not see a visual confirmation of the license manager starting it should have. If you wish to check its status, use ps:
~> ps aux | grep idl
You should see a service labeled lmgrd. If so, you are ready to launch IDL in a terminal window, after sourcing your ~/.bashrc file:
~> source ~/.bashrc
~> idl
Enjoy!