FlightAware Discussions

Source packages?

The very concept the OP has been promoting is to have rpm and deb packages available for x86 x64, so that there is no need to build from source code.

You can run an arm VM on an x86 host, so you could just install the piaware image or raspbian + FA repo in a VM and be up and running in no time. One thing I can imagine that could go wrong is USB passthrough, but it has become much better in later years. And then there’s also the question of whether your VM host has pre-defined settings for aarch64 and raspbian; mine (on el7) does not. Anyway, give or take a bit of tweaking, you don’t need a ready image for it.

Not everybody would agree with you :wink:

Debian, Ubuntu, Kali, Fedora, Red Hat, Arch Linux, on Oracle VM on Windows, the USB DVB-T does passthrough, but MLAT still fails.

Kali on WSL2 on Windows 10, the USB does NOT passthrough at all. Dump1090-fa complaints :“no rtl-sdr device found”.

I’m getting too old and krusty I guess - never felt the need to learn what it is or how it works. Containers to make otherwise s̶h̶i̶t̶t̶y̶ bad code work so the M$ coders can retain their jobs, or a fancy sandbox? :shushing_face:

Sorry, couldn’t resist, you set the pins up…


The other day I said that faup uses UDP and @obj corrected me that only the mlat client does. UDP is stateless and, while it obviously can get out and back in through a router, I can imagine that having to get through two ignorant routers, first the host machine of the VM and then also the physical router, doesn’t work and could be the cause of this. Explicitly configuring iptables on the host machine to send incoming mlat packets to the VM could help.

Lol, i’m not a huge docker fan myself.

The VM mlat problem was definitely a USB issue not a UDP issue when I looked at it at the time. UDP is making it out fine. The VM is just dropping a lot of the raw SDR data on the floor (IIRC it was something like 10-15%, in bursts). Enough sample data gets through that reception “works”, but the frequent drops completely ruin mlat timing which relies on being able to reliably count the number of samples received, so you never get clock sync.

Not sure how much has changed in the past few years, but when I was processing live .ts/mpeg streams from satellite through USB in a VM, the Oracle VM (VirtualBox) made a complete mess of the USB stack - it was totally unusable for what I was needing it for (Win7 Host). I moved to VMWare Workstation (still use) and it does a much better job of not randomly dropping packets. I have not tried running FA through VMWare, but it may be worth a shot. FWIW anyhow.

An update:

I put the whole project aside for a few days because (a) I had a lot of other things to do and (b) the piaware package was giving me a lot of grief. Yesterday I took it up again and by now all the rpms build cleanly. This doesn’t mean that they work; of course they don’t and now I’m in the debugging phase. Things like

openat(AT_FDCWD, "/usr/lib64/tcl8.6/tclx8.4/autoload.tcl", O_RDONLY) = 5
fcntl(5, F_SETFD, FD_CLOEXEC)           = 0
ioctl(5, TCGETS, 0x7fff1c06d9d0)        = -1 ENOTTY (Inappropriate ioctl for device)
read(5, "#\n# Modified version of the stan"..., 4096) = 2272
read(5, "", 4096)                       = 0
close(5)                                = 0
access("/usr/share/tcl/piaware/main.tcl", R_OK) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
write(2, "piaware: can't read '/usr/share/"..., 67piaware: can't read '/usr/share/tcl/piaware/main.tcl' (tcllauncher)) = 67
write(2, "\r\n", 2
)                     = 2
close(4)                                = 0
exit_group(254)                         = ?
+++ exited with 254 +++

because that tcllauncher specfile that I swiped from SuSE moved tcllauncher’s basedir from /usr/lib to /usr/share. Anyway, all the FA packages and their external dependencies are here and anyone who wants to help debug is most welcome. All you need is a CentOS 8 VM. Run this as root

dnf install epel-release

cat << EOF > /etc/yum.repos.d/provocation.repo

and then install stuff with

dnf --enablerepo=provocation --enablerepo=epel install <package name>

Do not enable the provocation repo by default, because it contains other stuff that conflicts with epel.

The first thing is to iron out pure packaging bugs like the one above. No radio hardware is needed for that. When all the basic applications (tcllauncher, piaware, dump1090, mlat-client) can actually start and run and communicate with each-other, we’ll see about them being able to also do some actual work. I’ve got a new sdr dongle on its way from the UK for that purpose.

This thread is meant for general discussion, not as a bug tracker, so I set up a proper bug tracker here. With a bit of luck and a bit of help we might soon have a nicely packaged x86_64 FA application family.

So this means we can’t run ARM binaries on an x86 VM host, unless this problem is overcome. How long ago was it you did those tests? Did you test any other virtualisation environments, say KVM/qemu or VMware? Do you have any hunch whether the host OS could have anything to do with the packet loss, i.e. whether, all other things equal, running the VM on OS/3 might have worked out better than running it on OS/1?

Well… you wouldn’t want to do that anyway (at least for dump1090/dump978), you would need a beefy CPU to emulate ARM at the speed needed to keep up with realtime.

Year ago maybe? It’ll be on these forums somewhere.

Wasn’t my test or VM, I just diagnosed the problem from the mlat server side.

edit: previously:

1 Like

Above is outdated. Here is latest (Piaware 4.0)

Howto Install Piaware 4.0 on Debian-10 amd64, Ubuntu-20 amd64 & Kali-2020 amd64 on PC



The known VM USB issues are not related to the piaware version but connected to the VM / hypervisor settings / version.
So it’s pretty certain to say that upgrading to the newest piaware version won’t change if MLAT works.

I guess my comments are off topic.

Ill just delete them.

Your coments were very relevant and informative. I feel sorry that you deleted them.

I mentioned the link to latest howto so that in case seeing your success the OP wants to install piaware on VM Ware, he can use the updated howto.

It’s fun to see in these discussions how we constantly come back to the subject of technology vs psychology. I think: running in a VM makes it possible to test and fool around before committing money. You think: but it won’t work properly anyway, so what’s the point? We’re both right, but we’re not on the same page.

I started by pulling an old RPi 1B from under a thick cover of dust, used an SD-card that was lying around and only bought a stick and the absolutely cheapest antenna I could find (€30 together). I set it up and it worked, but not well; I had bad reception, MLAT didn’t work (“unstable clock”, which I have now gleaned can mean dropped data), the RPi run hot at 100% CPU. In short: a lousy result.

What happens when someone with an interest in technology is confronted with technology that doesn’t work well? He gets an urge to fix it. That’s what happened to me, so I went out and got a new RPi 4B, a long length of good quality coax, an assortment of connectors, a 4,5m antenna mast, a soldering iron and solder, clamps, bolts, a cutter, a Stanley knife, a wrench, mains cable and plugs… all in all pretty close to €200 if not even over. What gets the credit (or more accurately: the blame) for this expenditure? The technology that didn’t work properly. I certainly wouldn’t have spent this money up front for just an experiment; it was the experiment that went almost well, but not well enough, that pushed me further.

So you can read this train of thought between the lines when I speak of VMs and x86 rpms and all that stuff. Anything that can allow people to play and fool around is good, even if it doesn’t work perfectly. Getting ADS-B data is a Good Thing™, even if MLAT doesn’t work. Getting some data on and off from an area without any coverage is always better than getting no data at all. I look at FA’s coverage map and see a saturation of piaware receivers in northern Europe and the US, such that it might even reach a negative cost:benefit ratio in terms of the infrastructure needed to process all that data, and then huge black patches in Africa, Asia, Canada and South America, only dotted occasionally by some lonely flightfeeders. Those are areas where, already because of bad internet connections and the absence of nearby receivers, MLAT will never work. So why brush off a lousy VM half-measure, when a proper rig wouldn’t work better anyway? And if it doesn’t keep up with real time and starts dropping data, it will still get enough ID and latlong data to produce a dotted track, which is better than no track at all. And that might then trigger the purchase of an RPi or a request for a flightfeeder, at which point the bad experiment will have fully served its purpose. Or so I tend to think.

My point was more “why not just use x86 binaries on an x86 VM?”
Given a Debian install on an x86 VM, it is very straightforward to build x86 binaries.

You certainly could run ARM binaries on an emulating VM, but … why do that when for about the same effort you can run it natively? Not going to stop you from doing silly things, but it doesn’t make them any less silly :slight_smile:


Ah, in that case I misread you, sorry. Even though I also think that ‘apt-get install piaware’ would offer a much lower threshold than ‘git clone piaware; make etc’.

I dfidn’t even get to read them; they were gone already before I arrived here today. Would you please consider flagging them for resurrection?