Starlink Software Collection - Download and Install 2021A

2021A release notes

Currently only one fully tested distribution of the 2021A release of the Starlink Software Collection is available, built on CentOS 6:

Linux (64-bit, CentOS 6) (1.1 GB .tar.gz, MD5 sum: 254f569a6dd2a5460e434ba76aa45982)

To check the MD5 checksum of your downloaded file, run either the md5sum, md5, or md5deep command, depending on which you have installed.

The above CentOS 6 Linux distribution is built on glibc 2.12. Older versions of glibc might not work and are currently not supported. To check your glibc version, type "rpm -qi glibc" on RedHat-related distributions.

We also have three new experimental builds, built on macOS 10.14.6 (Mojave), CentOS 7.4 and on Ubuntu 17.10. We do not run these systems routinely at EAO so these builds have had less testing than our CentOS 6 build:

Installation instructions


The tar file will unzip into a star-2021A/ directory in the directory where you downloaded the tar file. This release can be placed anywhere. When using the software, set the STARLINK_DIR environment variable to the location of the star-2021A/ directory, i.e. if you had unzipped it into a /home/person/software directory, then the STARLINK_DIR environment variable would be set to /home/person/software/star-2021A.

The CentOS 6 release requires glibc 2.12 and fairly recent versions of the X11 libraries. Up-to-date CentOS and older Fedora Core 6 are distributions that are known to work. We welcome reports of successful installation on other distributions. On Arch Linux you may require old libraries from the AUR such as gcc6-libs, ncurses5-compat-libs, libjpeg6 and libpng12.

Ubuntu 16.04 requires various packages to run the CentOS 6 build: We believe the full list you will need is:

sudo apt-get install gcc gfortran x11-common libjpeg62-dev libxft-dev libsm-dev libxt-dev

The CentOS 6 build may require older versions of various libraries if you wish to run it on very modern Linux -- if these are not available in the standard repositories they may be available from custom repositories. Otherwise you can try our newer builds, or build Starlink yourself from source.


The tar ball will unzip into a star-2021A/ directory in the directory where you downloaded and un-tarred the tar file. This release can be placed and run from anywhere.

There may be non-trusted developer warnings on macOS Catalina (10.15) and later. In this case you can try removing the attribute as follows:

sudo xattr -dr star-2021A


  1. An up-to-date XQuartz X11 distribution must be installed. If you already have XQuartz installed but need to update it, you can run the application and go to the top menu and select: X11->Check for X11 updates. If you need to install the software, it can be found here:

  2. A recent Java JDK must be installed to use the StarJava programs such as topcat, splat stilts and frog. This can be found at To check if you have Java installed already, open a terminal, type java -version and see if the command is found, and if you have 1.8 installed. There should not be any other dependencies for installing the macOS build.

NOTE, when starting gaia you may see an error similar to this:

X Error of failed request:  BadValue (integer parameter out of range for
  Major opcode of failed request:  45 (X_OpenFont)
  Value in failed request:  0x60015d
  Serial number of failed request:  1743
  Current serial number in output stream:  1744

This seems to be caused by some problem in the interaction between Tk and unicode font handling in XQuartz. If you see this error, it can usually be resolved by starting gaia with an option that prevents the use of unicode characters:

% gaia -unicoderadec 0

Post-installation Run-up

Before you can run the Starlink Software Collection, you need to run our setup scripts. This will have to be done every time you open a new terminal, before you can run any Starlink commands.

If your terminal is running bash or other sh-like shell (this is the usual default on modern Linux distributions and macOS) please type the following commands into your terminal

export STARLINK_DIR=/star-2021A

source $STARLINK_DIR/etc/profile

If you have installed your star-2021A somewhere other than into the root directory (/) you would instead set the first command to point to the location of the installed star-2021A/ directory.

e.g., if you had put it in your home directory, you would type:

export STARLINK_DIR=/home/MyUserName/star-2021A

source $STARLINK_DIR/etc/profile

Some astronomy departments still set up their computers to use tcsh as the default shell instead of bash. The setup process is similar, but the commands are slightly different. If you have installed star-2021A into the root directory, you will need to type the following commands into your terminal:

setenv STARLINK_DIR /star-2021A

source $STARLINK_DIR/etc/cshrc

source $STARLINK_DIR/etc/login

And again, similar to the bash shell instructions above, if you have installed star-2021A into a different directory you will have to give the path to that directory in your first command (and still run the following two commands) e.g.:

setenv STARLINK_DIR /home/MyUserName/star-2021A

You can now run Starlink commands within your current terminal.

Any time you wish to start using Starlink Software in a new terminal, you will need to run the appropriate 2 or 3 commands above again. For convenience, you could save these commands into an alias.

Running Software Packages

For most command line packages, typing the name of a package will make its commands available to use, tell you that it has been loaded, and tell you what command to run to find out more about the package. For example, try typing:


into your terminal.

Some Starlink software also launches a graphical interface. If you type:

gaia &

into your terminal, the GAIA data visualization software will launch and you can load in astronomy maps and cubes to view (both SDF and FITS formats are supported).

IMPORTANT NOTE (for Linux only in this release)

The setup scripts put the 'Starlink' version of various libraries into your LD_LIBRARY_PATH variable. Unfortunately, this means that after sourcing the Starlink setup scripts, other command line programs (such as e.g. CASA) may not work inside the terminal in which you sourced Starlink. To get around this, simply:

  1. Don't source the Starlink scripts by default (e.g. don't put the commands into your .bashrc, .profile, .login or .cshrc files), but instead source them manually every time you're running Starlink software.

  2. Run other software (such as CASA) in a different terminal from the one in which you are running Starlink.


Because of the large size of WFCAM calibration files, they have been split off from the main download tarballs, as not everybody will be reducing WFCAM data using ORAC-DR. These calibrations can be downloaded here (1.06GB .tar.gz). The tar file will unzip into a wfcam/ directory in the directory you downloaded the tar file to. To install these calibration files, copy the directory into the $STARLINK_DIR/bin/oracdr/cal/ directory, thus creating the $STARLINK_DIR/bin/oracdr/cal/wfcam/ directory containing the calibration files.

This file has changed for the 2015B release to include flatfield images for the 1.644FeII filter. These were created in 2012 (Kapuahi release) but not previously made publicly available. If you downloaded the tar ball for intervening releases after Lehuakona, you only need to download it again should you require the additional FeII flats.

Starlink: 2021ADownload (last edited 2023-04-11 03:03:45 by GrahamBell)