GNU.WIKI: The GNU/Linux Knowledge Base

  [HOME] [HowTo] [ABS] [MAN1] [MAN2] [MAN3] [MAN4] [MAN5] [MAN6] [MAN7] [MAN8] [MAN9]


  3D Graphics Modelling and Rendering mini-HOWTO
  Dave Jarvis
  v1.1, 27 March 2001

  Details download and installation instructions for a graphics render�
  ing and modelling development environment using RedHat Linux.

  Table of Contents

  1. Introduction

     1.1 Preamble
     1.2 Modelling vs. Modeling
     1.3 Copyright Information

  2. Background Information

     2.1 The Graphics Library
     2.2 The Graphics Modeller
     2.3 The Graphics Renderer

  3. Installation Instructions

     3.1 Warning
     3.2 Download the Software
     3.3 Install the Graphics Library
     3.4 Install the Graphics Renderer
     3.5 Install the Graphics Modeller
     3.6 Clean Up

  4. Miscellaneous Information

     4.1 Lighting
     4.2 Tutorials

  5. Related Links

     5.1 Graphics Libraries
     5.2 Graphics Renderers
     5.3 Graphics Modellers
     5.4 Miscellaneous Links

  6. Acknowledgements


  1.  Introduction

  1.1.  Preamble

  This document will guide you through the steps used to install and
  configure an environment for modelling and rendering three-dimensional
  graphics using Linux.  In this section you will also find information
  in  laymans terms about the required components and how they piece
  together.  The installation section is purposely minimal; merely the
  quick and dirty steps needed to take to get up and running (if it
  doesn't work, more information is available).  For those that want
  more information about the software components and what they do (in
  general), please continue reading.

  There are, at the minimum, three software packages you'll need in
  order to get up and running.  These are as follows (in the order they
  are explained, not the order they are installed):

  �  a graphics library;

  �  a graphics modeller;

  �  a graphics renderer.

  1.2.  Modelling vs. Modeling

  The spelling modelling is Canadian.  The spelling modeling is
  American.  The original author of this document is Canadian.  ;-)

  1.3.  Copyright Information

  Copyright � 2000-2001 Dave Jarvis

  This document may be reproduced in whole or in part, without fee,
  subject to the following restrictions:

  �  the copyright notice above and this permission notice must be
     preserved complete on all complete or partial copies;

  �  any translation or derived work must be approved by the author in
     writing before distribution;

  �  if you distribute this work in part, instructions for obtaining the
     complete version of this manual must be included, and a means for
     obtaining a complete version provided;

  �  small portions may be reproduced as illustrations for reviews or
     quotes in other works without this permission notice if proper
     citation is given.

  2.  Background Information

  The content of this section exists only to describe, in general, the
  three main components required for three-dimensional modelling and
  rendering with a Linux-based system.

  2.1.  The Graphics Library

  A graphics library consists of the most basic tools used for
  manipulating graphical images.  Think of all the things needed to
  build a house: wiring, plumbing, wood, bricks, and such.  The graphics
  library can be thought of as not these items, but rather the tools
  used create such items.  After all, wire, metal tubes, planks, and
  bricks don't magically appear; rather they are created and formed as
  entities unto themselves.  On a similar note, graphics don't magically
  appear on the screen -- typically they consist of lower-level graphics
  primatives (lines, rectangles, and individual pixels, for example).

  So the graphics library, then, can be thought of as the low-level
  graphics primatives used to build more complex objects (spheres,
  boxes, complex polygons, etc.).  Those complex objects are then used
  to build even more complicated shapes and figures.

  The graphics library installed was the freeware implementation of
  OpenGL called Mesa.

  2.2.  The Graphics Modeller

  Since the graphics renderer is, ideally, completely hidden from the
  end-user, we'll deal with that last (besides which, modelling is the
  next logical step in keeping with my house-building analogy).
  However, when it comes to the actual installation, a graphics modeller
  relies on the renderer already being installed.

  If the graphics library is akin to the tools used to build the tools
  used to build a house (!), then graphics modellers can be thought of
  as the tools used to build the blueprints for the house --
  sophisticated blueprints, as modellers let you dictate exactly where
  the wiring, plumbing, wood panels, bricks, and forth are supposed to
  go.  Furthermore, they let you pick the style of panelling and the
  colour of the bricks you desire.

  The graphics modeller installed was the freeware package called The
  Mops, which produces RenderMan-compatible files.

  2.3.  The Graphics Renderer

  In keeping with the house-building analogy, the graphics renderer is
  then the construction workers.  Once you have the blueprints and
  materials ready to go, you need something to actually build the house
  so it appears how it was designed.  The graphics renderer is given
  information (i.e., the blueprints in the form of a RenderMan-
  compatible file, or equivalent) from the the modeller to produce the
  final result.

  Just as the graphics modeller needs the graphics renderer before it
  can be installed, the renderer relies on the graphics library being
  installed beforehand.

  The graphics renderer installed was the Blue Moon Rendering Toolkit
  which uses RenderMan files.

  3.  Installation Instructions

  Keep in mind that these are brief instructions; a quick summary of the
  more important details you'll find listed in README files for the
  corresponding software packages.  It is, by no means, a substitute for
  actually reading those files (as they contain copyright information
  and other instructions not necessarily covered by this document).

  3.1.  Warning

  First, let it be known that this document only covers how to get up
  and running using RedHat v7.0.  Whenever given the choice as to which
  software package to download, please make sure it is compatible with
  the flavour of Linux you happen to be running.

  Second, please only send E-mail if you have information that would be
  helpful to other people who might read this document (such as
  explaining how to install other tools, pointers to other tutorials,
  missing steps grammar and/or speling mistakes and/or tpyos, etc.).  If
  software doesn't compile, or you can't figure it out, please read its
  accompanying documentation.  Please understand that your system may be
  completely different, and as such debugging problems via E-mail across
  the Internet is not a task anyone enjoys.  ;-)

  Third, these are software packages that installed without any severe
  hitches (read: severe headaches).  In the Related Links section, there
  are alternate software packages along side the ones covered below.
  Note that just because a given software package is not covered in
  depth does not mean it is any worse (or better) than those chosen to

  Good luck!

  3.2.  Download the Software

  Before you begin, you will need a web browser and Unix shell.  If you
  don't know how to use a shell [bash, ksh, etc.], you're own your own
  (although instructions are given in both English and shell commands).

  Unless otherwise specified, all instructions are to be carried out as

  1. Create a new directory /usr/local/archives for the packages:

       mkdir /usr/local/archives

  2. Download the following packages (in .tar.gz form) into the newly
     created directory (homepages are given, as well as links to
     download pages, and minimum software version):

  �  Mesa Graphics Library <> v3.4.1: <>

  �  Blue Moon Rendering Toolkit <> v2.6beta:

  �  The Mops <>

  3.3.  Install the Graphics Library

  Old versions of tar do not support the z argument.  For those systems,
  leave out the z argument and use gunzip on the file before using tar.

  1. Change to the /usr/local/archives directory:

       cd /usr/local/archives

  2. Extract Mesa (substitute version number where required):

       tar zxf MesaLib-3.4.1.tar.gz
       tar zxf MesaDemos-3.4.1.tar.gz

  3. Change to the MesaLib subdirectory:

       cd Mesa-3.4.1

  4. Configure, make, and install Mesa with the following sequence of

       ./configure; make; make install

  5. Edit /etc/, and ensure you have a line that reads:


  6. Run the dynamic library configuration program:


  3.4.  Install the Graphics Renderer

  1. Return to the /usr/local/archives directory:

       cd ..

  2. Extract the Blue Moon Rendering Toolkit (substitute version number
     where required):

       tar zxf BMRT2.6beta.linux-glibc2.tar.gz

  3. Change to the BMRT subdirectory:

       cd BMRT2.6

  4. Copy files to appropriate destination directories:

       cp bin/* /usr/local/bin/
       cp lib/lib* /usr/local/lib/
       cp include/* /usr/local/include/

  5. Make a directory for the shaders, ensure it is world-writable, then
     copy the shader files into it:

       mkdir /usr/local/shaders
       chmod 777 /usr/local/shaders
       cp shaders/*.sl* /usr/local/shaders/
       cp shaders/*.h /usr/local/shaders/
       cp examples/*.sl* /usr/local/shaders/
       cp examples/*.h /usr/local/shaders/

  6. Edit the system login profile (/etc/profile or equivalent), and add
     the line:

       export SHADERS=.:/usr/local/shaders

  7. Copy the .rendribrc file to each user's home directory.

  If anything goes wrong, please consult the README file that
  accompanies the Blue Moon Rendering Toolkit, or visit their website.

  3.5.  Install the Graphics Modeller

  The Mops may be installed on a per-user basis, or on a system-wide
  basis by root (or equivalent).  In this example, it is installed using
  a non-administrative account, which should yield positive results.
  Note that the compile failed during the install (missing a C header
  file), so the precompiled binaries (compatible with RedHat v6.0, your
  system may vary) were installed, as follows:

  1. Change to one directory above where you'd like The Mops to reside.
     For example, if /usr/local/mops was desired, then issue the
     following command:

       cd /usr/local

  2. Extract the mops (substitute number where required), then change
     into its directory:

       tar zxf /usr/local/archives/mops-0.42d-BMRT26-linux.tar.gz
       cd mops

  3. Move the following files from /usr/local/mops/src to

  mv src/ .
  mv src/ .
  mv src/mops .

  4. Copy the .mopsrc file to the home directory of each user wanting to
     run The Mops.  For example, the user "jane" would need the
     following commands run:

       cp src/mopsrc /home/jane/.mopsrc

  5. Create /usr/local/lib/mops and move the buttons and shaders:

       mkdir /usr/local/lib/mops/
       mv buttons/* /usr/local/lib/mops/
       mv shader/*.sl* /usr/local/shaders/

  If anything goes wrong, please consult the README and Setup.txt files
  that accompany The Mops, or visit their website.

  Log out from root.  Log in as a regular user, and run The Mops as


  You may wish to create a subdirectory within $HOME/mops called models
  for saving 3D models.

  3.6.  Clean Up

  Now that the installation is complete, you can remove from your system
  all files that you no longer require (substituting version numbers
  where required).

       cd /usr/local/archives/
       rm -rf BMRT2.6
       rm -rf Mesa-3.4.1

  Note: Be cautious when using rm -rf ... make sure you are in the
  correct directory, and the files and/or directories you wish to delete
  are present.

  4.  Miscellaneous Information

  Instead of a frequently asked questions section, here is information
  about some of the (almost embarassing) problems faced.

  4.1.  Lighting

  The most frustrating problem, initially, was trying to figure out why
  everything was black -- and then how to actually light objects up.  In
  these "virtual worlds" where you are modelling objects, the worlds are
  created from scratch.  There is no light in the world until you
  actually put a light source in it!  The light sources then shine a
  given direction, illuminating things in their path (according to the
  surface properties of the objects).  Make certain that your light
  source is:

  1. pointing (rotated and translated) in the correct direction;

  2. intense enough to actually cast discernable lighting.

  4.2.  Tutorials

  The most basic thing a person would want to do with
  modelling/rendering packages is position a sphere on a surface, give
  it some lighting, and see the result.  A decent tutorial should
  describe that first.

  That said, The Mops has a wonderful first tutorial

  5.  Related Links

  5.1.  Graphics Libraries

  Mesa <> - An OpenGL-compliant Graphics Library.

  5.2.  Graphics Renderers

  BMRT <> - The Blue Moon Rendering Toolkit.

  POV-Ray <> - The Persistence of Vision

  5.3.  Graphics Modellers

  The Mops <> - A 3D
  modelling package that uses BMRT.

  Blender <> - Freeware modelling and rendering
  suite of tools.

  5.4.  Miscellaneous Links

  Here are some links that don't really fit into any other category, yet
  are still worthwhile checking out if you are seriously considering
  using your Linux computer as a 3D modelling and rendering machine.

  3D Software for Linux <> -
  Contains most (if not all) links in this document and then some.

  3D Modelling Software for Linux
  <> - Links to software
  packages chiefly related to modelling.

  3D Modelling and Rendering using Linux <> -
  A comprehensive site with articles and software that explains what
  this document summarizes.

  6.  Acknowledgements

  I would like to extend a heart-felt thanks to the developers of the
  software packages detailed in this document.  The quality of their
  products is of a commercial level, yet they keep the spirit of free
  software alive.  Well done!

  All copyrights belong to their respective owners. Other site content (c) 2014, GNU.WIKI. Please report any site errors to