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comp.soft-sys.ptolemy Frequently Asked Questions

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The Ptolemy Frequently Asked Questions list Last Updated: 03/28/98

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1.0 General Questions 
        1.1 What is Ptolemy?
        1.2 What are the hardware requirements?
        1.3 What are the software requirements?
        1.4 Demonstration Version (Ptiny Ptolemy)
        1.5 Current release
        1.6 Who was Ptolemy?
        1.7 What is Tycho?

2.0 Getting Ptolemy
        2.1 Ptolemy FTP site
        2.2 Ptolemy WWW site 
        2.3 Is Ptolemy available on CDROM?
        2.4 Documentation
        2.5 Technical Papers from the Ptolemy Group

3.0 Ptolemy Users Groups
        3.1 Ptolemy Mailing Lists
        3.2 Ptolemy Interest Mailing List
        3.3 Ptolemy Hackers Mailing List
        3.4 The Ptolemy User Account
        3.5 comp.soft-sys.ptolemy

4.0 Octtools and facets
        4.1 How are Ptolemy facets stored (what is Octtools)?
	4.2 How do I move facets within a directory tree?
	4.3 How do I ship facets	

5.0 Troubleshooting Ptolemy
        5.1  How to submit a good bug report
        5.2  Troubleshooting guide


1.1  What is Ptolemy?

The ambitious objectives of the Ptolemy project include most aspects
of designing signal processing and communications systems, ranging
from designing and simulating algorithms to synthesizing hardware and
software, parallelizing algorithms, and prototyping real-time systems.

The Ptolemy software is a system-level design framework that allows
mixing models of computation. In designing digital signal processing
and communications systems, often the best available design tools are
domain specific. The tools must be able to interact. Ptolemy allows
the interaction of diverse models of computation by using the
object-oriented principles of polymorphism and information hiding.
For example, using Ptolemy, a high-level dataflow model of a signal
processing system can be connected to a hardware simulator that in
turn may be connected to a discrete-event model of a communication

Since the Ptolemy project began in 1990, numerous advances in design,
simulation, and code generation have occurred. Recent enhancements of
the Ptolemy project have been in the realms of dataflow modeling of
algorithms, synthesis of embedded software from such dataflow models,
animation and visualization, multidimensional signal processing,
managing complexity by means of higher-order functions,
hardware/software partitioning, and VHDL code generation.  In 1993,
the Ptolemy project joined the Advanced Research Projects Agencies
(ARPA) RASSP project as a technology base developer.

Ptolemy has been used for a broad range of applications including
signal processing, telecommunications, parallel processing, wireless
communications, network design, radio astronomy, real time systems,
and hardware/software co-design.  Ptolemy has also been used as a
laboratory for signal processing and communications courses.
Currently Ptolemy has hundreds of users in hundreds of sites, in
industry, academia, and government.

1.2  What are the hardware requirements?

Ptolemy0.7 was released on June 13, 1997.

Summary of architectures and 0.7
ARCH           OS Release       Notes
----           ----------       -----

Our four main platforms that we provide binaries for:

sun4           SunOS4.1.3       Used in house at UCB
sol2.5         Solaris2.5.1 (Sparc)    Used in house at UCB
hppa           HP-UX10.20       Used by other groups at UCB

Four platforms we build on, but don't provide binaries:

sol2.5.cfront  Solaris2.5.1 (Sparc)    Built in house at UCB, Used very little
hppa.cfront    HP-UX10.20       Built in house at UCB, Used very little

Active ports by others that we are folding fixes in from and do provide
binaries for.

alpha          Digital Unix 4    DEC Alpha port has alignment problems in vem
hppa9          HPUX9
linux          RedHat Linux 4.2	In rpm format

Binaries for these ports can be found in:

Active ports by others that we are folding fixes in from, but we don't
provide binaries.  See
for available patches.

aix            AIX4.1           RS/6000
freebsd        FreeBSD 2.1-Stable
irix5          Irix5.x          Should work under Irix6.x
irix6.32.cfront Irix6.x, 32 bit
irix6.64.cfront Irix6.x, 64 bit

Ports that have might not have been built in 0.7

aix.xlc        AIX3.2.5         Uses IBM xlc and xlC compilers, has many bugs
nbsd.386       NetBSD
unixware       UnixWare1.1

Discontinued ports that once worked, but we've stopped trying to compile:

mips           DEC Ultrix4.x    Discontinued in 0.5.2
cfront         SunOS4.1.3       Sun CC1.x(?) Discontinued in 0.5.2

Currently, there is no Windows NT/95/3.1 version.  Porting Ptolemy to
Windows would be fairly tricky.  The next generation of the interface
should eventually build under NT. See
for NT port status.

Installing the full system requires 110 Mbytes for Ptolemy (more if you
optionally remake).  The demonstration version of Ptolemy, Ptiny
Ptolemy, only requires 12 Mbytes of disk space.  Ptolemy requires at
least 8 Mbytes of physical memory.

1.3  What are the software requirements?

Ptolemy requires the X window system.  Ptolemy relies on a subset of
the GNU tools, such as GNU make and gcc/libg++.  The binaries for the
GNU tools on some architectures are supplied as a separate compressed
tar file. It is possible to build Ptolemy with non-GNU compilers.

Ptolemy 0.7 uses gcc- and libg++-2.7.2.  The prebuild Ptolemy
binaries require that libg++ was build with --enable-shared.

Ptolemy 0.7 also requires Itcl2.2, which uses Tcl7.6/Tk4.2.  

Itcl2.2 sources are included in the 'other.src' tar file.  Itcl2.2
binaries are included in the various architecture dependent binary tar

Ptolemy includes the Tycho system.  Tycho is a graphical front end
that uses Itcl.  Tycho can use Java and the Tcljava interface, but
Java is not yet required to run Tycho or Ptolemy.

1.4  Demonstration Version (Ptiny Ptolemy)

The demonstration version of Ptolemy, known as Ptiny Ptolemy, is a
subset of Ptolemy designed to give users a sample of the power and
flexibility of Ptolemy without taking up quite so much disk space.
Ptiny Ptolemy is also meant for the classroom as all of the Ptolemy
laboratory exercises may be performed with Ptiny Ptolemy alone.

Ptiny Ptolemy runs on the Sun 4, HP-PA, and DECStation (MIPS)
workstations.  You will need 12 Mbytes of disk space to install it.

The demonstration version of Ptolemy is available via FTP in the FTP site in the pub/ptolemy/ptiny0.5
directory.  More information on the Ptolemy FTP site is in the GETTING
PTOLEMY section.  Ptiny Ptolemy is not available on tape at this time.

Joe Buck has created a linux only version of Ptiny 0.5.2, available on
the Ptolemy ftp site as

1.5  Current release

The current release of Ptolemy is version 0.7.  This is the the
seventh major release of Ptolemy.  The zero out in front is to remind
users that this is University software and not a commercial product.
Patches to the current release are found in the Ptolemy FTP site. 

We are planning on releasing Ptolemy 0.7.1 in June, 1998.
For details, see:

1.6  Who was Ptolemy?

Claudius Ptolemaus (Ptolemy to his friends) fl A.D. 127-151, was an
Hellenistic mathematician, astronomer, and geographer in Alexandria.
He's most famous for his model of the Universe with the Earth at the
center and heavenly bodies moving about it.  The planets moved on
circles (attached to circles) attached to the circles of their orbits.
Although ungainly, his model was able to accurately account for the
movements across the sky of both the stars and planets.

1.7 What is Tycho?

Tycho is an object-oriented syntax manager with an underlying
heterogeneous technical rationale. It provides a number of editors and
graphical widgets in an extensible, reusable framework. The editors
for textual syntaxes are modeled after emacs in the sense the emacs
key bindings are used when possible. However, they make more extensive
use of menus, windows, and dialogs than emacs. Also, the intent is
that visual editors and visualization tools will be fully integrated,
something that would be difficult to accomplish with emacs in its
current form. Editors for visual syntaxes will be more diverse. The
system documentation is integrated, using a hypertext system
compatible with the worldwide web. Tycho has been designed primarily
for use with the Ptolemy system, a heterogeneous design environment
from U.C. Berkeley, but it is also useful on its own.

Ptolemy 0.7 includes Tycho 0.2.
contains more information about Tycho.


2.1  Ptolemy FTP site

The Ptolemy FTP site is:

This site contains the latest release of Ptolemy, patches to the
current release, a postscript version of the Ptolemy manual, the
demonstration version of Ptolemy, selected Ptolemy papers and journal
articles, as well as the log files for the mailing list.

For those unfamiliar with anonymous ftp, here's what you do:
FTP to Internet host ""  (
Login as "anonymous"; use your full email address as the password

	cd pub

get the README file and follow its instructions.

Note that if you are downloading binary files from the Ptolemy ftp
site, be sure to turn on binary mode by typing 'binary'.  The Ptolemy
distribution tar files are binary files and should be downloaded in
binary mode.

There is an FTP mirror in Japan: This site is a mirror
of the Berkeley site.  Ptolemy is in the pub/misc/ptolemy directory.

There is a WWW mirror of in France at
and a ftp mirror at

2.2  Ptolemy WWW site

There is a World Wide Web (WWW) page for Ptolemy:
The Ptolemy WWW page contains information about Ptolemy,
demonstrations of Ptolemy programs, and access to the Ptolemy FTP
site, and a hypertext version of the Users's Manual and the Kernel

2.3 Is Ptolemy available on CDROM?

Prime Time Freeware has in the past had Ptolemy available via CDROM.
As of 9/95, the latest issue (Prime Time Freeware for UNIX, Issue 4-2)
contains Ptolemy0.5.2

Prime Time Freeware can be reached at:

  Prime Time Freeware		Tel:	+1 408 433 9662
  370 Altair Way, Suite 150	Fax:	+1 408 433 0727
  Sunnyvale, CA			Email:
  94086 USA			WWW:

2.4  Documentation

The Ptolemy Manual (The Almagest) is split into three volumes: 
User's Manual, Programmer's Manual, and Kernel Manual.
The new user will only need the User's Manual to get started.

All three volumes are available in PostScript, HTML and PDF formats
from the Ptolemy FTP site at

In addition, bound hard copies of each of the volumes are available
from the ILP Software Distribution Office Current price is $30 per
volume, but this is subject to change.

  EECS/ERL Industrial Liaison Program Office
  Software Distribution Office
  205 Cory Hall # 1770
  University of California at Berkeley
  Berkeley, CA 94720-1770
  (510)643-6687 (voice)
  (510)643-6694 (fax)

2.5  Technical Papers from the Ptolemy Group 

A number of Ptolemy related papers and journal articles are available
in the FTP site in the pub/ptolemy/papers
directory and also via the Ptolemy WWW homepage
(  From the Ptolemy homepage, one
can search the publications by keyword. Some of the papers are in the
postscript format, and require a postscript printer or viewer.  Other
papers are in HTML format.  The paper "overview" gives an overview of
Ptolemy and would be of particular interest to new users.


3.1  Ptolemy Mailing lists 

The Ptolemy mailing lists are run by the Majordomo mailing list 
server.  This server can automatically subscribe you to mailing
lists and it can send you monthly archive files for each of the
lists.  To find out more about our Majordomo sever, send an email
letter to: with the word "help"
in the body of the letter.

3.2 Ptolemy Interest Mailing list

This moderated mailing list is for Ptolemy announcements only. Thus,
you cannot post to this group.  The amount of mail here is kept very
light (a few messages a year).

To subscribe to the ptolemy-interest mailing list, send mail to: with the word
"subscribe" in the body (not the subject) of the letter.

All mail to ptolemy-interest also goes to ptolemy-hackers, so if you
subscribe to ptolemy-hackers, there is no need to subscribe to
ptolemy-interest too.

3.3  Ptolemy Hackers Mailing list

This is a discussion list for Ptolemy questions, bug reports, and to
share Ptolemy additions and applications.  Since this is a discussion
group, mail volume can sometimes be heavy.  All mail sent to Ptolemy-
hackers is automatically cross posted to the comp.soft-sys.ptolemy

To subscribe to the ptolemy-hackers mailing list, send mail to: with the word 
"subscribe" in the body of the letter.  To leave the newsgroup put
the word "unsubscribe" in the body of your message.

3.4  The Ptolemy Users Account

Ptolemy is distributed without support or warranty.  However, if you
really need to contact a human being with a Ptolemy question, you can
send email to:

For the latest information about Ptolemy: 

3.5  comp.soft-sys.ptolemy

Just like the ptolemy-hackers mailing list, the comp.soft-sys.ptolemy
newsgroup is a forum of the discussion of Ptolemy questions, bug
reports, additions, and applications.  Note that all mail sent to the
ptolemy-hackers mailing list is automatically posted to the
comp.soft-sys.ptolemy newsgroup as well.

The name is chosen to correspond to similar newsgroups for the Khoros
and Matlab systems, which are also under comp.soft-sys.

4.0 OCTTOOLS and Facets

4.1 How are Ptolemy designs stored (what is Octtools)?

Ptolemy stores its diagrams as binary format files.  Ptolemy uses the
Octtools package to encode the data in what Octtools calls 'facets'.
Octtools is a package that was written at UC Berkeley for CAD work.
The Octtools manuals can be obtained from the Industrial Liason
Project, see below for more contact information.  The Octtools sources
are distributed in a separate tar file called *.other.src.*.  If you
are interested in seeing how Octtools, works, the program oct2ps is a
good starting point.  Oct2ps converts Octtools facets into PostScript,
the sources are in the other.src tar file, in
$PTOLEMY/src/octtools/oct2ps.  The sources for oct2ptcl, which
converts Oct facet to ptcl scripts may also be of interest.  The
source for oct2ptcl is in $PTOLEMY/src/octtools/tkoct/oct2ptcl.

4.2 How do I move facets within a directory tree?
	Use either masters or ptfixtree.
	See '2.12.2 Moving objects' in The Ptolemy User's Manual.

4.3 How do I ship facets
	Facets are in binary, so you can use tar and uuencode.


5.1  How to submit a good bug report

If you post to comp.soft-sys.ptolemy or mail to ptolemy-hackers about
a problem, you might want to include the following:

	* What release of Ptolemy you are running? The start up window
	should state the version.
	* What architecture and OS you are running?  For example, sol2
	under Solaris2.4.
	* Whether you built your own Ptolemy binaries, or are using
	prebuilt binaries from
	* If applicable, whether you built your own gcc, or are using
	prebuilt binaries.

5.2  Troubleshooting guide

Appendix A of the Ptolemy User's manual includes a troubleshooting guide.
Appendix A can be found at:

The troubleshooting guide contains the following:

A.5.1 Problems with tar files 
               EOF messages while using tar on Suns 
          A.5.2 Problems starting pigi 
               pigi: Command not found 
               Mr. Ptolemy window does not come up 
               pigi fails to start when put in the background 
               pigi fails to start up, giving shared library messages 
               tycho fails to start up, giving TCL_LIBRARY messages 
          A.5.3 Common problems while running pigi 
               pxgraph fails to come up or displays a blank window 
               Old flowgraphs do not work (facets are inconsistent) 
               Ptolemy simulations do not stop 
               Multi-porthole galaxies fail 
               Star is a compiled-in star and cannot be dynamically loaded 
          A.5.4 Window system problems 
               Error: not found 
               pigi fails to start and gives a message about not finding fonts 
               Ptolemy startup window only has an OK button 
               Emacs confuses .pl files with Prolog 
               Problems with the colormap 
               The window manager crashes 
               Problems with Mac X and Ptolemy 
               Problems with Exceed and Ptolemy 
               Problems with XFree86 
          A.5.5 Problems with the compiler 
               as vs. gas 
               Error: Linker: no constructors in linked-in code! 
               Environment variables 
               Using trace 
          A.5.6 Problems compiling files 
               Using cpp to diagnose .h file problems 
               Narrowing the problem down. 
               Using c++filt to demangle symbols 
               Sources of information for compiler problems 
          A.5.7 Generated code in CGC fails to compile 
          A.5.8 Ptolemy will not recompile 
               Messages about "unexpected end of line seen" while running make 
               Can I use my own version of Tcl/Tk? 
               Can I use my own version of gcc and libg++? 
               Can't find genStarList or genStarTable during recompilation 
               "CGCMakefileTarget.h: No such file or directory" while linking
               Missing symbols while linking pigiRpc 
          A.5.9 Dynamic linking fails 
          A.5.10 Dynamic linking and makefiles 
          A.5.11 Path and/or environment variables not set in "debug" pigi 

A.6.1 Bugs in vem 
          A.6.2 Bugs in pigi 
          A.6.3 Bugs in tycho 
          A.6.4 Code generation bugs 
          A.6.5 Bugs in pxgraph 
          A.6.6 HPPA specific bugs 
          A.6.7 IBM AIX specific bugs 
          A.6.8 Silicon Graphics IRIX5 specific bugs 
          A.6.9 Linux specific bugs 
          A.6.10 Sun Solaris 2.4 specific bugs 
          A.6.11 Sun OS4 specific bugs 
          A.6.12 DEC Alpha specific bugs 
          A.6.13 GNU compiler bugs 

Christopher Hylands, Ptolemy Project Manager  University of California 			      US Mail: 558 Cory Hall #1770
ph: (510)643-9841 fax:(510)642-2739	      Berkeley, CA 94720-1770
home: (510)526-4010 (if busy -4068)	      (Office: 493 Cory)

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