Everything you need to know about Paparazzi in one sentence

By Chris Anderson

September 5, 2008

From the autopilot's easiest, most newbie task: inserting the boot CD [ http://paparazzi.enac.fr/wiki/index.php/Using_the_Boot_CD ]:

"On some laptops, you have to enter "knoppix nopcmcia", otherwise it hangs."

In Paparazzi land, that's actually the way they talk. You have been warned.


By Cory

September 6, 2008

I don't think that is a fair statement. You are mentioning a Knoppix issue, not a paparazzi one.

I think paparazzi is good stuff, but it is far from easy. You are right about that.

I have written a document about the minimum skills needed for success with paparazzi:

Able to install and configure Linux
Familiar with Ubuntu Linux
Understand package management in Ubuntu Linux

Experience with C
Able to compile software in Linux environment
Can program embedded systems
Know how to find the appropriate resources for support (forums, mailing lists, wikis, etc.)

Radio Control Aircraft
Be able to take off and land with confidence
Be able to fly simple patterns
Understand model aircraft setup
Be able to make simple repairs to model aircraft
Be familiar with tools and techniques used for model aircraft
Understand the care and usage of lithium polymer batteries
Be a member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (For access to certain flying fields)

Familiar with embedded systems
Know how to interface electronic components to micro controllers
Be able to locate, read, and understand data sheets
Know how to troubleshoot electronic systems
Understand signal timing
Be able to solder small components and wires
Be able to fabricate wiring harness
Be able to read schematics

Control Theory
Understand PID control

Able to learn without guidance
Strong ability to troubleshoot systems .


By Chris Anderson

September 6, 2008

I think the decision to make Paparazzi Linux-only pretty much relegated it to fringe acceptance, with neither enough support for the guys buying commerical systems or easy enough for us low-end guys. As far as I can tell it's only really been adopted broadly by universities, which is a shame given how powerful the autopilot is.

I think that's is an opportunity for someone to port it to Windows and create a plug-and-play version, even commercially.

For me, life is too short to deal with Linux on the desktop (although we use it extensively on the server). .


By Cory

September 6, 2008

"For me, life is too short to deal with Linux on the desktop"

We could debate for days on this one. I have been using Linux on the desktop nearly exclusively for more than a year now. For me, the pains in the beginning were very similar to the problems I experienced when I first started to use windows.

For me, the ease of system administration is the best thing. Every program is updated by synaptic, so it eliminates the constant nagging that one experiences with windows with a half dozen programs running system tray apps that beg for updates. I also do not have to deal with viruses or spyware. My biggest problem is MS office documents that do not play well with open office.

My father also got a new computer with vista on it, and he was complaining that he could not do anything with it. In addition, the very first program he downloaded was malware masquerading as an anti virus program. So I installed Linux for him, and configured all the eye candy. He loves it, and he can do what he needs without having to buy any software. His computer skills were weak to begin with, so to him Windows and Linux are equally difficult.

"neither enough support for the guys buying commerical systems or easy enough for us low-end guys"
I think that a Windows version of paparazzi would not change this, since the biggest hurdles (IMHO) are the systems integration, tuning, and configuration of the autopilot which are OS independent issues. .


By Chris Anderson

September 6, 2008

Let's all get some perspective. This isn't PhD Robotics.com, it's a site for amateurs. The whole point of what we're trying to do is to democratize aerial robotics so regular folks can do it.

You smart developer types may be able to handle Linux, but regular people don't want to. Whatever you may think of Windows or the Mac, they're what regular people use. Any project that insists on being Linux only is, by definition, not for for them.

That may be fine with the Paparazzi folks, but we have hopes of reaching a broader audience here. .


By martinpi

October 8, 2008

Hello Chris, hello everyone!

I am the author of the Paparazzi boot-CD-howto and therefore I am the author of the line quoted above.
I do not know why you quoted this sentence and I am not sure whether getting quoted by you is an honor or a flame. If the latter, I do not know if it is me who got flamed, or Paparazzi, or Linux, or altogether.

In your "land"-metaphor, I am a tourist in the Paparazzi land. So the way I talk is probably not the way they talk. My aim was to help other tourists on the way from the airport to the hotel. The aim was also, as you found out, to warn them.

Did you read the whole text? Probably you would have found other sentences which you would have liked a lot more, like "This is as far as I got with trial and error".

And there is some more warnings and disclaimers in the WIKI, so it is made very obvious that using Paparazzi is not easy. The aren't trying to sell you anything, and that makes me feel comfortable.

I am playing around with the Paparazzi simulator and I have not yet decided if I will do much more.

Possibly the ArduPilot is the better option for me, who knows.


By martinpi

October 26, 2008

Cory, your list of skills pretty much wraps it up.

Which skills do you need for ArduPilot or for the Basic Stamp autopilot?

All from your list except Linux, I guess. Linux is not the most complicated thing on the list, I guess again.

I had tried Linux years ago and had given up. Therefore I can understand resentments against Linux. To try the Paparazzi software, I installed the current version of Ubuntu (8.04). Voila, everything works without any tricks or tweaks!
Installing Linux has been "developer's" stuff long ago, but now it is very much like installing Windows. Need some other software? Just get it from the repositories, it's a breeze.

You do not need to understand the packet system, you just use it. It does wonderful things for you, compared to Windows programs which might mess up your DLL's and your registry and leave you in deep sh...

It has often been claimed that Linux is as easy as Windows for everyday user. This was definitely not true in the past, but now I tend to agree. Hardy Heron for president!

Using Microsoft products is easy. They give it to schools so kids grow up with it. You can hardly avoid buying it when you buy a computer. Well, the people in Redmond can use any extra dollar they can get. They sure appreciate your support and promotion. ;-)

When you install a Linux distribution like Ubuntu, it leaves Windows untouched and offers a dual-boot option.
Linux can work with all sorts of file systems, but Windows cannot work with Linux file systems.
Open Office can work with M$-Office files, but not vice versa.
So it is easy to try Linux and, of course, it is free. You can always go back.

If this is too much commitment for you, you can use live-CDs such as Knoppix.

OK, you might have to enter "knoppix nopcmcia". When this is too much for you, think twice about building a UAV for fun.


By Chris Anderson

October 26, 2008


Thanks for the comment. My post was a relatively light-heated comment, but it was after watching many months of people struggling to get Paparazzi working. I know that some people have no trouble, and Linux (especially Ubuntu), is getting easier to use, but device driver problem still continue to bedevil many of us. Also, the configuration process for Paparazzi is still beyond the ability of most non-technical people.

I know Paparazzi is not really intended for non-technical people, and I know that your own work, in particular, is making it much easier to use (and for that thank you!), but our use of beginner-friendly environment such as Arduino and Basic Stamp is intended to make DIY autopilots accessible to an much less technically savvy audience. As much as I admire Paparazzi, I think it's requirement that everyone be using Linux is a serious limitation.


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