Design Integration Laboratory

Radiance for Power Macintosh

Getting Started with Radiance on Power MachTen

Kevin Matthews, Design Integration Laboratory


Written by Greg Ward ( and his compatriots at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL), with additional contributions from other researchers around the world, Radiance is a sophisticated suite of ray-tracing software capable of producing beautiful renderings of architectural computer models, with qualitatively accurate bounced lighting effects. The Radiance software is distributed by LBL free of charge across the internet.

Nearly all the many other rendering programs available on many computer platforms, were written to make renderings which look "good", typically from an illustration or entertainment point of view. In contrast, Radiance has been engineered from its beginnings to make renderings which are accurate. The result is a powerful and reliable tool for architectural design simulation.

Used together with a powerful architectural modeler like DesignWorkshop, in the hands of a motivated novice Radiance can quickly produce subtle, beautiful, and instructive renderings showing unbuilt spaces in both natural and electric light. With careful light source and materials definitions at the hands of an expert user, Radiance goes beyond any other available rendering software in its ability to produce quantitatively accurate lighting simulations for advanced lighting design.

Radiance is currently primarily available for the UNIX operating system. Now, by installing MachTen on a Power Macintosh, you can conveniently and inexpensively put Macintosh design-oriented architectural modeling together with the very best architectural rendering on one fast friendly machine.

The Design Integration Laboratory has been pleased to provide technical leadership in establishing Radiance on Power Macintosh, in cooperation with Artifice, Inc., and with generous assistance from Greg Ward himself.

Directions for Radiance on Power Macintosh

Here is a functional draft outline of how to get going with Radiance at native speed on Power Macintosh, using available tools exactly as they exist right now (keeping in mind that this will get easier and smoother as we complete testing and tuning the pieces). It is aimed primarily at people who want to be able to use Radiance for rendering and lighting simulation with architectural models built using DesignWorkshop.

1) Purchase a copy of Power MachTen for Power Macintosh from Tenon Intersystems and install it on your Power Macintosh, with 32MB RAM as a preferred minimum (it's discounted at mail order houses, and academic pricing is available to qualified persons). With 200MB of disk space available, you can comfortably install both MachTen and Radiance, and still have file space for a few medium rendering projects.

Learn a bit about MachTen from the documentation that comes with it, and get some kind of internet connection established to your MachTen Power Mac.

2) Create a new user account for yourself, following instructions in the MachTen documentation, and use it to learn how to perform basic file operations within the MachTen filesystem, and how to edit MachTen text files using the customized verion of BBEdit that comes with MachTen (or vi for antiques...).

3) Make sure that the X11 support files are properly installed according to the instructions from Tenon.

(Speaking of archaic, I personally like to use NCSA Telnet to log on to the MachTen system for general use, treating it as a remote host even when I'm on the same machine. This is not necessary, and the interaction is sometimes slower, but it lets me log in from more than one account at a time.)

3) Connect to the Lawrence Berkeley Lab across the Internet, from within MachTen using UNIX-style ftp, or in the Mac OS using Fetch or another Mac-savvy FTP application, to connect to "", with the username "anonymous", and your family name for an identifying password. Download the standard Radiance archive ("Radiance2R5.tar.Z", found in the / directory) into a convenient directory of the MachTen file system on your Mac's hard disk, such as /tmp.

Note: If you use Unix-style ftp from within MachTen to download the Radiance archives, the file types will be correct automatically. If you use Fetch or other Mac-style ftp, you'll need to make sure the file type for each archive is "BINA", and the creator code for each archive is "MUMM". These file codes can be established at the time of transfer, by settings established within the ftp application, or they can be set afterwards using a file-typing utility, or the File Info command in ResEdit. If the downloaded archives have the correct file type and creator code, they will be properly recognized as Unix binary files within MachTen, and the next steps will work.

4) Install the Radiance files into the proper new directories in the MachTen file system on your Mac. This section is the heart of the installation process.

a) Log on to MachTen using the UNIX "root" account, go to the directory containing the downloaded archive file "Radiance2R5.tar.Z", and use the command "uncompress Radiance2R5.tar.Z" to decompress the archive file of the main Radiance distribution.

b) Use "tar -xvf Radiance2R5.tar" to extract the main Radiance distribution into your MachTen filesystem. The Radiance files should appear in the installation directory "/usr/local/ray/".

d) Copy the Radiance man pages files from "/usr/local/ray/doc/man1", etc. into the corresponding MachTen standard manual pages directories "/usr/share/man/man1", etc. Other Radiance documentation files are in various formats, including PostScript which you can download to any PostScript laserprinter for hard copies.

e) In the Mac OS, using the BBEdit text editor that comes with MachTen, being sure it is properly installed, open the file "/usr/local/ray/rmake", edit it to set the necessary install option codes for creating Radiance on Power MachTen from the standard distribution, and save it in nearby as ""/usr/local/bin/rmake". You only need to change the "MACH= " line, to exactly match the example below.

exec make "SPECIAL=" \
	"OPT=-O" \
	"MACH= -DBSD -DALIGN=double -DBIGMEM -DDCL_ATOF -I/usr/X11/include -L/usr/X11" \
	ARCH=12 "COMPAT=bmalloc.o erf.o strcmp.o" \
	INSTDIR=/usr/local/bin \
	LIBDIR=/usr/local/lib/ray \
	CC=gcc "$@" -f Rmakefile

(This sets appropriate compiler options for the MachTen UNIX, and for the PowerPC processor, and adds code library paths to let the X11 libraries be linked in, if they're installed in MachTen according to Tenon's instructions. (By the way, in the next standard release of Radiance there will be a simple menu choice to set all the necessary options for MachTen, making this step a lot simpler.))

f) Back in the UNIX "root" account, go to the directory /usr/local/ray, and give the command " ./makeall install clean". Radiance should begin building, installing, and then cleaing up after itself. This will take something like a couple of hours.

There may be some warnings, which you can probably ignore, but if there are error messages, note them exactly, and seek assistance from someone familiar with installing Radiance and/or with UNIX programming.

g) When these steps are complete, Radiance is almost ready to run on your Macintosh.

5) Log in to your user account, and edit the ".login" file for the account, so Radiance can find all the things it needs from within the account:

a) Adjust the PATH variable in the ".login" file of your new user account, by editng the line defining PATH so it reads exactly like this:

setenv PATH ".:~/bin:${PATH}:/usr/local/bin:/usr/local/ray"

b) Add and define the RAYPATH variable in the ".login" file of your new user account, by adding a new line near the top, defining RAYPATH so it reads exactly like this:

setenv RAYPATH .:${HOME}/mylib:/usr/local/lib/ray

6) Working from your user account, test the system. If you have a proven combination of geometry and .rif file from previous work with Radiance, use that for your first test renderings. Otherwise, create a new scene description for rendering from DesignWorkshop (

a) Choose a DesignWorkshop building model to render in Radiance. Open the model in DesignWorkshop Universal (available from Artifice, free on request to registered owners of DW PPC), set up the view you want to render, and use the Export > Radiance command to create the Radiance geometry and command files for rendering.

b) Edit the ".rif" file as necessary, using BBEdit, an excellent Mac-style text editor with powerful features. When editing the rif file in BBEdit, be sure to use the Save icon in the window toolbar, or the Options button in the Save As... dialog box, to set the line breaks to "Unix" type, and the file creator to either "MachTen" or "BBEdit". Similarly, if you edit the geometry file at all, be sure to give it the same settigns when you save your edits. Then you can transfer transfer the rif file and the geometry file into the MachTen file system using standard Macintosh drag-and-drop to transfer between the two files into your working folder in the MachTen file system without corrupting them.

To begin learning Radiance if you're a new user, follow the detailed online instructions for running Radiance itself, and for building the "rif" file to go with your exported DW model.

7) Then you're done! and you have one of the world's finest rendering tools running on your own friendly Macintosh.

When you've got the system working smoothly for rendering basic images of simple models, you may wish to explore the various kinds of Radiance information linked at the UO Architecture Rendering page. . You can also follow the sequence of projects in my Radiance lighting simulation seminar at the University of Oregon to gradually build your knowledge of more advanced Radiance features. These pages at the Uniersity of Oregon also include links to the main Radiance site at LBL, which holds the offical general information on Radiance, technical papers detailing how Radiance works, international discussion archives, links to other Radiance web sites, etc.

Testing Needed

- There are no currently known problems with these procedures.
- Reports of verifiable problems are greatly appreciated.

Feedback by E-mail

Additional Desirable Content for This Page

- More specific illustrated instructions for Mac users on moving models into and images out of the MachTen file system, etc.
- Guide to other Radiance documentation and web sites
- Ready-to-use geometry and rif file set for easier initial testing.
- DesignWorkshop 1.5 materials translation library
- A link for downloading Radiance Helper, and explanation of its use.
- Other suggestions?

Feedback by E-mail

Information on using Radiance:

Radiance Quick Start Notes , Radiance Materials Notes , Example Simple Image

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© 1995-96 Kevin Matthews, All Rights Reserved.
Posted 96.01.20 KMM, rev. 96.03.13