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Typical specifications of computers running FlightGear?

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Typical specifications of computers running FlightGear?

Postby vnts » Sun Jul 12, 2020 12:34 am

Split off from osm2city.py development.


merspieler wrote in Sat Jul 11, 2020 12:16 pm:If you want to play a flightsim on a 2 core laptop, use banks... Forget the low end... You can't play fg seriously on any older none gaming laptop... so why even bother... other flightsims have higher minimum requirements.

The reason I bought it up was laptops are popular with a lot of /contributors/ from what I've anecdotally noticed. I know legoboyvdlp for instance uses a 2 core laptop from previous discussions. In the past, there even have been contributors using older hardware (probably upgraded since) panicking a bit (incorrectly) that new features in the shader forum weren't optional [1]. This also goes back to the sentiment behind a point Thorsten makes about contributors being the directly important thing for a non-commercial project, i.e. pointing out that more users won't necessarily help FG directly and a sudden explosion in user-base could actually leave infrastructure shorthanded. Meaning the distribution of computer systems specs contributors specifically has an effect compared to all FG users, users of other sims etc. When contributors first start with FG they may not have a big use for high end systems. If someone like legoboyvdlp never got into FG, or couldn't use FG, that would make a large difference. However, I can't even say what the exact distribution of system specs is, as I'm fairly new. I also don't have hard data from a survey on how old the systems people had were compared to current gen of the time contributors in each different area of FG had when they first got into FG - just some anecdotal things from the forum etc. To not be misunderstood, I was not saying even a 2 core laptop would be adversely effected by using a decompressor like PAQ, just that the decompression hit isn't something I looked at, so I personally can't say.

I was waiting for times when there would be more code support to take prototypes further (including systems like generic instancing to reduce code support in future). I just wanted to mention some info, but there was some confusion and side topics. Cheers : )

Kind regards
Last edited by Johan G on Sun Jul 19, 2020 7:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Split off from "osm2city.py development".
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Re: osm2city.py development

Postby merspieler » Sun Jul 12, 2020 12:48 am

I must admit, you've got a point...

anyway... forward is the only way the wind blows.
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Re: osm2city.py development

Postby Hooray » Sun Jul 19, 2020 3:59 pm

I agree, vnts does have a point.
I've always found the navigraph community survey very interesting: https://blog.navigraph.com/post/1906239 ... 19-results

Regarding a FlightGear specific "survey" (hardware specs), I would also be interested in something like that. And I know a number of senior contributors have been wondering about the hardware specs of the average contributors.

It would be easy to use an existing php script and set that up, but that will require webspace (or access to the flightgear.org, i.e. endorsement from Curt et al).

Alternatively, it would be pretty straightforward to set up a poll on the forum and keep it running for a while, while also promoting it (forum, devel list, IRC, discord, website, wiki) to hopefully get enough people involved.

To be honest though, given how these polls usually work out, it might be best to integrate something like that directly inside FlightGear, i.e. using Nasal & Canvas GUI dialog.
That would be really easy to implement, and it could still post the results online - and it could in fact even publish results using the wiki API (mediawiki).

We have previously covered Nasal based AJAX/web coding, and it's easy enough to do actually: http://wiki.flightgear.org/Howto:Making ... from_Nasal

It would be also straightforward to serve a GUI dialog with questions - a good starting point would be collecting questions that people are interested in.

The corresponding survey could then either by committed to fgdata as an optional module, or added as an addon.

Either way, it's not complicated to do, and it would certainly have much wider coverage than a survey conducted on just the forum/devel list or wiki
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Re: osm2city.py development

Postby merspieler » Sun Jul 19, 2020 4:35 pm

Well... the webspace is no issue... If you've get me the files, the site is up within 5 minutes...

Con Forum: You need an account.

Con: In the laucher: I don't want to see ANY such popup or dialog in any of my programs. If there would be one, it would be kicked out.

I think a survey on the web is the best way to go...


and btw... if it's not complicated... as always, you've more than welcome, to do it :-P
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Re: osm2city.py development

Postby Hooray » Sun Jul 19, 2020 4:46 pm

The wiki article I linked to, I created it - including the screen shots, code snippets - so I've done this previously, and you can obviously use any code/examples as you deem appropriate.
Then again, you've got a point about the built-in survey, even though I don't think it's that problematic if it's strictly opt-in (think a menubar item) ?

If you've got access to webspace, all that is needed next is installing one of the free php survey scripts, and then populate that with a set of questions - for example, something along the lines of:

  • how many computers do you have access to ?
  • how old ?
  • operating system ?
  • 32 bit / 64 bit ?
  • how much RAM?
  • how many cores?
  • integrated or dedicated graphics ?
  • how much VRAM ?
  • end-user / contributor ?

I think we could use the forum to gather potential questions and then collect those on a wiki page, to finally populate the survey ?

If we are really going to do this, it might not be such a bad idea to look at the navigraph questionnaire and their questions.

(this might be better split off into its own topic)
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Re: osm2city.py development

Postby merspieler » Sun Jul 19, 2020 5:03 pm

I agree... please open a thread an link it here
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Re: Typical specifications of computers running FlightGear?

Postby merspieler » Sun Jul 19, 2020 8:10 pm

I've created a little demo... feel free to propose more questions or changes:
https://lime.merspieler.tk/index.php/642915?newtest=Y
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Re: Typical specifications of computers running FlightGear?

Postby Hooray » Sun Jul 19, 2020 8:18 pm

vnts started this, so it might be good to wait for his questions - that said, covering some of the navigraph basics with a focus on FG would actually be interesting.
Then again, this shouldn't become too complex or people might not be interested in participating.

I guess GPU vendor would be of interest to us, too - i.e. nvidia, AMD/ATI, Intel, Matrox or "other" (please specify)
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Re: Typical specifications of computers running FlightGear?

Postby merspieler » Sun Jul 19, 2020 8:23 pm

It's just a demo, to play around... I can always modify it....

Navigraph asks a number of personal questions. I won't do that, else I'd have to bother with data protection regulations...
Only thing I ask, is the age... very rough, just over or under 18... to know, how many kids are around...

One section, I'd like to get in are improvements for fg... so get up your ideas...
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Re: Typical specifications of computers running FlightGear?

Postby Hooray » Mon Jul 20, 2020 4:34 am

It would probably make sense to keep this simple, so that the generated data can be easily visualized/plotted, or what do you think ?

- version of FlightGear
- years of experience using FlightGear

improvements:

- better scenery/terrain
- better graphics / rendering
- better support for older systems
- better support for multi-core systems
- better avionics
- other (please specify)

Again, the problem won't be coming up with interesting questions, but rather coming up with a tiny pool of questions that people are willing to answer - otherwise, it won't be such a surprise seeing below 100 participants, despite the download numbers being in the thousands (which is why adding a built-in option to open the survey in the browser might still be a good idea to get wider coverage, than just promoting the whole thing via the forum/list and wiki/website) ?
Please don't send support requests by PM, instead post your questions on the forum so that all users can contribute and benefit
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Re: Typical specifications of computers running FlightGear?

Postby merspieler » Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:12 am

There's some plotting included in the software.

If you want something more fancy, there are plenty of export options like CSV so you can just throw it into another visualisation tool.
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Re: Typical specifications of computers running FlightGear?

Postby Hooray » Mon Jul 20, 2020 2:16 pm

I don't "want" anything at all - was just wondering if we can easily visualize the results, and obviously yes/no answers are more easily visualized than free-form text.
Likewise, we should probably find similar ways to answer questions numerically, so that answers can be easily plotted (e.g. by year, by range (strongly yes ... not at all).

Also, I would suggest to group questions by category - i.e. having a dedicated "graphics" category for GPU specific questions, where we could also ask for manufacturer/production date - it might also be interesting to see how many people have access to multiple GPUs/screens.

Basically a handful of top-level categories:

machines:
- 32 bit vs. 64 bit
- production year
- number of cores / frequency
- RAM

graphics:
- make
- production year
- VRAM
- pipelines / shader units
- multiple GPUs ?
- multiple screens ?
- screen resolution

operating system:
- Windows, Mac OS, Linux, other

flightgear specifics
- end user, content developer, contributor
- how they obtain fg (official release, build script, build server, linux distro, download)

To be really interesting, it would be awesome to also ask people about their frame rate/frame spacing for a given default airport/aircraft and rendering settings using their profile.

Anyway, a killer feature would be having a final question that allows people to suggest new questions, so that these can be reviewed and incorporated while the survey is taking shape along the way.

For instance, that way people could try the survey and then provide feedback how it could be changed/improved - this could be shared/reviewed over the course of a few weeks, so that the final survey is indeed a community survey, using questions provided by the community :D
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Re: Typical specifications of computers running FlightGear?

Postby vnts » Tue Jul 21, 2020 1:01 am

Hooray wrote in Sun Jul 19, 2020 8:18 pm:vnts started this, so it might be good to wait for his questions - that said, covering some of the navigraph basics with a focus on FG would actually be interesting.

Ah, sorry. Did not realise this comment would get it's own thread. It was just a point made in passing.

With issues like this where people (like me) might not have communicated earlier - everyone always has their own "model" of how the social dynamics regarding contributors & project might work based on the data points / observations. What usually happens is based on early observations, reasoning, and conclusions people then keep an eye out out for different things to update models, see further patterns, seek out new info, and "models" end up diverging. I've had a limited amount of time with FG, most of my observations are based on the forum and rendering observations in screenshots & submissions, etc. I don't have info from FG collaborations sites, discords, githubs, IRC etc scattered around the web and in many languages. I haven't really commented on bigger project issues

I can point out my model (so far!) of how social dynamics /might/ work, and leave the rest to people more familiar with FG :mrgreen:

The entry point to a project is really important, regardless of how inconvenient it might look later on after changing hardware/skills. Sort of like a chain - the weakest link determines the max strength. If there's something making it inconvenient get into FG, or making it less accessible to start tinkering, then that can impact contributors. The experience of 'new tinkerers' - can include simply being made aware or cued in that FG is powerful & open to tinkering - which should be a UI pillar in a non-commercial project. It can also include convenient fast performance with workflows newcomers dipping their toes are likely to have - fast iteration time without installing additional things or setting up custom scripts. For example, the startup speed improvements would tend to help even though reloads available for scenery via the debug menu. A less clunky property browser may help. And there are other specific things related to things I've tinkered with like rendering, as well as often discussed things like documentation.
Hooray wrote in Sun Jul 19, 2020 3:59 pm:And I know a number of senior contributors have been wondering about the hardware specs of the average contributors.

Hooray wrote in Sun Jul 19, 2020 3:59 pm:a good starting point would be collecting questions that people are interested in.

What system contributors have when they start with FG compared to the "current gen" of the time
- People seem to upgrade when they have a use for CPU or GPU power. People may not have really had a use before getting into FG.
- Area of contribution. For example, people who might eventually get into rendering may already have a use for GPU power before FG due to their interest. Others might have a professional background that can benefit from CPU power, but not at all for GPU power. People from older generations getting into simming might not have had a use for a fast system before similarly people less familiar with computers who may first start off learning modeling or texturing. Some expect fast CPUs to do 3d as well when buying, and are surprised with FG being bottlenecked.
- Laptops are convenient, but until recently (NVIDIA 10xx series+) GPUs were often low power M variants - except for battery hungry laptops built around 3d performance.
- People have different upgrade cycle lengths. People may upgrade more often these days when they have uses for CPU/GPU power. It would probably be interesting to know how frequently people upgraded back when they started - i.e. how many years was ago did they buy the computer /before/ the computer they had when they started. This would may be quite useful compared to what system they had when they started - as a proportion of people with long upgrade cycles would randomly have upgraded just before they got into FG.
- Anecdotally, it seems quite a few rotorcraft people submit screenshots at high settings compared to other craft types. Not sure why.. a bigger commuinity right now, rotorcraft realism for other sims being more terrible than for other craft types attracting more attention, those people learning to configure FG better, screenshots for other craft being taken in multiplayer with lower settings, it being less intuitive to configure for both high and low altitudes. Not sure. This is despite invsibility due to a lot of rotorcraft as they aren't available via the launcher, so you'd /naively/ expect rotorcraft would have a fraction of the exposure and potential users.
- The main OS used when people started is probably interesting. Info on if people switched OSes later e.g. from Windows to Linux - as almost everyone (?) on the forum seems to be on Linux or macOS now despite just the sourceforge page sourceforge showing 5~10k windows downloads per week. How OS ties into area(s) of contribution is probably interesting too - The naive sterotype might expect more art contributions on Windows or Mac than Linux. Core devs seem to use Linux or Mac. Macs have historically used low power GPUs, Linux has got better with GPU driver support but mainly for NVIDIA.

So the questions would be along the lines of:
- Current system specs & main OS & how often people upgrade these days in years
- Other sims people use
- Year start using FG. Year they brought computer. Type of system (e.g. notebook, gaming laptop, office work computer, HPC computer, low/med/high 3d/gaming computer, etc). System specs/OS back then if known. How often people upgraded back then (i.e. how many years they had the computer before the one they used at the beginning)
- Background in other sims people used/modded (in years) before starting FG - e.g. fs-x for X years, x-p for Y
- Year of first contribution, area of main contribution
- Areas of contribution (incl documentation/wiki/administration/user support/etc) & year when started. Contribution for at least 2 areas+bug reporting
- FG relevant generic skills (not aerospace knowledge) when starting versus now (scripting, coding for compiled languages, art/digital modelling skills, etc.) - to see if different previous backgrounds/interests meant uses for faster GPU/CPU
- What general craft types people currently develop/fly/fly multiplayer & estimated percentages.
- Country (hardware distribution and accesibility of pricing varies around the world)
- What collaboration mediums people feel comfortable following & what they use - estimated percentages. Mailing list, official forums, official wiki, voice chat discord, non-english FG sites, other FG forums/communities etc. This should show if there's any change in hardware distribution and surveys in different media.

I'm not sure what detail the senior contributors Hooray talked about wanted, in order to be sure enough to take decisions - depends on issue I guess. These might be tricky to visualise without specifying categories to select out of for things like contribution areas.

For FG a lot of interest is in correlation between responses to different questions (?) rather than looking at responses to each question separately... just in case surveys being anonymous prevent that or something(?).

Better GPUs in laptops and maybe more competition in both GPU and CPU space might mean people have faster hardware when they get into FG/simulation in future - unless increased competition means more transistors for laptops and power requirements go back up.
Hooray wrote in Sun Jul 19, 2020 3:59 pm:Alternatively, it would be pretty straightforward to set up a poll on the forum and keep it running for a while, while also promoting it (forum, devel list, IRC, discord, website, wiki) to hopefully get enough people involved.

Yes a survey would need to be linked widely or it may not be answered by contributors working in certain areas (e.g. C++ devs using the mailing list, or people collaborating using other forums or discord - e.g. StuartC seems to be one of the few FGUK people using this forum and he mainly works on FDM (?) which leaves art etc.)
Hooray wrote in Sun Jul 19, 2020 3:59 pm:I've always found the navigraph community survey very interesting: https://blog.navigraph.com/post/1906239 ... 19-results

That seems to originally be focused on surveying the userbase for that product, and reflects those who can be motivated to respond to a survey by a commercial company, or be sufficiently engaged with social media to respond to survey mentions on reddit/facebook. FG tinkerers and users also probably include a fair few people who have outgrown other sims, and at least looking at the forum, FG appears to have quite a few people from more technical backgrounds and with a respect for opensource philosophy (science, hardware engineering, software engineering, or people with that inclination from other backgrounds who are natural tinkerers). The forum seems to be mainly a small(?) portion of contributors & few power users, and some use FG professionally in R&D going by threads. FG people are probably generally less active on social media, so the Navigraph survey doesn't really cover the FG community (not sure the survey is really reliable for other sims given the skew towards being engaged on social media enough to see and answer it).

Like the Navigraph survey it's possible to ask what backgrounds contributors had but in a more specific way (but FG's interest isn't selling stuff, it's more towards implied hints at accessibility problems to tinkering - for instance if there was a significant real/unavoidable/perceived barrier in a contribution area and those only with a specific set of background (or OS related skills) tend get over that barrier). Not sure if that's too personal to survey.

That's mostly what I can come up on hardware & contributors topic with based on what little I've seen.

Kind regards
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Re: Typical specifications of computers running FlightGear?

Postby merspieler » Tue Jul 21, 2020 7:57 am

Thanks for the ideas.

For coutries: I won't include that... As I said before, the rough age is the only personal data I'll ask for... else I'd had to deal with the GDPR

As for correlated analysis: That shouldn't be a problem. I can expoert the results as CSV then we can do with it, what ever we want.

Generally, I'd be interrested in publishing the results as well in a raw format so others can build their own statistics.
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Re: Typical specifications of computers running FlightGear?

Postby legoboyvdlp » Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:21 am

Not sure. This is despite invsibility due to a lot of rotorcraft as they aren't available via the launcher, so you'd /naively/ expect rotorcraft would have a fraction of the exposure and potential users.


Just on a side note, any clarification on this, is there anything that needs fixed there in the launcher?
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