Running Cloud Takeoff In Linux

It took some doing, but the process of running Cloud Takeoff in Ubuntu Linux and Linux Mint was very easy.  Maybe even easier than getting it going in Windows!  Here's how I did it.

February 27, 2014

Previously on Foss Folks…

In Construction Software Should Run On All Platforms, I ranted about how all of the takeoff software I could find only runs in Windows.  Well, I found one that can be made to run in Linux.  And it looks as though might have gotten something more than a perfunctory nod from the company that makes it…


It Runs On Silverlight

This was the problem when I ran CloudTakeoff before.  Silverlight is a kind of like flash, but maybe on steroids and written by Microsoft.  I'd tried running Moonlight, but the last version wasn't compatible with many Silverlight apps, Cloudtakeoff included, and I understand that Moonlight has been kind of abandoned.  This was depressing…

Then one day I saw a tweet from @brianmaddox on twitter that changed everything. He was trying to watch Netflix on a Linux box I think, but the process of making Silverlight apps run was the same.  I tried setting it up.

Well, cut off my legs and call me Shorty, it worked.

Making 'er Go

So here are the directions in a nut shell…

If you've got any other versions of pipelight installed, get rid of them
sudo apt-get remove pipelight

Add the appropriate software repositories
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:pipelight/stable
sudo apt-get update

Install the Silverlight plugin

sudo apt-get install pipelight-multi
sudo pipelight-plugin --enable silverlight

Now, I can only vouch for the Ubuntu process.  Actually Ubuntu and Mint.  I first tried this in Xubuntu 12.04 (14.04 is out in beta at the moment, but 12.04 is currently the latest stable release) and have also got it running on a couple of Mint Maya boxes.  When I say Mint, I mean the Ubuntu version; I have yet to test the straight up Debian vesion of Mint, but I imagine the process is about the same.  I don't have any Red Hat boxes in my life, so I haven't messed with Silverlight on anything running yum.

I found instructions on a page.  There were more plugins to enable, different versions of Silverlight to run, and other ways (user specific vs. system-wide install) but this is the quickest way to get up and running.

Now That It's Running

I am currently on my third (and final, I'm told) trial of Cloud Takeoff.  Now that I've got it going, it feels nice.  I can deal with it being proprietary, as long as it runs and it's somewhat accurate.  And once it's running, support seems good too.  I'm hoping to get a house quote knocked out before my boss comes back from Florida so that I can sell the idea to him.

Between this, the PHP "shopping cart" I've written (for getting prices from our MySQL based ERP), Thermatru's (finally) cross-browser-compatible door estimating program, the Lockheed window quoting tool (also brought up in the aforementioned rant on contructions software) and a CMS I've written, I believe that we'll be in good shape when Windows XP gets EOL in a couple of months without us having to upgrade to Windows 7.  We can keep one XP box in the back room for emergencies and kitchens.

Any Complaints?

CloudTakeoff is a bit slower in Linux (Xubuntu 12.04 and Ubuntu based Mint 13 at least) than in XP.  I've tried it on both operating systems at two locations, and it is the same story at each place.

The scroll wheel doesn't work in Linux.  Zooming in and out is a bit tedious.  The scroll area of my laptop's trackpad doesn't work either, so something's wonky.

I'm still new enough that there might be more, but so far that's it.  I'm hoping to have my first total takeoff (there's a bit of a learning curve, so it's taking me a while) done in the next few days.

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