Forums Historical Software Bisque Blogs Richard S. Wright Jr.’s Blog The Future is 64-bits Wide

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    Richard S. Wright Jr.
    Senior Moderator

    With the release of macOS 10.15 (Catalina), Apple has discontinued all support in that desktop operating system for 32-bit applications. I first started programming on 8-bit systems, and I remember well the pain that the transition from 16-bit to 32-bit was on Windows. The move from 32-bit to 64-bit is actually quite a bit easier, and in some senses a bit luxurious. Oh, sure there are some rocks in the garden for programmers, a few bad habits here and there will bite you when you go to 64-bits, and there are some variations between compilers as to how some data types scale when you rebuild for 64-bits. This has caused a few cases where something worked fine on 64-bit Linux, but not 64-bit macOS for example.

    Our first 64-bit version of TheSky was actually TheSky Mobile and TheSkyHD for iOS (iPhone and iPad respectively). There is a huge amount of code shared between that and the desktop versions and that initial effort showed that we are already pretty close to 64-bit ready. At some point in the past, TheSky had been built on Linux for internal purposes. When I picked up this mantle to get TheSky running on the Raspberry Pi which was running a 32-bit version of Linux, it was a tedious and lengthly process, but much of the groundwork had already been laid for me. We were already running on both Windows and macOS, and macOS is actually a flavor of Unix as well.

    Next was getting a build of TheSkyX up and running commercially on a fully capable Linux environment, and thus 64-bit support for x86 Linux, specifically for Ubuntu came about. This was not a flag ship product for us at the time and it allowed for a lengthy time of maturing and finding further hidden issues (some of the code in TheSky core engine is over 20 years old). It was also the initial testing ground for making sure all our own device plug-ins worked under 64-bits. I imaged with 64-bit Linux on a laptop for at least a year trying different combinations of hardware before we finally made the Linux version publicly available. 

    Both macOS and Windows have been 64-bit operating systems for years. Once 64-bit Linux was working, the next steps were building for 64-bit macOS and 64-bit Windows. I've been running 64-bit mac myself for about two years now, and 64-bit Windows for over a year. Sure, I use the “little boxes” a lot, but when I'm working scope side with a laptop, it's always one of these two 64-bit versions.

    With the release of Catalina, we now have 64-bit versions of TheSkyX Professional, Serious Astronomer, and Student edition on macOS. And since macOS has actually be 64-bit for years now, we are officially discontinuing all future updates of the 32-bit version of macOS.  One unfortunate difference between Apple and Microsoft is that Apple has no qualms with discontinuing old API's and this makes it nearly impossible to continue to support older versions of their OS and still also support newer versions. This is by design on their part as it keeps things fresh, and it keeps end users upgrading to the latest greatest always.

    “Wait… wait… did you say you're running 64-bit Windows too?!?!?”

    Well, of course. Massive software updates don't happen overnight ;-)  So, why don't we have a 64-bit Windows version for end users yet? Well, we will when time allows us to devote more time to that. It's not quite as simple as it is on Linux and MacOS. On those platforms, all of our native device support works, and there are no third party eco-systems that really are affected by our moving to 64-bits.

    On Windows, it's a whole other story. ASCOM for example does work on 64-bit Windows, but there are not nearly as many 64-bit ASCOM devices plug-ins as there are 32-bit. Moving  to 64-bits on macOS breaks almost no ones device support. On Windows, this is not the case and Microsoft is not deprecating 32-bit processes to force the issue. They aren't forcing our hand, and there is not serious technical reason we have to move to 64-bits yet. Furthermore, the automation market is huge. We have a perfectly lovely cross platform scripting API… but most of the 3rd party automation tools are using the Windows specific COM based mechanisms to remote control TheSkyX. We anticipate some issues again with peoples workflows here. In short, the 64-bit update on Windows is going to consume some additional cycles, it's not being demanded by the OS yet, and it's not technically necessary yet… so instead, we'd rather work on something very exciting that we will be announcing at AIC next month. 

    Stay tuned… Software Bisque still has plenty of surprises and innovations up their sleeves ;-)






    Richard, thanks for this interesting update on TheSkyX Pro and the 64-bit world. Now, if I could just get brave enough to update to Catalina.



    So, I have a question about WIN 10 and the potential use of TSX in a 64 bit mode.  Will the performance be enhanced?  In other words as an end user will things run faster ?  Will I actually notice anything?




    Richard S. Wright Jr.
    Senior Moderator


    >Will I actually notice anything?

    Not really. Thus the lack of pressure to move that forward ahead of other more pressing projects. A quick survey I did recently showed that while the ASCOM infrastructure is 64-bit ready, there are also very few 64-bit ASCOM plug-ins/drivers available yet.




    Not an issue for SkyX but if you are upgrading to Catalina make sure you can get drivers for your printers.


    Gary Wood

    Bob Stan,

    Noted this issue a few months ago when buying a new Canon wide format printer. After purchasing what looked like a good model printer I could not get a 64-bit driver from Canon for this iP8720 printer! Good advice to check to see if you have or can get a 64-bit driver for a printer you may have or consider buying before upgrading to Catalina OS. I will hold off upgrading to Catalina until 1st Qtr. of 2020 just to make sure everything in the OS is stable and time enough to find a reasonably priced printer with 64-bit drivers.


    veneto gardens

    Could you point me to the 64bit Mac version of TheSkyX Serious Astronomer Edition?  I want it so that I can upgrade to Catalina.



    David Gwyn

    Well…. THAT was fun. Today we've posted a brand new full installer for macOS. This should work



    Hi Richard
    The 64bit mac version looks really good.
    I previously have been a mac user for years, but went to PC with the SkyX, a couple of years ago, mainly so I could use a Optec gemini focuser/rotator via ASCOM. Anyway as the SkyX now has X2 drivers for The Gemini Focuser/Rotator and I have Installed the new 64bit mac version 10.5.0 (build 12503) of the SkyX. I was very happy to mac. Im using high sierra, 10.13.6 (some of my work software won’t allow me to go higher at this stage). The gemini connects fine to the SkyX
    The focuser works fine, as does all my other hardware, as previous, MX+, SX814, Lodestar OAG with SX USB Filter wheel on the 64bit version
    The rotator seems to work fine, but when I dial in destination angle,  exactly half is moved. ie 90deg selected, only moves 45deg and only 45 is displayed in rotator position.These are rotator angles not position angles. The gemini only connects via usbserial-A700OSXT.I reconnected the SkyX PC and confirmed the rotator still works perfectly in the old SkyX and ascom and via its own gemini controller software. I then updated the Gemini firmware to the latest at optec but this did not help.
    I suspect the software is telling the rotator only 1/2 the steps it needs to move? Thanks heaps. Craig.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 7 months ago by  cwsemple.


    Hi Richard,

    Do you have any updates regarding timetable for release of 64 bit version of TSX Pro for Windows?





    I think it would be fine for windows users to have a 64bit version that was a major update and those who have legacy hardware have to stick to the legacy version.

    Handling these large full frame sensors and the data they get seems to push the limits of 32bit software…

    but more importantly, it means these nice mounts become relics of time rather than supported by modern platforms and I don’t think forcing people to Linux or OSX is the best way to get 64bit support.

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