The Radio Astronomy Software Suite

KERN is a bi-annually released set of radio astronomical software packages. It should contain most of the tools that a radio astronomer needs to work with radio telescope data. KERN is based on the latest Ubuntu LTS.

To use KERN-3 on Ubuntu 16.04:


Release date: November 27 2017.

Changes since KERN-2

  • Update to casacore 2.4.0
  • All other packages have been updated
  • Various new packages have been added


Release date: March 13 2017.

Changes since KERN-1

  • Update to casacore 2.2.0
  • added stripped down version of NRAO CASA called casalite. Note this CASA still doesn't integrate with the system python.
  • All packages updated to the latest versions
  • Split of LOFAR package in smaller packages
  • wsclean now contains LOFAR beam model
  • Added various new packages


Release date: August 11 2016.

If you care about stability and reproducibility we recommend you use the latest release of KERN (KERN-3) on Ubuntu 16.04. If you want the latest and greatest you should use KERN-dev.

To install KERN-3 on Ubuntu 16.04 run:

You can install KERN-dev on Ubuntu 16.04 with:

To find out what packages and which versions are in each release you should look at the launchpad page of that specific release. Launchpad pages for KERN-1, KERN-2, KERN-3 and Kern-dev.

to save time and frustration setting up your scientific pipeline and to assist in achieving scientific reproducibility.

Open up a bug report in our packaging issue tracker. Please make sure that you are running the latest versions of the packages you are using (run apt-get update && apt-get upgrade). Note that a package in an existing KERN release is only updated when there is a dramatically serious problem.

KERN means 'core' in Dutch and Afrikaans.

We have a bleeding edge repository (kern-dev) that will be updated with the latest packages. Every half year we will freeze this repository and do a KERN release. This release will then only contain critical bug fixes but not functional changes.

we have prepared easy to use base docker image which you can use to create custom docker images containers all the KERN packages combined with your own scripts.

The Dockerfile below is all you need to setup a docker container for any of the packages in kern:

FROM kernsuite/base:dev
RUN docker-apt-install aoflagger

The kernsuite docker image is a clean ubuntu system with the kern suite repository enabled. It also contains an up-to-date pip so you can directly install Python libraries. The docker-apt-install command is just a wrapper script that updates the apt cache before installing the package followed by a removal of the apt cache. This is the best way to prevent adding of clutter to your docker image and the image size to explode.

You can also have a look at the Dockerfile.

Of course we do singularity also. See this github repository for build files for building your singularity container.

KERN has a presuccessor named the radio-astro launchpad PPA. This PPA is not updated anymore and renamed to KERN-0.

Ubuntu is one of the mostly used Linux distributions in (radio) astronomy, or at least in Europe and Afrika. For now we base KERN on the latest Ubuntu LTS with a delay of 6 months up to a year. For KERN-0 this was Ubuntu 14.04, following releases are based on Ubuntu 16.04.

For now this is just too much work, so no. The recommended way to use KERN when you are not running a supported platform is with Docker, Singularity or in a virtualmachine. We made Vagrant files for you already.

Surprisingly KERN works quite well on Windows 10. You need Bash on Ubuntu On Windows. Note that you also need a Ubuntu Xenial (16.04) installation, which is currently only included with the developer previews. On OSX we recommend to use Docker.

Follow us on twitter.

Not recommended and unsupported, but we are not stopping you.

Don't panic! They are actually existing but in a different repository. You can enable the debug repository by editing /etc/apt/sources.list.d/kernsuite-ubuntu-kern-3-xenial.list and copying the line starting with deb and appending /debug to it. It should look something like this:

There is no fixed release date, but we intent to release a KERN release every 6 months.

We have submitted a paper to astronomy and Computing which is pending publication.

We found it on flickr

Gijs Molenaar, together with all people reporting problems and submitting patches (thanks!).