Getting the latest version of Ovito for Ubuntu

Ovito is a great tool to visualize atoms from molecular dynamics simulations and to perform some statistical analysis on the data. The tool is an alternative to other similar tools such as VMD and ParaView.

The main window of Ovito in the newest version.

The current version of Ovito in the Ubuntu repositories (version 0.9.2) is sadly very outdated. Even though you of course may download the latest version from Ovito’s webpages and install it locally in your home folder, I often find it better to get a newer package version.

At the Computational Physics group’s PPA I have now uploaded the latest build of Ovito for Ubuntu in a package that will automatically replace the current Ovito version. Note that this is not a release version of Ovito, but the latest version fetched from Ovito’s sources (currently nicknamed The reason is that Ovito’s creator, Alexander Stukowski, was kind enough to implement a suggestion we proposed to change the default input handler for the viewports to be the orbit input handler. This behavior feels so much more natural and makes the already great Ovito application even better.

To install the latest version of Ovito, all you need to do is to open up a terminal and type these lines:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:comp-phys/stable
sudo apt-get install ovito

Note that the Computational Physics repository also contains newer versions of the Armadillo package, which will automatically be updated if you do not remove the repository after installing Ovito.

Updated method for drawing springs in Inkscape

I’ve written an earlier post on how to draw simple schematically springs in Inkscape. After reading a great tip from ~suv in the Launchpad bug tracker, I figured I should bring you guys another update on how to do this using ~suv’s method.

Basically, what you need to do is to draw a zig-zag line in Inkscape using the pen tool . This is fairly easy to do, so I’ll leave that part up to you. Just turn on the grid by pushing SHIFT+3 first, as this will make it easier to draw it symmetrically. Have a look at the picture below:

A simple zig-zag line in Inkscape

The next thing is to select all the nodes on the sharp edges of your spring as in the image below:

Select all the nodes on the spring, except the outer parts.

Afterwards, push the button outlined in the screenshot to make the selected nodes smooth.

Push the "Make selected nodes smooth" button in the toolbar.

We’re soon done, all we need to do now is to turn each of the node handles on either the top or the bottom of our wiggly line 180 degrees. This is where it’s really nice to have the grid enabled to make sure all the handles are turned just the same amount.

When all the lower handles are turned, my wiggly line became a beautiful spring!

And we’re finished! Below you see my finalized spring:

Look at that spring twisting around itself again and again.

You may put this into whatever physical context you want. Connect it to boxes, power grids or horses – just remember to show off that you have now become a worthy spring master! I decided to go with a good old sports car.

I guess we're looking at a couple of kilonewtons here!

If you like to, you may download the source .svg file here.