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INDI Library v2.0.7 is Released (01 Apr 2024)

Bi-monthly release with minor bug fixes and improvements

macOS - Dialog windows appear behind all other windows (which can be bad)

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I have almost completed my migration from TheSkyX using a long USB cable extension to mount -> to a much cleaner setup with Ekos/INDI with a miniPC running INDIWebServer / Pegasus Pocket Powerbox on mount.

I ran into a problem that almost made me give up after multiple days of frustration and crashing - and thought I would post here in case other new users have seen this issue.

A summary of the problem is that for some reason on macOS, KStars/Ekos modal dialogs are appearing behind all other windows - without the user even knowing that there is a modal or non-modal dialog that has been opened. It might be related to the Ekos window always being top-most - but that is just a hunch.

Sometimes this is harmless - but in the case of setting up a completely new system, this can be disastrous - with tons of crashing and really weird behavior during the Ekos setup process.

The problem starts after using the Ekos Profile Wizard - when you have serial devices where the serial port needs to be selected. After running the wizard - and hitting the Start Ekos button, there is a "Port Selector" window that pops up requesting you to choose the serial ports for serial port connected equipment (i.e., EQMOD and Moonlite focuser). The problem is that this window/dialog appears behind all other windows (including Ekos and Kstars) - and it is actually possible to continue using Ekos without knowing that this window is open - though you are pretty much already in a disastrous state if you haven't selected your serial ports and closed that dialog -, as you can't edit Optical trains, and trying to do anything with your equipment will most likely cause the program to hard crash.

It took me 2 days to figure out what was going on - but once I noticed this very important dialog / window and selected the correct serial ports, everything connected up and all crashes stopped.

There are other dialogs where I have seen this behavior as well - for example, with Kstars window open + Ekos window open, if you select "Data->Manage DSO Catalogs" - it appears that nothing happens - but actually the DSO Catalog Manager window has been opened behind all other windows.

Here is the offending window that causes all hell to break loose if the user doesn't notice it was opened:



Veteran users will probably never run into this issue as they have already defined appropriate serial ports in their INDI configuration and won't see this little dialog.

The port selection step is obviously extremely important - and there needs to be a way to let the user know that Ekos / INDI has not finished its setup - and another action is required - in addition to fixing the issue of the windows popping up behind all other windows.

If this is not a known issue, I can create an issue in the repository.

macOS Monterey 12.6.1
KStars macOS 3.6.2 Stable (btw - just noticed this also happens to the KStars about dialog if the Ekos window is open when you chose "About Kstars"
The following user(s) said Thank You: R Dan Nafe
Last edit: 1 year 4 months ago by Johnny Turpin.
1 year 4 months ago #89309
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Hi Johnny,
This is effectively a recurrent problem with the KStars/Ekos modal dialogs.
A workaround in macOS is to display all the app windows/dialogs with Ctrl + Up Arrow.
This happens from time to time and is quite annoying.
The following user(s) said Thank You: giorgio, R Dan Nafe
1 year 4 months ago #89313

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Hi Johnny,

I made the same migration from TheSkyX to EKOS about a year and a half ago. I've also experienced the same thing you and Jean-Claude note. It occurs quite often and originally I thought the system had hung up and I'd quit/force quit and relaunch. Now it's just muscle memory for me to check first if there are any hidden windows/dialogs before trying anything else using the method Jean-Claude suggests (or a three finger upward swipe on a track pad). A very high percentage of the time the problem is a hidden window/dialog.

Hopefully this will be addressed one day.
1 year 4 months ago #89315

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Yes! This is a major usability issue. I suspect it relates to the Qt graphics libs that Kstars devs use but don't really control.

Looking up,
Dave
1 year 4 months ago #89318

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This can be fixed for sure. It would be helpful if some people could try and list the offending windows you know about and can find
(e.g. play with simulator and make a list) in addition to the "Port Selector" window. I personally don't run on mac.

Hy
1 year 4 months ago #89319

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I am willing to record my observations. The problem is, I just upgraded to Kstars 3.6.2 Stable using 'brew' over a 3.6.0 Stable version and now Kstars is very unstable. Kstars launches and I can connect to all devices in my profile but editing settings, for example setting frame width and height, causes Kstars to crash. I'll see if I can revert to 3.6.0 but I was trying to run 3.6.2 to see if the latest version fixed a different bug I was going to post about.
One thing to add is the Mac is a MacBookPro with Apple M1 Max chip.
Last edit: 1 year 4 months ago by David Maffitt.
1 year 4 months ago #89327

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Ooooooooooh. Holy crap, guys. Kstars devs have a very different idea about versioning releases. Who adds new features in a patch version release? No wonder stuff blows up. You have to configure 'Trains' now and the config is hidden behind other windows.
1 year 4 months ago #89331

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I have tried using KStars/Ekos on both an x86 MacBook Pro as well as an M1 MacBook Pro - and I see the same results on both with regards to the hidden dialog / modal windows. The dialog window issue does not appear to be related to Mac hardware for me. The only way I was able to figure out that there was a hidden dialog window open was that I was taking notes on the crashing issues and just happened to move the Ekos and Kstars window out of the way to jot down some notes in a text editor when I happened to see the little Port Chooser dialog open behind all other windows. Otherwise, I would have never figured out what was going on.

I have not had any crashes since - but I have not yet used everything for an imaging session - only testing on the bench. So far this is working for me:

Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ6 mount with EQMOD cable
ASI 1600MM-C main camera
ASI-120MM-S connected to 50mm Guide Scope
Moonlite Focuser / Stepper Motor with Moonlite controller
ASI FilterWheel

My INDI server (miniPC / Quieter3Q) is currently connected via ethernet as I am not ready to start worrying about WIFI issues yet.
INDIWebServer - whatever the latest is
1 year 4 months ago #89336

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Happy New Year, all!
Here are my observations so far. I am just getting started with astrophotography so I have only exercised a tiny portion of the whole workflow. I'm learning on all fronts as I go. I'm over my shock that new features were added going from 3.6.0 to 3.6.2. My expectation was completely on just bug fixes.
1. 'About Kstars' dialog appears behind. Must minimize or move all other windows to see it.
2. "Are you sure you want to delete the profile" dialog appears behind.
3. Create a new profile and check 'port selector'. Start the profile. 'Port selector' window is always behind 'Ekos' and 'INDI Control Panel' windows. The only way to see it is to move these windows out of the way. Can not bring it to the front.

Possibly related but I don't always see the 'Select Train' dialog. Perhaps I just don't understand the UI flow to create new profiles. I created a new profile that included a different camera. When should I see the dialog to create a new Train? This dialog does not appear to be hidden but missing completely.
1 year 4 months ago #89340

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More observation.
1. I wonder if this is some how related to the fact that Macs can have multiple desktops. These are multiple 'main windows' that a user can swipe between. They are desktops in that they have all the desktop icons, etc but can have different app windows on them. I just had a situation where the INDI Control Panel window would not come to the front but switching off and back on to its desktop allowed the control panel window come to the front. However, this did not help with getting the port selector window to the foreground.

2. The Mac has a way to show a view of all the windows associated with a Desktop. The Kstars window is shown but the Ekos window and the 'INDI Control panel' window (if open) are not shown in this view but should be. However, the Port Selector window is shown if it is open.

3. The "Lost connection with remote server" error dialog is another example of a dialog that is hidden behind other windows.
Last edit: 1 year 4 months ago by David Maffitt. Reason: adding more observations
1 year 4 months ago #89341

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Would this thread be better served if copied to a bug report, so it doesn't get lost? Where is the best place to do that?
1 year 4 months ago #89594

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Dave,

That's a good idea. There is a KStars bug reporting mechanism but it requires a different login than this forum. I'll have a look.

Also, I know that Hy had requested a list of areas where this is an issue and some of us have provided examples. I started to put together a list and then stopped because this problem is so prevalent in the system. Sometimes windows open behind other windows. Sometimes windows that require input are buried because a user clicks somewhere else on the screen - taking flat frames presents dialogs that require user input but which can be buried for example if the user clicks somewhere.

In any case, I'll see about filing this as an official bug report.
1 year 4 months ago #89595

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