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IRAF Environments

(Not supported in FTOOLS 4.1 and later)

There is very little that the user needs to do in order to use FTOOLS in the IRAF environment. If the user has not already done so, the standard IRAF user setup should be made. To do this the user should log into their account on a system where IRAF is installed. Then create a directory under the home directory in this account named iraf with the unix command:

>mkdir iraf

Next change directory to the newly created iraf directory with the command:

>cd iraf

Setup IRAF for this account by issuing the command:


The user will be asked for a terminal type. Enter the terminal type associated with the terminal you will typically use to start up IRAF. This will cause a script file named to be created under the iraf directory, along with a new subdirectory named uparm to contain IRAF user parameter files. To start up IRAF the user simply enters the command:


from within the iraf directory. Once IRAF has started up a list of available packages are displayed. Among these is the ftools package. To load a package simply enter its name:


This will then display a list of all the FTOOLS sub-packages. As of release 4.0 there are thirteen sub-packages:

  • ASCA
  • GRO
  • TIME
  • VELA5B
  • XTE
The ASCA package contains tasks useful for the ASCA mission, the CALTOOLS package contains tasks associated with calibration, the EINSTEIN package contains tasks useful for the Einstein mission, the FIMAGE package contains tasks useful for images, the FUTILS package contains general purpose FITS utility tools which apply to FITS data files from any specialty, the GRO package contains tasks designed for use with data from the Compton Observatory, the HEASARC package contains tools specific to high energy astrophysics data sets, the ROSAT package contains tasks useful for the ROSAT mission, the TIME package contains tasks useful for handling time, the VELA5B package contains tasks specifically designed for use with data from the VELA5B mission, the XRONOS package contains tasks for general timing analysis, and the XTE package contains tasks useful for the XTE mission. To load a package simply enter its name:


To get a simplified one line statement of the purpose of each futils task by entering the command:


If more detailed help is needed for a particular task enter the help command followed by the name of the task:

fu>help fdump

The online help also provides examples to assist the IRAF novice.

Several of the FTOOLS are declared as external tasks within IRAF and will not be available for use in IRAF unless the HOST system version of the FTOOLS is installed and the users have their account properly setup to use the HOST version. These include faintdfe, fplot, gqaplot, pconfig, pget, plist, pquery, pset, punlearn, sisclean, sisgbr, sqaplot, and brcaldb. Similarly, there are a number of useful Perl scripts which are part of the HOST version of FTOOLS; these are also implemented as external or ``foreign'' tasks within IRAF.

next up previous
Next: HOST Environments Up: Usage Previous: Usage

Lawrence Elwin Brown
Wed Aug 6 11:33:26 EDT 1997


If FTOOLS has been useful in your research, please reference this site ( and use the ASCL reference for HEASoft [ascl:1408.004] or the ASCL reference for the original FTOOLs paper [ascl:9912.002]:

Blackburn, J. K. 1995, in ASP Conf. Ser., Vol. 77, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems IV, ed. R. A. Shaw, H. E. Payne, and J. J. E. Hayes (San Francisco: ASP), 367.

Web page maintained by: Bryan K. Irby