Exterior ballistics under Linux


Well-Known Member
Oct 15, 2007
Patagonia Mountains, Arizona
If you're not a Linux user you may want to skip this thread.

I did a search on this site for Linux and found there are a few users but I didn't see any mention of
ballistics programs which run under Linux. Here are two which I find useful. They both support both G1 and G7 BCs.

The first is called gebc for "gnu exterior ballistic calculator". It's available as "C" source files. I find it quite handy in the field and run it on 10" Acer mini notebook. I use Fedora 11 (soon Fedora 12).
To use it search for these packages with google (first three)
gebc-1.07-src.tar.gz <- the ballistics program
libharu-2.1.0.tar.gz <- required library ( propriatary but free)
libharu-1.0.8.tgz <- one of these two should work one of these has to be configured and compiled. Which one may depend on the version of Linux you're running.
fltk.586 <- Toolkits in the fedora repository which need to be loaded
fltk-devel.586 <- Use yum or apt to install them if they aren't loaded already.

It compiled smoothly with the configure and make files in the gebc package.

The main program is on sourceforge and is also available for MS Windows. I don't do windows
so I haven't tried it , but it probably runs the same. Anyway Its the best program I've found for a
notebook. It handles all the normal stuff. Nice features include that it can output data in many formats which can be read by other programs plus outputting in screen graph and tabular form.
It's compact enough to work on even a 640x480 screen and stil be readable. it also allows storing and recalling unlimited setups (limited only by hard disk space so you can have all your rifles, bullets and environmental conditions preloaded or pull up one thats close and modify it. It includes all of the standard G function tables, not just G1 and G7 and includes atmosphere settings. It does not have bullet lookup tables.
The other program which was a surprise since nowhere have I sen it claimed that the program should run under Linux is the PM_Ballistics.jar program which Bryan Lisz ships on a CD with his book "Applied Ballistics for Long Range Shooing" Much has been written about this book here on LongRangeHunting. The book is great for it's bullet information but I hadn't paid the disk any attention since I assumed it was for Windows/Vista. It is, but the two files on the disk are .pdf and .jre (java) files which are not Microsoft proprietary.
To run it under Linux just put the program in any directory (not as an executable). Then just cd to that directory and type "java -jar PM_Ballistics.jar" It should run. The only feature that didn't work is the pop-up window described in the Instructions.pdf which says it will pop up a help window for atmospheric pressure if you click on the "pressure" window. That's no big thing. Byians program is easy to use and gives some useful information like twist calculations and and spin drift calculation. What it doesn't have which hurts it's usefulness as a field shooting tool is that it doesn't have the ability to save the setups to disk and recall them. Even so it's more convenient than the popular JBM on-line program.
If you get these programs downloaded to your Linux machine and have trouble making them run you can PM me and I'll try to give assistance. I make no guarantees. I only know they work on Fedora 11 and similar versions of Linux. I'm not an expert on these programs or on Linux, though I've been using Linux for many years. You must have JAVA or a clone loaded and working to run PM_Ballistics.jar but it ran right away with no compiling or tweaking. If you have firefox running as a web browser you probalby have java working.

gebc took me a couple of hours to find the missing dependencies whch weren't mentioned in the READMEs. When you run configure at least look at the output it gives. That part is checking to see if you have the necessary components. The make file also produces lots of output but it usually gives warning about missing files or libraries. If you haven't compiled C programs in Linux I may not be able to help.

If you know of other ballistics programs which are useful and run under Linux please post links or names of the programs to search on in this thread.

Here's one which wasn't written for Linux. smallbal.c has been around for may years. There is also a smallbal2.c These will run on about anything with a C compiler including Linux. It uses tabular input and output. It's not very handy, but may be useful if you want to see what's under the hood of a ballistics program as it's complete stand alone source code in C. Most all of these programs trace their roots back to Robert McCoy's McTraj, McDrag and McGyro Basic programs. Those don't run under any Linux basic or current Microsoft basic I'm aware of. They ran on an early version of basic under DOS before Windows was ever thought of.
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