System Requirements

Updated 2024 March 23

The following hardware and software requirements and recommendations apply to all current versions of PixInsight 1.8.9-2 Ripley.

Hardware Architecture

PixInsight is available for 64-bit machines supporting the x86_64 / EM64T architectures: Intel Core, Intel Xeon, AMD Ryzen, AMD EPYC, etc. A processor supporting SSE4.2 instructions is required on macOS, Linux and Windows.

Operating System

The PixInsight platform has been ported to the Linux, Apple macOS and Microsoft Windows operating systems.

Recommended operating system: Linux. The reference implementation of PixInsight, where you may expect the maximum performance and best user experience, is the Linux version. The macOS and Windows versions are ports of the main development trunk on Linux. Currently our primary development platform is:

  • Kubuntu Linux 22.04 LTS

We strongly recommend running PixInsight on Kubuntu Linux 22.04 LTS with the KDE Plasma desktop environment.

No 32-bit versions. Current versions of PixInsight are only available as 64-bit applications for all supported operating systems. Please note that no 32-bit versions will be released anymore. Note also that any existing 32-bit version will no longer be supported or updated. No 32-bit version of PixInsight is or will be available for download from our servers.


PixInsight 1.8.9-2 for Linux requires:

  • GLIBC 2.35 (February 2022) or a newer version.
  • GLIBCXX_3.4.30 and CXXABI_1.3.13 (GCC 11.4.0 or later).
  • A working X11/XCB implementation.

For the latest 1.8.9 versions of PixInsight, we strongly recommend the KDE Plasma desktop environment.

GNOME 3 also works well, but we recommend KDE for the best user experience, especially with bundled projects, an important new feature in PixInsight since version 1.8.6.

Most Linux distributions for x86_64 should work without problems, as long as they provide glibc 2.35 or later. However, please understand that we cannot guarantee that PixInsight will work out-of-the-box on any of the hundreds of different Linux distributions available.


  • macOS 14.x (Sonoma)
  • macOS 13.x (Ventura)
  • macOS 12.x (Monterey) (unofficial; see note below)

The latest 1.8.9-2 version of PixInsight is compatible with macOS 14, 13 and 12. macOS 11 (Big Sur), 10.15 (Catalina) and older versions are not supported. PixInsight can be installed on macOS 12 Monterey, but this macOS version is not officially supported because we no longer test our software on it. Only macOS 14 Sonoma and 13 Ventura are officially supported.

PixInsight 1.8.9-1 is compatible with macOS 10.15 (Catalina) and newer versions.

All our macOS installation packages have been notarized by Apple.


  • Microsoft Windows 11
  • Microsoft Windows 10

The only Windows platforms supported by current versions of PixInsight are Windows 11 and Windows 10.

Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 are no longer supported. PixInsight 1.8.9-2 requires Windows 10 or 11. Some of our users report that they are using version 1.8.9-1 of PixInsight on Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1, but we no longer test the application on these Windows versions. This means that we cannot guarantee that PixInsight 1.8.9-1 will still work correctly on Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1.

PixInsight does not run on Windows Vista, XP, NT, 2000, ME, 98, 95, or 3.1x/Win32s.

All our Windows installation packages have been digitally signed with our corporate extended validation (EV) code signing certificates.


  • Minimum required processor: Intel Core i5 or equivalent. Current versions of PixInsight require a CPU with SSE4.2 instruction support on Linux, Windows, and macOS.
  • Minimum reasonable processor: An AMD Ryzen or Ryzen Threadripper CPU, or an Intel Core i9/i10/i11 or Xeon, with a minimum of 8 processor cores.
  • Minimum recommended processors: 16-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3900 / 5900 / 7900 series, AMD Ryzen 9 5950X or 7950X.

By default, the PixInsight platform will use all processors and processor cores available on your machine. There are specific preferences settings to control the maximum number of processors used by PixInsight, along with other parallel execution options such as thread execution priority, thread processor affinity, etc.

See the PixInsight Benchmark community-driven project for up-to-date information on hardware performance with current PixInsight versions.


  • Minimum required amount of RAM: 16 GiB on a 64-bit machine and operating system.
  • Minimum reasonable amount of RAM: 32 or 64 GiB, depending on the amount of data to be processed, on a 64-bit machine and operating system.
  • Minimum recommended amount of RAM: From 128 GiB to 1 TiB or more, depending on the sizes and number of images to process, on a 64-bit machine and operating system. The recommended practical minimum for production work is 64 GiB of RAM, but 128 GiB is advisable considering the resolution of modern CMOS cameras and the large amount of frames that must be acquired due to increasing light pollution conditions.

Being a 64-bit application, PixInsight has no practical memory limit. It will use all memory available to applications, and will cause the operating system to allocate virtual memory on disk when necessary and possible.

Graphics and Video

  • Minimum required display resolution: At least 900 pixels of vertical resolution.
  • Minimum reasonable display resolution: 1920×1080.
  • Recommended low-dpi display resolution: 2560×1440.
  • Recommended high-dpi display resolutions: 3840×2160 (4K) / 5120×2880 (5K) / 7680×4320 (8K).

We strongly recommend a high-end, 4K 27-inch or larger LED/LCD panel, or two panels driven by a dual-head video card. For serious image processing, working with large monitors is a real must with PixInsight.

Since version 1.8.4 (released Summer 2015), PixInsight is a fully scalable application supporting high-dpi display resolutions such as Retina displays, 4K, 5K, 8K and 10K displays, on all supported operating systems.

We do not guarantee the correct behavior of our graphical user interface on screen resolutions smaller than 1920×1080. Note that this refers to logical resolutions, not physical (for example, a Retina display with 2880×1800 native resolution has 1440×900 logical pixels). The application will run on smaller resolutions, but you may need to perform manual adjustments such as closing control bars and explorer windows, or changing automatic high-dpi screen and font management settings. Even with manual tuning, PixInsight has not been designed specifically to work on very small screens.

Multiple monitor desktop configurations are supported with two restrictions:

  • The application has been designed to keep images at the left side of the desktop and tool windows at the right side. This means that several monitors should be distributed horizontally with the application's main window located on the leftmost monitor, which must be the primary monitor.
  • Multiple monitor configurations with mixed high-dpi and low-dpi displays are not supported. For example, a dual monitor desktop configuration with a 5K display (5120×2880) and a QHD display (2560×1440) is not supported. The application will work, but windows will be scaled to match the 5K display, and they will look huge when moved to the QHD display.

We'll try to overcome these limitations in future versions, but right now we have too many pending high-prority tasks. Sorry for the inconvenience if you are affected by these restrictions.

A proper OpenGL implementation is required on all platforms. On Windows, unfortunately, some graphics drivers provide buggy or incomplete OpenGL support. In such cases, the only solution is updating graphics drivers to valid versions.


On X11 (Linux) a compositing extension manager is required. Hardware-based compositing, such as OpenGL, is a precondition to run PixInsight on all platforms. This should be no problem at all on any modern X11 desktop. As an exception, the KDE desktop environment allows you to use software-based compositing (XRender) on systems without hardware acceleration. XRender compositing works fine, but can be slow. However, XRender allows you to run PixInsight on a virtual machine where the virtualization system does not provide video hardware acceleration to guest operating systems.

PixInsight is not compatible with the open-source Nouveau graphics driver. If your distribution is using Nouveau, you must remove it to use the proprietary NVIDIA driver in order to use PixInsight.

Wayland is not supported because it does not implement a global coordinate system, and consequently, it does not allow setting the position of a top-level window programmatically. This limitation is incompatible with our graphical user interface. Supporting Wayland would require the complete rewrite of a significant part of the PixInsight core application, with profound implications for the rest of our platform. Don't expect this to happen anytime soon, considering the number of high-priority tasks ahead. So if you want to use PixInsight on Linux, you need a working X11/XCB implementation. Or try to convince Wayland developers to write a versatile windowing system.

GPU Acceleration

As of updating this document (March 2024), the current version 1.8.9-2 of PixInsight still doesn't make direct use of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs), although it makes extensive use of display hardware acceleration via OpenGL on all platforms. We are working on a first layer of CUDA-based GPU acceleration for the PixInsight platform, but the number and complexity of more urgent priorities prevent us from making any anticipation.

Hard Disk Space

To maximize availability of RAM for critical tasks, the processing history management and masking systems implemented in PixInsight are based on temporary disk swap files. In addition, more space is required during file writing operations because of disk I/O security strategies (basically, when an existing file is rewritten a temporary copy of the original is kept during the whole disk write operation).

We really cannot speak of a minimum required free disk space, since this depends on the number and dimensions of the images that the user opens and modifies in the application. PixInsight is able to store and manipulate seven different sample formats transparently: 8, 16 and 32-bit integers, along with 32 and 64-bit real and complex floating point. 32-bit and 64-bit images require two and four times more disk storage space, respectively, than the native 16-bit format of a CCD or CMOS camera. In addition, PixInsight can store an unlimited number of history states (unlimited undo/redo operations). This makes PixInsight a demanding application regarding free disk space requirements. For serious production work, we recommend a minimum of 250 GiB to 1 TiB of free hard disk space, depending on the average size of your images and the complexity of your processing workflows.

Hard Disk Performance

PixInsight demands fast hard disks. You should work exclusively with solid-state disks (SSD) on all platforms, and preferably with high-performance NVMe drives.


Under Windows, disk fragmentation may affect performance severely. You should always keep the information reasonably compacted on your hard disks by running the Windows defrag utility frequently, or any suitable disk maintenance utility. This is true for both the NTFS and FAT32 file systems.

Linux and macOS

The native file systems of these operating systems (ext3, ext4, xfs, zfs, hpfs, apfs) have minimal fragmentation problems thanks to their design. Fragmentation on a typical Linux or macOS disk is very low no matter how much file system activity occurs. There is no need for a defragmentation utility on Linux and macOS.

Parallel Swap File Storage

Starting from version 1.4 (released in early 2007), PixInsight uses parallel disk I/O operations to generate and maintain temporary swap disk files. When two or more physical disk drives are available, PixInsight can be configured to spread swap files on all disks (no specific limit), and read/write them through parallel execution threads running concurrently.

Since version 1.8.3 (released in late 2014), PixInsight's parallel swap storage is optimized for multiple I/O threads on fast SSD drives and virtual RAM disks. See this forum thread for the official announcement of this feature.

The performance gain that can be achieved thanks to parallel disk I/O can be spectacular. This allows working with huge images in PixInsight. For example, with one or two fast SSD drives configured for parallel swap file storage, you can work with a 32-bit RGB image of 12000×12000 pixels and perform undo/redo operations in real time. Note that parallel disk access is at least as fast as RAID 0 storage, although much more flexible and much easier to configure and maintain.