Run Gaia Sky

This section contains information on how to run the software depending on the install method.

Run regular installation

If you installed the software using an installer or a package manager system (rpm, deb, aur), you just need to use the standard running procedures of your Operating System to run the application.


Just type gaiasky in a terminal or use your favourite desktop environment search engine to run the Gaia Sky launcher.


In windows, this means clicking on Start and then browsing the start menu folder Gaia Sky. You can run the executable from there.


Locate the launcher in your install directory (usually /Applications) and double click on it.

Code and pakcage

However, if you are a maverick and do not like installers, you can also run the Gaia Sky directly from the source code in GitHub or using the tgz package.


If you installed the flatpak from flathub, you can run it by using the application menu in your distro, or by firing up a terminal and writing:

$  flatpak run de.uni_heidelberg.zah.GaiaSky


In order to run the AppImage, just download the file, give it execute permissions, and run it.

TAR.GZ package

You can also run the software using the tar.gz package without need for an installation. To do so, extract the archive to your desired location and run the gaiasky script (Linux, macOS), or the gaiasky.cmd batch file (Windows).

$  tar -xzvf gaiasky-[version].tar.gz
$  cd gaiasky-[version]
$  gaiasky #Linux/macOS
$  .\gaiasky.cmd #Windows

Run from source


If you want to compile the source code, you will need the following:

  • Java Development Kit (JDK, version 17 or above should suffice, we recommend using the latest LTS available)

  • git

Please, be aware that only tags are guaranteed to work (here). The master branch holds the development version and the configuration files are possibly messed up and not ready to work out-of-the-box. So remember to use a tag version if you want to run it right away from source.

First, clone the repository:

$  git clone

Getting the catalog data


As of version 2.1.0, Gaia Sky provides a self-contained download manager to get all the data packs available.

The Base data pack (key: default-data) is necessary for Gaia Sky to run, and contains the Solar System, the Milky Way model, etc. Catalog files are optional but recommended if you want to see any stars at all. You can bring up the download manager at any time by clicking on the button :guilabel:Dataset manager in the data tab of the preferences window. More information on the download manager can be found in Dataset manager.

You can also download the data packs manually here.

Compiling and running

To compile the code and run Gaia Sky run the following.

$  gradlew core:run

If you want to pass CLI arguments via gradle, just use the gradle --args argument (gradlew core:run --args='-vr').

Tip: Gaia Sky checks that your Java version is compatible with it when you run the build. Skip this check by setting the GS_JAVA_VERSION_CHECK environment variable to false in the context of gradle:

$  export GS_JAVA_VERSION_CHECK=false

In order to pull the latest changes from the remote git repository:

$  git pull

CLI arguments

Gaia Sky offers a few command line arguments. Run gaiasky -h for more information.

$  gaiasky -h

Usage: gaiasky [options]
  -h, --help
    Show program options and usage information.
  -v, --version
    List Gaia Sky version and relevant information.
    Default: false
  -i, --asciiart
    Add nice ascii art to --version information.
    Default: false
  -s, --skip-welcome
    Skip the welcome screen if possible (base-data package must be present).
    Default: false
  -p, --properties
    Specify the location of the properties file.
  -a, --assets
    Specify the location of the assets folder. If not present, the default
    assets location (in the installation folder) is used.
  -vr, --openvr
    Launch in Virtual Reality mode. Gaia Sky will attempt to create a VR
    context through OpenVR.
    Default: false
  -e, --externalview
    Create a window with a view of the scene and no UI.
    Default: false
  -n, --noscript
    Do not start the scripting server. Useful to run more than one Gaia Sky
    instance at once in the same machine.
    Default: false
  -d, --debug
    Launch in debug mode. Prints out debug information from Gaia Sky to the
    Default: false
  -g, --gpudebug
    Activate OpenGL debug mode. Prints out debug information from OpenGL to
    the standard output.
    Default: false
  -l, --headless
    Use headless (windowless) mode, for servers.
    Default: false
    Activate safe graphics mode. This forces the creation of an OpenGL 3.2
    context, and disables float buffers and tessellation.
    Default: false

Packaging the software

Gaia Sky can be exported to be run as a standalone app. Right now, doing so is only supported from Linux. You need the utility help2man in your path to generate the man pages. Remember to restart the gradle daemon after installing it. Then run:

$  gradlew core:dist

This creates a new directory releases/gaiasky-[version].[revison] with the exported application. Run scripts are provided with the name gaiasky (Linux, macOS) and gaiasky.cmd (Windows).

Also, to export Gaia Sky into a tar.gz archive file, run the following:

$  gradlew core:createTar

In order to produce the desktop installers for the various systems you need a licensed version of Install4j. Additionally, you need a certificate for signing the Windows packages in $GS/assets/cert/cert.pfx. Then, just run:

$  gradlew core:pack -PwinKeystorePassword=PASSWORD

Where PASSWORD is the password of the certificate. This command produces the different OS packages (.exe, .dmg, .deb, .rpm, etc.) of Gaia Sky and stores them in the releases/packages-[version].[revision] directory.