Installation and running

In the sections below is the information on the minimum hardware requirements and on how to install the software.

System requirements

Here are the minimum requirements to run this software:

Operating system

Linux / Windows 7+ / macOS, x86_64 (ARM CPUs unsupported)


Intel Core i5 3rd Gen. 4+ cores recommended


Support for OpenGL 3.3 (4.x recommended), 1 GB VRAM


2-6 GB RAM (depends on loaded datasets)

Hard drive

1 GB of free disk space (depends on downloaded datasets)


Gaia Sky packages are available for Linux, macOS and Windows. You can either download the Gaia Sky build for your operating system (recommended) or browse and build the source code.

Installation procedure

Depending on your system and your personal preferences the installation procedure may vary. This section describes the installation and running process for the different operating systems and packages.


We provide 4 distro-agnostic packages:

We also offer 3 distro-specific packages:

  • DEBDebian and derivatives.

  • RPMRedHat and derivatives.

  • AURArch Linux and derivatives.


Install the Flatpak package with the following:

flatpak install flathub de.uni_heidelberg.zah.GaiaSky

Then, run with:

flatpak run de.uni_heidelberg.zah.GaiaSky


The AppImage does not need installation. Download the package, give it execute permissions if necessary, and run it.

chmod +x gaiasky_$VERSION_x86_64.appimage

Unix installer

Download the package, give it execute permissions and run it to start the installation process. Then follow the on-screen instructions:

chmod +x gaiasky_linux_$

Once installed, you can simply run the gaiasky command, or use your favourite launcher to find and run it.

DEB package

This is the package for Debian-based distros (Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, etc.). Download the gaiasky_$VERSION.deb file and run the following command. You need root privileges to install a DEB package in your system.

dpkg -i gaiasky_$VERSION.deb

This installs the application in the /opt/gaiasky/ folder and creates the necessary shortcuts and .desktop files.

Once installed, you can simply run the gaiasky command, or use your favourite launcher to find and run it.

In order to uninstall, just type:

apt remove gaiasky

RPM package

This is the package for RPM-based distributions (Red Hat, Fedora, Mandriva, SUSE, CentOS, etc.) Download the gaiasky_linux_$VERSION.rpm file and run the following command. You need root privileges to install an RPM package in your system.

rpm --install gaiasky_linux_$VERSION.rpm

This installs the application in the /opt/gaiasky/ folder and creates the necessary shortcuts.

Once installed, you can simply run the gaiasky command, or use your favourite launcher to find and run it.

In order to uninstall, just type:

yum remove gaiasky-x86

AUR package

We also offer an Arch User Repository (AUR) package for Arch Linux and derivatives. Install one of gaiasky, gaiasky-git or gaiasky-appimage. For example, if you use paru:

paru -S gaiasky

Once installed, you can simply run the gaiasky command, or use your favourite launcher to find and run it.


We offer a Windows installer for 64-bit systems, gaiasky_windows-x64_$VERSION.exe.

To install the Gaia Sky, just double click on the installer and then follow the on-screen instructions. You need to choose the directory where the application is to be installed.

In windows, this means clicking on Start and then browsing the start menu folder Gaia Sky. You can run the executable(s) for Gaia Sky and Gaia Sky VR from there. You can also navigate to the installation folder and run the gaiasky.cmd file from a command prompt or PowerShell.

In order to uninstall the application you can use the Windows Control Panel or you can use the provided uninstaller in the Gaia Sky folder.


For macOS we provide a gaiasky_macos_$VERSION.dmg file. To install, double-click on it to mount it and then drag-and-drop the Gaia application to your /Applications directory in Finder. Once copied, it is safe to unmount the dmg volume.

To run it, double click on the Gaia launcher in your applications directory.

Our dmg package is not signed by Apple, so it will be detected as coming from an ‘unidentified developer’. You can still install it by following the procedure described in this page.


Download the package, and extract it wherever. Then, use either the gaiasky or gaiasky.cmd script to start the program. On a Unix system, do:

tar -xzvf gaiasky-$VERSION.tar.gz -C target/directory/
cd target/directory/gaiasky-$VERSION

Run from source


If you want to compile the source code, you 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').


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:


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

git pull

On Windows, you need to open the Command Prompt or PowerShell and run:

.\gradlew.bat core:run

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
    Force deactivation of safe graphics mode. Warning: this bypasses
    internal checks and may break things! Useful to get rid of safe graphics
    mode in the settings.
    Default: false
    The HDPI mode to use. Defines how HiDPI monitors are handled. Operating
    systems may have a per-monitor HiDPI scale setting. The operating system
    may report window width/height and mouse coordinates in a logical
    coordinate system at a lower resolution than the actual physical
    resolution. This setting allows you to specify whether you want to work
    in logical or raw pixel units.
    Default: Pixels
    Possible Values: [Logical, Pixels]

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 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 directory.