Non-Linux FOSS: Persistence of Vision Raytracer (POV-Ray)


Back in the mid-1990s, a college friend (hi Russ!) and I would put our old 8088 computers to work rendering ray-traced images for days—literally. The end result would be, by today's standards, incredibly low resolution and not terribly interesting. Still, the thought of a computer system creating realistic photos from nothing more than math equations was fascinating. As you probably already guessed, Russ and I weren't terribly popular.

This image is completely computer-generated, created by Gilles Tran, released into public domain.

All these years later, the same ray-tracing software we used back then is now up to version 3.7, and it has been released as free, open-source software. The developers kindly have created a downloadable Windows installer for those folks stuck on a Microsoft operating system. If you think the world is nothing more than math, and you'd like to prove it with ray-traced images, head on over to and download your copy today. I can't promise it will make you popular, but at least by my standards, it will make you cool!


Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter


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Topic confusion

Geoffrey's picture

POV in this case does NOT stand for Persistence Of Vision.
I believe it is Point Of View which is generally associated with ray-tracing.

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