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View Full Version : LightNet 4.1: Free render controller updated by Joe Justice



phillydee
09-15-2010, 01:31 PM
Needing to set up a home renderfarm recently, I decided to revisit Joe Justice's build of LightNet. Seeing the "Integer Overflow" issue stick it's head out (especially after I overclocked my render manager CPU), I tried to poke around the code and see if there was anything 'fixable'.

To make a long story short, I contacted Joe. Here's what's posted now on the LightNet page on his site, http://www.joejustice.org/node/4 :



If you're looking for LightNet, you can grab it here:

http://www.joejustice.org/lightwave/lightnet/index.html

So I realize I haven't updated LightNet in many moons. There's a reason for this, it was written in Delphi 4 which came out in 1998. In order to modernize it, it would have had to be massively re-write it. And if it had to be re-written, why not re-write it in something more common like C++? But C++ would be a TOTAL re-write. Bottom line was it would take a whole lot of time and time is one thing I'm in short supply of. So I hacked together some updates to get everything working with Lightwave 8 and just let it be.

That was about 6 years ago and it seems to have stood the test of time while I've been doing other things. But with recent hardware advances there's a major problem with the way the Screamsaver system works that causes Integer Overflows. Someone e-mailed me and asked if I could just kill all of the Screamsaver stuff. I wasn't sure if I could or not, but I dug through my old CDs and found Delphi 4. To my surprised I got it running on Windows 7 and was actually able to make the changes!

I have dubbed this version 4.1. I basically just killed the Screamsaver and the tray icon procedures. The options are still there, it's not a clean update AT ALL, but I think it will do the job. Maybe I'll clean it up a bit more and see if I can't go ahead and update it more. We shall see. But for the time being, you an grab the updated exe here:

http://www.joejustice.org/lightwave/lightnet/LightNet.exe

Killing the Screamsaver was actually a brilliant idea. A good amount of the bugs with LightNet came from that. The Tray Icon procedure was always a little buggy too. Plus the Screamsaver is kind of outdated anyhow. It use to be nice back in the day when Lightwave screamer crashed regularly and it would re-start it for you, but now adays I've found it to be very stable. I honestly haven't used the feature in years.


First of all, big big props and kudos go out to Joe Justice and his humble, helpful demeanor. He deserves a lot of credit in helping out a stranger like me in getting a farm managed by LightNet up and running again.

After a few weeks of daily use, I can say that LightNet 4.1 is stable, and the integer return error is no longer in existence. Note that the "Distant Light" feature doesn't work. However, I rarely used it, as I would either VNC or RDC into the render manager PC anyway.

Some key features that work for me in this build are:
-Unlimited nodes
-Add/Remove scene in the queue
-Unique content directory per scene(different scenes from different content dirs)
-Kill nodes
-Scene Verify

A few things to note:
-Distant Light (Remote mode) does not work for the time being (either that, or I'm using it wrong, heh) obviously Master mode works. :beerchug:
-Scenes that save file sequences with 5 or more number digits will not be recognized by "Verify Scene". This is because LightNet only supports up to 4 digits in the number sequence. While this is not an issue for me, I do want to bring it up. (Note that LightNet will still render the scene, just won't "find" the rendered files as it has a numeric sequence that's higher than 4)

I use the standard ScreamerNet -2 shortcut to start each node(12 total... gotta love those i7's!)

If anyone needs help getting ScreamerNet set up with LightNet 4.1, hit me up.

Don't forget to say thanks to Joe, should you use it!

shapeshifta
09-17-2010, 02:32 AM
Hi Phillydee,
I have been pulling my hair out trying to use screamernet, it seems like there are so many hoops you have to jump though making .bat files, config files, etc. Lightwave’s network render still won’t detect my nodes.

So poking around I found LightNet seems to be the easier way to set up and control nodes, and it’s FREE! (Thanks Joe)

I installed LightNet 4.0 and set up some nodes and a test scene. I started getting the Integer Overflow error as well. I updated to 4.1 and do not have the error message, but my frames are not being rendered; only .flx files appear.

Have you ran into this problem as well? Do you or anyone else have any suggestions to fix it?
I am just trying to do some batch rendering on 1 box with 4 nodes. I using LW9.6 on Windows XP

Lightwolf
09-17-2010, 02:43 AM
I updated to 4.1 and do not have the error message, but my frames are not being rendered; only .flx files appear.

Have you ran into this problem as well? Do you or anyone else have any suggestions to fix it?
Double check your paths, it looks like the noes can't find the lwext###.cfg file which contains the paths to plugins. It then just saves out images using an internal saver, which is flx.

Cheers,
Mike

shapeshifta
09-17-2010, 03:10 AM
That worked, I can finally go to sleep!
Thanks lightwolf

phillydee
09-17-2010, 10:10 AM
Yep--and one way to make sure LightNet is seeing the LWext###.CFG correctly is by going: LightNet>Program>Check Config...

You should see a list of savers.

A tip here:

1)Create your Lightwave shortcut with the -c switch, and then define your CFG path. Using the same path as LightNet will simplify things tremendously.
2)Put all your plugins at a location that will be visible to both LightNet and LightWave, such as a folder on a mounted drive etc.

Hope that helps.

JoeJustice
09-20-2010, 08:04 AM
Glad to hear people other than me are still getting some use out of this thing :)

Distant Light should be working fine. I've been using it for a couple of weeks now and it's been very stable. It won't start automatically, but launching them manually at the PC should work. Computers -> Start... -> Screamer

-Joe

phillydee
09-20-2010, 10:32 AM
Joe: Thanks for clarifying--what I wrote above about Distant Light is misleading--I meant to say "REMOTE" mode, where you can add/edit scenes remotely from a slave or remote node. (for some reason I can't find the 'edit' button, oh well.)

Thanks again Joe

gbl
09-21-2010, 07:04 AM
As a former coworker with Joe I have witnessed his hard work and frustration when it comes to Lightnet updates. I like many others have been patently waiting another update to this amazing free program. And now the day has arrived!

I now work at a company that relies heavily on the Lightwave production pipeline I have set up all thanks to Lightnet. I have a renderfarm that includes about 4 Pentium IIs, 3 HP xw8400 Workstations, and 2 HP Z600 workstations. Can't wait to try out the update.

Thanks Joe Justice, you do chicken right!

JoeJustice
09-21-2010, 07:16 AM
Well geeze... so many kind words! Thanks guys, you're making me feel all warm and fuzzy.

I guess I really should look into a more substantial update to LightNet. It really needs to be ported to C++ or Java or something more universal than object pascal. In any event, I'm glad to see people are still using the little piece of software.

phillydee
09-21-2010, 12:18 PM
Hey an UPDATE: to confirm, remote mode WORKS! I just had to wait for it to update itself based on the update interval setting. I had button-mashed Control-U and at the time it seemed like it didn't update--call me impatient!

After testing though, it seems I still can't add scenes from a remote LightNet and it show up on the Master... I'll investigate further.

JoeJustice
09-21-2010, 12:39 PM
After testing though, it seems I still can't add scenes from a remote LightNet and it show up on the Master... I'll investigate further.

Make sure you have write access on the drive from the remote machine. The remote computer writes a little command file that the Master then reads. If it doesn't have write permission, then it can't send the command.

Titus
09-21-2010, 12:40 PM
Well geeze... so many kind words! Thanks guys, you're making me feel all warm and fuzzy.

I guess I really should look into a more substantial update to LightNet. It really needs to be ported to C++ or Java or something more universal than object pascal. In any event, I'm glad to see people are still using the little piece of software.

Nice software Joe! please don't use Java!

phillydee
09-21-2010, 12:48 PM
Make sure you have write access on the drive from the remote machine. The remote computer writes a little command file that the Master then reads. If it doesn't have write permission, then it can't send the command.

Thanks for the heads' up--I thought I squared away permissions... I checked it, and "Everyone" has write access according to the folder's security settings. The LWSN command folder is actually on the mapped network drive that has all my LW content directories; Once rendering's done I will actually check out the command folder's permissions a bit more rigorously. (it was working in 4.0 if I recall)

bazsa73
09-21-2010, 02:41 PM
Thanks, I will give it a try in zö office.

JoeJustice
09-21-2010, 08:06 PM
Hey I just checked out the Lightwave Wiki and found this tutorial for anyone new to LightNet

http://www.lightwiki.com/How_to_use_Lightnet_for_net_Render

I didn't have anything to do with writing it, but it's good. Damn good. I'm glad to see stuff like this out there. Kudos to the authors and the wiki site.

It looks like it based off my original X, Y, Z drive configuration from back in the day. I separated everything into three drives because back then computer resources were scarce. You would almost had to store content and output on different computers to keep network traffic under control, not to mention storage was at a premium. Now a days with terabyte hard drive and gigabit LAN it all seems to quaint.

faulknermano
09-21-2010, 08:13 PM
Well geeze... so many kind words! Thanks guys, you're making me feel all warm and fuzzy.

I guess I really should look into a more substantial update to LightNet. It really needs to be ported to C++ or Java or something more universal than object pascal. In any event, I'm glad to see people are still using the little piece of software.

Joe! Thanks for LightNet, man! Several years ago I took the source code and did some of my own debugging (I didn't know a single word of Delphi) and I got it to do some stuff that we wanted for our pipe. We completed a feature film rendering LightWave scenes out with that baby (we called the Riot build, because that was the name of the company). Thanks for the effort. My suggestion, however, is to port it to Python because it's more accessible that way, especially if you're going to go open-source again.

Oh, and I wrote the last part of the wiki article. I found all those little problems quite intriguing and needed to share it. :)

dwburman
09-22-2010, 11:13 PM
I haven't tried using Lightnet in years. I found it very helpful at one point, but I haven't done as much multi-PC rendering in while.

For some reason 4.1 isn't working for me on XP. 4.0 works. I could start the lwsn node and scan for CPUs and see the init in the lwsn window but the node didn't show up in LightNet. I got a pop-up error message of some sort.

4.0 recognized the nodes, but the scene crashes lwsn after the scene loads so I gave up on network rendering on this project.

I tried using LightNet to control a node on a MacPro. The mac node received and acknowledged the Init command, but didn't receive any further commands. I assume this is the render controller not recognizing the ack that the mac replies with.

phillydee
09-23-2010, 10:50 AM
I've got a laptop running XP, I'll throw 4.1 on there and see what happens; As for scene crashes, what version of LW are you running--and are all your plugins reading correctly? Are you using FiberFX on your scene?

dwburman
09-24-2010, 02:05 PM
No fiber FFX. LW 9.6 and 9.6.1. I've since seen some error messages when LW starts and I do get out of memory while rendering errors sometimes. Oddly enough, I get LW_Corona ran out of memory errors and I'm not even using LW_Corona.

The PC is the secondary and much slower machine at this point and I'm done with rendering that scene.

VirtualFM
09-25-2010, 07:10 PM
I just want to add my many thanks to Joe Justice! I used Lightnet as a renderfarm controller for many years, at least from 1998 (wow! 12 years!!!) to around 2006. Then the damn "Integer Overflow" error started to appear and no one could figure it out. And it wasn't consistent, it would either work flawlessly for hours and suddenly just pop up a window every second or just make it impossible to do anything.

I liked it so much that even with the "integer overflow" error I did render many scenes, as I figured out that the pop up window wouldn't stop the main program to control everything, so it kept working until there were so many windows in a cascade (never knew how many) that it crashed. When that happened I just relaunched it. Eventually this became too much stressful (deadlines and all) and I stopped using it. Been looking into getting a renderfarm controller, but money is tight so I've been holding on it. So knowing Lightnet is working again is just GREAT NEWS!

I do hope you re-do it, add some new features and, heck, why not sell it?! Yeah, I know there are a lot of renderfarm controllers on the market... but are they simple to configure?! Let me tell you the answer to that with a resounding *NO*! And Yes, I tried them all (or almost), from BNR to Smedge, from Deadline to RoyalRender. I think I am only missing "SquidNet", but that's on my list.