Installing RenderMan Server on ANY Linux System (Debian or Ubuntu)

Installing RenderMan Server on ANY Linux System (Debian or Ubuntu)

As RenderMan is now free for non-commercial use we’ve at quaint got very excited. Unfortunately, Pixar is only offering a rpm package which is officially only supported by Red Hat Linux based systems like Fedora or CentOS. In this post I will show a way how to install RenderMan  on any Linux operating system like Debian or Ubuntu. In this example I will show the process under Debian. Let’s get started right away..

1. Download the official RenderMan rpm package

You can get the official rpm package on this site.

Convert the rpm package to a .deb package

In this step we will convert the RenderMan .rpm Package to a .deb package which can be installed on any Debian or (L/X/K) Ubuntu System. But at first we need a small nifty tool called alien. You can get it by inserting the code below into your terminal.

Grant superuser rights

Type su, you then will be asked to insert your root password. You will notice that your terminal changed the user to root indicated by the text (root@machinename) at the beginning of each line.

Install Alien using apt package manager

apt-get install alien

You will be asked if you really want to install it, confirm this by pressing the Y Key on your keyboard.

Convert the rpm!

Its essential that you’re still a root user, please make sure to double check this, as you could otherwise run into some nasty errors.

alien -d -c path to your RenderMan.rpm

On my particular system the line looked like this:

alien -d -c /home/markus/Downloads/RenderManNC-Installer-1.0.0_1460566-linuxRHEL6_gcc44icc121.x86_64.rpm 

Depending on your system this step can take some time. If everything worked fine a message saying that deb package was successfully generated will pop up.

Install the RenderMan deb package

We will use dpkg to install the deb package on the Debian or Ubuntu system. Alien usually saves the generated deb package to the home directory.

dpkg -i path-to-the-generate-deb-package

On my particular system the line looked like this:

dpkg -i /home/markus/rendermannc-installer_1.0.01460566-1_amd64.deb 

After you’ve executed that line from above the RenderMan Non-Commercial Installer should appear. It will look like this:

The Welcome Screen of the RenderMan installer
Screenshot from 2015-07-12 105035
If you don’t need RenderMan to work with Maya you can simply ignore this error.

The installation is pretty easy, simply “click next” n-times. You then will be asked to insert your user name and password. It’s the same that you’ve used for accessing the Download page.
On the Select Package you will probably pre prompted with a warning that tells you that you don’t have Maya installed on your system. If you wan’t to use Blender instead of Maya you can simply ignore this warning by pressing the OK Button. In the list that appears on the next site toggle the “RenderMan ProServer”-Option and proceed.
The page will change to the Install section. The two progress bars will indicate the installation process. Depending on your internet connection this step can take some tip, as the downloader will download roughly about 500 MB.

RenderMan Installation Debian Progress
This site will indicate the installation Progress

If everything worked fine you will be prompted with the word “Success” in big Letters. You can close the installer by clicking on finish.

RenderMan Installation finished on Debian
Thats how the installer will look after a successful installation.

Try it out

Download the RenderMan Plugin for Blender

For my first test I will use Blender3D. After you have installed blender simply download the Blender RenderMan Plugin from the GitHub page.
The most convenient  way is to download is a zip file, you can do this easily on GitHub by pressing the Download ZIP Button on the right side. The next step is to place the unzipped folder in your blender add-ons folder.

Activate the RenderMan Add-on in Blender

The next step is to activate the Add-on in the user preferences. All you have to do is to check the check box at the right side where RenderMan is written.

Final Steps: Change Render Engine to RenderMan and hit F12

Our last but one step is to change the render engine from Blender Render to PRMan Render by toggling the drop down menu at the top of Blenders Menu.

Blender Change Render Engine
Change Render engine to PRMan Render

The last and long awaited step is to hit F12 to start the render. If you left everything at the default settings you will come up with the following rendered image.

The Blender Default Scene rendered with RenderMan

So what has happened? Why do we only see the default cube with some alpha background? The reason is pretty simple: Blender respectively RenderMan doesn’t know what rays to trace/ to render as we have no active light source in our scene. In order to come up with the desired result, we need to set “use nodes” under the lighting settings. Please make sure to increase the exposure settings. Just like in Blender you can either use geometry with an emission shader or classical lamp to light a scene. Next we will have to set the material for our cube. To do so, select the cube, go to the material editor, and click “use nodes”. By default a “pxrDisney” material will be added. To further tweak the settings you can either use the material editor or the node editor. For now I leave the settings at default. I slightly changed my cube to better showcase the effects of the pixar shader.

Finally hit F12, wait, forget to save, quit blender, start all over again 😀

renderman blender linux

If this post was useful for you feel free to share and like it! If you have any questions or if you simply want to share your results feel free to post a comment below.

Cheers Alex and Markus


12 thoughts on “Installing RenderMan Server on ANY Linux System (Debian or Ubuntu)

  1. Tanks for the helpful tutorial. Sadly, the process changed a bit.
    The installer downloads a .rpm file and fails to install it.

    A second conversion to an dep packet via alien is required for a rendermanserverpro file.


    1. Hi there, I’ve just tested our own tutorial under debian using the latest version of renderman. I didn’t come up with errors. The conversion to rpm is required as shown in the video, but a second conversion is not. If you follow the tutorial step by step, you shouldn’t get any nasty errors. I hope this helps. Cheers Markus 😀


  2. Hi!
    thanks for the guide, however I ran in to a slight problem I was hoping someone could help me with. I can start the installer but after I’ve entered my username and password the installer quits and I see this error message in the terminal
    “NCRInstaller[5002]: ncr Fatal: Cannot mix incompatible Qt library (version 0x40806) with this library (version 0x40805)”
    So what can I do to fix this?


    1. Hi,
      the instructions isn’t a official way to using it like that. Please post for the next time what kind of Linux derivative you use. If you no advanced user, it will be easier for you to use a official supported derivative. Try that for the google search “Cannot mix incompatible Qt library (version 0x40806) with this library (version 0x40805)”, the initial results seems helpful. Sorry, but we havn’t enough time to test everything.

      Greets to Sweden



  3. Hello, I have this problem on Ubuntu that I cannot use ‘it’ instead of ‘OpenEXR’ at Properties>Render>Output>Display driver. ‘it’ is supposed to open a window when you press render and is required to use interactive rendering. If you could bring me any closer to the solution that would be great. In case this is relevant, instead of using the installation method outlined above I did

    alien -i
    which installed the installer, and then I ran
    cd /opt/pixar/RenderManNC-Installer/bin
    sudo ./RenderManNC-Installer

    Then I got the installer window and did as the tutorial outlines. The reason I didn’t follow the tutorial was that I only discovered it after I installed Renderman.

    If other people who installed RenderMan and the Blender plugin could suggest a fix or even tell me if it works with them, that would be much appreciated.


  4. Thanks for making this. The integration is really neat.

    For those on arch linux, here is a sample PKGBUILD :

    So follow all the steps in this Tutorial, instead of Alien use (available in the official repos).

    NOTE: It is only available in the Maya Package thats why I use it.

    Install using the NCR Installer. On my machine the RPMs went to my home Downlaod Directory.
    Rename the server rpm and the maya rpm according to the PKGBUILD.
    Install using makepkg -i


  5. Hi, each time I try to follow the tutorial this error happens
    It happens when I try to enter my login credentials but for some unknown reason it fails to connect to the server
    I am using Linux Mint 18

    sorry for double post but I dont know if the post went through


  6. Fails for me unfortunately. When running the dpkg -i command, The installer window comes up, but without content. The console prints these messages:

    NCRInstaller[7477]: ncr Warning: X Error: BadAccess (attempt to access private resource denied) 10
    Extension: 130 (MIT-SHM)
    Minor opcode: 1 (X_ShmAttach)
    Resource id: 0x14e
    NCRInstaller[7477]: ncr Warning: X Error: BadShmSeg (invalid shared segment parameter) 128
    Extension: 130 (MIT-SHM)
    Minor opcode: 5 (X_ShmCreatePixmap)
    Resource id: 0xf8
    NCRInstaller[7477]: ncr Warning: X Error: BadDrawable (invalid Pixmap or Window parameter) 9
    Major opcode: 62 (X_CopyArea)
    Resource id: 0x1e00013
    NCRInstaller[7477]: ncr Warning: X Error: BadDrawable (invalid Pixmap or Window parameter) 9
    Major opcode: 62 (X_CopyArea)
    Resource id: 0x1e00013

    I’m on Ubuntu Gnome 16.04, Nouveau Drivers.


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