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Possum volumetric reconstruction framework

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======== Overview

The Possum framework is a set of scripts and workflows for reconstructing three-dimensional images based on series of serial sections of different modalities and quality.

Preconfigured VM

If you would like to start using the Possum framework immediately, without the necessity of installation and configuration, you are strongly encouraged to download a preconfigured virtual machine.

The appliance can be imported into the VirtualBox software ( which runs on multiple operating systems including Windows, OSX and Linux. Note however, that the file to download is a substantial one: about 2GB. Have also in mind that, although we're trying to keep the VM updated, the environment installed on the VM might be slightly behind the current develop branch of the framework. You have to update it on your own.

You can download the Possum preconfigured virtual machine using the link below:

Should you have any problem with importing the virtual appliance, please refer to the VirtualBox documentation: or other online resources, e.g:

Note that all usernames and passwords (including the root passord) are: testuser Also, please let the VM have at least 4GB of memory (8GB recommended) and 4 CPUs (however, the more the better).


Below one can find the description of the dependencies. For the exact installation steps, check the installation procedure section below.

Requirements and dependencies

In order to make the Possum framework working, several dependencies have to be satisfied. Below one can find the list of dependencies with a brief instruction on installing the individual dependencies.

Operating system

Installation was tested using the Ubuntu 14.04 server, amd64 version::

The system was installed with the default settings. Only the system locale were altered.

InsightToolkit 4.7.1

The Possum framework requires the InsightToolkit (ITK, image processing library. Possum was created and tested using ITK 4.7.1 ( thus this ITK version is recommended. Due to rapid development of the ITK framework it is not guaranteed (although quite likely) that Possum will work with newer as well as with some of the older ITK versions.

In order to install the InsightToolkit one has to perform the steps described on the ITK website (

  1. Install the packages required to install ITK. Check ITK website for details.

  2. Download the InsightToolkit 4.7.1 and unzip the file.

  3. Run cmake or ccmake and provide the compilation settings. Make sure that the listed parameters are set as shown below. Basically this builds the ITK with a Python wrappers and support for different types of RGB images which are not included by default. Follow the instructions from to compile itk with python wrapping.

  4. Make the build. Note that the build process usually takes a long time (a couple of hours) to complete. It is a good idea to leave the compilation as a overnight task and be patient.

Advanced Normalization Tools

The Advanced Normalization Tools (or shortly ANTS) is an image normalization and registration framework which provides reliable and algorithms for image registration. ANTS binaries may be downloaded from the ANTS website:, The Possum framework has been tested with ANTS v3 as well as ANTS v4.

Convert 3D and ItkSnap tool

Convert 3D (crucial) and ItkSnap (not required but extremely useful). Visit the in order to get both, the Convert 3D as well as the ItkSnap.

Detailed installation procedure

Install the system

Download the system installation disk image::

And install the system with the default settings.

Install the necessary packages

NumpPy, SciPy and Sphinx packages::

sudo apt-get install python-numpy python-scipy python-sphinx python-setuptools parallel python-pip

And the required python modules::

sudo easy_install -U config
sudo easy_install -U networkx
sudo easy_install coverage
sudo apt-get install python-xlwt python-xlrd
sudo easy_install xlrd xlutils

Sometimes the last two packages refuse to install using easy_install, try pip instead::

pip install xlrd xlutils

Install the ImageMagick and parallel packages::

sudo apt-get install imagemagick parallel

Install packages required for the Itk installation::

sudo apt-get install build-essential cmake-curses-gui

Install InsightToolkit

As described below::

 wget -O InsightToolkit-4.7.1.tar.gz
 tar -xvvzf InsightToolkit-4.7.1.tar.gz
 mkdir -p InsightToolkit-4.7.1-build && cd InsightToolkit-4.7.1-build
 ccmake ../InsightToolkit-4.7.1

Setup the cmake so the python wrappings will be installed::

BUILD_EXAMPLES                   OFF
BUILD_SHARED_LIBS                ON
BUILD_TESTING                    OFF
CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE                 Release
ITK_LEGACY_REMOVE                OFF
ITK_LEGACY_SILENT                ON
ITK_WRAP_DIMS                    2;3
ITK_WRAP_DOC                     OFF
ITK_WRAP_EXPLICIT                OFF
ITK_WRAP_GCCXML                  ON
ITK_WRAP_JAVA                    OFF
ITK_WRAP_PERL                    OFF
ITK_WRAP_PYTHON                  ON
ITK_WRAP_RUBY                    OFF
ITK_WRAP_TCL                     OFF
ITK_WRAP_complex_double          ON
ITK_WRAP_complex_float           ON
ITK_WRAP_covariant_vector_double ON
ITK_WRAP_covariant_vector_float  ON
ITK_WRAP_double                  ON
ITK_WRAP_float                   ON
ITK_WRAP_rgb_unsigned_char       ON
ITK_WRAP_rgb_unsigned_short      ON
ITK_WRAP_rgba_unsigned_char      ON
ITK_WRAP_rgba_unsigned_short     ON
ITK_WRAP_signed_char             ON
ITK_WRAP_signed_long             ON
ITK_WRAP_signed_short            ON
ITK_WRAP_unsigned_char           ON
ITK_WRAP_unsigned_long           ON
ITK_WRAP_unsigned_short          ON
ITK_WRAP_vector_double           ON
ITK_WRAP_vector_float            ON
Module_ITKReview                 OFF

And then make the build::


Install ANTS, Convert 3d and setup the paths

As described below (provided that /home/testuser/ is you home directory)::

wget -O ANTs-1.9.v4-Linux.tar.gz
wget -O c3d-1.0.0-Linux-x86_64.tar.gz
tar -xvvzf ANTs-1.9.v4-Linux.tar.gz
tar -xvvzf c3d-1.0.0-Linux-x86_64.tar.gz

find InsightToolkit-4.7.1-build/ -name "*.pth" | xargs cat
export PYTHONPATH=${PYTHONPATH}:/home/testuser/InsightToolkit-4.7.1-build/Wrapping/Generators/Python
export PYTHONPATH=${PYTHONPATH}:/home/testuser/InsightToolkit-4.7.1-build/lib/
export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=$LD_LIBRARY_PATH:/home/testuser/InsightToolkit-4.7.1-build/lib/

export PATH=$PATH:/home/testuser/ANTs-1.9.v4-Linux/bin/
export PATH=$PATH:/home/testuser/c3d-1.0.0-Linux-x86_64/bin/

Install git so the actual framework could be downloaded::

sudo apt-get install git-core

Then simply clone the repository and set up the environmental variables::

cd && git clone
cd poSSum && source

The framework should be ready to use.

Installation of the LXDE desktop and the ItkSnap (optional):

sudo apt get install lubuntu-desktop
wget -O itksnap-2.2.0-20110504-Linux-x86_64.tar.gz
tar -xvvzf itksnap-2.2.0-20110504-Linux-x86_64.tar.gz
export PATH=$PATH:/home/testuser/itksnap-2.2.0-20110504-Linux-x86_64/bin/


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