Rayshade is a 1990's raytracer, a great one back then. It has value in support of existing software and raytrace scene files, which ranges from legacy files to existing CAD software that can export 3D scenes Rayshade can build a scene for.
Files Section has a patch allowing Rayshade to build in Linux more fully / less errors than the tiny redhat patch that can be found.
The Utah Raster Toolkit is a "depends" - it needs to be installed before Rayshade builds so images can become viewable format.
NOTE: Rayshade is unmaintained so no longer competitive to povray. And neither are competitive to RADIANCE. But see homepage or examples; Rayshade has good sides: great documentation and easier radiance style file format: but no GUI for design.
- see also:
I am not a graphics expert so cannot speak to what may be better, faster, more powerful or flexible programs to do raytracing for visualization, but I have used Rayshade since my days as a Ph.D. student (in geophysics, not computer science). I found it easy to use, powerful for rendering images especially for combining data presentation with presentation of uncertainties, and fun to play with. Its use within .ray files (scripts) was intuitively easy for this shell script addict, and I loved it. I have only been able to use it on Unix machines heretofore, however, as my learn-by-osmosis sysadmin capabilities and understanding of compiler errors gave me fits trying to get it running on Ubuntu. I typed "trouble compiling rayshade on Ubuntu" into my Google search window and, Voila!, the SourceForge page with is executable popped up. Easy install, now it works just like I remember. Happy.