Fedora Scientific: Open Source Scientific Computing

by Amit


Hello Fedora People, this happens to be my first aggregated post on Planet Fedora! Great to be here. Onto real stuff.

Okay, this post comes at a time when December is already upon us, Fedora 16 has been released for a month now and that also means that Fedora Scientific has seen the light of the day for a month now. I felt this might be a good time to describe the current state of the project and my plans for the next release(s).

Software in Fedora Scientific (Fedora 16)

The current list of software available in Fedora Scientific is available here [1]. Briefly, they are:

Scientific Computing tools and environments: The numerical computing package GNU Octave, front-end wxMaxima, the Python scientific libraries SciPy, NumPy and Spyder (a Python environment for scientific computing) are some of the software included in this category. A development environment for R, the statistical computing environment, is also included, and so are the ROOT tools for analysing large amounts of data.

Generic libraries:    Software in this category includes the GNU C/C++ and FORTRAN compilers, the OpenJDK Java development tools, and the IDEs NetBeans and Eclipse. Also included are autotools, flex, bison, ddd and valgrind.

Parallel  and  distributed programming   tools / libraries: Software tools and libraries included in this category include the popular parallel programming libraries OpenMPI, PVM, and the shared-memory programming library OpenMP. Also included is the Torque resource manager to enable you to set up a batch-processing system.

Editing,  drawing  and  visualisation  tools: So you have simulated your grand experiments, and need to visualise the data, plot graphs, and create publication-quality articles and figures. The tools included to help you in this include LaTex compilers and the Texmaker and Kile editors, plotting and visualisation tools Gnuplot, xfig, MayaVi, Dia and Ggobi , and the vector
graphics tool Inkscape.

Version control, backup tools and document managers: Version control and back-up tools are
included to help you manage your data and documents better: Subversion, Git and Mercurial are available, along with the back-up tool backintime. Also included is a bibliography manager, BibTool.

Besides these four main categories, some of the other miscellaneous utilities include: hevea–the awesome LaTex-to-HTML converter, GNU Screen and IPython.

As you can see that the list of software is quite extensive, thanks to the awesome Fedora developers who have packaged this gamut of software.

Future Plans

The current release marks the beginning of a project very close to my heart. I feel that such a spin shall definitely be useful for the current Linux community members and future enthusiasts who use Linux for their computing needs. In the next release(s), I intend to explore the following directions for the spin:

  • A GNOME based spin in addition to the current KDE spin
  • Custom wallpapers
  • Work with the websites team to update the Spin website to include high quality images of scientific software and more content
  • Collect feedback from the community and act on it  :-)

Talk to Us, Contribute

Come, talk to us on the Fedora SciTech SIG mailing list [2]. Thanks to all the members of SciTech SIG for their useful discussions and comments.

Acknowledgements

Fedora Artwork and Fedora Websites team for help in the artwork for the spin,  Bill Nottingham for the initial comments on the idea and Christoph Wickert  for seeing the spin through for release. All the other people who contributed even with a single word of encouragement online and offline, please acknowledge my sincere thanks.

References

[1] https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Scientific_Packages_List
[2] http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/SIGs/SciTech

Parts of this blog post has been reproduced from my article on Fedora Scientific Spin  published in the December, 2011 issue for Linux For You.

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