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Old 4th July 2008
JMJ_coder JMJ_coder is offline
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Hello,

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Originally Posted by DrJ View Post
I think this is not right. Windows has professional tools that simply are not available on *nix. For example, try to find advanced image processing tools, proteomic spot-picking routines (and computational biology in general), good PDF manipulation tools (and that does not include pdfedit), electronic laboratory notebooks and lab automation, or even numerical simulation packages. Some are available on *nix, but the coverage is pretty spotty.

I'm not defending Windows, but *any* application area has good Windows software for professional applications. *nix cannot claim this with any honesty.
And most of them aren't using Windows, either. Most graphical and artistic work is being done on the MAC (which is based on *BSD UNIX).
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Old 4th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BSDfan666 View Post
Unix has been historically proprietary, those applications are for in-house development, but that doesn't mean "Unix isn't a suitable operating system"
I never said it was not suitable. My initial response was to the claim that Windows is a consumer operating system, whereas *nix is for professional applications. I disagree.
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It simply means you need to seek out the software you require.. because.. there is bound to be someone else with similar needs taking appropriate action.
What you find is that applications are available when that is what interests the people who write applications. The more specialized those applications are, the less likely you are to find them.
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(Shut up and hack!).
Sorry, it is far more cost-effective to purchase an application for $10K than to try to write it myself.
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And why do you keep mentioning Linux?
Simply because Linux has a much more complete software infrastructure. You can get things like LabView, VMware, Comsol Multiphysics and the like on Linux. You can't on BSD, or even Solaris unless you are running a SPARC.
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Old 4th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMJ_coder View Post
And most of them aren't using Windows, either. Most graphical and artistic work is being done on the MAC (which is based on *BSD UNIX).
Look at the applications I mentioned. They are heavy-duty scientific things, and not artistic ones. The Mac has penetrated some of these, but very incompletely.

Look, I have used BSD for over 25 years on a variety of workstations (and minicomputers!). I love the system. The lack of specialized software is a real problem for me, and it simply is not cost-effective to write my own for everything I need.
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Old 4th July 2008
JMJ_coder JMJ_coder is offline
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Hello,

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJ View Post
Look at the applications I mentioned. They are heavy-duty scientific things, and not artistic ones. The Mac has penetrated some of these, but very incompletely.
You mentioned both "advanced image processing tools" and "PDF manipulation tools" both of which are would be used primarily in artistic type environments (video editing labs, advertising firms, etc.). At least where I am, the printing business (that is advertising, book publishing, etc.) is almost exclusively MAC. Sure, they are using proprietary products (i.e., Quark Xpress), but they are running them on MACs.

And maybe this is a misconception on my part, but I also thought that the highest level of scientific computing, in Universities for Mathematics departments and NASA and nuclear physics labs, etc., ran UNIX - usually in huge superclusters - to do the heavy number crunching their disciplines required (think of where UNIX was first developed and evolved).
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Old 4th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMJ_coder View Post
You mentioned both "advanced image processing tools" and "PDF manipulation tools" both of which are would be used primarily in artistic type environments (video editing labs, advertising firms, etc.).
Fair enough. The image processing I'm talking about are high bit-depth photomicrographs. The PDF files come about from using the scientific reference literature, which is exclusively PDF. Also, many of my grant applications require quite some massaging of the PDF files to fit with the submission packages (which do not run on BSD, BTW).
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I also thought that the highest level of scientific computing ... usually in huge superclusters - to do the heavy number crunching their disciplines required (think of where UNIX was first developed and evolved).
That's right, but that is a very small part of what scientists of any flavor use computers for.

Unix was sold initially as a text-processing system for Bell Labs on the powerful PDP-7. The tools for that purpose are really very good, and I still use them.
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Old 4th July 2008
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I don't agree with a lot of what's been said here, but people can use anything they want. To me, an operating system is software that provides a sound, correct framework to do anything you want. Most Unix flavors do provide such a framework, whereas Windows provides a broken one. Also, I'm not sure what your experiences have been DrJ, but most of the media industries around this area use Macs exclusively. That counts for something.
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Old 4th July 2008
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Not that DrJ needs my support, but he is a real doctor involved in research, so I don't think he's speaking from ignorance here.

There's media and then there's biological research type media, which is a completely different thing.
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Old 4th July 2008
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I must have missed that, but if DrJ's comments were referring to biological research, then I have absolutely no experience in that within the context of Unix or Windows. I can't speak accurately on that. Although, my goal is to work as a medical scientist, when I grow up, so we'll see what my experiences are then.
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Old 4th July 2008
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I should add that that fact that I owe him money has nothing to do with my support of his views.

Anyway, to be serious...
Mac has always been the favorite of the multimedia--though ironically, often various TV station music videos wouldn't play on Mac. (Hi MTV? You fix that yet?)
I think that MS and Apple are probably equally evil--Apple's more insidious because it denies that it's evil.

Unfortunately, in the world, much of the time you will come across a situation where you have to use some sort of commercial software. The Shut up and hack answer is ok for hobbyists, but not for professionals who don't have the time or knowledge to do so.
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Old 4th July 2008
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I don't have a problem with using commercial software. I'll do that on Unix if I have to, but I'd like to use a Unix as my operating system. I have a specific style of computing, and only Unix fits that style.
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Old 4th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJ View Post
I think this is not right. Windows has professional tools that simply are not available on *nix.[
I was talking of a user's point of view. In my example above, you won't find soccer mom taking the kids out in a Mac truck. Nor will you find soccer mom trying to install FreeBSD so she can shop online.
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Old 4th July 2008
drhowarddrfine drhowarddrfine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJ View Post
And how do I get those tools?

If one has the money to write software for one's application of choice, sure, go for *nix. If you rely on existing applications you are not well served by *nix on the desktop unless you use only comparatively simple software that is covered by OSS. Linux does have some more sophisticated things, but the coverage is still spotty.
Many of those tools are readily available off the shelf. Maya is the only name I remember off the top of my head but high level apps have long been available on Unix only. Also, most, if not all, high-end CG apps had their start on Unix.
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Old 5th July 2008
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Originally Posted by Carpetsmoker View Post
In general, UNIX and UNIX-like OS's are more of a server OS, while Windows is more of a desktop OS.

This doesn't mean you can't use Windows as a server, or UNIX as a desktop, but it's not what it's optimized for.
Until you get into educational or enterprise settings, where you can dictate the software that the students/employees get to use; and where the software available on Unix-like systems covers what you need.

Then, the network features of Unix-like systems, and X11 in particular, really come in handy.

For instance, the local school district doesn't run Windows in the elementary schools (with the exception of the odd office computer). And we have 4 secondary school that are Linux everywhere (with a couple of Windows VMs for Simply Accounting). With two more secondary schools going all Linux over the summer.

In total, we have around 5000 desktops in the district, and about 4000 of those are Debian, with the remaining slated to be converted to Debian over the next two years.

We put 1 uber-server (or two for the secondaries) into the school (dual-Opteron 2 GHz CPU, 4-8 GB RAM, 4x 500 GB HDs in RAID5 or RAID10, 2x gigabit NICs bonded together). Then put in $150 diskless workstations (no HD, no floppy, no CD-ROM, onboard graphics/NIC) for the staff and students. These boot off the network, mount all the system partitions read-only via NFS, and mount the /home partition read-write via NFS. Everything loads off the network, but runs locally. We can outfit a complete elementary school for under $20,000, including a computer lab, a library mini-lab, a computer in every classroom, the office computers, an LAT mini-lab, etc. All it requires is 100 Mbps from the client to the switch, gigabit between the switches, and dual-gigabit to the server (the secondaries have multi-gigabit links between switches).

All the software we need is available for Debian (CAD, programming, office apps, web browser, e-mail, educational games, etc), 95% or more with is zero-cost. Administration is all done via the network, to a single server in each school. Upgrades are done on the server, and all the clients pick them up automatically. Wake-on-Lan and SSH access allows us to turn on or off clients automatically. CUPS handles printing. We even have VNC enabled on the clients so that we can monitor their screens during helpdesk calls, or for teachers to monitor student stations (and we're working on broadcast VNC in the labs to replace data projectors).

It's taken 6 years to get to this point, starting with the elementaries, but this coming September will be the third year it's been in the secondaries, and by Sept 2010, there will be fewer than 100 Windows licenses in the district, mostly in virtual machines (and <60 Novell client licenses by the end of this month, with 0 by June 2009).

Unix-like systems may not be ready to take over the consumer/home desktop markets (although they have their uses there as well), but they are definitely ready to take over the educational desktop market. At least here in BC, Canada. We were the pioneers, but several other districts are following in our footsteps.

Just google for "diskless" "thin client" and "school district 73" for more information.
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Old 5th July 2008
BSDfan666 BSDfan666 is offline
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That's really cool phoenix

Have the students had trouble adapting to the new environment?

EDIT: Seriously, love the last name... it has value.

Last edited by BSDfan666; 5th July 2008 at 02:11 AM.
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Old 5th July 2008
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Nope. In fact, when we put it into the first elementary school, the grade 6 and 7 classes did English and Computer projects where they developed manuals and tutorials for the younger students. Some classes went so far as to make pamphlets and booklets (using screenshots, digital photos copied from cameras, Scribus for page layout, OpenOffice for text, GIMP and Krita for drawings, etc) that the school sold to other schools. Very, very, very few students complain ... as they now have working computers in the lab, with a helpdesk that the teachers can call when there are issues, and remote help via VNC. Problems are usually fixed while the student is still in the class, instead of waiting a couple weeks for one of the 2 elementary schools techs to get to their school (2 techs for 37 schools).

The students took to it like fish to water. They figured things out right away. It was the staff that had "issues" adapting (especially those who had developed software-version-specific curriculum and assignments, who didn't think it was their job to change/update it to work with OpenOffice or KOffice or whatnot).

My favourite story from that time deals with my sister (she's a penguin fanatic) and her discovering Tux as the Linux mascot. She went nuts over Linux (and Tux in particular). Then she graduated and moved on to grade 8, where everything was Windows XP. After the first week of school, she called to complain about the computers, about how they kept crashing, they never had 30 working computers in the lab, how she kept losing work in MS Office XP, and how boring everything was. And she demanded to know when we'd be bringing Tux into the school! Unfortunately for her, the summer after she graduated from grade 12, we converted her school to Linux. She still hasn't really forgiven me for that. And she still calls every now and then to complain about the college computers (running XP) and how she misses the Linux desktop she had in elementary school. She's very much a Windows user, now, though. I put together a laptop for her, and offered to put Linux on it, but she wanted Windows, as that's what they use at the college, and what's on the home computer.
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Old 5th July 2008
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That poor woman :\
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Old 5th July 2008
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Quote:
I also thought that the highest level of scientific computing ... usually in huge superclusters - to do the heavy number crunching their disciplines required (think of where UNIX was first developed and evolved).
I am a little late into this discussion.

I am one of those persons who carries the title of nuclear physicist. I have the piece of paper collecting dust somewhere.

I work with a few labs. Specifically, Notre Dame, Yale, Berkeley, and Argonne National labs. I will get to add Pacific Northwest National Labs to that list if my trip next week goes well.

All of these labs use mostly Linux. In particular Red Hat variants. Some use enterprise (Yale) others use Scientific or Fedora. There are still some machines that run some older version of Unix that are being phased out. Argonne was using Solaris, but now they are migrating to Red Hat Enterprise the last time I was up there.

Yes, all of our processor intensive applications are run on Linux clusters. We are fortunate to have one here. These are generally used for theory modeling calculations.

From what I have seen is the main reason we use Linux is cost, and the availability of developer tools. Most of our software is custom made. We are not a large enough market to justify forming a company to make it for us. Also most of it was originally written in Unix, and we want to continue to use it instead of investing the time to re-write the code. In addition to that we would be very hesitant to spend money on software versus a new piece of equipment. To complicate things even further we often have to modify our programs to analyze the data for different situations. Although that situation is improving (see Root, no not root user it is a software program). Another thing you may notice is they generally install a version of Linux and leave it. I am using Red Hat 5.1 (not sure about that version number it uses Nautilus 1.0.4) on one of my work machines.

I should also mention that the vast majority of people still use Windows. Most people have a laptop that runs Windows or dual boots with Linux. Then there is the Linux desktop used for analysis and work. Windows is mainly used for Power Point and the Adobe products for work items.

I should also mention due to the power and affordability of laptops more and more people are shifting all their work with the exception of intensive calculations to exclusive use on their laptops. That way you can carry your work with you.

The secretarial and support staff all run Windows. In the administrative area is Windows dominant. Those admin guys insist on sending me Microsoft Word documents and then get irritated when they don't print out like they should, even though all I have is a Linux machine with a very old version of Open Office.

The bottom line is that we have to get work done and publish results. We use whatever will help us achieve this the best. In general we don't care about the software or who makes it as long as we can afford it and it gets the job done. We want it to work as quickly as possible as cheaply as possible.
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Old 5th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJ View Post
I think this is not right. Windows has professional tools that simply are not available on *nix. For example,
.
.
.
or even numerical simulation packages.
You do not know what are you talking about. There are four major numerical analysis packages out there. MatLab, Mathematica, FreeMat, and SciLab. First two are proprietary and the last two are open source. All four work far better on Unix than on Windows.

The most famous computer Algebra software of general nature is Maple which is coded on the base of Maxima (original 1969 MIT project).
Guess what. Maxima is developed before Windows even existed and it is released under GPL2 licence now. Maple again runs far better on Unix.
More specialized projects like GAP (computational group theory) REQUIRE
Unix to run.


100% of all machines used by faculty, researches, and graduate students
at the research Universities in U. S. run Linux, Solaris, and BSD (I listed them in popularity in descending order).
Are you saying that we do not use professional numerical tools?

Last edited by Oko; 5th July 2008 at 04:33 PM.
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Old 5th July 2008
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There are also people who smoke and live to be 90.
So smoking isn't bad for your health?
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Old 5th July 2008
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By the way, there's GNU Octave, which aims to be compatible with MatLab. It's really nice and easy to use, in my opinion.
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