[SciPy-user] Suggested Linux Distribution?

mfmorss@aep.com mfmorss at aep.com
Mon Jan 16 09:08:25 CST 2006

For scientific computing I would strongly recommend a distribution that
compiles from source; that's the only way to exploit the full power of your
machine (most binary distros, for universality's sake, are compiled for the
i386).  The major such distribution is Gentoo.  A very good one, which I
have used for a few years with great satisfaction, is Lunar
(http:http://www.lunar-linux.org/).  Also with such distributions, you
don't get a boatload of crap installed on your machine, only the packages
you want.  I don't run KDE or Gnome, for example but rather a very austere
window manager; I would rather not spend computational resources on pretty
icons and buttons.

Lunar admin software is written in bash, that of Gentoo in Python, which
makes Lunar somewhat more accessible for most people.  But for people on
this list, I would think that Gentoo would be a natural.  Both distros very
nicely automate the delivery and maintenance of many packages, but Gentoo
supports many more than Lunar.  It's usually easy to install a package not
supported by your distro, but maintaining many unsupported packages over a
period of time can be troublesome.  Under both Gentoo and Lunar you can
write package admin softare yourself, and make your installation take care
of your personal packages just as if they were supported by the
distribution at large.

I doubt the accuracy of the statement below that Gentoo installation
proceeds wholly by command-line interractions.  Lunar installs from a
pretty nice ncurses interface, and my impression was that Gentoo also had
an automated installer.  If you go with a compiled distribution, you do
accept a much larger burden of system administration.  That seems to be the
price of having a fast, lean system.

Besides a compiled distribution, if you are running on an i686 you could
also consider Arch Linux.

Mark F. Morss
Principal Analyst, Market Risk
American Electric Power

             "Howey, David A"                                              
             <d.howey at imperial                                             
             .ac.uk>                                                    To 
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             01/16/2006 08:38          Re: [SciPy-user] Suggested Linux    
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I've heard good things about Ubuntu - look for messages from Ryan Krauss
(or email him) on this newslist


From: scipy-user-bounces at scipy.net [mailto:scipy-user-bounces at scipy.net] On
Behalf Of Bill Dandreta
Sent: 17 August 2005 23:13
To: SciPy Users List
Subject: Re: [SciPy-user] Suggested Linux Distribution?

>> Can people recommend a Linux distribution that "just works" for
scientific computing?  <<

I have it working under Gentoo but it took some work because I had to tweak
the ebuild file. Also installing Gentoo is a royal PITA, it has no
installer so you have to do everything from the command line. The
documentation is excellent and easy to follow but it takes a couple of days
to get the system and applications compiled. The benefit is that once
installed (and in the case of scipy, which is not officially supported,
tweaking the unofficial ebuild)

emerge scipy

is all you have to do to get software installed, it gets scipy and all its
dependencies from a Gentoo mirror, compiles and installs them..

You might want to check out The Quantian Scientific Computing Environment,
it has scipy plus many other scientific applications. You can boot and run
it from your cdrom.


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